Back in state

I have been so far away from home in so many ways. Singapore feels like a homecoming. Physically much closer (just a touch north of the Southern hemisphere), culturally lined with the same English heritage that graces my homeland, and just so muich more familiar to me from all the time I have spent here in the past.

So here I am back in my old house, in the old room, listening to the old music, eating in the old kitchen, and taking the old routes (love cheap Singapore taxis) to the old haunts with old friends. Funny that none of these people, places or things are old. How inexact English is sometimes.

The big question, of course, is when should I go home?

Continuing my on-again, off-again series of travel tips, don’t set your heart on travelling by train across Malaysia from Thailand. At least not if you are in a hurry. Because the trains from Thailand stop at Butterworth (on the shore opposite Penang) at mid-morning, and the connection further south to KL does not leave until late at night.

Plus the trains are amazingly slow – they take about twice as long as the comfy air-conditioned buses to go the same distance. Although the back seat of the bus might be a little cramped if you are tall or the person in front insists on putting his seat right back (despite his weeny little legs that can hardly touch the ground). And it might be a little hot if you get the seat right next to the engine block, and a little smelly and annoying since that seat is also right beside the toilet.

And trains lack the entertainment options too. You might just be in the mood for that late-release legitimate backup copy VCD that happens to be playing on the bus television. Although some might find the 90 minute delay between the two halves of the movie a little disconcerting, and some might be dismayed that the low volume (and subtitles in Mandarin) turn it more into a visual symphony than the more common audio-visual type. Still, for very little money. And you do get there so much quicker.

How lovely that they let me in again without even raising an eyebrow. There are certainly some good things about Singapore

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