Bibhusha's Travel Blog: Out and About in South East Asia
Disclaimer: I’ve only been here for a couple of months so this is a truly outsiders view and purely subject to bias so please cut me some slack. It’s also my first blog post :)
Out and About in South East Asia
Singapore manages to amuse me more and more by the day. A ban on chewing gum, exorbitantly priced licenses in order to own dogs, mandatory bomb shelters in apartments.. The list goes on and on… Nonetheless, I have enjoyed my stay here. Its bountiful of Western amenities paired with the convenience of the Asian culture (you can basically get anything done here) makes life pretty easy. It’s the perfect nexus of the two worlds. Also, the Singaporean government is synonymous to the word “efficiency”. It’s true that I have had minimal exposure to government bureaucracy (probably limited to immigration officers and the Ministry of Manpower) - nonetheless, they are so damn efficient.
Singapore is also probably one of the safest places I’ve ever been in. One day, I (stupidly) left my laptop in the cab and as soon as I called the cab company, they were able to locate it and the cab driver arrived 15 minutes later to hand it back to me. The abundance of security cameras scrutinizing your every move also probably helps in keeping it safe. My friends and I often thought it felt like we were in the Hunger Games- we were being watched every single minute. Among other things, Singaporeans count shopping, eating and “queuing” as the national pass times.
Apparently, it’s a thing here to line up wherever and whenever possible. Be it eateries, train stations or shopping malls, Singaporeans just cannot resist the urge to “queue up.” Intrigued by this phenomenon, some people apparently conducted an experiment in which they placed a box with black curtains at a shopping mall. Within half an hour, people were queuing up for absolutely nothing. As I said, Singapore amuses me every single day.
Fortunately, traveling to other South East Asian countries is pretty economical thanks to the fierce competition among budget airlines and Singapore’s convenient location. Although I could not travel as much as I would have wished to (damn you Nepali passport -_-), I did end up going to Malaysia and the Philippines. With 6 other friends from the same program, I went to Kuala Lumpur for the weekend. But as soon as I got out of the KL airport, I started missing Singapore. The ridiculous traffic jams, the fear of being ripped off by taxi drivers coupled with the anxiety of having food poisoning did not make KL seem as appealing. To think about it, these are probably few of the sentiments of a Kuire (meaning foreigner in Nepali) traveling in Nepal- and no, I’ve not become a Kuire.
However, a trip to the bird park in KL, the Petronas Towers and Batu Caves increased my fascination for KL and lessened my fears. Unlike Singapore, KL was way more “natural”. If you’ve ever been to Singapore, you’d know what I was talking about. Singapore’s perfectly aligned rocks on hills, immaculately trimmed bushes and a handful of manmade rivers and beaches (with sand imported from South America) makes one truly crave for “nature”- the real deal I mean.
A couple of weeks later, I made a trip to Cebu, Philippines. Cebu reminded me a lot of Kathmandu. The serenity veiled in the chaos, the throngs of people aimlessly standing on the streets staring at you, and the pristine escapades from the city. A trip to Kawasan Falls will remain- if I may sound clichéd: a memory of a lifetime. I could not comprehend how the water could be SO clear and blue at a waterfall. After haggling for quite some time with the guides, we got on a wooden raft and made a trip under the waterfalls. They called it a “massage” but it felt more like being thrashed by a zillion fists. After a small hike, we reached another waterfall which was smaller but absolutely gorgeous. The fact that my friend and I were the only ones there also added to the serenity.
Good food, great friends and beautiful places- this summer has definitely been one of the best I’ve ever had. Now if anyone could spare me some of their frequent flyer miles and hand me a different passport, maybe I’d write a couple of more travel blogs…. =)
Introduction to Bibhusha Dongol
Currently a rising senior at Yale University (need I say more?) working her way to that Economics and International Development degree, Bibhusha studied in Budhanilkantha School and then left the school for Rato Bangala (i knoww right? we haven't forgiven her for that.we kid, we kid) for her A-levels. While working as an intern in Singapore, she took the opportunity to go "out and about" in South East Asia and experience the culture there.
Madeinepal will hope to acquire her services again in the near future.