Cooling my Heels

Sun, 04 May 2008 09:20:47 +0000

Singapore. Joy. Index A Couple of Chores

Getting out of Singapore is not going to be as easy as getting in. I had planned to fly in, stay overnight, and leave again. In fact I'm going to be staying here three nights. Of all the places on my itinerary to get stuck, Singapore is surely the dullest.

So the only activity today was trying to get out of the place. I started out using the Costa Sands Resort's wifi to try to figure out the ferries to Pelambang. No go. Clearly, around the straits, boats are for peasants, and peasants can wait. People like myself, on a schedule, are expected to fly. So I decided to just go to Changi and see if anyone would sell me a ticket to Pelambang for a reasonable price. By the way, I will give Singapore this: it has a very, very accessible airport. Most cities, casually rocking up to the airport would cost a couple night's accomodation and most of the day. Here it's just a short subway ride away.

Which is lucky, because my mission at the airport was an utter failure. I was hoping that a budget airline might have a cheap flight. The budget airline is "Tiger Air", but they only fly to about a dozen places, and Pelambang isn't one of them (although Perth is: I wish I'd known that before booking with Qantas). Silk Air apparently does fly to Pelambang, but they don't have a ticket counter. I eventually found Garuda's ticket counter, and they code-share with Silk. But their flights to Pelambang were all booked up for the next two days, and I couldn't face the prospect of three whole days stuck in Singapore.

So I'm switching to plan C. This involves going to Kuala Lumpur, and trying to catch a ferry from there to Medan. That way I can say I visited Sumatra, if only briefly. Then I return to Kuala Lumpur and continue as planned. This has a couple of advantages: I spend plenty of time in KL, which I want to do. It also means I have a couple of bites at the cherry for this damn Iranian visa, which is reassuring given the Syrian debacle.

Singapore to Kuala Lumpur is a train. Wikitravel has complex and confusing advice on this subject, but it's clear that booking online is the way to go. So how to get internet access? There's no free wifi at the new hostel. But what there is, is Singapore's attempt at free municipal wifi, my first encounter with such a beast. Their implementation requires a convoluted registration process, involving submitting your passport number and your mobile number, then having them SMS a password to you. I did this, but the SMS never arrived. Today is Mayday, a public holiday in Singapore (which I find surprising - sounds a bit bolshy for arch-capitalist Singapore). So it's just about possible that there is actually some bureaucrat in an office somewhere who has to look up my passport and make sure I'm not going to set off carbombs or sell chewing gum or commit some other atrocity with my wifi connection, and he's on holiday. Who knows.

So I went to an internet cafe. An hour and a half for a Singaporean dollar, and it was a nice machine. I can only assume that they supplement their income by keylogging tourists' visa card transactions. Anyway, it got me a ticket to Kuala Lumpur for the 3rd of May, which cost just EUR16. I've given myself an extra day in Singapore because the train leaves early, and I still have some stuff to do. In particular, I scouted out a pharmacy that stocks those nice one-a-week malaria pills, but couldn't actually buy them because it's Mayday. And I need to do my laundry.

But that will make four days in a row of having nothing interesting to report on the blog. Brace yourselves, people.

Singapore. Joy. Index A Couple of Chores