By bike to Singapore: When things work even better than expected

Most parts of Singapore are rather fine for cycling - but some touristy spots must be walked.

Most parts of Singapore are rather fine for cycling – but some touristy spots must be walked.

Country: Singapore and Indonesia

From Singapore to Batam Centre

Lesson learned: Old worn bike parts can be of high value

Laughed about: My weird habits when I am only half awake

Most wonderful miracle: Far too many to be mentioned here

Food we ate: Sushi, different Japanese dishes, Mexican food, German sandwiches, Seafood

Greatest challenge: Convincing the ticket seller that Mexicans do not need a visa

Days on the bike: 1

Kilometers cycled: 5.52

Average Kilometers per day: 5.52

Total Kilometers cycled till Batam: 13892.61

Total days travelled till Batam: 784

November 2013: By bike to Singapore: When things work even better than expected

I woke up in panic, jumped out of the bed, watched out of the window and thought “Oh no, the sun is out already! We overslept, we need to hurry, hurry, hurry!” Then I stopped moving for a moment and wondered where I was. It took quite a while until I understood that we were in Akira’s guest room in Singapore and that the run against the time had come to an end – we managed to arrive in Singapore on our very last day of visa.

Japanese dinner with our friend Akira

Japanese dinner with our friend Akira

We got ready and went to discover the rooftop of Akira’s condominium. Since it was a workday’s morning, we were the only ones. It was not easy to decide what to do. Shall we enter the steam bath first, then swim some laps in the 70 meters long pool and later relax in the Jacuzzi or would it be better to start with the sports and have both, Jacuzzi and steam bath as a treat for the good work? I could not stop myself and swam more than 2 kilometers nonstop. It was just too great.

A 75 Meter long swimming pool in Singapore

Can you believe what you see there? We hardly could.

We spent a while with Akira, went out for Japanese food, cooked Mexican food, prepared German sandwiches, met our friends Dila and Apit, got a new tyre for Roberto’s bike and worked on our to do list. Our relight bicycle lights had arrived to Dila’s place and we were very excited to try them out. They work with a dynamo powered by six magnets on the spokes and there was no need to ever charge the batteries, switch the lights off after the rain or pedal hard with the hub dynamo.

Installing the reelights. Now we are prepared for anything

Installing the reelights. Now we are prepared for anything.

Singapore city was full of lights, so we are just happy to be seen by others with our lights, but in the countryside our strong lights would make it so much easier to find a place to sleep. Now we do not need to be afraid of rain, fog, tunnels and the sunset anymore.

Sushi is my absolute favorite food and Akire showed us how many varieties there are in Japanese food.

Sushi is my absolute favorite food and Akire showed us how many varieties there are in Japanese food.

We did not take the public transport once and I guess we must have cycled some 150-200 Kilometers in town. Another big to-do thing on our list was, to replace my old laptop with a new one and get a proper lens for Roberto’s camera before we would arrive to more expensive places such as Australia and New Zealand. So we visited the Food and Electronics Expo and got to know the entire Sim Lim Square. One day we met Swee, a local cyclist, who rides his two girls to school every day with a triple-tandem, to prove that it is possible to use a bike as a means of transportation. Swee had also met our friends Philipp and Pascale from Switzerland and Bärbel and Johan from Germany and the Netherlands and that was how he found out about us.

Have you imagined a bike path like this in Singapore? On our right there plenty of trucks, buses and some cars, on our left a calm lake. Singapore has it all.

Have you imagined a bike path like this in Singapore? On our right there plenty of trucks, buses and some cars, on our left a calm lake. Singapore has it all.

Swee had been cycling from Norway back home nine years ago and of course we had a lot of things to talk about. Later it turned out that he used to work for the Shimano plant in Singapore, the oldest plant outside of Japan, and that he had told his ex-boss about us and our bikes. His boss was rather impressed that we rode for some 14.000 kilometers with baggage (and who knows how many without bags; the bikes were second hand and we ride a lot through towns and make daytrips as well) on the most basic original Shimano parts.

Lunch with Swee. We are so happy that we have met him!

Chinese lunch with Swee. We are so happy that we have met him!

He wanted to see them. For him it was a good possibility to see how his parts work and what there is to improve when they are used nearly daily under offroad conditions in rain, snow, desert and dirt. Well, since he wanted to keep our old parts, he offered us to change them with brand new parts – for free! We could not believe our luck. Two Shimano mechanics took hands on our old bikes and equipped them with all kinds of fancy Shimano gadgets!

Before ...

Before …

We got a tour through the factory and in the late afternoon the bikes were ready. I have to say they ran as if they were buttered. My bike had 27 gears and a proper working front brake, the shifters, derailleurs, cables and tubes were brand new and it ran much smoother than with the old ones. In order to change a gear I barely needed to touch the shifter. Times are over when my thumb hurt from changing gears and when there was this squeaking sound inside the shifters. In that same night we took the ferry to the Indonesian island of Batam, one hour from Singapore.

... and after

… and after

The ticket salesman shook his head when we presented our passports. “You don’t have a visa”, he told Roberto. “I don’t need one”, he replied. “Yes, you do!”, “No I don’t, I get a visa on arrival.” “No you don’t!” They argued for a while until the salesman checked his papers to find out that Roberto was right. The man next to us had his passport covered in a bright yellow Corona-cover. I couldn’t stop myself from saying “Oh, and he probably doesn’t need a visa either” and pointing on the Corona-Passport.

The most expensive hotel ever to be constructed: Singapore got it all.

The most expensive hotel ever to be constructed: Singapore got it all.

The man behind the passport smiled from ear to ear. His name was Eric and he was a Mexican-American living in Batam with his wife and two kids. We got some beers to shorten the ferry ride (the ferry moved as if the captain had had some beers as well) and arriving on the other side Eric invited us and our host Boaz from Australia for a Barbecue at his place the following day.

Boaz and Roberto

Boaz picked us up at the ferry terminal and we followed him on his motorbike back home. He was a 21-year old English teacher and was very excited to meet us. So were we.

For the following day he had asked some friends to join us for a surprise trip to a waterfall. Austin, Samantha, Joe and Jennifer were in Indonesia for a cultural exchange program, Katie was their supervisor, Dian was a taxi driver, Ani was her friend and Daniel was a graphic designer.

Hiking to Batam's waterfall

Hiking to Batam’s waterfall

We hiked around a lake for an hour, crossed two small wooden bridges made out of a single log and one underwater bridge before we arrived to the waterfall. We jumped, swam and enjoyed the sun while it shone. It was barely noon when we headed back and Boaz, Roberto and I were really in need of a power nap.

The waterfall expedition's group

The waterfall expedition’s group

At night Eric (who we barely met) invited us, Boaz’s friend Jack and our new friends (who he had never met) over to his place for a barbecue with Indonesian and Mexican food. Eric’s wife Retno took good care that nobody ever held an empty glass. Her aunt had prepared the most delicious Indonesian food and Eric and Roberto took care for the meat. Eric had even prepared a big pot of spicy Guacamole and Samantha had made Mexican Tortillas at home! We had an amazing night and it was way past midnight when we headed back home. In 24 hours we had made so many good friends, we still could not believe it.

Roberto helps Retno and Eric with the meat

Roberto helps Retno and Eric with the meat

We spent the week working during the day and having fun with our new friends during the evening. On the second weekend we visited an abandoned Vietnamese refuge in one of the southern islands connected with Batam through some bridges. Boaz and his father Phil had been there before and explained everything to us. His partner Reni, Daniel’s brother Gideon and Boaz’ friends Emily and Jordan also joined us. At night we went to the cinema for the second time already.

Barbecue at Eric's and Retno's place

Barbecue at Eric’s and Retno’s place

Now we will head to the harbour in order to get to Sumatra Mainland.

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  1. Hector says:

    … And the stories about meeting new friends out of the blue just keep coming, don’t they?

    • admin admin says:

      Yes the do. Ther is always someone who knows someone. And in the end we make so many great friends all over. We really consider ourselves al very lucky to have met all those incredible people!

  2. I really want to make a try. Thank you so much for your sharing. 🙂

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