The truth is the best time I’ve had so far was at the Elephant Project. Not only because of the group of people I met there was of a particular kind and I think we clicked - but then I guess only certain people would choose two weeks in a muddy jungle as their holiday, but mainly because it was the most genuine place. Rural Cambodia doesn’t have the commercial fever of Phnom Penh or party fever of Siem Reap. People met the were nicely surprised seeing tall white guy looking for a small brush or a rain jacket or meandering the local market. And experiencing contact with elephants stripped down from fancy decorations and glamour of elephant riding, in their natural place and knowing their stories was a deeply personal thing which will stay with me and which will change the way I see those large animals forever.
Singapore on the other hand was a massive contrast and shock of a large, modern metropolis with its skyscrapers, highways and commercial district. And with feeling small and anonymous. It was needed at the time the same as Bali beach resort holiday is needed now. It’s too early to judge this one. The one thing I can say is I’m getting too old for very cheap backpacking and my standards have risen. Traveling on my own, I’m fine with living cheap in exchange for a nice tour somewhere or some good dinner or the best whisky in a fancy bar. But I notice all cut corners in hostels and guesthouses and it makes me think why not make it better and more pleasant - sometimes all it takes is to paint the room. There was more effort seen in the jungle camp than in some hotels I’ve stayed at.
The one great surprise was 5footproject.inn in Singapore, very budget, in the middle of crazy Chinatown, offering 4,6 and more people dorms yet perfectly clean, cosy and very homely despite tiny rooms with bunk beds. I could easily stay there for longer and that will definitely be my place of choice next time visiting Singapore.
With Bali, time is yet to tell…