A Whole New World

Or: Clearly I’ve been to Singapore

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At Brisbane right before my flight to Singapore I run into an old friend. One of my jungle mates happens to share the exact same flight (I figure, once you’ve spent three days in the jungle together bathing in each others pubic hair you’re allowed to call yourself a friend). And as coincidence has it, the seat next to me stays empty, so once we’re in the air, he comes to sit with me. This turns out to be an enormous relief for me, as we endure some shitty turbulences which felt like were going on for 2 hours+ (I swear I am never boarding a plane again) – in actuality probably only 10 minutes. I’m having a slight panic attack which causes the guy in front of us to start a war. We can’t really hear him over the noise of the plane (his answer to our questions are “You heard me!”) but the annoyed look on his face speaks for itself. It doesn’t help my already upset stomach thinking that it might come to a fight in 10km height but finally he sees sense and asks the flight attendant to move him to another seat.

We do make it to Singapore alive, where my jungle mate and I have one last cup of coffee (slang for McDonalds meal) together until we go our separate ways.

 

And then I realize it as the humidity hits me in the face: I am in freaking Singapore. For years I’ve dreamed of coming to South East Asia and now that I’m finally here, it feels so surreal. I have to hold back screams in the back of my throat when the taxi to my hostel passes the Singapore Flyer and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in the distance.

 

My hostel is located in the Arabian district (subtly labeled Arab street) and is quite clean. Some might be surprised that I am surprised. I can’t quite figure out how to use these showers, though.. they say “Made in Germany” but that’s clearly a lie. Like the Gucci labels. The toilet and shower are in the same tiny room, so I end up just hosing myself down with the thing that I am sure is for those Asians who don’t use toilet paper. But let’s keep that our secret. We’re all friends here, right?

 

It turns out I’m an excellent haggler when next morning, a tailor on Orchard Road (that’s the main shopping road) offers to make me a dress and goes down S$200 in price because I keep telling him that all this is very nice but I honestly cannot afford it (it wasn’t tactic, my good man). As my first time in Asia, I would feel horrible to just ignore him and walk away, so after 20  minutes I manage to excuse myself by saying I will think about it and come back later.

In Chinatown, the only shopping street I can afford, a friendly lady shows me how to use chop sticks which kind of forces me to buy a pair. While walking down the street, I keep practicing. This seems to make all shopkeepers I pass very happy and they tell me I am a natural. I am sure they were being genuine.

 

ImageSingapore ❤s you

 

 

My favorite place in Singapore is definitely the Gardens by the Bay – especially at night. It’s like Darnassus has come to life and I honestly don’t want to leave. If someone made me choose one place on earth where I had to spend the rest of my life this would be it. It’s my fantasy come true. For those of you who don’t know: Darnassus is the capital city of the Night Elfs in World of Warcraft. And that’s enough Nerdism for today.

 

2 days is not nearly enough to see all of what Singapore has to offer. It’s a beautiful and clean city that keeps me occupied, but also a bit too pricy for me. Cheaper than Sydney, that’s for sure, but if I am to survive in Asia for another 8 weeks (and I have to – flight back to Australia is already booked!) I need to get out of here. Everyone in Singapore speaks nearly perfect English, so booking a bus is easy-peasy. Only finding the bus stop causes a bit of a problem. But Asians tend to freely ask if you need any help if you’re starting to look too puzzled, and politely point me in the right direction. Next destination: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

 

 

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A Beauty and a Beast

Or: All good things come in Threes – The Lord of the Rings, Tequila Shots and Starter Pokemon

 

 

I usually like long journeys (except planes. I just don’t trust anything so heavy that high up in the air. Yes, it does interfere a bit with my plans to travel the world. I guess I’m just gonna have to buy really comfy hiking boots. And get a boat license. And a boat. And a few million bucks).

As I was saying; it gives me time to catch up on my reading and/or writing. I love looking out of the window, watch the landscape pass by and think, make up stories. I’m a straight-up mind person. Everything is happening up there for me. As opposed to, down there, I guess. That’s why my mind is so easily fucked. It’s also the reason why I don’t like to drink very often (which didn’t make me many backpacking friends. Seriously, sometimes I felt I was being 13 years old again having to prove something. The Oktoberfest being part of my culture also didn’t help much to change people’s perception of me).

Anyway (I’m a little distracted today, aren’t I) – This time, the 8 hour journey from Leeton to Sydney seems never-ending. Maybe that’s because it’s winter and even though I have left the Fruitshack early in the morning, it is as dark as a monkey’s butthole when I finally arrive. Or maybe, it’s just because I can’t wait to get there. You know why. I know why. Everyone knows why. Because Mindfuck. Still on the train, I already know what I’m gonna do. I am also pretty sure of the outcome. Why am I doing it anyway? Because, reasons. Shut up and go away.

 

In the city, I meet up with my old roommate who, despite me taking my time to actually talk to her for the first time, turns out to be pretty amazing. She sort of runs her own café. She knows everyone who is walking by, never shy to give out a scoop of ice cream or wise words over a cup of tea, and is always smiling and happy. It’s a modern take on Cheers, if you will.

So as we sit in her café basically all freakin day – even long after it’s closed – we have some of these life-changing, eye-opening conversations that I cherish so much. She makes me feel my age, for once, instead of an immature fantasy-loving basement troll who is never gonna be happy unless I gain the ability to shoot energy balls out of my bare hands and enslave the rest of humanity to do my bidding. In case you were wondering – that’s a good thing. The first thing, not the latter. I am definitely not crazy. Definitely. Trust me.

My dream was to one day be able to say “I’ve lived in Sydney for two years, and then I’ve lived in Tokyo for three years, and after that I went to New York for 7 months..” etc. and not to say “I rushed through Australia in a year”. I wanted to experience every little nook of a city, become a part of it, LIVE there. This is where I went wrong when I thought I had to travel up the East coast back in November just because I have a backpack, even though Sydney actually offered everything that I wanted (yes, for the rest of my life I’ll ask myself where the thing with Gustav could have went if I had stayed). I like being abroad, but I don’t enjoy traveling.

 

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Australian Gilmore Girls. Sorta.

 

And that’s when I decide to take a time-out. Take the little money I earned from farmwork and go to South East Asia as I’ve always wanted. As much as I like to occupy myself with the lovey-dovey stuff, I have to clear my head and think straight again. After, I can come back to Straya and do what I came to do – make money. Just not in Sydney anymore (seriously, I am not making this situation any better). In the words of Elrond: “Why do you linger here where there’s no hope?”

I send out a very last message (for real this time) to Gustav saying my goodbyes. I try to make it sound less sappy and more casual. Which I know won’t matter in the end, but whatever. Gustav reads my message but – Surprise! – doesn’t dignify it with an answer. That’s probably a good thing. Makes it more 500 Days of Summer-esque. Maybe that’s why I keep writing him, hanging on to something that isn’t real so I don’t have to face something real. I can just pretend this is was something special.

“You-hoo-hooo-hoo think we’re something that we’re not”, sings some starlet ironically on the radio in the mall, –

as I spend my last day in Sydney walking around my favorite places one last time. This includes Ultimo, where I lived for a couple weeks (really nothing to see here, I just like it), the CBD, because I am a big fan of rush hour and love complaining about people running into me, and, of course – Hyde Park, where I want to drink my last decent Flat White and have a slice of cheesecake. It has a nostalgic kind of value to me. Okay, I lied. It’s no slice of cheesecake. It’s actually a whole cheesecake.

 

Half a year in this country, I never even lost so much as a pair of knickers. But suddenly, my phone is gone. I am freaking out. No way I can enjoy my cheesecake now. Hectically I go through all my pockets. It happens to me a lot that I think I lost something valuable, but turns out I just forgot where I had put it. Not this time. My first idea is to backtrack – coffee shop. As I start walking still going through all my pockets and whispering “Fuck Fuck Fuck” to myself, a guy behind me stops me.

“Uhm, excuse me.. uh.”

I turn. “What?!”

“Uhm, I just, uhm, I saw you over there and uhm, I wanted to ask you for your phone number, maybe.. uh..”

I look at him with tears in my eyes.

“I just lost my phone!!” I cry out and walk away. I don’t realize what the guy had actually said until I see him a minute later on the other end of the park, where he instantly turns and walks back the way he just came when he sees me.

The café owner is nice enough to call my number, and, when no one picks up, to send a text saying to please return the phone to his place. He says I can check in again later or tomorrow.

 

I am pretty sure I lost my phone at the souvenir shop (I so badly wanted an I ♥ Sydney-mug). I knew it was a bad idea to put it in the not very deep pocket of my jeans when I did, so I don’t know why I did it in the first place (this seems to be my thought process for a lot of things). I ask the Chinese ladies at the counter if anyone returned a phone to them. “Yes, indeed”, they say. “Two girls and a boy brought one here saying they found it and left, but 5 minutes later they came back saying it was theirs after all, so we gave it to them. So sorry, we didn’t know!” I have to hold back not to scream at them. Because me killing three tiny Chinese ladies would be considered a hate crime, when it’s actually their idiocy and not their race that aggravates me. The irony in all this will be, that I have found two phones while staying in Sydney, and I returned them both to their respective owners. Spoiler Alert: I, on the other hand, won’t see my phone again.

 

In a last-ditch effort, I go back to the café the next day before my bus leaves to see if anyone replied to the café owner’s messages. To no luck.

“I don’t care about the phone, it was a piece of crap anyway. I’m just really sad for all the pictures and memories that are gone.”

He makes a sad face. “Here, let me make you some coffee, on the house.” There is nothing a free cup of coffee can’t fix in Sydney. When I turn around to leave, I stop. “You know,” I start, slightly turning my head, smiling. “I’m definitely gonna come back to Syndey. I love this city!” And I totally mean it.

“Yes”, he beams back at me, “it’s a great place, eh?”

 

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When the night bus leaves the train station, I am having trouble holding some tears back. I wish I would have done things differently. I wasn’t supposed to feel that way. I was supposed to have the time of my life, like everyone said. And I feel like I could have, if I had not felt pressured into doing something that was never on my list in the first place.

In the morning, very close to Brisbane, where my plane to Singapore is leaving from in a week’s time, I see my own reflection in the bus window. With heavy bags and dark shadows underneath my eyes. I hate myself lately. I’m just a pile of whiny bullcrap because I’ve been feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders again. The blob is annoyingly active these days. Time to calm it down with cheap massages, soothing temples and of course, bugs out of a frying-pan.

 

ImageI took it as a sign. GET IT??