Malaysia

There was a lot to do in Singapore, this tiny country that is so dense with people and buildings that it feels much larger than it actually is. After I had spent hours walking around aimlessly, shopping, eating street food and talking to friendly strangers I decided to take the advice of one Singaporean who suggested I visit nearby Malaysia, only a short bus ride over a bridge, where I could find cheaper shopping and street food. Ok, why not?

MRT took me to the northern suburbs, somewhat less densely populated, and from here I got on one of the buses that cross the bridge that serves both as link to the mainland (Singapore, again, being an island) and a handy customs rolled into one.

After spending a while in Johor, Malaysia, doing a lot of what I'd already been doing in Singapore, I was approached by a local who offered to serve as my guide for the day. I asked him a few questions including how much this was going to cost me to which he waved it off with a smile. So we walked around and he showed me the palace where the governor lives and we took a cab drive about an hour out of the city to a fishing village said to be a local haunt for city dwellers to take a break and get some good seafood. My spidey senses fired that the second time I asked my guide what his time was going to cost me I didn't get a straight answer. Perhaps it was an inappropriate question but, hey, I grew up in the streets. And sure enough, a couple of hours later when we were back in Johor his demeanor noticeably changed when I went to shake his hand good-bye. How about a donation? "Um, well, how much you looking for?" "I don't know, a couple hundred dollah?". He didn't get from me no two hundred dollah (I never carry much cash anyway, even while traveling) and in the end we both felt duped even though the money I did give him was in all certainty way more than he would have made working any Malaysian angle other than the "tourist sucker" industry.

I took a bus back to Singapore then the rail to the hotel. I was to fly out to Thailand early the next morning.

Chiangmai, Thailand