22 Malaysia, Singapore, Bali
The big scrub
Back in Malaysia, on an expensive toll highway, we headed for the hills. On a cool Cameron Highlands tea plantation we stayed for 5 days. With newfound energy we scrubbed Dipli to get him ‘like new’ for the quarantine in Australia, where we were shipping to shortly. We saw how they “picked” the tea by dragging a horizontal mower over the hedges. We observed the subsequent processes of withering, rolling, fermentation, drying, sorting and packaging. Back in KL a friendly Malaysian helped us to organise a thorough chassis high-pressure wash for Australian quarantine, because soil and dust from foreign parts is a no-no. Southwest to Melakka. The restored ships and preserved buildings depicted the history of Portuguese, Dutch and British occupation. The food though, was Malay, and excellent.
SINGAPORE June 2001
We went into Singapore on a weekend because on weekdays it is expensive to use the streets in the central area and we did not want to pay the daily toll of S$30 (US$20) for foreign cars, plus the prepaid cards which are charged each time you drive under an overhead ERP-gantry. The steaming jungles had been replaced by concrete jungles, but there was still some green parkland next to the sea. A Singaporean told us that he had to pay US$2000 per month for a high rise apartment and that they could not even consider having a child because it is too expensive.
The efficient bus service got us to the restaurants on the Singapore river, the shopping centres and the grand hotel of the turn of the century rubber boom: Raffles hotel. Our impression was that the “high teas” were a rip off and the “Singapore sling”cocktail synthetic and diluted.
Sentosa Island is a theme park with aquarium, historic displays and other fun places.
At the spacious Singapore Zoo, we saw the large Komodo Dragon lizard and rare Asian animals like bearded pig deer, pigmy buffalo, Asian one horned rhino, white tigers and a baby manatee.
After a tip off from Dutch travellers, met in Cambodia, and through the helpful NYK shipping agent, we secured a passage on a drive-on ferry to Australia for our vehicle.
We decided to fly with Garuda Indonesia AirLines to the island of Bali. (We had to spend time somewhere, while Dipli was on the ship to Perth.)
Singapore is a "fine" country.
Except for the two short, politically motivated, shipments to by-pass Israel and Burma (borders closed), it had been a great adventure to drive all the way from South Africa to the Southern tip of Asia. (Actual time on the road was 28 months covering 105000 km.)
On the way to Australia we relaxed for a week on the Indonesian Island of Bali. Ubud was the place for culture and traditional styles of dancing. There were streets of handicraft shops struggling to survive. (Tourist numbers were down due to violence in Indonesia, even though Bali was quite peaceful.) We rented a Suzuki (at only US$7/day) and took the winding road along the volcanic cone Gunung Batur to the less touristy north and east. Many palm-lined beaches had only the colourful traditional fishing boats. We stayed at places with typical Bali-style architecture. Accommodation, beer and food was inexpensive and the sea tranquil and warm.
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