07.12.2008 - 12.12.2008
I was sitting in the outdoor eating area in KL, drinking my frozen beer, and it occured to me that I didn't really want to leave. I won't say that I was having a good time, as I was working pretty hard, but I was feeling pretty contented and happy which is a good place to be. But earlier in the week, I'd ventured down to KL Sentral Stesen and bought myself a train ticket, so I kind of had to go. I was a little shocked when buying the ticket, as the person behind the counter seemed to be asking my age in order to find out if I qualified for an old person's discount. I was even more shocked a few minutes later. I was sitting up on the second floor, dining on what I normally eat when in foreign climes (donuts and oversweet orange juice) when I saw a train. Not so unusual, in a train station, to be sure, but this one was above my head and seemed to be right in the station concourse. Turns out it was one of KL's suburban Light Rail Network trains.
So the train ride back was pretty uneventful, with little variation in the scenery, just a few stops for the various towns. I checked out the dining car (pitiful) so stuck my nose in my book: Orhan Pamuk's Black Book. It is quite a bit more readible than the other of his I read (Snow) and seems to have a definite plot (a fellow comes home to find his wife has left him so goes in search of her (very Murakami)) but takes lots of detours on the way.
I need not have rushed back: I went out to the University on Monday and was more than a little confused to find the coffee shop shut, although there were people sitting at the tables outside. Then I discovered that the Faculty doors were locked; it was not till I got to the library that I learnt that it was a public holiday, Hari Raya Haji (i.e. to mark the Muslim pilgrims to Mecca). I had no idea Singapore would be officially closed for it (not that the shops noticed, it seemed to be business as usual for them). Since then, my week wasn't exactly the subject for a thrilling travel narrative: I worked hard and very productively, I wandered around in the evening and then used the free internet at the hostel to organise the next stages of the trip (I've even scored a free return bus trip, between Birmingham and London). I've hardly said a word to anyone since I got back, but again it has been a pretty good week.
Tuesday I did get to go to the movies at the National Museum of Singapore, part of their World Cinema series. This one was a Scandinavian black and white film made in 1966 called Hunger in which this fellow has no money (we never learn why) and is desperate to make some, but honourably: he tries pawning anything he can, and is trying to make his way by writing. But such is his pride that when he buys a candle and is given change for money he never hands over, he gives it away. An odd wee film, but curiously compelling. Friday I made the mistake of going down Orchard Road for my dinner; absolute hordes of people, and all of the half decent looking places to eat had long queues of people wating to get in. Not my idea of fun at all.