Singapore fling………

Although autumn, that lovely transition from summer to winter is here, small pockets of heat and sunshine linger.   I have to admit, I wasn’t quite ready to let go of summer just yet so the past week of wonderful weather has been welcomed.  Early mornings have been spent in the surf on and under glorious waves big, slow and rolling.   My playlist has been warmth and sun, cornflower blue skies, perfect waves, sandy hair, good company and pods of dolphins.  It really doesn’t get much better than this.

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These past months have been busy with nary a moment to spare.  Set to a feverish pace which sometimes sees me time poor to do that which I love most such as just watching the ocean, creating, losing myself in the pages of a good book or baking from scratch.

We all have the same amount of hours in our days but it really is up to us how we spend that time.  I have a list of things which make me happiest and a list of that which must be done.  I recently compared those lists and with mindful gratitude, adjusted accordingly.

Singapore:  So strict yet so sophisticated

It seems like a lifetime ago that our trip began in Hong Kong and finally ended here in Singapore, that fastidiously clean yet flawlessly beautiful melting pot of culture.  The Lion City can also boast of having THE best airport in the world and it is natural disaster free.

I think anytime you travel to another country you should always read up on their customs, laws and culture and although Singapore is a contemporary and sophisticated city, there are a couple of little quirks (aka laws) you will need to respect:

  1. Gum control – I have absolutely no issue with this law and its hefty fine as I dislike chewing gum immensely.  I don’t think anyone looks hip nor intelligent while chowing down on gum so when in Singapore, fair warning – don’t buy it, don’t import it, don’t chew it and above all do not leave it stuck anywhere!
  2. Flush – and I am not referring to the literary ‘blush’.  Failure to flush a public toilet  in Singapore will result in a $150 US fine.  And a word of warning – they do random spot checks.
  3. Nuding it up – it is illegal to walk around in your home naked.  Close your curtains otherwise you will be hit with a $2,000 fine or 3 months jail time.
  4. It is also illegal to feed the pigeons or to smoke in public.  Don’t jaywalk, litter or spit and do not annoy someone with a musical instrument…..Nickelback, take note!!  Again, these acts will result in a fine which is perfectly fine by me.

We have been to Singapore prior to this trip and worn out the soles of our shoes en route to Raffles, along Orchard Road, on the Quay, in Chinatown and through the history, landmarks and stunning architecture of this beautiful island state.  This time around however, we decided to spend our down time in one of Singapore’s most vibrant districts…….

The warm, wonderful and boldly colourful Little India.  And why Little India you ask?  Well that is because simply being here makes me happy AND their fish head curries are the stuff of legends 🙂

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I am smitten with Little India.  It is exotic and strikingly vibrant with its arcade’s of tiny spaces filled with silks and saris, spices and sweets along with the gold shops, beautiful flower garlands and Hindu temples.

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From the ram-shackled food halls and hawker stalls to the open street restaurants, the air is filled with the spicy aromas of curries laced with turmeric, coal black cardamom, cinnamon buds, nigella and garlic.  The neighbourhood really is a riot of smells, colours, sights and sounds and it truly is as Indian as India itself……but without the Ganges and sacred cows.

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We were also incredibly fortunate enough to be in Little India at the tail end of  Deepavali, also known as Diwali the festival of lights.  This is the most important of all Hindu celebrations and it commemorates the triumph of light over darkness, hope over despair and knowledge over ignorance.

Packed with thousands of Hindu families who descended on the district, Little India was transformed with beautifully decorated statues of elephants and peacocks and one million and one lights.  And there is nothing more fabulous than to be caught up in the human crush of love, festivity and happiness.

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This for me, is one of the prettiest of temples and I have photographed it many times.  Standing in the heart of Little India on Serangoon Road and seeing it again during Deepavali just seemed to bring a little more joy to my heart.  The temple is dedicated to the goddess and destroyer of evil, Sri Veeramakaliamman and it is one of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temples.

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And don’t be put off by the severed heads, the eating of intestines and the necklaces of skulls – although I am assured each victim deserved their fate – as that is only part of her story and as we all well know, there are always two sides to every narrative.  Macabre to some perhaps, I still think it is a most beautiful temple……..

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So that’s the trip.  Done and dusted from beginning to end.  I found during the writing of these eleven blog posts, there were at times a difficulty in describing a place or an experience simply because it had been far too wonderful to just whittle down into mere words.  I found too that travel for me is a necessity, not a luxury.  That a big world awaits and I never want to feel the disappointment of that which I did not do.

It seems too with each trip my backpack gets a little more frayed and my camera, a little more battered yet I have no issue with that as the memories they have held far outweigh the well-worn.  Catch you all on the flipside soon………x

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Hell Yeah……xx

 

A parrot, a grain of rice and a Cemetery on the streets of KL Malaysia…..

Sometimes I just enjoy a little alone time.  It is how I best re-energise. I am a rather solitary person by nature and I never believe that is a bad thing.  Solitude is my sanctuary and I also find it to be the best way for me to relax.  FB on the other hand finds a massage the perfect way (as do many) to unwind.  Personally, I find absolutely nothing luxuriating about a complete stranger running their hands over my naked and oil soaked body!  For me, seeking out something wonderful is my Zen.

At times I like to wander the streets alone and here it KL it was no different.  No plan, deep in thought and very much in love……with this incredibly beautiful country is how I like to while away an hour or ten and it is in these moments of tranquility when I usually stumble across something quite special.

When I left Australian shores, I was given a little guidance (which could have been more of a request) and that was ‘please do not go wandering off alone and do not go down any deserted alleyways’.   Naturally, I ignored my head and that sage advice to follow my heart down an alleyway of sorts – or as I like to refer to it – ‘places your mum would not want you to go’!  

Sometimes the most wonderful experience can be found by accident. A journey can become indifferent when we know the destination but when you are unsure of the path something quite lovely can await and this was one of those times because at the end of this rather cumbersome alley……

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Was this.  A piece of tranquil beauty right in the heart of the city.

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I spent hours here walking around in the heat, occasionally seeking shade and solace under the huge banyans and rain trees which are planted throughout this most peaceful and spiritual of places.  Although the Cemetery is also located in the heart of a bustling and busy KL, I heard no traffic noise.  Skyscrapers tower over the graves like sentinels, silent and ever watchful yet the mix of modern and traditional is respectful and humble.

I stopped and spoke with the workers who tend the sites on a daily basis and they told me this was the oldest Muslim burial ground in KL.  They were interesting and interested and it was great to converse with them in broken language.  Communication should never be a barrier when travelling and sometimes it is not the words but the meaning which becomes most important.  Apart from the workers, I was the only other person there and during our conversation one of the men asked if I was afraid of being there alone.  My reply to him was ‘No, because the dead cannot harm you. The living however, are far more treacherous’.  He nodded and smiled and said ‘These are wise words’.

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Tip:  Always be respectful, do cover your legs (occasionally arms) especially when visiting temples, mosques and other religious places.  And btw, it is easier to use the entrance to the cemetery which is tucked away down off Jalan Ampang (Jalan meaning road or street) than trekking the alleyway and climbing through a small hole in the brick fencing 😉

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And on the streets of KL you can also have your fortune told.  By palmistry, by casting bone, by spiritual vision, by sticks shaken from a bamboo cup, by tea leaves or by a parrot…….. as any sensible and rational woman does!  A dear little bird will muse over a spread of cards then randomly choose.  Your fate is cast and either way your future is about to significantly brighten or darken.

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These are moments of complete whimsy and I am still a little unsure of fate and destiny and the belief by some that everything happens for a reason.  I do struggle at times with this concept as I have always believed we are the captains of our own boats and therefore we steer our passage through life just as we are the only ones to fulfill our happiness dependent on the effort we put forth.  I wonder too if the need to believe in fate and destiny allows some to ride that big heady wave of life and the trust they have in these intangible moments allows for times to be a little easier.  There are some things I do believe in and I believe in them with all my heart.  Those beliefs being that you always need to be kind.  That you need to be brave.  You cannot be helpless either for we are the only ones responsible for our lives.  I believe in integrity and humanity and I will always strive to appreciate everything and all…..and I believe in love.

So what was my fortune.  My fate or destiny if you like.  After much thought and serious contemplation the Tamil said ‘You will live in another country and you will marry and you will have great happiness in your life’!!

I didn’t have the heart to tell him he had got it a little backward and given the prediction I will admit a little skepticism began to creep in.  More than that, I convinced myself that he must say that to all the women because he, in all probability, believes that is the one thing that all women want to hear.  That they will marry, live happily ever-after, the end!

I looked at the Tamil who smiled and wobbled his head in that lovely way some Indian folk do.  He then said ‘It is your destiny, this is true’. I then looked at the little bird for reassurance.  She suddenly appeared much wiser as she cocked her head to one side as if to say ‘You may be cleverly disguised as a responsible and sensible adult but you just put your faith in a bird who frankly gets paid a tiny grain of rice for this gig’!

Perhaps the dreams and wishes that do come true are the ones you do not yet realize.  Those which are hidden, waiting for us to one day seek them out.  Though fortune telling is a little bit of fun, I cannot see myself living anywhere else but Newcastle. I will of course continue to travel and roam but there is a pull that will always see me return here.

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 I have a favorite song.  It is my most loved song of all time and it has lyrics in it which go ‘like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you through, when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true’.

Perhaps in some small way I do believe, just a little, in fate because for a moment or two you get to dream and believe there is perhaps something much greater out there which guides you to more.  So rather than being skeptical I should be grateful.  I should be appreciative that my prediction was not ‘You will die alone and be found several days later surrounded by cats very poorly dressed!  You will be the one poorly dressed by the way, not the cats!!’……. xx