Singapore (Marie Javins)
Blog Words : Wander Woman | 20 January

No soap dishes in Singapore

Wander Woman hits Singapore and revels in its clean rooms and salad. But where are all the soap dishes?

My internal clock was off and so I awoke at six in the morning in my little room in Bangkok. All my physical clocks were messed up too. My phone, my laptop, and my travel alarm clock all disagreed about the current time. And they were all wrong, and had been wrong since I'd gotten onto the plane in Bhutan yesterday.

Of course, time passes differently in Thailand so this was OK.

Out my window, a scantily clad still-wobblingly-drunk couple narrowly missed bumping into a monk holding out a pot of rice for his morning alms. I sat up and thought about what I needed to do in Thailand over the next few days before continuing on along my trip around the world, first to Singapore and then to Borneo.

Let's see... I needed soap, shampoo, conditioner, aspirin, passport photos, alarm clock battery, phone time, eye drops, snacks, peanut butter, blah blah blah... restock, resupply, and then I had to eat more mango-and-sticky-rice.

Would it be wrong of me to get TWO foot massages a day over the six days I had scheduled in Bangkok, I wondered.

Even having woken up at six, I still took forever to get out and about for the day. I enjoyed my second morning of muesli, fruit, and yogurt though. Mmmm. That would be hard to leave behind when I finally headed back to the world of winter.

I was able to get everything I needed within a few blocks of my hotel, aside from my haircut and colour, so I walked over to the river taxi to head down to Central Pier where I'd catch the Skytrain to Sala Daeng stop to head to Corner Hair.

Hey, Chao Phraya river boat fares went up to 15 baht per single ride while I was out of town!  Additionally, the tourist boat now charged 30 baht for a single ride. First the airport bus had been cancelled and now this... all in the few months I’d been in China and Bhutan.

I roamed about downtown for a bit, and headed back to the budget-travel-land of Banglamphu in late afternoon.

And that evening, as I sat inside my regular foot massage place after a sudden rainstorm made the staff move everything inside at a remarkable speed, I realised something.

I'd been in Bangkok for 52 hours and had yet to hear any buskers singing Hotel California.

A few days later, I was packing up to head out of Bangkok to Singapore, when I discovered mystery-slime in my bag of toiletries. Eww. And how long had those seven acetaminophen pills been melted together?

Travel = glamour, I thought as I scrubbed out my toiletry kit in the bathroom sink.

I'd taped together my compression-packing bag, which had somehow split open, and I'd put a rubber-band around my travel soap dish, which had been broken by the cleaner on Sunday. Had it happened on Saturday, I could have gotten a new one. But I'd only learned this in the shower now. I could probably find a good travel store in Singapore. My friends there might know where I could find one.

My pack gets heavier with every bit I throw away, I thought as I hoisted my bag onto my back to head down to the airport shuttle.

Yes, I was taking the plane instead of the train. AirAsia is one of those budget airlines where you end up saving money by flying. You have to be on top of it, remembering to disable the automatic flight insurance and the thing that wants you to pay ten bucks for a seat with extra leg room, but even if I had left those on, I'd be paying way less than if I took the sleeper train for two overnights and paid for a hotel in Penang, where the train has a layover. I’d travelled this route before a few times on previous expeditions.

"Hello Singapore. You are looking expensive," I thought later when I wandered out of the plane and into the high-tech airport, complete with individual phone-charging lockers and full of fun treats like compression bags (but no travel soap dish).

I took the train to Boat Quay, across the river from Raffles. I was heading to a private room I'd booked in a backpackers lodge. Singapore is pricey and this had been the cheapest private room I could find that didn't sound skanky.

The room at Prince of Wales Boat Quay was not skanky, and the price was right. I changed into something less smelly and raced off to enjoy dinner with a friend.

I always look forward to Singapore. Not because I want to see sights or go to Raffles.

No, I look forward to Singapore's potable water and salad.

The following morning, I woke up grumpy.

What the world needs, I thought, is a contest for the grumpiest traveller. With cash rewards.

I had one full day – today – in Singapore. I wanted an early start. But my hostel's free breakfast didn't start until nine, so I stood outside the bar at 8:20, wondering if free toast was worth hanging around for.

Not really. I headed over to the nearest coffee shop, where I used the wi-fi over breakfast.

What I was searching for online was a good travel store in Singapore. With a few clicks, I found half-a-mall-full.

I headed over by metro, but while I found lots of high-tech trekking gear and some tents, I found no travel soap dish.

"Do you know where I could find one?" I asked a salesman in one of the trekking shops.

"Hawker's Centre. Beach Road."

"I don't live here... can you tell me what that means?"

He wrote down some instructions. "Lavender MRT. Beach Road. Hawker's Centre."

That was vague but helpful. I caught the metro to Lavender – and while reading the newspaper over someone's shoulder, learned that a writer was shocked that some vomit had been left uncleaned-up for days – but after wandering around lost, I did find the hawker's centre.

Still, no soap dish. They only had the kind with holes in them, which wouldn't help inside my luggage.

My friend Stephanie came by in a taxi and we headed to Tekka Market. I'd read that we might find the fortune-telling parrot there.

We did not. Actually, we were dazzled by all the colorful women's clothing at Tekka Market, and forgot to look for the fortune-telling parrot. But I'm pretty sure that if there had been a fortune-telling parrot there, it would have told me one thing.

You like to travel.