After a few days in Hong Kong, I headed to the ferry terminal to go to Macau. Despite two separate ports with frequent sailings, the ticket issued to me was for the noon sailing, almost two hours after I got there. I tried getting on standby but no luck. So I sailed at noon, arriving in Macau at 1:00. Then it took almost a half hour to get through the passport check.
Realizing I didn’t have much time until my flight, I grabbed a taxi and went to see one of the temples. I had my backpack with me, and it was too hot to wander around for too long. After a short visit, I decided to look for a quick lunch. The main reason I wanted to go to Macau was the food. The Portugese-Chinese mix intrigued me. But I could only find really expensive restaurants in my vicinity. Frustrated, hungry and running out of time, I left for the airport and bought a sandwich there. Macau didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped but at least I got to see a little of the city.
My flight to Kuala Lumpur arrived around 9pm and I ended up with the friendliest taxi driver for the one hour journey to the city. I was curious to see what the US$10 hostel I booked would look like. Maybe my expectations were low, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a clean room and a very sweet woman running the place. The bathroom, although clean, was set up in a way that it was impossible to shower without getting the toilet wet. But hey, how much could I really expect for US$10?
In the morning I started walking towards the Petronas Towers which used to be the tallest buildings in the world. I believe they’re number 3 or 4 now. I ended up running into a couple from Melbourne, always nice to meet someone new along the way. After taking some pictures of the gorgeous towers, a few guys from Bangladesh came over and wanted their picture taken with me. Suddenly a few turned into an entire tour group of about 30, each sitting next to me one at a time while their friends took turns snapping away. Ken from Melbourne and I just laughed while this went on for about 10 minutes. Apparently a white girl in a tank top was a bit of a novelty to a group of guys from a country where women cover up. So let me know if you see me on Facebook profiles in Bangladesh.
After wandering the city for a few hours and eating amazing Indian food for lunch at a little hole in the wall place, I hopped on a one hour flight to Singapore. The hostel there was better in that I had air conditioning instead of just a ceiling fan, but the bathroom was even more cramped and a little dingy. But I had a clean room, a/c, a comfy bed, and free breakfast for about US$40. It was also about 2 blocks from a big food court type place with 20 or 30 different vendors to choose from. For dinner I had rice and what I think was sweet and sour chicken with a soda. Total cost: just under US$3. Can’t beat that! I spent the next day walking through the city to see the famous Raffles Hotel. I was feeling a little burnt out so I decided to splurge on an overpriced lunch and piña colada in the tropical courtyard of the hotel. That recharged me. Before I knew it I was on my way back to the airport to board a flight to Perth, Australia.
Even though I didn’t spend too much time in Malaysia and Singapore, I really enjoyed what I did get to experience in both countries. The mix of people and cultures in both places kept things interesting. I had never been that close to the equator (Singapore is only one degree north of the equator) so the heat and humidity were overwhelming, but the scenery was stunning. Kuala Lumpur was a little more run down, dirtier and more gritty than Singapore, but still a very modern city. My expectations of Singapore were of a clean, sterile city. While it was much more pristine than Kuala Lumpur, I still saw litter and people smoking despite what I had heard about the strict laws. Another thing I noticed about both places was the smaller number of tourists in comparison to what I saw in Hong Kong, and definitely less than what I’m used to seeing in Europe. It kind of made me feel like I was seeing more reality and less of a tourist trap, which was nice.