Despite primarily being a playground for those with million dollar watches and gold-plated faeces, Singapore was a hell of a lot of fun. Some global corporation happened to be treating its global employee base to one hell of a company picnic, complete with free unlimited booze, a security squadron and live performance by Peking
Duck, which is apparently a big deal. I managed to sneak in using the cunning guise of pretending I was in charge, but then got bored because I was all alone and needed a wristband to get drinks, so I left. Other highlights included some cool lasers, a delicious curry or two and an urban landscape that made the trained planner in me tingle in the way that only other planners will understand. For the rest of you, imagine trying to orgasm while reading an eighty-page report on housing density that includes phrases like ‘minimum parking requirements’, ‘GFA’, and ‘sustainability’ and you’ll have a general sense of what I was feeling.
The Perhentian Islands grew on us to such an extent that we stayed there for five nights. Some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen, and some of the best fire-dancing. Stunning, spectacular, other synonyms for beautiful, you get the picture. Let’s move on.
As well as some really old jungle, Taman Negara is home to the Batak people, a nomadic tribe of heavy smokers. We visited one of their few permanent settlements on the riverbank, where the Batak have recently abandoned their traditional lifestyles in favour of demonstrating their traditional lifestyles to inquisitive tourists, so that the tourists can say things like Oooh how interesting, and write about it in travel blogs for their friends to read, while the villagers can drink copious amounts of RedBull. As usual, I’m a part of the problem.
On the same excursion, I enjoyed one of the most interesting interactions I’ve ever had, with a man, who for the sake of name suppression and common decency we shall call Earthsong Chakra. Earthsong Chakra is the kind of hippy that makes me look like a satanic capitalist with a raging boner for industrial grade environmental destruction; his Tarzan-esque appearance only slightly marred by a pronounced south London accent. Earthsong Chakra encouraged me to embrace clairvoyance, mediation and speaking from the heart. Being the contrarian type, intent on confusion and terrified of saying something genuine, I encouraged him to embrace the merits of narcissism, intergalactic backpacking and profanity, among other things. As far as I’m aware, he still thinks I’m a soulless swamp monster seeking eternal damnation and fried chicken. Which I am. Possibly.
The 20 degree coolness of the Cameron Highlands was a relief after sweating constantly for at least the last eight weeks, and had some great food, scenery and identical looking Indian restaurants. I got in a fight with a dog over how many hours of the day I would dedicate to playtime. He won, leaving me mildly irritated and Hannah cowering in a toilet cubicle. His name was Meatball. If you go there and meet him, tell him I love him, and I never want to see him again.
We are now in Vietnam, and have so far spent most of our time trying not to be run over. If anything more interesting happens, I’ll probably forget to write about it.