Universal Studios

Singapore – Jakarta – Borneo. Part I

We left Kuala Lumpur after a long wait for the 11pm night train. It was similar to our first one in Thailand; clean, but 2 inches too short to be completely comfortable. Again, we didn’t sleep but we saved on a night’s accommodation and that’s all that matters in life. We arrived in Singapore at 7am to a row of soldiers with sniffer dogs. The sign behind them had a skull and crossbones and said, ‘Death to drug traffickers’. Even though that didn’t apply to us, you couldn’t help but feel you became a drugs mule as you were sleeping and that you would pay for someone else’s sneaky crime. We passed with flying colours, (Noony got given a ‘I’m drug free and loving it’ badge to wear.)

The transport system in Singapore is undoubtedly the best we have ever been on. To start, it is driven by robots. Any secondary reason like horrific punctuality, air con and lightning speed to destination is moot. Not one person tried to sell us a taxi ride, accommodation or their sister’s womb. This is a first. Well done Singapore. We arrived at our budget hotel which, to our surprise, was very comfortable. Our first adventure was to find our own way all the way across the city to the museum. 5 minutes later, we arrived. We were given yet another robot with headphones that spoke to us and told us about all the things in the museum. The robot asked us to call it our ‘companion’. It even made a move on Noony, but she is very loyal. Explaining how good the museum is to you is like trying attach tyres to a tomato – a bit useless. So we shall move swiftly on to other topics.

The malls made for a good place to hang out. Those Americans did have it right. Prices were completely western so no token purchases were made. There were 7 malls, all connected by long underground tunnels, which you have to walk, escalate, hover or crawl to. Richard O’Brian would sometime pop round the corner and play the harmonica.

After a day of window shopping, we thought it best to go to Universal Studios, Singapore. To those that don’t know, it is a film based theme park. Our particular themes were Madagascar, Shrek, Jurassic Park, Waterworld, The Mummy as well as obvious places like Hollywood and 1930s New York. It was bloody fantastic. The best ride was the mummy ride where you plummeted underground and took the entire ride in complete darkness apart from moving images of Imotept SCREAMING at you,”You’re going to die!” Noony wouldn’t have seen it as she had her eyes closed from just before joining the queue. I had to force myself to laugh as I went round to stop myself from being scared and mainly from vomiting onto Noony’s eyelids. I still don’t feel quite right.

The next day, we an exciting opportunity to visit the airport. We planned to get there early to warm up the brass band but as we didn’t realise that Singapore airport is so big it has its own metro system, Andrea arrived before us with a direct flight from Heathrow. She came here as a child and so wasn’t as shocked by the lack of white people and Asian mannerisms like were on our entry to Bangkok, although I still profess to this day that Bangkok is mental.

As her time was short in Singapore we gave Andrea a choice of what she wanted to do. We couldn’t in our wildest dreams have guessed what she wanted to do. She wanted to go to the Zoo. And to the Zoo we went. Considering that we are going to Borneo in a few days, all I will say about the Zoo is that at the animal show called “The Rainforest Fights Back”, the tribes people walked around the packed arena with their shields and spears eyeballing the crowd. I smiled at one of the actors which I still regret. He handed me the spear and I became the SOLE audience member dragged on stage. They then pointed at my t-shirt and pointed at their naked, toned, perfect torsos, then looked at me. Feeling the ‘naked’ dream crash through the crowd into reality. I suddenly felt incredibly body conscious, wanting to explain in native tongue that I didn’t normally look like this and that 5 months of not eating much causes me to be two stone lighter than normal. After a lot of subtle persuasion from the hunter/gatherers I took off my top and continued to tense my torso for the duration of what they made me do. They wanted me to copy their exaggerated war chants, tribal moves and sexy dances. Noony filmed it all and whether we leak it onto the Internet or not is a matter for the future. I look bloody skinny.

The next day we headed to Jakarta, Indonesia.

The only cheap hostel we could find online for three people was in the south of the city. We touched down at 5pm, on a Friday, in rush hour, on one of the biggest cities on the planet to find a taxi driver who didn’t know where he was going. Over three hours later the taxi found its way to our most unusual guesthouse yet. The 15 foot metal gates swung open to reveal a mansion set amongst tropical gardens. There were antiques donning every table, there was a well in the hall, a stuffed tiger opposite the gold stitched chez long and three 60″ TVs in the lounge. They had a power cut in the evening so we sat by the pool by candlelight and caught up with friend news from back home.

The next day we flew to Borneo, home of the orangutans…