I struggled to sleep last night – too many mixed emotions about leaving Kuching, finishing my holiday, and thinking about the frightening amount of work I must do tomorrow back home when I land. Simon and Laura crept out quietly at 4.30am for their flight to Melbourne via KL so I didn’t farewell them but did get up to the lock the door that was banging against the brisk breeze that had sprung up. The call to prayer from the mosque across the river sounded more tuneful this morning. A different singer on a duty? Perhaps I was getting used to it and I was barely hearing the roosters now.
We’ve been very lucky with the weather since arriving. We haven’t used a fan or the air-con at all in the condo and the breeze blowing in from the balcony was decidedly chilly at 5.30am. No use trying to sleep anymore – may as well put the kettle on and finalize yesterday’s blog, pack the last of my things and clear out the fridge. The regular morning photo of the sky across the river revealed quite heavy clouds today. From my reckoning, rain would be due soon and sure enough it was quite pissing down by 7.30am. I had to move my little office inside to finish off this mornings’ work.
Our Airbnb host Leon arrived to the collect the key and see me off. We were full of praise for his condo and can highly recommend it to others, as long as you don’t book it when we want it again! My taxi driver Mr Voom was early, ready and waiting so I was at the airport ages before my flight was due to leave. There isn’t a lot to look at in Kuching airport so note: no point going too early folks.
My flight landed in Singapore at 12pm and I had nearly 8 hours in transit. I quickly checked an old photo from June last year to see if the opening hours were written on the wall of a café I wanted to go to. I was in luck – 5.30am to 10 pm 7 days. You beauty – that means it’s open! I was out through immigration and on the train to Boon Lay within half an hour of landing. The airport is on the eastern point of the island and Boon Lay on the far western point about 30 stops and an hour’s journey on the East West line. My off-peak train ticket was around $2 and I had $23 still on my NETS card from the last Singapore visit. No need to top up this afternoon!
O yay – the café was still there and very much open and still only with three tables. Trying not to appear greedy and overcoming my indecision I ordered what I’d come here for; Assam Pedas (fish in a spicy tamarind and tomato gravy) plus some fried tempe/tofu, bitter gourd with egg and braised bean shoots. This place seems very popular with the Malay community as a steady stream came into eat or get take-away. A young gay-boy with a very effervescent manner seemed to work there, possibly taking orders from outside office workers and delivering them on foot. He looked at my plate and asked if I enjoyed this very typical Malay food. I told him I was in transit from the airport and crossed the entire country to come and eat here. When he translated to the women behind the counter there was a strong murmur of appreciation. They couldn’t quite believe it!
Full up I got back on the train towards Chinatown to fill another hour. Alighting at Outram Park I decided to wander up to Tiong Bahru market hopeful for one of their excellent durian Ice Kachangs. Oh no – the whole place was closed for renovations and boarded up. How did I miss that news! Back to the Chinatown Hawker Centre complex then and up to my second favourite ice dessert stand but it was closed too. Although I did get a glimpse of the Chinese Dragon team having a breather and a feed in the food court. Oh well – the place at the Peoples Park complex around Chinatown station would be open and I was planning to get back on the train to the airport from there anyway.
All the Chinese New Year decorations were still up in the street so I got a bit snap happy with the chickens and roosters adorning the centre of the road. I love this time of year in Singapore – so colourful! As was my durian ice kachang. The woman at this stall is always curt and grumpy, focusing her attention on selling overpriced beers to groups of drinkers, rather than bothering with my $2.50 order. Still with my first and second choice not available I couldn’t be fussy with a time limit on my ventures.
Head freeze from gulping my shaved ice too quickly I walked quickly up to the main crossing to get a photo of the front end of the magnificent rooster at the entrance to Chinatown (having taken a photo of his back end earlier in the afternoon). Happy New Year Rooster people and I forgive the ones across the river in Kuching for waking me up at 5am every morning.
Back on the train to the airport, a little later than planned I made it here by 5pm and quickly checked into the Qantas lounge to begin writing and sipping on wine. Luggage already in transit (hopefully – I didn’t see it loaded back in Kuching and I watched every bag go on) and boarding passes all the way home to Alice printed back in Kuching it took 5 mins through immigration to return to flying passenger mode.
Just about time to board for the overnight flight to Melbourne and then a three hour wait to get home to the Territory. I’ll no doubt be knackered when I arrive and then straight back into it at Home Hardware. At least it’s not too long until the next little sojourn. Stay posted dear friends!