Five Days Later – Getting to Australia and First Impressions

Melbourne.  It’s pronounced, “Mel-bin” by the locals.  The best way to describe the city would be part British and part European.  Oh, and really expensive.  The below pictures show the story of how I got here and what it’s been like so far.  (A more text based version will come soon…)

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Backpacker Hell: Singapore. Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

“Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”  In Dante’s The Divine Comedy, these words are inscribed over the entrance to Hell.  While I absolutely love Singapore, these words should be printed on the bus tickets alongside the “DEATH FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS UNDER SINGAPORE LAW” as an additional warning to all backpackers entering the country.  Singapore is expensive.  Singapore isn’t just “Asia” expensive – it’s “Miami Beach during the Superbowl” expensive.

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Four Days of Highlights, Headlines, and (…ugh) me Rambling

So many things have happened between July 1st to 4th that the simple thought of writing everything out feels like lining up to run a literary marathon.  As I look at the random notes I’ve written down along the way, I still don’t even know where to start.  Singapore is amazing.  Couchsurfing is amazing.  People are amazing.  This trip has been amazing.

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I missed my flight to Bali …on purpose.

It’s 9:30am and I’m in a taxi; I have a one way ticket for a flight to Bali (Indonesia) from Kuala Lumpur that left at 9:20am.  This sounds like a terrible situation but it’s not.  I’m in a taxi heading to the local bus station, and once I find the right ticket counter I’ll be heading south to Malacca – a UNESCO World Heritage city in Malaysia.  One or two days later, on July 3rd – my birthday, I’ll be in Singapore and spend a few days walking around the cleanest city in the world.   After Singapore …Australia.  What happened to Indonesia?  What happened to Asia?  What drives someone to, on a whim, not show up for a plane ticket to a tropical paradise and instead fly to one of the most expensive backpacking countries in the world?

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Kenny Rogers and His Chicken Abomination

It’s mid-afternoon and I’m searching for a Starbucks to get my daily caffeine fix.  I’ve just passed a McDonalds and as I turn the corner I see a sign for the “World’s greatest chicken” next to a sign for Starbucks.  Sometimes known as a Gambler, Kenny proclaims to be a “Kentucky Man” on his Christmas album ‘Christmas in America.’  Certainly a Kentucky Man knows how to cook chicken – especially when they co-found a company with the former CEO of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

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Cameron Highlands – A Study in Contrast

Visiting the cool mountain air of the Cameron Highlands immediately after the hot sandy beaches of the Perhentian Islands has been a wonderful exercise in contrast.  On the islands the average high and low temperatures were 93 and 72; in the mountains the high was 72 and the low was 70.  On the islands you could stare across blue waters as far as your eyes could see; in the mountains you could stare at tea plantations and strawberry farms until your neck hurt.  The list goes on and on: fresh fruits and food, internet connections, and coffee.

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