Southeast Asia travel diary: Days 46 to 51

Day 46: Surf requires patience

If there’s one amazing thing about waking up at 5.30 for surf, it’s to be able to witness the sunrise. The colours in the sky and on the ocean are something I have never seen anywhere else. It’s a light, pastel-toned rainbow of pinks, blues, purples, yellows and greens, and the sky and the ocean seem to be blending together. Even the biggest waves don’t seem as scary when they are coloured in pink or purple. I don’t have a picture as I didn’t have my camera on the beach, but I don’t think a picture could even do justice to this scene anyway.

We were told on the first day that surf is a lot about patience. That became clear to me very quickly, as I am maybe not the most patient person when it comes to myself. If I don’t succeed, I get frustrated very quickly, so much that I had to take a break from time to time and just sit on the beach for a bit to cool down. But even if I’m not patient, I persevere, and I will get back as many times as it takes to make it. Surf is a good challenge for me, as it makes me work on my nerves and patience. Maybe I should consider yoga, like a woman in my group said.

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Day 47: Camp vibes

Speaking of yoga, I booked a yoga class that was included in the camp. To my surprise, I was the only one in the class, and an even bigger surprise was that the teacher happened to be Finnish. So now I’ve had a private yoga class in Bali, in Finnish. And it was such a great class, as he could really help me get the positions and the stretches right. After that class, even if I’ve done yoga before, I felt like I had been doing everything the wrong way and that’s why I didn’t enjoy it as much. It really opened my eyes, I understood better what the poses are about and where and how they should feel. A whole new world. Is this a new beginning for me and yoga?

Other than yoga, the day consisted of surf, chilling at the pool, laughing to tears, a free barbeque (Fridays at Kima) and a guitar and singing session with almost everyone at the camp. It really felt like one of those summer activity camps I never got to go to as a kid, but better because even if there are activities planned, you still have complete freedom to choose to do whatever you feel like, whenever you like.

Day 48: Last surf lesson

Last surf lesson in Bali! I didn’t manage to catch my first green wave yet (I tried to, but so far have all attempts ended up in epic fails), but I’m happy for what I acheived. My goal was that after the camp I would be able to rent a board on my own the next time I go somewhere where you can surf, and I think I’m ready for that. I’ve got the basics, and now it’s all about practice. Surf didn’t become a lifestyle or a huge passion, but I’m sure I’ll get back on the board whenever I can. Unfortunately, Finland is not the greatest place for surfing, but I’m sure I’ll go somewhere where I can practice eventually.

On my last day, I walked a bit more around Seminyak, looking for the last souvenirs to bring home. The area is probably one of the touristiest parts of Bali, with lots of stores and restaurants all over the place. I wouldn’t have stayed there for that long if it wasn’t for the camp, because I feel like there wouldn’t have been enough to do for me, it’s not the kind of holiday spot I enjoy. I like places with a bit more local life and activities other than lying on the beach and clubbing. But as I really went there for just the surf camp, it didn’t matter that much. And at least there were plenty of places to get my souvenirs.

Because my trip was coming to an end and prices in Singapore would be way higher, it was the last chance to get a massage and a manicure, and that was the best decision ever. I had been in Asia for almost two months and hadn’t got a single massage until my last day. Why? It was heaven and I wish I would have done it more often, but what can you do. It was also quite fun to watch the women working at the beauty salon. There were so many of them that whenever there were not enough customers, there could be three women doing a manicure and pedicure for one person while having what sounded like a really interesting conversation between them. Meanwhile two other employees applied masks on their own faces, which an employee in a Finnish beauty salon would definitely never do during working hours and in front of customers. Not that I mind it, but it was a fun thing to observe.

Day 49: Last stop – Singapore

Last stop before home: Singapore. I don’t know what it is in big cities that makes my heart beat faster and my energy levels go from 0 to 100, but no paradise beach can compare to that feeling. I am a city girl through and through, and already when hopping on the MRT in Changi Airport, I felt that this would be a great place to end my trip. I arrived in the evening to the area of Little India where my hostel was, left my bag in the dorm and headed out to look for food.

I am not the biggest fan of Indian food (I like it but it’s never my go-to), but when the whole area has the best Indian food around, there really is no question about what to eat. Plus, a friend from Singapore had strongly recommended that I try pratas, a sort of savory crepe with different fillings and a sauce, so that was my goal for the night.

I walked on the street searching for the right place when I felt someone touching my butt. I instinctively turned around really quickly and gave a really bad look to the guy behind me, who started apologising immediately and really looked a bit scared of my Angry face. His apology seemed sincere, so I instantly started regretting the look I gave him as it must have been an accident, but let the guy get in front of me and then kept on walking. Only a few minutes later, the same guy slowed down to talk to me and ask me to have dinner with him. So that touch on my ass was definitely not an accident, and he still has he guts to come talk to me like that? This sort of thing happens really rarely to me, but from time to time, life gives a reality check.

I found my place and saw two guys from my hostel, so I sat with them for dinner and started talking with them, when the lovely man from the street sat next to us. I’m happy I found the guys from the hostel, because they helped me get rid of him for good. Although he didn’t seem threatening in any way, it’s sad that this sort thing happens. I also realized that there were no women walking on the streets in Little India, which seemed a bit odd. But I guess it’s a cultural difference, and women do not spend their evenings in restaurants and on streets like men do.

Day 50: Gardens and food courts

There were two things I wanted to see in Singapore, and those were the Botanic Gardens and the Gardens by the Bay. I managed to do both on my first day (go me). I started the day at the Botanic Gardens, which were way bigger than I expected. The park was huge, and I probably walked only a fourth or so of it. There were different areas for different types of plants, so you could walk in sorts of smaller gardens with trees and flowers and bushes of all sorts, most of which I had never seen before. The garden itself was free, and there were lots of people jogging or working out, kids playing and it seemed to be a popular outing place for expats, tourists and locals alike. The best part of it though was the National Orchid Garden. It cost 5 Singapore Dollars (1 only for students, take your student ID unlike me!), but it’s definitely worth going. It’s a part of the gardens dedicated to orchids of all types and colours, growing in bushes, nest-like pots, around an arch or in a cute cage-like building you could walk around. Super cute and colorful, I really loved that.

After two or three hours walking around the gardens, I went for lunch to the food court of a shopping mall. Food courts are familiar to us in Europe, but the Asian food courts are so much better. The fast food you get is not KFC, but a choice between Malay, Philipino, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and so many more different Asian foods, it’s cheap but nourishing, and you can see all sorts of people, because everyone eats at food courts. I got some veggies and rice as well as a dessert called tago, which consisted of sweet coconut milk, ice, sweet tapioca balls and fresh fruit. It looked a bit strange, but let me tell you, it was amazing. I kind of regret not getting a second one.

I got back to the hostel, had lunch and took a nap. Later I got back up with more energy and headed to Haji Lane first, which is a street full of cute clothing and concept stores, restaurants and street art, then a night bazaar installed for Ramadan a few MRT stops away. I had dinner there and walked around the stalls, then took the MRT to the Bay.

The stop is right next to the Marina Bay Sands hotel, and I walked through the lobby to get to the bridge that leads to the gardens. I don’t even want to imagine how much a night in that hotel costs, but when there’s a nightclub with an inside ferris wheel and a shopping mall with all the most expensive brands and a canal built inside it, it’s probably out of my budget. But it’s always fun to walk in that kind of luxury places where you know you don’t belong, and wonder how it would be if you did.

I didn’t know it, but there is a light and music show at the Supertrees (those metal trees with plants and lights all around them in the garden next to Marina Bay Sands) at. 20.45 every night. Fortunately, I happened to be there right when the show started, and got to enjoy the wonderful, magical show of a rock music medley and lights on the trees “dancing” to the music. The perfect way to end the night.

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Day 51: This is the end

Last day of this whole trip, what?? Time has gone so quick and so slow at the same time. But before my 12-hour night flight back home (direct from Changi to Helsinki, thankfully), I had the whole day to visit. So I started by walking around the residential area of Tiong Bahru, mixing tall blocks of apartments that all looked very similar, with low, art deco style architecture with rounded corners and very retro vibes. In a country that is very small in size, I guess you need to have those tall skyscrapers that can house hundreds of people, or you would run out of space for everyone. We don’t have many tall residential buildings in Finland, but for some reason, I got a strange, very home-like feel walking between those blocks that could be differentiated from one another just by the letter on the side. Maybe it made me think of some other place where I had felt good or lived in, but I couldn’t clearly point out where. Maybe Bulgaria.

It was a bit rainy in the morning, but by the time I was done with Tiong Bahru (where I was almost at all time protected from the rain under some sorts of covers on the streets), the sky had cleared up so I walked to Chinatown instead of taking the MRT. Chinatown was really cute, with lots of small, colourful houses next to one another. There were a lot of restaurants that seemed to be popular among locals, but to “celebrate” my last day, I picked a Korean restaurant, which was a bit more expensive though.

After lunch, I walked downtown and found myself in the business centre of Singapore, with my backpack and sandals among all the fancy business people. If I didn’t fit in at Marina Bay Sands, I didn’t there either. But it was fun to see the big skyscrapers and the somehow very western side of Singapore.

I continued my walk to the Bay and the ArtScience museum, where I saw two wonderful exhibitions making use of technology to create magical, modern pieces of art. As the name of the museum indicates, the aim of the museum is to fade the separation between the two and create pieces of art using science and technology, in a way that gives the public a possibility to participate in the installations.

From the museum, after walking all day, I went back to the hostel one last time to shower and change before my flight, then made my way to the airport. And because it is Singapore, or in other words the most extra city in the world, there is a giant waterfall and a forest built inside a shopping mall in the airport. Yup. Be sure to check out the Jewel whenever in Changi, it’s worth it.

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So here ends this series of travel diaries. It’s been a wonderful journey, I have seen and learnt so much in seven weeks, and I feel like these diaries can only communicate a teeny tiny part of it all. Still, I hope you have enjoyed reading these and I want to thank you for doing so. This is the end of this trip but obviously not of this blog, so I’ll be writing in the future about travelling among other things, but the topics may vary a bit more, as I settle back in “normal” life. If you have any comments, feedback or ideas of blogpost, don’t hesitate to share them with me!

Until the next time!

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