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.
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
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
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
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 |
USA (East) |
USA (West) |
New Zealand 1 |
New Zealand 2 |
Bali 2 |
Thailand 1 |