Saturday, July 22, 2017

Bali and Singapore are NOT Same Same

"Drug trafficking is a serious offense in Singapore, punishable by death".

The words coming over the planes loudspeakers were like daggers. 

Daggers poking holes in the bags strapped to my body containing the nearly 50 kilos of black tar Mexican heroin. This was a mistake. I had been so sure that Singapore was a drug friendly place. Javier, the man who paid me to smuggle the drugs, had assured me there would be no trouble. I was gonna kill Javier; that is if I didn't end up in a maximum security prison or shot by a firing squad. Did they still use firing squads in Singapore? God I hope so. I did not want to be hung, that sounds way more painful. 

"....your seat back. Sir. Sir. Please raise your seat back to its full up right position".

I opened my eyes and nodded to the flight attendant as I depressed the seat back button, raising the seat to its incredibly uncomfortable upright position. Oh thank god, it had all been a dream. I'm not a complete idiot. I wasn't carrying any drugs into Singapore. 

"Drug trafficking is a serious offense, punishable by death". The announcement over the loud speaker sent a wave a fear through me.

Was I sure I wasn't carrying any drugs? What if a bag of weed that I picked up many months ago had been hiding somewhere in my bag the whole time? This had actually just happened to one of the members of my Remote Year group (luckily he was the one who found it and not airport security).

Turns out, no drugs on me. So, that was a complete waste of an introduction to this post.

Upon arrival in Singapore, my brother Aaron (you may remember from the previous post) and I went straight for the top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, for some rooftop drinks.

Drinks with a view

The hotel is basically the epicenter of the city as far as tourists are concerned. It's pretty easy to see why.

Dats a sweet hotel

Rooms start at $400 a night and it has these ridiculous views.

Singapore Marina

Gardens by the Bay

Oh yeah, and it has this absolutely ridiculous 54th floor infinity swimming pool.

Best pool in the world? Quite possibly!

Unfortunately, you actually have to stay at the hotel to use it (drinks at the public bar aren't good enough). Well that sucks, I guess I'll never get to swim in it.....or will I?

The answer is yes, yes I will.

I had heard amazing things about the food in Singapore, especially about their hawker (food cart) stalls. They actually have two Michelin rated hawkers in the city. But we started out the first night eating at the hawkers by the marina. It was a row of amazing seafood and Asian options. Crabs are a big thing in Singapore and we went for the famed Singapore Chili Crab.

Singapore Chili Crab

Although it was good, it had smashed crab shell everywhere, which was impossible to pick around, so it was not that enjoyable a meal (hi I'm Matt, I complain about eating chili crab in Singapore).

Hawkers at the marina

The rest of the items we ate were pretty amazing though.

Other food...can't remember what it was. Pad thai? Duck something? Hebrew National hot dogs?

And the view of the marina was ok at night.

I'm like really good at night photography

The next day we went to the botanical gardens. The highlight was of course the extravagant orchid gardens.

Lord of the flowers

The tunnel of color

A flower

Next we tried the famed Hainanese chicken rice.

Hainanese chicken rice - its just boiled chicken and rice

Apparently this famous dish is just boiled chicken and rice. I dont get it. 

That night we rode the ferris wheel in the city called the Singapore Flyer. Cause what kind of city would it be without a ferris wheel?

Singapore Flyer

The next day we decided to go big!  That's right, you know what's coming. We littered and chewed gum on the streets of Singapore (both illegal). Also, we got a room at the Marina Bay Sands hotel. And you know what that means.....

I got to use the best pool in the world!!!

Me! In the best pool in the world

Me! Pointing to the best pool in the world.

Aaron and me (or is it I)! Hanging in the best pool in the world

A close up of Aaron and I (or is it me)! Hanging in the best pool in the world

Aaron! In the best hot tub in the world

Me! In deep thought looking out from the best pool in the world

Me! Using my amazing night photography skills to take a picture of the best pool in the world

Really, I have forgot everything else about the trip, other than this swimming pool.

There was something about some weird electric trees.

Weird electric trees that I have forgot about cause I was in the best pool in the world

The other side trip I took in the month of November was to Bali. Obviously! You knew I was going to say that since Thanksgiving is in November and Thanksgiving is the time that people flock to Bali.

Thanksgiving in Bali

This Bali trip epitomizes how easy it is to forget what an amazing life I'm leading for the year traveling the world. 

I had nothing to do over Thanksgiving and some people were going to Bali.....sure, I'll go. I'm not even going to get excited or do any research, thought. It's just another place in Asia. I mean, I'm already in Asia, what's the difference?

If this was normal life and I was taking a trip to Bali, it would be the biggest trip of 5 years. I would plan for months. I'm a bit of a spoiled nomad. 

The good news is that Bali ended up being my favorite place that I went the entire year (I may know this because I'm writing this post six months later after my trip is over....but don't tell anyone).

We started off in Seminyak which is one of the more touristy areas. I enjoyed it because all the Airbnbs in Seminyak have an open 4th wall which looks out over a pool and a wall of hedges. I know all Airbnbs in Seminyak have this setup because I saw two of them. 

Looking out from the Airbnb - the same view as all the Airbnbs in Seminyak

Looking out from another Airbnb in Seminyak - Same same

Isn't Seminyak just a fun work to say. Seminyak. Sem-in-yak

I also enjoyed Seminyak because of the surfing.

Surfing in Seminyak

I lied. I actually didn't enjoy the surfing that much in Seminyak because I'm not very good and the waves were big and strong and constant and I couldn't even swim out past them to catch a wave. But, I tell people I surfed in Bali. Now you know my secret.

Seminyak is also the location where I first lost my sleeves. From this point forward in my trip, you will pretty much only see me wear tank tops. I became known as the guy in the group who never wore sleeves. People would yell at me when I wore sleeves (they still yell at me if they see a picture of me wearing sleeves).

The new Matt - no sleeves

The picture above is one of my favorite pictures ever taken of me because I look so genuinely happy. The whole no sleeves thing became somewhat of a metaphor for the transformation I went through to become a happier Matt (with no sleeves).

Just two bros, not wearing sleeves, hanging out at the Airbnb, in Seminyak, in Bali

But the Bali trip didn't end there. We also went to Ubud (that one is fun to say too). Ubud. Oooooo-boo'ed

Ubud is kind of like this hippie paradise. Or that's what it has become since Eat Prey Love. It has lots of vegan places, yoga, dirty white people and monkeys. In fact they even have a monkey forest there.

Just a couple of bros, hanging out in their tank tops, with monkeys on their heads, in Ubud, in Bali

The famous Carlos, claiming me as his bitch

Monkey Forest had pretty trees

The road to Monkey Forest

Ubud also has the world's first organic vegan cinema. What an honor.

Damn hippies

But the highlight of Ubud is the rice terraces. I don't have anything to say about them, so please enjoy the pictures (I wont take the time to remove the default caption text).

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Pretty pretty, amirite? The invasion of western influence was pretty evident even here, as they were building hotels in the middle of this rice terrace. However, they did it the old fashion way. We watched women walk for 15 minutes carrying twenty bricks at a time on their heads to supply the construction.

She's saying, don't take a picture of me white devil

If the rice terraces weren't the highlight, then the people that I was with definitely were. I went with Darrin and Heather. You may know them as the Fritses. Or you may know them as the couple from my trip that got engaged at Machu Piccu. They took me in as their child for the weekend.

Visiting a temple with my new parents

No, I'm just kidding, how could the people be the highlight? Really, the highlight was the open air bamboo bungalow (through Airbnb) on a rice field that we stayed at.

Looking out from our home

Lounge chair in our Airbnb

Oh, and did I mention it had an infinity pool?


Don't mind the man physically working the rice fields in the hot sun who is ruining the picture of me in my infinity pool

OK yeah, I'm not gonna lie, it was a little awkward having people work manual labor in the fields for pennies while we watched from the pool. But, more terrifying than this was the plethora of insects and animals that we saw out there at night. We couldn't turn on the lights at night because so many moth like creatures would swarm us. However, it did provide entertainment watching the geckos sit under the lights and feast on a buffet of thousands of these insects.

Eat them all

Some sort of huge snail/slug

And then there was the scorpion we saw. It was a tiny one. The tiny ones are the poisonous ones. But, I think I would rather see the small poisonous ones than the large terrifying "harmless" ones.

Look, hes so small and cute

By far the scariest creature of all was the monster spider found in the bedroom. This spider was so big that it was eating a lizard. And not only that, but after we scared it away, it was so big that it actually picked up the lizard and ran off.

Warning: Graphic Image to Follow:

Look at the size of that thing

That was funny.

Nope, there it is



And now for something less terrifying:

Total countries visited on my trip: 21 (Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, England, Belgium, Italy, Czech Republic, Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Germany, Croatia, France, Spain, Qatar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia (Bali))