I stay in Singapore another three weeks. Despite being an expensive place and in many ways quite soulless, life is comfortable and peaceful here. You never know what the road is going to throw up and the most unexpected thing to happen on this trip has been coming to Singapore and spending so much time here. The biggest surprise though is that I want to stay longer. I meet up with Vienna almost every day and especially enjoy chilling out with her. Coincidentally I’m in Singapore when a couple of my brother’s mates are here…Mark who happens to be passing through South-East Asia on his way back from Australia, and Diarmuid, who is working here as an anesthetist and we spend a few evenings catching up. Another traveler I meet up with is Stefan, a German who happened to contact me nine months after I met him in a hostel in Armenia and we exchange travel stories, mainly about Iran where he has also traveled. I attempt to find employment in Singapore but to no avail and due to the high cost of living I’m forced to apply for a teaching job in Vietnam (one a friend had told me about). My application is successful and I make plans to leave and travel overland to Bangkok, where I have to take a flight to Saigon because the company has arranged to have my work visa picked up at the airport there (the job is in the nearby coastal city of Vung Tau).
I get the bus to Kuala Lumpa once again and although I should be grateful to be starting a job soon, I’m sombre mood that I’m moving on from Singapore. At the Malaysian border, I see the bus driving off onto the motorway in the distance after I pass through security. I am furious at the idiocy of the driver who couldn’t even keep track at the 8 or so passengers on the bus and I quickly go about trying to contact the bus company in an attempt to get my luggage back once I reach Kuala Lumpur. Luckily, I’m told the bus stops in a local town nearby and I hop on a local bus straight there. I see the bus as soon as we arrive and my relief quickly turns to anger as I hunt out the driver. In my confusion I turn on some poor soul who has the misfortune of resembling the driver (he’s even wearing the same colour clothes) – I ask him, “Are you the driver?” and he puts his head down and tries to walk away while saying “I don’t know”. Being the idiot I am I push him and shout, “You drove off without me!”. A Singaporean lady sitting close by sees this and laughing, tells me that he isn’t the driver. The driver has fucked off and his replacement has yet to come. I apologise to the man I shouted at and go upstairs, still fuming but thankful I don’t have to go through the hassle of getting my luggage back. In Kuala Lumpur I return to the same hostel I stayed at when I first arrived in Malaysia and stay in the Chinatown area for a couple of days before getting another bus to the southern Thai city of Hat Yai.
My four days in Hat Yai are spent mainly in a hotel, as it’s raining most the time and I don’t feel like exploring much. The train journey to Bangkok takes 16 hours and while I’ve a comfortable bed to sleep on and there’s a pleasant restaurant carriage, I’m eager to just get to Bangkok and be on my way to Vietnam. In the evening soon after boarding the train I go the restaurant carriage for a meal and am the only passenger there. The windows are down and as the warm tropical air comes wafting through, Credence Clearwater Revival plays on the stereo. For a little while I remember what it’s like to enjoy traveling and the spirit of adventure to be going somewhere new, but it doesn’t last long. It’s fair to say I’m jaded. I return to the restaurant carriage in the morning and watch the pleasant, green countryside of Thailand pass by and reflect on the times to come in South East Asia. In Bangkok, my time is limited and I don’t venture further than the area my hostel is in. It’s unfortunate I’m in no mood for Thailand but if all goes well with the job in Vietnam, I should be in the region for at least a few months to come and will hopefully have time to properly explore the surrounding countries once my appetite for travel returns.