Dedicated to a wonderful Mother Jean Noble 31/5/1929 - 20/8/2007 - may we never take our mothers for granted. - Goodbye Mum
SINGAPORE PAGE 1 OF 1 FEBRUARY 2009
BACK to Vietnam | On to Perth Western Australia and the end of our Cycling
Monies in Aussie Dollars
Monday 23rd February 2009 Saigon District 1 to Singapore - “Little India”
We left our hotel about 6am and packed everything into one taxi....
Arriving at the airport, we weighed each bag with trepidation.... our bikes were 500 grams below the max weight of 30kg. My backpack was exactly 7kg (max weight) and our “hold baggage” was within a few grams of max weight.... The check in lady called security and we pointed out the “conditions of carriage”... - which we took the precaution of printing out.
“But sir”, “you have 66 kilograms of luggage”.... “But Madam!”, “we paid for 67 kilograms of luggage”... “Please look at the conditions of carriage”... After much conversation between the staff – in Vietnamese, we were given a “boarding pass”. Our bikes were taken to the “oversize x-ray and check in facility”.... That was it...
The moral here for a cyclist is BE PREPARED, have all you docs with you and “keep smiling”.... you catch more flies with honey than...... :-)
We watched our plane pull in.....
With seats, pre-booked ($4.00) to save the hassle of the free seating policy... we were in the second row. Tiger has quite a roomy seating arrangement, for a budget airline. We could have booked the “exit row” seats for an extra $20.00, but did not see the point on this short flight.
We arrived at the “spartan” budget terminal in Singapore....
Our experience follows..... It may NOT be your experience (You the reader that is).
We had bicycles and trailers - which double as a bag, wheels removed etc...
We went through the very pleasant immigration people, with whom we chatted... They gave us all the info we needed.
We collected our smaller bags at the carousel, then went to the "oversize" collection area (near customs)
A long wait ensued as they dispatched the smaller bags from our flight and one that landed ten minutes after us.
After we retrieved our bikes we we went to talk to the very pleasant customs guys, told them who we were and what we wanted to do... The guy waved us through after he was satisfied and directed us to left luggage..
We were charged S$79.00 (About $85.00 Australian) to keep our bikes and the two smaller bags for a 48 hour period ...
The process was quick (apart from the baggage collection). We were helped by nice people throughout.
Downside, is the horrendous charges to leave our bags... (Immigration warned us of this and suggested we look for any options that may exist)
There were no real options, lugging all this gear, two taxis, maybe even a van would have been required? Then and repeating this in two days! Plus of course, the problems finding a hotel. Most budget hotels are small with even smaller rooms. The “potential” problems could (would) have resulted in us paying more.
We “could” have used “couchsurfing” or “warmshowers”, but we feel we have imposed ourselves on enough good people.
We did not book a hotel, we have learned this is not the best way. Most of the “on line” hotels are not good value and once an accommodation option “hits” a guide book the prices seem to rise. Not rubbishing guide books, they are between a “rock and a hard place”, when it comest to advising their readers and recommending an accommodation.
We found a small room (6'6” X 6'6” or 200cm X 200cm) plus a space for the door to open and a tiny “combo” shower, sink and toilet”.
Due to it's tiny dimensions it had a LCD TV on the wall, a quiet small air conditioner, DVD player kettle and Coffee/tea/water, WiFi internet included, plus limited cable TV programming. Being Singapore it is clean and reasonably well maintained. Price S$50.00 (about AUD$55.00) per night. Quite cheap for Singapore with these facilities. We are in “Little India” and surrounded by mouth watering Vegetarian restaurants.......... Heaven :-)...
Wednesday 25th February 2009 Singapore - “Little India” - to our home in Perth Western Australia.
Both excited, leaving Singapore and looking forward to seeing family after about 20 months...
Singapore's airport staff were far more experienced than Saigon, we sailed through the check-in procedure without a hitch. Tiger airlines is probably the most “bike friendly” airline out of all – even so called “full service” airlines.
Singapore's budget terminal is certainly spartan, however, it is fast.
There are few crowds, low cost meals (for an airport), with Vegetarian options. Shopping is limited but was varied and cheap.
Writing this on the aircraft about two and a bit hours from home....
Next major is “customs” at Perth, notoriously difficult with the “might is right” attitude. Of all the countries travelled, Australia has the most “officious” customs people. Although we have not been, we are told America is worse – if that is possible. The upside to this – in part – is that it protects our country. I must say though, I do not know how it protects our country, putting a stamp on a blank page, somewhere in the middle of ones passport – those with few pages left, may have difficulties in the future getting those “full page” visas that some countries like to use. As I said, “might is right” and “you” are always wrong.
As a last entry I will re-state the end of cycling...
OUR CYCLING IS OVER – THANK YOU TO EVERYONE
This Diary has been a daily part of my life for over two years.... But, our cycling is now over and we return to Australia on the 25th February 2009. We had intended cycling more in Vietnam, however, it is too dangerous for us to continue on our Trikes. Initially our cycling was to be 5-7 years, but, the global financial meltdown has caught us in it's death grip.
All we can do is return and salvage what we can of our financial lives. We both know it is going to be tough and we are aware we will have an entirely different future than what “seemed” to be the case when we started.
The return date was set in mid 2008. when we could see the “writing on the wall”. Which was alluded to in our “Philosophy Pages” (Still being written) at the time. It was at this time we purchased our tickets on Tiger Airways. Luckily we purchased in Singapore Dollars that were AUD$0.70 at the time – now a Singapore dollar will cost us about AUD$1.05. Iceland is the only developed country to have dropped more than Australia.
We have now bought a ticket from Saigon to Singapore – Again on Tiger Airways as they are one of the few “bike friendly” airlines. We leave Saigon – (Ho Chi Minh City) on the 23rd of February 2009.
Our diary will continue until we get home, with photographs and daily reports – so please check in. There will be a couple more weeks of pictures and stories, plus, our journey home...
There is a daunting task ahead of us and that is, trying to thank so many people for their kindness and hospitality. I tried, but soon realised I could not name everyone and it would be unfair to single out those that helped “the most”.
Plus of course “the most” is very difficult to quantify, each and every time was “the most” for us..... For those with a lot and those that had so little and gave so much, we are truly humbled and grateful. We will never forget you all......
After our return we will send a “personal” thank you, to as many as possible.
Living our lives like we do, means some contacts will be lost – and are lost. It is just the nature of living out of a “Pannier”.
Our “Thumb Drive” which contained a lot of our contacts, was lost in Europe. The file was heavily encrypted, so even if the drive is found by someone, it would be next to impossible to get their details. Almost a year has passed since the loss and no one has reported a “compromise”.
Business cards, and other means of keeping addresses get wet, bleached and destroyed in a myriad of ways... Rest assured we will try our best to contact you all.
To those we have never met, who have emailed or signed our guestbook, we want to thank you too. Cycling in particular and travelling in general can take it's toll on ones “psyche”... it was always inspiring to get the messages of support and the criticism.
We only recorded A-B travel (town to town) on our website hence our statistics are rather meaningless, however we think we have cycled around 20,000 kilometres. As our computers have died many many times – as those reading this diary will know – they do not have the total mileage on them. Virtually none (just a little) of the mileage we did, when using the bikes for transport, on our lengthy stops, was recorded.
We have cycled in or through 18 countries.
Cycled on three continents
We have camped in temperatures well bellow freezing, in very oppressive heat, torrential rain and snow.
We have cycled in snow, snow storms, ice, and torrential rain.
We have eaten all manner of food and have both become Vegetarian, as a result of witnessing the most extreme animal cruelty.
We have made 7 flights with our bikes – The ONLY one who treated us badly, was Emirates – see warnings
Countless crossings of oceans, rivers and canals, by ships/boats of various types.
Travelled under and over several rivers.
Used train, bus, and car/ute/truck to transport our bikes.
Crossed more than 20 borders.
We have stayed in several hundred guesthouses/hotels/camping parks etc...
We have spent countless nights in the wilderness, in our tent.
Our CATRIKE trikes, NEVER let us down. Not ONE single standard component caused us any problem whatsoever.
Mal lost his Mum and she is very dearly missed.
Our dog Suzie has passed on and we miss her too.
I have a Grandaughter I have never seen.
We have stayed with over 25 families.
Have witnessed life on a level never before imagined.
Mal has lost about 20+ kilos (about 44 pounds).
Lee has remained stable throughout, however, muscle is heavier than fat, so she is very trim.
Both of us are fitter than at almost any time in our adult lives.
We have both gained that which is hard to quantify – a kind of acceptance and serenity.
Apart from severe sunburn in South Australia and flu in Britain, we have rarely been sick and are both healthy.
Australia changed its Prime Minister
America and Canada changed their leaders.
Britain Changed its P.M. – All of this, in the time we have been away.
Plus, there are many more political, financial and global changes, than ever seemed possible..
Couchsurfing – People you can stay with FREE all over the world.
Warmshowers - Cyclists you can stay with FREE all over the world.
WOULD WE DO IT AGAIN – NOT the same way.
DID WE ENJOY IT? - Most of it, a resounding, unequivocal YES!!!
The memories will last to our graves. The minor exceptions and altercations, have largely faded from memory.
We will cycle again, but, not the same route. Nor with much of the same equipment.
We are planning our next cycling adventure, but it will be China, Russia, Korea and Japan. If the middle east settles down, we will include India, Sri Lanka and many of the Arab-Islamic countries.
On our “wish-list” is the Americas, including Canada... But the vagaries of immigration – particularly the USA, makes this difficult.
All this depends on our ability to salvage whatever we can from our investments... If anything.... Or a bit of old fashioned LUCK.
WHAT WILL WE DO NEXT?
The simplest answer is “we do not know”. It is certain we need to find work, so if anyone out there wants a couple of people with our unique abilities.... We are not deterred by extreme challenges and “think outside the box”....Please contact us.. HERE. We will be get back to you ASAP.
THE END OF CYCLING
Our homecoming was our worst nightmare. The home we left was nothing like the one we came back to. Before we left our home was COMPLETELY refurbished:
New floors (wooden look) floors in lounge, dining , family and kitchen.
kitchen floor re tiled
New paint job inside
Bathroom totally re-furbished
Outside of home rendered and re- painted
An assortment of major improvements throughout, just to name a few.
About mid 2008, we were told that “termites” (White Ants) had infested our shed(s) which contained our stored household furniture and gear. We got a report from the people “managing” our home.
majority of the damage seems to be just in the sheds,along the wall
next to the house.
Obviously to some of your personal items ,.mainly the paper work stored in boxes stored next to the wall.
After a through search through out the roof nothing was found.
There was minor presence in 2 of the door frames,inside the house,these were taken care of as it is part of there treatment
Over all the Damage is not that serious as it was caught in time. <END>
2nd email some three weeks later:-
a bug” carried out there second inspection and everything is
100 per cent clear.
Keep on cycling thru all your countries <end>
Of course we acted on this report and foolishly as it turns out, we continued cycling. Had we even a hint of the “true” position, we would have returned!
When we returned we found that not only where the white ants STILL ACTIVE, (we took video) but they had destroyed the majority of our gear. ALL our beds are damaged, much of our furniture is destroyed. Heartbreaking loss of photo's, some going back 50 years. The loss of clothing, sheets, and all manner of linen is completely destroyed. Almost everything we own has suffered termite damage! It is hard to fully quantify our overall losses.
The walls in Every room in the house are marked, Nails just knocked into walls, The new carpets have cigarette burns and look like they have been subject to 10 years wear. Our kitchen has had a cupboard torn out, this was put in the shed amongst the termites and is destroyed. The newly laminated work surfaces in the kitchen have been destroyed – chopped into. There is evidence of repair work, window replaced in bathroom, a paint job in the toilet. It is too distressing to list everything as EVERY part of our home has been abused.
We have spent the last two days sorting through the carnage, trying to salvage what we can.
It is a long weekend here, hence I cannot contact the pest control company or our insurance company, however, neither of which will do anything as you all reading will know. They have “small print” that rivals “war & peace” in its content and complexity. However, we do have legal insurance, the insurance company controls this, so we have little hope in this area too.
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