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Part 11 - Singapore

1 British Pound (GBP) = 2.76 Singapore Dollars

Singapore (Sunday 17th January)

We arrived at Singapore's Changi Airport early, checked through immigration with no wait at all. We were greeted with "Would you like some candy ?", by a friendly immigration officer ! In less than five minutes we had picked up our bags and were on our way out of the airport. I wouldn't mind being delayed here at all - there are free films, a free 2 hour city tour, outdoor swimming pool, putting green, saunas, lots of shops and restaurants, a gym, you name it, they have it. Quite a change from the airport in Bali ! We took an air conditioned taxi ($11) to our hotel, the South East Asia hotel on Waterloo Street and checked in. In the guidebooks this hotel is listed in the bottom category of the mid range hotels at around $60. Hotels are relatively expensive in Singapore compared with the rest of the region and if we paid the same price as in Indonesia we'd be lucky to get a couple of dorm beds. We decided on this one as it was very central and described as spotlessly clean with all the comforts of a private bathroom, air conditioning and a TV. Despite all of this being true I felt a bit disappointed, probably because the place was very similar to an old hospital - quite depressing and old. Maybe I'm just too picky, but I prefer something more comfortable and it doesn't matter about the TV as it was all in Chinese anyway !
Until tomorrow ...



Shopping and Eating (Monday 18th January)

We took a walk down to Orchard Road this morning and spent the next few hours wandering around just a few of the many shopping malls (there's around 40 of them in the Orchard Road area !). It was quite a treat for us wandering around huge air conditioned shopping malls after all the tiny shops in Bali and Lombok in the last month ! The prices are better than at home as well. It's a shame I don't have a big wad of cash to part with.

Financial Centre, Singapore Singapore is very Westernised and much like being in a big American city, the only difference being the different cultures, Chinese writing everywhere (as well as English) and the huge number of Chinese eateries. There are around 3 million people living here - three quarters of them are Chinese and the rest are Malays followed by Indians and a sprinkling of other nationalities. The city is clean, modern and it's hard to believe I'm in South East Asia. The MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) is sparkingly clean, like the lobby of a hotel, air conditioned and efficient. They even have the platforms blocked off with glass walls, and doors open when the train arrives , so no delays caused by bodies on the tracks !

At lunchtime, I hate to say this, but it was Burger King for Whoppers, Fries and Coke. After a month of vegetable eating it was damn good ! In the afternoon we took a walk to Little India which was colourful and full of Indian people - a sudden change from the predominantly Chinese people in other areas. We'd seen an advert for rooms in the Tai Hoe hotel with a special offer of rooms for $60 which looked quite nice, so we had a look. The rooms were smaller than the SE Asia hotel , but more modern and comfortable with a fridge, TV and air con so we reserved a room for tomorrow.

This evening we took off for the Swee Kee restaurant recommended in our guidebook for its excellent Chicken Rice served in a chilli and ginger sauce. Just our luck, it was no longer there so we ended up in a food court which had a mind boggling array of Chinese dishes (all for around $3). Some of the dishes didn't sound very appetising - Pig's stomach soup, throttler, intestines and every other inside part of an animal in the form of soup, stew or curry. We settled on a simple chicken and rice dish which was nothing special, but for $3 you can't complain.

At the moment I'm choked up with the cold - seems a bit strange having a cold in hot weather, but I s'pose it's January after all.




Chinatown and the Night Safari (Tuesday 19th January)

We checked into our new hotel this morning - a good half hour walk with our backpacks in the midday sun. It's not in as good a location as the last place, but much more comfortable and the Lavender MRT station is just 5 minutes away. We took the MRT down to the financial district, near Chinatown. All was mysteriously deserted and then we discovered it was a holiday. Hari Raya Puasa, the end of Ramadan, which also explained all the people in colourful tradional dress on the trains. We tried to find the post office as we've been planning to ship a lot of stuff home and Singapore is one of the cheapest and reliable places in SE Asia to do this. Unfortunately the GPO was not where our guidebook or our map said it would be and as it was a holiday we didn't bother to try and find another one.

We took a walk down by the riverbank where there are lots of small cafes and restaurants, stopped for coffee and cake then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the colourful Chinatown and looking at the Chinese shopping centres. I didn't have a clue what most of the products were - weird and wonderful health concoctions covered in Chinese writing, but it was fun trying to guess and I bought a set of little tins full of different kinds of Chinese tea.

In the evening we had some curries and Nan bread in a restaurant in the Little India area which was nice. We tried some Tiger Beer which wasn't as nice as the Bali Hai and Bintang we've been used to over the past few weeks, especially since it costs 5 times as much ! Afterwards we took the MRT and a bus out to the zoo for the Night Safari where we wandered around specially lit trails and viewed the animals in the dark. It was quite good fun and the animal enclosures are big and seperated by wide trenches rather than cages. It costs $15 and an extra $5 to go on the 40 minute tram ride which covers different trails, some not accessible by foot. Well worth a visit, if you have a spare evening.




A not so fun day (Wednesday 20th January)

We slept in far too long today and never got out the door until nearly noon. We went to Raffles for a look inside (very nice) and to go to the tourist office. We found out here that the post office had moved to a different street, so off we went and found out that it was a reasonable $35 to ship a 5kg box home. After that we headed off to Tang Dynasty City - a 30 minute MRT ride followed by a 30 minute walk, only to find that it was shut. Very annoying considering it was only 4 o'clock and our guidebook said 10 o'clock.

This evening we picked a Thai restaurant for dinner from our guidebook, walked for half an hour to get there and guess what ? It was no longer there ! We ended up in a foodcourt again where I had the worst lemon chicken I've ever tasted in my life. Not such a successful day, and my feet are killing me !




Sentosa Island (Thursday 21st January)

Singapore's answer to Disneyland (with not quite as much entertainment) - Sentosa Island. We took the scenic method of transport - the cable car, over to Fabar hill for views of the City, then back to the World Trade Centre and over to Sentosa. (Price $6.90 for return cable car + $5 entrance to Sentosa). One of our main reasons for going to Sentosa was for Fantasy Island, the waterpark. You wouldn't believe it, but it's shut on Wednesdays and Thursdays for maintenance ! Other attractions on the island include white (imported) sandy beaches, Volcanoland ($10), Underwater World ($13) Pioneers of Singapore ($5), Fort Siliso ($3) and a few more. We went to the Pioneers of Singapore, a waxworks museum telling the history, customs and festivals of the different cultures of Singapore, which was kind of interesting. The rest of the day was spent wandering around the island, riding the monorail, watching a Monkey show at the beach and walking through the Orchid Gardens and the Asian village. Our day here was not dramatically exciting, but it kept us amused ! Sentosa seemed to be pretty deserted, but apparantly gets quite busy at the weekends when all the local people flock over.

We spent the rest of the day in the shopping malls on Orchard Road again and had a nice Thai meal for dinner. Again, our legs were aching when we arrived back to the hotel at 9pm.




Last day in Singapore (Friday 22nd January)

Not much to say about today really. We did all the essential things - shipped 12kg of stuff home, did our laundry, tried to go to an internet cafe (it was closed !), stocked up on sunscreen and toiletries then finished off with a nice big meal in the Hard Rock Cafe, a la visa card. Tomorrow we're off to Melaka on the bus. We've enjoyed our short stay in Singapore - good for home comforts, food and shops. A very big contrast to Indonesia !



Journal Index | Pre-Trip | USA (East) | USA (West) | Fiji | New Zealand 1 | New Zealand 2 | Australia | Bali | Lombok | Bali 2 | Malaysia | Thailand 1 | Thailand 2



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