Arriving in Singapore

A post by Adam

After two years of saving, 9 months of meticulous planning, handing in our notices at work and selling most of our stuff, it feels surreal to finally be leaving the UK to start this epic adventure that lies ahead.

The last couple of weeks in the UK have been superb. We had a lovely send off from our friends and family and it has made me realise what a great support network we have back in the UK, even after living overseas for the majority of the last 8 years.

After leaving our home in Cyprus, we were officially homeless. Luckily, we were able to stay at Lucia’s mum’s house during the summer to prepare for this journey. We will always be grateful for the support that Lucia’s mum has given us over the last few weeks so if you’re reading this, thank you.

D-5. From Yorkshire to London with 2 Touring Bikes and a lot of Kit

Our planned movements from Lucia’s mums in rural West Yorkshire to Singapore were fairly simple in theory:

  1. Train from: Sowerby Bridge to Leeds – Leeds to Stevenage – Stevenage to London Gatwick on 4 Sep 18.
  1. Stay overnight at a Travelodge near Gatwick.
  1. Get from the hotel to Gatwick airport on the 5 Sep 18.
  1. Fly for 13 hrs to Singapore.

After an emotional send-off at the station from Lucia and her mum, we got our first train with no problems. It’s worth mentioning here that we decided to box our bikes before getting the train. Our theory was it would mean less rushing to pack our bikes in a Travelodge the night before and it also meant that we able to take our time to pack our bikes at home.

Our train journey from West Yorkshire to Gatwick went strangely well, especially as we were relying on the ever more unreliable British rail. We had no problems finding space for the bikes on the trains. Only one of the trains required us to pre-book our bikes, the long one from Leeds to Stevenage, which meant they were expecting us and we knew there wouldn’t be any issues. The struggle came when we had to drag these awkward, heavy boxes and bags from platform to platform and from the final stop at Gatwick airport train station to the shuttle bus service for our hotel.

Somebody else’s bike, packed for a flight. That’s one way to do it.

We had no coins to get a trolly for our boxes at Gatwick so we dragged them from the train station to the bus stop for the hotel service. I ended up with two, 20kg bags on my back as Lucia was having a hard time carrying everything. When we did eventually get to the bus stop, it turned out that we couldn’t pay for the bus by card so we had to get some cash out in the end. Rookie error! Getting our two huge boxes on the shuttle bus wasn’t the easiest task in the world but we managed it.

Finally on the shuttle bus service from Gatwick to the hotel.

Our stay at the Travelodge Gatwick Central was pleasant. Rather than paying for their expensive and probably naff food, we stocked up on food at the local Tesco supermarket which is walking distance from the Travelodge. A couple of instant noodles went down a treat with our hotel kettle.

D -4. Flying to Singapore

Our 1030 flight meant a 0600 wake up to get to the airport on the shuttle bus again. This journey was much easier as we made sure we had pound coins for the trolleys at the airport. Transporting two heavy bike boxes, two holdalls weighing 16kg (Lucia’s) and 23kg (Adam’s) and two awkward back panniers for hand luggage on a trolley was an absolute dream compared to lugging them by hand.

Our flights to Singapore were £656 for two people, 2 bikes, 2 – 20kg bags and our meals on the flight with Norwegian. I’ve since seen flights from Gatwick to Singapore for £159.90 with Norwegian so it wasn’t the cheapest ever but we were still pleased to get to the other side of the world for under £700.

The check-in went smoothly and other than our flight being delayed a number of times, all seemed to go to plan.

I had booked a window seat for the flight as I was hoping to be able to see the countries that we will later cycle through from above. When I arrived at my seat, it turned out to be the only window seat without a window. Gutted!

This could roughly be our route back to the UK. Probably won’t be cycling through Afghanistan though.

D-3. Arriving in Singapore

Many films later and with very little sleep, we arrived in SE Asia for the first time. Arriving at Singapore airport was the most tranquil airport experience I’ve ever encountered. Calming music played throughout the terminal, coupled with a clean and modern building made the whole arrivals process feel like a breeze.

Arriving with our bikes in Singapore.

Once we had passed the border control and received our 90-day entry stamp, we made our way to the taxi stand. We had given up on trying to work out how to get the train to our hotel and were too tired to be dragging boxes through Singapore. Finding a taxi for two huge boxes and two large bags wasn’t the easiest but with some persistence, we managed to squeeze our stuff and ourselves in and get on our way to the hostel.

After asking for recommendations for accommodation in Singapore on a bicycle touring Facebook page, we were told that Tree in Lodge is the best place for bike tourists to stay. The owners have completed their own bike tours and give 50% discount to people on a bike tour which is not to be sniffed at, especially in Singapore that has a reputation for being expensive. We are paying $105 SPD for 3 nights in a private room which works out at about £20 a night. For Singapore, this is a fantastic price.

Our 0900 arrival at the Tree in Lodge was much earlier than the advertised 1pm check-in, but we were given the warmest of welcomes by one of the owners, Yong. After being shown to our rooms we were free to relax and get some food. We popped to a local Chinese eatery and bought a plate of chicken, rice and veggies. This meal cost $3 SPD which was fantastic value for such a good meal. 

After our amazing meal, we slowly put our bikes back together. We wanted to do this early, just in case there were any damages from the flight which would give us time to repair. Luckily for us, our bikes came through in one piece.

Lucia putting her bike together at the Tree in Lodge hostel.

One of the owners noticed that my chain had been put on wrong at the rear derailleur and needed to be taken apart to be put on correctly. This must have happened when I got my chain repaired in Castello in Spain by the Specialized shop there. The owner’s knowledge and expertise were greatly appreciated. We discussed bikes and their set-ups, routes through SE Asia and back to the UK and visa tips.

It was very reassuring for us both to be surrounded by other cycle tourists. We met a French Canadian woman in her late 50’s who had been cycle touring for the past 2.5 years. Her stories lit up the room and filled us with excitement for what lies ahead for our journey.

I met this woman cycle tourist who has been on the road for 2.5 years. At this point, Lucia had crashed and burned from jet lag and was getting some needed rest. 

We finished the day with another delicious, filling and cheap meal and beer with the Canadian woman and SK. Already, I am having the greatest of times.

A perfect end to our first day in Singapore

Pre-trip Emotions
D-2 to D-1: Acclimatising in Singapore

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