This post is part of my series of city guides, designed to give you a bit of an introduction into the city in question: activities, accommodation, transport, restaurants, food and nightlife. It’ll also basically act as a contents page for everything I’ve ever written about the place. I went to Singapore as part of my Gap Year trip in 2010. After America and Australasia, it was my first ever experience of Asia. I was only there for a couple of days, where I stayed with some of my travel buddy’s family, who took us out and recommended some sites. At the time, I thought that a couple of days was enough to explore Singapore- a sentiment which I have heard expressed by others- but in hindsight I’m sure there is much more than I did not get to discover.
Towards the end of last year, I wrote about the 5 places that I’d love to revisit. Although I love exploring new countries, I also love going back to places that I enjoyed the first time around. I mean, if you have a favourite flavour of Ben & Jerry’s (Half Baked, of course), you don’t only have it once and then continuously just try other flavours- you go back to what you love. Besides, just because you’ve been to one place in a country, doesn’t mean you’ve done it- the culture of one town can be wildly different from another.
I’ve been pretty lucky over the last few years. I’ve been to many places and done and seen some pretty amazing things. But there’s some experiences that do stand out above the rest. It’s hard to narrow it down to just ten but since I have to do so (well I don’t have to, but I’m making myself do it) then I’d say that it would probably be these, so in no particular order:
20-24 September 2011 After my tour in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, I had a few days left in Bangkok to explore and enjoy myself. I moved from the Bangkok Centre Hotel to a hotel on road parallel to Khao San Road. I know when you’re backpacking in Asia, you should be spending your nights in a hostel bed for a couple of pounds, but when I found a very reasonably priced hotel room, with an en-suite, a double bed and breakfast, I decided to indulge.
19 September 2011 After a surprisingly good night sleep on the overnight train from Chiang Mai, I was ousted from my bed at 7am by staff who wanted to put the beds back. An hour or two later, we were finally pulling into Bangkok station and we walked the short distance over to the rather nice Bangkok Centre Hotel, before popping to the nearby 7-Eleven for breakfast. Since my steamed pork bun was a bit disappointing, I ended up with popcorn chicken from the station’s KFC. Never mind.
17 -18 September 2011 After my boat docked on the shore of Thailand, I passed through passport control in Chiang Kong easily enough, along with the rest of my tour group. We loaded up two tuk tuks with our luggage. Just like the last time, we were too heavy. The driver pumped up the tyres and we set off, almost immediately getting stuck behind a coach that was barely moving. Unlike in Laos, the tuk tuks were not trucks with us in the back but bikes with trailers for us to sit in, meaning we got blasted by fumes coming in from all directions.
17 September 2011 During my second trip to Asia, I found myself at the point where three countries met: Laos, Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). As I crossed the Mekong River, leaving Laos and entering Thailand, I snapped a photo, just in case that was as much of Burma as I will ever get to see. Hopefully it won’t be.
Dates I was there: 16-17 September 2011 We had an earlier than usual start the next morning. Our guide had told us that first thing the monks walked past our hotel as they collected food, donated to them by the local people, so we went to see it for ourselves. Soon enough, a line of monks glad in orange robes walked past, whilst villagers sat at the roadside offering them food.
Dates I was there: 14-15 September 2011 The journey from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang was an unpleasantly bumpy one. There were six of us piled into the mini-bus along with our tour guide and the driver. Since there were three sets of three seats on the back, we divided into pairs and sprawled across them. I get car sick at the best of times and, as we swung around mountain corner after mountain corner, I could barely sit up straight. In fact, I couldn’t sit up at all. Instead, I had to lay across my seats with my travel buddy holding onto me, acting as my seatbelt to stop me from falling off. In that position, the ride was much more comfortable. I think I even dozed off.
12-13 September 2011 With a 9am start, we got a bit of a lie-in before leaving Vientiane for Vang Vieng and, after quite a bumpy ride, we arrived early afternoon. We checked into the Inthira hotel and went straight back out again to find food down by the river.