Southeast Asia in Pictures: Week I

Every week during our eight-week trip across Southeast Asia, I plan to post a handful of snapshots and stories from the week just gone.

If you follow me elsewhere on the web, you’ll know that my everyday world has taken a turn for the tropical. After over a year of saving our pennies, I quit my full-time job in central London, my partner put his business on hold and we moved out of our one-bed flat in the city – to embark, finally, on our long-planned adventure. We are spending the rest of the year (October-December) exploring Southeast Asia: as my parents are (temporarily) living in Asia, the chance to explore this part of the world seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. I love to travel, and we had the luxury of being able to save up and plan far in advance so we could steer our commitments and finances with this excursion in mind. I have also been aching to go freelance for several years, but could never quite muster the courage or wherewithal needed to jump in headfirst. This trip provided me with a handy excuse to leave my permanent role and take the leap into self-employment. My partner runs his own business, so was able to pass some clients onto an acquaintance, and work remotely where necessary.

Blogging has taken a backseat in the midst of this happy upheaval, and we’ve since spent our first month on the road exploring Cambodia and Vietnam by train. Now we’ve returned to Singapore for a week, I’ve been reunited with my laptop and will be playing catch-up for the next few days. I’ll be packing my laptop for the second leg of our journey across Thailand and Malaysia, so posts should become more current. Stay tuned!

That equatorial light – a sure sign we were back in the country of eternal summer. Singapore has no seasons to speak of, aside from varying degrees of rain, and temperatures vary very little from day to day and month to month. The light has a piercing, omnipresent quality, dancing and dazzling. It’s unlike home, unlike anywhere else.

One of the city-state’s newest, and most iconic, landmarks – Supertree Grove. This manmade forest of vertical gardens, featuring over 160,000 orchids, ferns and tropical climbers, opened in 2012 and is a central pillar of the Singapore government’s strategy to transform the island from a garden city to a ‘city within a garden’. And for the eco-friendly traveller, even more promising is the fact that 11 of the trees are fitted with solar panels that transform the beating, tropical sunlight into energy, which lights the park and neighbouring flower domes and powers the water technology needed to keep this lush oasis green and glorious.

Stumbling upon a lively evening market near Rochor MRT station, strung with Chinese lanterns and busy with locals doing a spot of shopping. Singapore is full of surprises.

A stately monitor lizard at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, almost as far north on the island as you can get without stepping foot in Malaysia.

One of the many hundreds (perhaps thousands?) of dockless bikes that have been deposited in the city by Chinese bike-sharing companies. There’s been a fair bit of controversy surrounding them – convenient mode of transport or public menace? In China, bikes have clogged landfill sites as supply outstrips demand. Personally, the jury’s still out. What do you think?

A thali feast at the peculiarly-titled Poison Ivy Bistro at Bollywood Veggies, one of Singapore’s few veg-growing farms nestled deep in the Kranji countryside. Singapore has a reputation for being an expensive city to live in and to visit, but eating hawker food is an incredibly reasonable way to sample the city’s culinary pleasures. For a few dollars or less, you can eat some of the very best, fresh food from a variety of cultures. I plan to write a post on the city’s best vegetarian hawker food in the near future!

Befriending butterflies on Sentosa Island, where a variety of insects and native lepidoptera can be seen at the Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom. We were thrilled to see plenty of these species in the wild in the Vietnamese countryside, a few weeks later.

And with that, we were off to Phnom Penh! I’ll be catching up on these photo diaries over the next few days, alongside planning future posts of the stories and sights we’ve been fortunate enough to experience. Thanks for sticking around despite my intermittent internet-ing. Your readership is much appreciated!