One month until Christmas! I'd forgotten to be honest, but they were playing carols in the malls, and displaying a fair few Christmas trees to make sure I remembered. It's quite strange to sing along as you mop sweat from your brow!
Breakfast was lots of toast again, sitting alongside some Bradford boys who thought they were gangster as they tried to put an American twang on their accents. After putting my stuff together in the dark room, just before they all got up and turned the lights on, I was given a new map by the hostel owner who dismissed my Lonely Planet map as useless with a wave of the hand. She circled all of the major areas and told me where to go, as such.
I headed for the Sultan Mosque nearby the hostel, which wasn't anything too special, just a reason for the first sweat tissue of the day to come out. Instead of trying to find a random sculpture square in the sun I headed for the air-conditioned comfort of the MRT station, heading to City Hall.
First stop was St. Andrew's cathedral, which again wasn't too spectacular, and then a long walk around the Marina, somehow walking away from the Merlion statue that I was trying to reach. I passed the controversial Esplanade Mall and walked to the Skypark hotel, which the hostel/hostile woman had said was better, and $10 cheaper, than the London Eye-style ride across the bridge. It turned out she was probably right, as the views were pretty good from the top, and I wasn't sweating in a human-sized hamster ball for half an hour with twenty other people. It was worth the trip, although I'm not sure I could see Indonesia like the brochure said. As it was on the same floor as the hotel's pool, lots of people were coming straight from there in their robes and just having a look at the view, which made for a few strange photos. A lift ride down with some smelly women clearly wearing unforgiving polyester led me back down to the Marina, where I finally found the Merlion.
It wasn't as big as I imagined, as it's meant to the be the welcome to Singapore statue, but it was pretty good. I managed to have a half-decent photo taken by some Chinese women, although I kept using the thumbs-up sign to say thank-you, and they walked off doing it to their friends like it was the best thing since sliced bread.
A bit more getting lost in the air-conditioned malls followed, where I came acorss a Koi garden and took some pictures of the hefty blighters as they were being fed. Their pond was beside a restaurant, but I didn't look to see if they were on the menu.
I finally found the elusive Fountain of Wealth, only to see that whilst it may have been the 'World's largest fountain', it was pretty much water falling from three big pipes. It certainly was not worth the blister-inducing trek to find it.
Next stop was the MRT to Chinatown, where I saw the, again, not so impressive Sri Mariamman Temple, Smith, Murray, and Sago streets. Murray street turned out to be another convoluted trek in the wrong direction, as if I'd just crossed the road when originally planned I would have seen it opposite the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. I don't know if there was a tooth in there, I got distracted by the market instead. I nearly ended up buying a Turquoise necklace, a set of six chopsticks and holders for $60, and a Miss Saigon-style paper umbrella, all because I couldn't simply walk away from the sellers when they were showing me every possible item they had. In the end I had to walk away on the premise that I'd be back after looking at the other stores: I failed to keep my promise!
A final ride to Little India to see one more temple arrived just as it started to rain, but I carried on walking to my destination, undeterred by the thunder, and even by the lightning. My Sainsbury's mac came out and I dodged under canopies and across roads as the rain pelted it down, only to find the temple was, you guessed it, a load of rubbish. Typical. I should have turned back at the first drip.
I walked back to the MRT station like a drowned rat and then stood on the platform with every local looking at me like I was the prize muppet as I dripped onto the floor beneath me. The previously blissful air-conditioning was now making me shiver as I made my way back to the hostel, and I still had the walk back to improve my mood.
Oh, and to top it all off my sunburn has now started to blister across my neck, shoulders, and chest. There's much fun to be had out here.
After drying off I headed to the 24hr hawker centre across the road for some food: as my voice had suddenly disappeared with a sore throat I struggled to get my questions across, but am pretty sure I ended up with some rice, pork, and chicken, but who knows. I just swallowed the bits I was unsure about, couldn't be bothered searching through it. I then asked for an obligatory Milo and was given what looked like dishwater, I'm not sure what it was, but it wasn't Milo as the cups were swiftly changed upon my questioning!