Not long after the elections, I returned to Padang where I reunited with my Indonesian family for the end of Ramadan, but visa issues left me no choice but to leave the country only a few days later. My closest options were Malaysia or Singapore, and seeing as I’ve already visited Malaysia, I chose the latter. After a great deal of convincing, Celok and Prof. Saldi FINALLY agreed to let me go to Singapore by myself for a few days. Keep in mind… while this may sound like a trivial request in our culture, it certainly goes against social norms in Indonesia. To get there, I took a 45-minute flight from Padang to Batam, which is on the eastern side of Sumatra, and a ferry from Batam Centre Port to Singapore’s Harbour Front Centre.
I stayed at a hostel in Little India where I met a bunch of cool people (mostly Europeans) on the very first night. That’s the nice thing about hostels—everybody is looking to meet new people. I spent the majority of my time with a Belgian girl, Elke, who was on holiday, and a Danish girl, Simone, who was studying in Singapore.
On my first morning in Singapore, I went shopping on Haji Lane (in the Arab district) with Elke, which I guess is appropriate given Singapore’s status as one of the shopping capitals of the world. Elke’s 90lb figure fit into everything—mine fit into nothing. These clothes made Indonesians’ clothes look massive. Now that is saying something. Later, we met up with Simone and sunbathed on Sentosa Island, and had appetizers at Boat Quay, and checked out the nightlife at Clarke Quay.
The next day, Elke and I went to Gardens by the Bay where we visited the gorgeous flower dome and the Cloud Forest. On the way back to the hostel, we passed through The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, which contained an ice-skating rink and gondola canal. To top off the night, we had a ridiculously priced cocktail at Ku De Ta on top of Marina Bay Sands Hotel, while we watched the practice fireworks for the National Day of Singapore (this was a week early, mind you) go off over the bay. When the fireworks were over, we descended to the bay where we watched an over-the-top light and water show, which happens two to three times a night on every day of the week. Finally, we ended the night at Club Street where we ate Italian food and socialized with the ex-pats until they literally started pulling the chairs out from under us. I departed the next morning wishing that I could stay longer.