6 - 10 September 2015
I couldn’t ride into town as the only way from Changi Airport is the highway. Also I wanted to keep the box for the flight to Denmark a few days later, which left me two choices. Either taking a ridiculously expensive big taxi to/from the airport or - as I did - leaving it in Lost & Found, which cost about half.
In Singapore, I stayed with my friend Lars and his lovely family – wife Donna and daughter Anna. I have been to Singapore a couple of times before and explored the city extensively, so I had no desire to do lots of sightseeing. Also the weather was hot, humid and hazy which made walking less pleasant and pictures less interesting. Still I did spend a day walking 25k around downtown Singapore primarily along the river and around Marina Bay.
The rest of the time, I spent relaxing and hanging out with Lars and the family amongst other biking to the ocean where we had a delicious dinner at an outdoor food stall.
6 – 21 January 2016
I returned to stay with Lars and family just after New Year’s. We were 3 hours delayed out of Helsinki so it got much too late to consider biking to Lars’ place. The temperature was about the same as 4 months’ earlier (a pleasant change from cold Denmark) but more often a lovely blue sky - however I neither had the energy or time to go sightseeing once more just to take better pictures. The only sightseeing I got was when I went around town to do errands. I found some spare bike parts I forgot in Denmark but had no luck finding Southeast Asian or Chinese road maps (in Chinese and English). Consequently, I spent a lot of time preparing alternative routes from google maps – not the best solution but better than nothing. I hope my offline phone maps work but I can’t count on it before I tried them in a less civilised area.
Despite having had several months in Denmark I still hadn’t finished the extensive planning necessary for navigating Asia so besides directions/mapping, I spent a lot of time gathering visa information about the 10 countries along the way where it’s required. In Singapore, I got my Myanmar visa the same afternoon as I applied in the morning but I couldn’t get a Chinese visa as they only issue 30 days validity and I need about 90 days to reach the Chinese border. It’s a big challenge only to get 2 weeks in Thailand, not being able to extend my 28 days Myanmar visa and only be able to extend a Chinese visa once. I might be able to make it on the bike but what’s the point racing against time not seeing anything or meeting anybody – and being heavily fined and expelled if I don’t make it. It’s against my principles but I might have to take public transport some stretches to avoid visa overstaying - time will tell.
I left Lars and family 20 January and headed towards Malaysia. However, I only biked 25k before the rear gear overshot and the chain broke 6-7 spokes and severely damages the rest. It was a brand new wheel which I expected to go all the way to Europe and now it was destroyed after few kilometres. Impossible to bike so I took a taxi back to the bike shop I knew in town and they sent me to their main shop downtown. The chief mechanic Melo kindly put everything else aside and built me a new wheel though he didn’t have the strong touring spokes so I can only hope it will last. Having overstayed the hospitality of Lars’ family, I found a cheapish hostel where I shared dorm with Canadian Mark. We had many interesting conversations in the evening and morning so I decided to stay another day where we did a daytrip to small island Pulau Ubin east of Singapore main island. It was a nice trip though the best part was the interesting company.