West Coast parkrun, Singapore

West Coast parkrun route
West Coast parkrun route.

After one of the worst night’s sleep I’ve ever managed – I’d revisited Park in Holland Village with an ex colleague, drunk and chatted, but was in bed by 11.30, still awake at 2, finally asleep some time later, then wide awake at 4, and again at 5 – I was up at six to meet my lift to parkrun. That he wasn’t as committed a tourist as me was evidenced by our text chat the day before, when he suggested East Coast Park, ‘because it’s closer’.

But I’ve done that one, back in 2015 (pre a trip to Vietnam). In fact, that’s where we met. Being a good sort, he bowed to peer pressure and agreed to drive out to West Coast Park. I wasn’t convinced he was certain of the importance, but at 6.35, as the sun crept over the well-lit buildings of Lavender Street, a sticker-festooned Merc flashed me, and we were off.

The trip out to West Coast Park took us past the docks, and their size is impressive – yet still the queue of ships waiting multiple days to get into Singapore is a feature to be seen. We were there by 7 and my worries that I wouldn’t get there were finally allayed. I like to wait until it’s certain before switching off the worry completely. That was just one of the things to keep me awake the night before, along with thoughts of getting back for my afternoon bus to Malaysia, jet lag and a general night-time ‘now let’s worry about the open nature of the future’ readjustment my brain seems to be doing.

Mauritz figured that the West coast might be a little cooler than the East, and it certainly felt it today. The course is a figure of eight, today with a couple of mild deviations for ‘pathworks’ (whose gig was rubbish, incidentally – barely any electronica), fast and flat other than a couple of mini climbs as you pass both ways under an underpass. Despite the breeze that was a huge relief to sweaty finishers, it was hot on the course, and after one runner sprinted away (to be reeled in and finish 7th) I was happy at first to hold on to a group of 7. We split after a kilometre or so, though, and I was left chasing a Spaniard running his 50th parkrun who clearly gets about a bit – a browse of Strava shows he has run in Indonesia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Singapore just in the last few weeks. I have found my peeps, as they say.

Post parkrun we went for breakfast – curry noodles, at a stall Mauritz has visited since he was a boy – and coffee (thanks but no thanks) in a little tour of Singapore life. I still had time for a snooze then made it to my 1pm bus down at the Golden Mile Tower, which is a Thai corner of town. The bus set off late, but taking 5 hours on a Saturday afternoon isn’t too bad. We were helped, I think, by our driver spotting that the one queue of buses waiting to drop people off could be two, and buzzing down the right hand side, and also by Star Mart express (their reviews are terrible, by the way, but I was happy enough) pulling a bus switch, so one bus took us to Malaysian immigration, another took us from there.

Last night I couldn’t quite shake the thought that I was moving on a little too quickly, and certainly haven’t really found my travelling brain yet, but Melaka comes highly recommended, and one wander out onto the riverfront showed me why, so I’m glad I made the effort to get here.

Pretty riverfront scene in Melaka.
Melaka by night.

The hostel owner at Ringo’s Foyer is renowned for being super-friendly, and sure enough on arrival I was being introduced to everyone in the room, shown around and met his wife and daughter. The dorm room is large but we all have our own curtained pod, which makes for a little haven for anyone not socialising. Writing a blog post, for instance. I compared travel notes with Andrew, recently graduated in New Zealand and completing a tour of Europe by enjoying Malaysian prices. As we talked, I alternated between thinking ‘gosh, touring Europe is a very different experience’ and ‘good grief, you’re so young’.

A moped stands in front of a colourful mural painted on a wall, showing a man, leaning
Murals by the river.

Malaysia was a revelation last time I was here, and was so anew; sitting at the bus stop, waiting for the local bus (a taxi is 15x more expensive, though given that the bus is 18p, you might decide not to wait) I was initially confused by the lack of information and choice of 6 different stops that might offer a bus going my way. But a local told me the right place to wait for the bus, and another engaged me in conversation, spotting first that I was British and then regaling me with tales of teaching English, how to confuse a postgraduate with French words and what Europe might think of Muslims. The wait and then the journey passed very quickly.

Malaysian Services
Malaysian services – dude in white shirt had a style all his own.

He also asked what I do for a profession and was inspired enough by my old one to take my email address. I doubt I’ll get asked for my advice on learning technologies, but it is interesting that I’ve already had to give an occupation on an official form or two and now in conversation.

The youth in the hostels don’t seem to be bothered, mind.

Buses: 2. Coffee turned down: 1. New parkrun: 1. Sleep: 2 hours.

Results from West Coast Park parkrun, event 46, 14/10/17.

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