A lot has happened since I’ve last had a chance to make an update on my blog. Travel plans have been flipped and tossed around (so has my body). But travel is about adapting and being responsive to changing circumstances and situations. More thoughts to follow in the next few posts… as always, thank you for following along!
The next morning we had to take the public ferry to return to the main island, Male. The ferry cost $3 USD and took us 4 hours. The seats on the ferry were long and cushioned benches so I napped almost the whole way there. There’s something about the sway of boats and planes that cradle me to sleep.
Once again, as we started the trip, we were shuffled around the busy and dense streets of Male. What was once aimless strolling on Ukulhas became hard to cross traffic. But amidst the stress of the hustle and bustle, we were still on an island so it wasn’t far to walk to the sea.
On the corner of Male is several, busy, markets. The first is the fish market where there are rows of fishing laying on elevated tiles. Beside the fish are carboard cut out with scribbed number and names. The whole place smells… like fish. It’s not for the faint of heart. But you can do a quick round in no time. It’s a lot of tuna and dried fish.
Maldives has a noteworthy for it’s sustainable fishing. The Maldivians use a pole and line method to catch tuna, the practise is both environmentally and socially sustainable. According to a Guardian article, “…enabling these island communities to live well within the limits of nature”.
A nation comprised of 99% sea, the Maldives sees fishing not just an industry but as a way of life. After tourism, tuna fishing is the Maldives major source of income, and tuna is the nation’s primary export.
Steps away from the fish market was a local general market – selling mostly produce and other dried goods. Again, like the fish market, it wasn’t “clean” by any means. But walking into a local market provides a good insight of the type of food that is available to a country. Do bargain, or try to. What I really enjoyed was all the tropical fruit! I love mini-banana’s, they’re so much fun to eat too.
Ferry, after ferry. We finally arrived to the airport in the evening. We were taking an overnight flight to Sinapore – making our way further and further from Europe!
“Good morning Singapore!”, I cheerfully and sleepily said when we arrived. It was my first “official” time in Singapore – before that I had a layover before flying to Dubai.
Our dear Singaporean friend Yumei picked us up from the airport at 6:00am. So thankful that she woke up that early for us! We didn’t have a long time in the city since we were catching another flight to Thailand.
Luckily for us, Singapore isn’t a big place so we were able to cover a lot in a short amount of time. But I still felt like it was too short. It’s definitely a place I would like to visit again. My first impressions, driving through the city, as the sun slowly crept over the horizon, was that it was a strange blend of so many Asian cities.
Parts felt like the Hong Kong I knew growing up, older buildings, narrow roads… then parts of the city, the business district, felt like I was in Ginza in Tokyo. The glassy exterior of the towering skyscapers felt like a forward looking reality.
We waited for the sun to rise over the famous skyline. It was interesting to hear Yumei’s perspective on how the country has evolved over time, compared to when she was a child. What we “peg” Singapore for or what we recognize the country for was not there until the last decade (or less). The hotels, the towers, the restaurants, the attractions… all of that has been a more recent development, so she is continously adjusting her image of home… aren’t we all.
Ways to my heart is good Asian food. It’s funny how much I’ve taken for granted the accessibility of Asian food in Canada. Since there is such a large population of Asian immigrants, it was never too hard to find something “authentic”. Living in Europe was a stark contrast. Finding tofu that does not resemble or taste like rubbery-cheese continues to be my life mission in Europe.
I digress, we had incredible Asian food in Singapore. Again, it was a blend of so many different Asian cultures in a tiny country. There were traditional Hong Kong stores, Japanese, Korean, and most noteably Malaysian influences in the food.
We visted the Gardens by the Bay, a huge futuristic park in the bay area of Singapore. A lot of the gardens are open to the public. You are also free to roam around the giant Supertree struture, described by Yumei as “Avatar trees”. The gardens truly reinforced the city’s forward/futuristic orientation. It’s interesting to see how cities involve, interact and incorporate nature. In this case, we become observers of nature, and nature isn’t in it’s wild form.
The humidity quickly reminded me of Hong Kong and the escape to cooler places was found in different malls and underground. We continued our food and siteseeing adventures throughout the city. We stopped by Little India, a centre for the large Indian community in Singapore. We stopped by a bookshop… heavenly! Had food, again and again. Ended the food adventures with bubble tea!
Before leaving Singapore, we were welcomed to Yumei’s home. A beautiful apartment where she invited all of us to use her shower. How simple it is to keep a backpacker happy!
We’re back in the airport and this time off to… Thailand!