Here are some photos and notes from my most recent travels around Melbourne, Bangkok, and Singapore.
House-sitting in Melbourne was interesting. It felt more like we were living there (rather than visiting) and I got a pretty good feeling for what I liked and disliked. In summary:
- Liked: Food. Chinatown. Footscray. Walkability. Urban art. Visiting family.
- Disliked: Public transport. Police “crackdowns”.
We pretty much trained and walked everywhere. I ate nothing but Sichuan for a few days. Taking the morning train was horrendous! The first day we didn’t get on the first train because it was full (and late). The second day, they stopped and evacuated the train because someone passed out. Despite this, transport is expensive! $3.70 for a 2 hour ticket!?
Apparently J-walking is a major problem. While rushing to make an appointment (due to late trains) we ran across the road while the “red man” was flashing. A cop called us over and issued $58 fines (one each) while noting “Western Australia? I imagine that you have traffic lights over there.” I should have noted that we live in Albany and there are no traffic lights here (only roundabouts)… or not.
I was in Bangkok for my brother’s wedding. I won’t post many pictures from the event (it’s up to him what he wants to post on the Internet), but I will say that it was beautiful despite the amazing heat (44 degrees Celcius!).
We initially stayed at the Grand Tower Inn Sathorn since that’s where everyone else seemed to be staying. It was a charming hotel with a distinctly Thai feel (fairy lights, friendly staff, random gaudy decorations) but there was only one non-smoking room. After the wedding we moved to a Wotif mystery hotel… which was amazing.
Heidi has worked out (by matching descriptions) that the mystery hotel was Maduzi (Thai for “come have look at this”). The suites were huge and each featured (amongst other things):
- An entry way with illy coffee machine
- A full-length bed that was also wider than it was long
- Full-height windows along one wall
- An infinity edge bath that fills with water from the ceiling
- A printer-fax and wireless Internet access for complementary use
So that was pretty special. I’d stay there again… and so should you! Tourism has (obviously) taken a very hard hit with the recent protests in Bangkok, and a lot of small businesses (eg. clothing stores) will need support in order to stay in business when things calm down.
My impressions of Singapore may be slightly skewed because:
- We’d just stayed at one of best boutique hotels ever
- We were both kinda sick, probably having caught a cold during the wedding
- We were looking forwarding to returning home (to fresh home-cooked food and our cats)
Anyhow, here is my summary:
- Liked: I didn’t look too out of place (there were a lot of mixed-race people). Food. Singapore Slings. Red Dot Design Museum. Singlish. Public transport.
- Disliked: Expensive hotels (compared to Thailand). Pushy people in touristy areas (Night Safari). Very commercially oriented. Humidity. Being sick.
I can understand the commercialism in Singapore (no natural resources, so they have to rely on human resources and the financial services industry) but by this point in the trip consumerism was frustrating me. It feels like no matter where you go (in the world), people are preoccupied with eating, drinking, and shopping. I enjoy eating, and I partake in drinking on occasion, but I don’t get shopping for stuff as a pass-time.
I guess that we could’ve done other things if we had planned ahead (eg. taking cooking classes in Thailand in 2009 was a great experience)… and despite my apparent dislike of shopping, I did pick up a few DS games while in Singapore (Picross 3D and WarioWare DIY; Picross is great, but I haven’t tried WarioWare yet).
There were some interesting things in Singapore though. Such as an escalator in a park so that people didn’t have to walk up a hill. There are obviously nice people too; Heidi lost her wallet at the Night Safari, but was later contacted via Facebook by someone who had found it (and was sending it to us forthwith and post-haste).