Posts Tagged With: Rick Astley

Oh Singapore, you never fail to please!

It’s official. I’m in love with Singapore. When I landed at Changi airport on Thursday it felt like I’d come home. I know that sounds really sad but it’s true. I was very happy to be back. I headed to Aljunied, my MRT station a stone’s throw from the hostel. I’m staying across the road from where I stayed last time, partly because I knew where it was, mainly because it was the cheapest on hostelbookers.com.

I arrived quite early, too early to check in according to the stroppy receptionist (she is genuinely mental), so I took the opportunity to head into the city and hit the malls. I walked loads, which probably wasn’t the best idea seeing as I’d spend the next two days pretty much on my feet. Oh well! I saw loads of Singapore that I didn’t quite see the first time – Chinatown, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, the Botanical Gardens…so it was worth the walk.

I thought that Friday might be a good chance to escape from the city before two days of malls, music and madness followed by Bangkok on Monday. So I took the MRT to Tanah Merah and hopped on a bus to Changi village, where you can catch a bumboat (don’t ask, I don’t know why they’re called that) to Pulau Ubin. Danny Wallace went there when he took a weekend trip to Singapore in Yes Man, which I read in Malaysia, and I’ve been intrigued ever since.

It’s essentially one of the last escapes in Singapore from the malls, MRT and money. It’s a small island that can easily be explored in a day by foot or bike, just don’t stay too late because the boats only leave when there’s 12 people! I hired what I’m going to call an “Amsterdam bike” – basket, high handlebars, no gears – and headed to the coastal boardwalk that takes you out to sea and back again. A bit like a pier. It’s a lovely place to spend the day, but being worried about not making it back in time, I headed back to the jetty at lunch time.

“Are you getting the boat?” a prim and proper lady asked me in an Australian accent.

“Yes, how many of us are there?” The jetty was full of men sat around, so I wasn’t expecting to be waiting long.

“Six! I’ve been here an hour already!”

“Oh, but all these men…?”

“They are just waiting for business. They’ve all got boats, but, they’re just waiting to fill them. Maybe we should just charter the boat? It’s $30, so between the six of us, $5 each.”

Not feeling I really had a choice, I had to agree with the posh lady and pay double the fare! Never mind, it got me back in time for a chilled out afternoon in Little India – another area I thought I saw last time, but it’s now apparent I didn’t.

Walking around the city over the past couple of days, I literally had to bite my tongue with excitement to stop myself from jumping up and down whenever they played Shakira clips in the street or Sebastian Vettel was advertising a watch on the side of a bus. It’s all very exciting! So I couldn’t get much sleep. I therefore started my Saturday very early at ION mall at Orchard MRT station with the intention of weaving my way in and out of the malls (and air conditioning) all the way down to City Hall, where Gate 3 into Zone 4 awaited me. This plan worked and at 3pm I headed into Zone 4!

I was instantly amazed at how close to the track you could get, and then even more amazed when I later found the bridge with the track on one side and audience on the other. As a short person, I was rather pleased to find lots of free standing platforms to raise you up without the help of Westlife to get a better view of the races.

However, I was clearly more of a Shakira fan than others because by the time she’d finished on Saturday night, the platforms were jammed for the qualifying. Speaking of Shakira, she was amazing, as expected. I was glad I got the wristband given to me because I was so close! Take a look here to see what I caught of the show.

Sadly, I was a little too slow getting food and so had no chance to see Rick Astley as the seating area around the Esplanade stage was absolutely rammed with people who have probably been Rickrolled at least once in their life and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. HOWEVER – not sadly, this bit’s exciting – from where I was stood, Rick Astley did walk right past me (literally less than a metre!) as he headed to the stage. HOWEVER – sadly, this bit’s devastating – I’d treated myself to a coconut and had slightly sticky hands and couldn’t get to my camera. Told you, devastating. He sounded good though. Well, as good as cheesy 80’s pop can sound.

After the qualifying, Shaggy was next in line on the entertainment front. He was pretty good. The audience were pretty annoying. I’d got there nice and early, making the most of my wristband and was one row back in the fan zone – even closer than I was to Shakira! After watching the end of the qualifying on the big screen, out popped Shaggy. And in popped a bunch of people “excuse me-ing” their way in front of me and the girl next to me. Who was even shorter than me. To be expected at a gig so we didn’t mind too much, but when some other guy tried it on I wasn’t having any of it.

“Excuse me,” he pointed to his ‘friend’ in front as he attempted to make his way past me.

I tapped him on the shoulder, “Ehh! Where you going?”

“My friend…”

“Who? Where? Nuh uh, I’m stood here, get back.” And I made my way in front of him and carried on cheering. Felt brilliant.

After such a good day I couldn’t wait for Sunday!

I did the same as Saturday and drooled at the drinks menus in the food courts of the malls as I made my way down to gate 3. A band called London Fog played early on the Esplanade stage. You know in Mean Girls when Janis draws the canteen for Cady? Well these guys would be sat on the Cool Asians table. I managed to catch a bit of Earth Collide who performed some acoustic covers of Muse, The Killers etc, before heading back to the Esplanade to catch Forbidden Broadway, which was very funny. Definitely worth a Youtube search if you get the chance! Or just click here for The Lion King segment and click away in the sidebar for more.

Then of course, the reason all this was happening, it was race time! I left Forbidden Broadway early despite absolutely loving it and there still being 40 minutes until the race started. Ahh ha! I wasn’t going to be caught out like yesterday! I was going to get up on that platform!

No I wasn’t. Still full. How long had these people been waiting?! I did get right up to the front of the barrier though so could see (and hear) pretty well! After about 10 laps of jumping onto the barrier each time the cars came round, I decided this could get quite tedious 61 times, and so headed for a screen. Ahh ha! I wasn’t going to be caught out again! I had a plan, I headed for the Padang field where Linkin Park would be performing after the race. This time, the plan worked! I wasn’t too far back from the end of the fan zone (no wristband this time) and sat on the grass in between two parts of the track watching on the big screen.

It all got very tense at the end when Jenson Button nearly caught up with Vettel, everyone started standing up! So up I got and stayed that way until the last few songs of Linkin Park, by which point the sweat was dripping down the backs of my legs and I had to get out, so I made my way backwards to a bigger space where I could breathe and soon it was all over.

It really was an amazing weekend and I’d recommend it to anyone! One of the many immigrants staying in my dorm looking for work (long story, not going to go into it now, this post is long enough as it is!) told me that Abu Dhabi is a good track, maybe that should be next…

I’ll be uploading some clips of Shaggy, Linkin Park and of course the racing over the next couple of days, so check my Youtube channel to see what I saw!

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Categories: Singapore, South East Asia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Thoughts on Penang (and other exciting news!)

In keeping with the rest of Malaysia, Penang is very nice. In difference to the Cameron Highlands, Penang is very hot! I haven’t really sweated yet since I’ve been away, yeah, it’s been hot, but Penang? WOAH! I’m thinking it could just have been the change from shivering at night in the Cameron Highlands to stepping off the plane into a blanket of heat but wow!

After my wonderful night at Jim’s Place, (not only was there a bratty jungle kid but my fan didn’t work!!) I awoke bright and early and was ready to leave ASAP. I showered, packed my bag, checked the map for an idea of which direction to head for cheap hotels and so I was set. I headed downstairs. Complete darkness. Brilliant. The shutters were down, no-one was around…then I saw a man on the sofa. It was Jim.

“Jim? Jim?” I whispered, “Jim?”

He stirred.

“I need to leave now”

“Ok. You can go out the back, baby.” That’s the kind of guy Jim was. He had notice boards on the wall filled to the brim with quotes from “Sir Jim”, mainly about having sexual intercourse with the Thai population.

Glad to have finally left, I ended up in Banana Guest House! Doesn’t sound much better, does it? Thankfully, it was, and I had a very pleasant last night’s rest in Penang. A much needed one after my 8km trek through Taman Negara Pulau Penang earlier that day. That’s Penang National Park to you and me. It was a fun, sweaty hour and a half before reaching a beautiful white sandy beach with a turtle conservation centre – and a tank full of baby sea turtles! It was very cute!

I met a lovely man called Izman and his two cousins who were so kind, and gave me a lift to the Toy Museum that I’d seen on my way over. However, when I got to the entrance, I noticed the ticket price – as far as I could make out, it would have cost me 100RM (20quid!) just to see some toys. I was kinda hoping for 1-10RM…so I headed to the bus stop straight away to catch a bus back into town.

“Where do you want to go?” came an angry sounding voice from the shelter.

“Err, I need bus 101? Into the city, Komtar?”

“Ahh, yes, ok, it will come. But i’ve been waiting half an hour already. Huh!” She was quite a character, “So where are you from?”

“England.”

“Ooo, long way. How do you like Malaysia?”

“I love it! I was in Indonesia before, and I hated it. So Malaysia is great in comparison!”

She nodded and smiled. We sat for a few moments and then she asked, “What do you believe?”

“I’m sorry?”

“What do you believe? Like, God, religion? Are you a Christian?”

“Oh, I’m not religious. I…don’t know what to believe.” This was an easier answer than getting into a religious debate. I turned the tables, “And you?”

“I’m a Christian. I used to be a Hindu but then I changed. What is the point of a religion when I can’t do anything, you know? But being a Christian, I can ask for forgiveness, you can’t do that in Hinduism, I mean, we all make mistakes sometimes, we need to ask for forgiveness and my old religion didn’t allow for mistakes so now being Christian LOGOS HOPE!!!” The endless monologue was interrupted when two minibuses drove past with the words “Logos Hope” on the side.

“What’s Logos Hope?” I asked.

“It’s a boat, a travelling book fair, and it’s here in Penang, first time in Malaysia and first time in Penang and it’s here!”

What a lovely idea. A book boat shop that travels the world.

She was chatting all the way on the bus too. A very nice, open woman called Mala.

The following morning I left Penang and after a few hours stop in Kuala Lumpur airport, I arrived in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah on Borneo yesterday. So far, so good! I caught the bus into town for 30p as opposed to at least a tenner for a taxi and went for some lunch in a shopping centre. I found a small cafe in a supermarket where I chowed down on a plate of fried noodles for 40p, only to be filmed by the women on the next table…I wasn’t literally chowing the noodles down, I’m not a dog. I was eating sensibly despite being ravenous. So that wasn’t the reason they were filming me. I did still have my backpack on but get a life! I even turned back as I walked away and she was still filming me!!

It was a half hours walk from the bus station to Lucy’s Homestay (the cheapest in the book!) and if they were full there looked to be plenty of other options nearby. Thankfully, they had space and I’m now in a lovely hostel for the next three nights (well, two now!) with free breakfast and wi-fi AND I’ve had my laundry done! Hooray!

Even more exciting news is…

  1. I may be able to do a try dive in the Semorna Archipelago – apparently one of the best dive spots in the world!
  2. I have planned Borneo down to a T and should be able to hit the orang-utans (not literally), Semporna, Gunung Mulu National Park and Kuching within a time span allowing me to…
  3. GO TO SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX!! Yes! How amazing is that?! It falls just when I’m ready to leave Borneo, flights from Kuching are dirt cheap (I’ve already booked one!) and Shakira, Linkin Park, Shaggy AND Rick Astley are playing!! I mean come on, Rick Astley? Cherry on top of a fantastic cake or what?! It’s a night race around a track in the city centre so different to most races around the world. What a cool place to see my first Grand Prix! Of course, I’ll be rooting for Hamilton and Button….if I’m not too busy singing along to Rick Astley that is!

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Categories: Malaysia, Singapore, South East Asia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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