After 5 months of tandem pedalling, coffee drinking, curry eating, and general merriment it was finally time to finish our trip and return to the UK. How to sum up the last 5months? It’s almost impossible to describe the roller-coaster of highs and lows (mainly highs) we’ve experienced, the fascinating people we’ve met and the incredible places we’ve visited without resorting to clichés or getting all emotional. Luckily I don’t have to – Andy has gamely volunteered to attempt this feat in one final blog posting – he does love reflective practice after all.
So – back to today, our final day in Singapore and of our trip, yup, after 10 months away from the UK and 9000km ish cycled, its time to go home. A few stats for the geeks amongst you:
|Elevation Gain:||60,684 m|
|Avg Speed:||19.2 km/h|
That’s a lot of ice cream – 1080 cornettos to be exact. And 7 ascents of Mt Everest.
Determined to ignore the looming prospect of a flight back to the UK for as long as possible, we lingered over a fantastic (and champagne fuelled) breakfast, then spent the morning by the rooftop pool catching the last bit of sun we were likely to see for a year. Wistfully checking out of the most luxurious hotel we were likely to see this decade, we headed back to the Tree In Lodge, who typically had looked after our boxed tandem “as part of the service” before heading to Singapore Zoo.
Rated the 2nd best Zoo in the world (presumably by the orangutans as the sole owners of opposable thumbs), it really lived up to its ranking – neither of us have been to a zoo for about twenty years, but even veteran zoo goers couldn’t fail to be wowed by the inventiveness of the use of space, and the proximity with which wild animals and ogling homo sapiens go toe-to-toe.
All the animals live in enclosures rather than cages, and most are separated from visitors not by chicken wire or glass but by ingeniously discrete moats. The result? Adults and kids alike can stand drop-jawed a few metres from improbably muscular white tigers, impossibly cute lemurs and grazing ibexes. The gibbons, though have the best deal. With free reign of the tree top canopy for much of the zoo, they are as much observers of us as we are of them. Quite how they are stopped from simply dropping to the paths and entering other enclosures we never worked out. If we sound impressed, we were – if you’re in Singapore, don’t miss out on this amazing experience (fantastic value too at $20).
After a last SE Asia dinner, appropriately of Chinese roast duck, rice, washed down with Tiger beer, we made our way through the downpour to the unsurprisingly plush Singapore airport. Although we suffered the slight indignity of repacking in front of the check-in counters (customers were treated to sights of our tatty underwear, chammy cream and extensive lycra collection) we weren’t charged any extra fee for the bike – result! Smiling, as ever, goes a long way. After a happy couple of hours wandering around designer shops selling bags costing the equivalent of 2 months of our trip budget, we boarded our flight with mixed emotions – relief to have made it to the end with bike and ourselves intact, excitement at the prospect of friends, family, and England’s green and pleasant lands, but with an undeniable sadness at the end of what (major cliché alert) was the best year of our lives.