We started this journey with absolutely no sponsors. The bicycles, as all of the camping gear, clothes and electronic gadgets were bought with the money we managed to save in Norway, where we had spent 2 years before our trip. Our initial plan was to cycle across Asia to Australia (we had estimated, that we would need 2 years to do that), and with the right budget, we could survive. If you had been following our story, you might remember, that in May 2013 we had changed our plans a bit and decided to fly from Bangkok to India, to spend some time in the Himalayas.
Our 9-months-long off-trip to Ladakh, Nepal and North East India cost us a bit more than we had assumed at the beginning. In Malaysia we realized, that our funds are almost gone. We had enough money to buy a flight ticket home, or to Australia, where we could work again. But flying to Australia would mean that we would never had the chance to visit Indonesia – a country that many of other travelers had told us a lot about.
We wanted to try our last option – finding a job in Singapore. We promised ourselves, that if we could not find a job in 10 days, we would buy a direct flight to Melbourne to try our luck over there.
We were extremely lucky to end up in probably the coolest hostel in this part of the world – Tree In Lodge. The place is famous among touring cyclists mainly due to one of the owners – SK. He cycled from Finland to Singapore with his friend in 2005 and has been deep into cycle touring ever since. He runs a hostel with his friend Yong – together with their assistant Fatimah, they form a super dedicated team.
Tree In Lodge became our home for more than one month. We had a chance to meet other cyclists, share the stories again (after Central Asia we had not visited a place like that) and learn a bit about the job situation in Singapore.
We did not want to send our CVs around – we simply had no time to wait. We needed the money NOW. Thanks to some connections and new friends, we both managed to find a job in less than 10 days! Anna had 2 job offers in fact and had chosen the one that would provide her with more opportunities to do something meaningful, well paid, and also allowed her to develop her skills – she got employed by a well known language center as a language instructor.
Mat had found his luck in one of the rope access companies. With his experience and passion for teaching, he started as a rope access technician and quickly climbed the ladder in (no pun intended) and became a trainer and project manager.
We moved out of Tree In Lodge after almost 1,5 months. To save money, we had rented a tiny room in a big, traditional Singaporean house, shared with 12 other tenants.
Our life turned from a constant run into a stable, unadventurous and maybe even boring existence. We had some cool days, where we enjoyed our little room, where we could stay without the need of moving out and packing everything the next day, like it has been for us for the past years. We could cook again, we had a fridge. But we also had days, where we wanted to quit, and just leave. Put our panniers back onto our beloved bikes and pedal, pedal, pedal away!
Luckily both of us had some nice stories to share. Anna teaching Japanese students, and developing a strong fascination for this amazing country, or Mat teaching Bangladeshi and Myanmar technicians how not to kill themselves while hanging 200m above the ground, all in body language, as not many of them could understand even basic English.
Thanks to our stable life, we had the chance to dig a bit deeper into the local culture. We had discovered some hidden spots in Singapore, like temples, “Peranakan” houses and museums. We could as well experience the life of ordinary Singaporeans – watch them shopping, celebrating New Year, local holidays, shopping, watching YouTube on the MRT, eating at food courts and doing more shopping in between.
But even though we could rest a bit (at least in terms of travelling) and grow some roots, we felt a bit like birds in a golden cage. Singapore is a nice, well-developed, clean country. It has a very unique history, it is home to many ethnic groups. But its citizens are also a bit spoiled, too much oriented on making and spending money. It is also an extremely hot country, with not that much authentic nature left. After some time we missed being on the road so much. We missed the mountains. Fresh air. Running without sweating. Scarves…
In total we had spent 9 months in Singapore of which 8 months working (rather hard). We did not spend money on silly things, we cooked our own food, we cycled or walked to work, and we did not have to spend much on accommodation. We managed to save some decent sum of money, money that for us means one thing – getting lost in the middle of nowhere.