The hard road

30 Sep 2006

Was on a path to nowhere, the harder the road,The more broken baggage we carry the larger the load

The internet access at the new hostel's just as hopeless, but at least it's close to some netcafes. We were migrating from one hostel to another, walking casually on a crowded footpath alongside Rochor Canal Rd (a main street), when I heard a loud bang. In Adelaide, this means a car backfire, so when I casually glanced back and saw A MAN WIELDING A RIFLE I was alarmed. Nobody seemed to be running, and, wearing 12kg backpacks, we can't, so we were lumbering slowly away when the man picked something up, got back into his car, and drove off.

That's when we spotted the sign on the side of the car, which read "Crow culling. Keep clear". At least he's a good shot.

Even when no gunfire is involved, shopping is hopeless in Singapore. Everything costs too much, the sellers are always pushy, and even in Funan (the IT mall) the range is disappointingly small. We'd have been better off at Ted's in Adelaide. But after two solid days of effort, we're now armed with an Olympus FE-170. So far I stand by my allegiance to the keyboard, because it's taken less time to type this than to upload Lyn's photos over this surprisingly-slow connection.

Back at the hostel, we were instructed to take a taxi to a nearby monastery and meet a man called Chen, on the first door on the left past the fountain. Standing on a chaotic street corner in the pouring rain, armed only with my wits and a Brazilian named Rafael, I was starting to feel like I was in an episode of the Amazing Race.

At the monastery Chen gave us some fascinating insights into Buddhism (friendly, peaceful and helpful) and Singapore's bureaucracy (not so much). The trains run on time, but not without cost.

It's impossible to walk quickly in Singapore. It's too hot, the footpaths are too narrow, and the traffic is, in the words of a local, "merciless". So it took me nearly an hour to hike back to the first hostel, retrieve my towel (which had completely failed to dry, having fallen off the line and into a puddle), and hike back.

We had a fantastic Vietnamese dinner courtesy of a Couchsurfer called Leo. It's beginning to look like we'd better get over there.