We landed at 9:30am Singapore time, to overcast weather. I went through immigration and baggage collection etc in no time at all. I then changed some money and headed to the Taxi depot. Walking out the front door of the airport was like walking into a steam room - hot and incredibly humid, sweaty heat. I was in a taxi on the way to the hotel I'd booked straight away.
The taxi journey was actually quite good fun, the bloke was really nice and full of helpful advice. However, our opening conversation was the funniest. I gave him the address, he turned and looked at me and said "Urm...ok. Why have you booked a hotel there?". I didn't really know what to make of his comment, and replied with "because it was one of the cheapest I could find, and close to the city so I could see the sights". With an almost relived look he just said 'ok' and burst out laughing. Long story short I had booked a hotel Singapore's Red Light District, no wonder it was cheap!! We were both in stitches at my nievety, but once we had stopped laughing he explained a bit more; the streets behind where I am staying is the centre of the Red Light District, which although has prostitutes and their dwellings isn't as bad as you would expect. Apparently a lot of Chienese blokes fly to Singapore to visit that area and make use of the 'facilaties', as well as lots of Chinese women coming to 'work' . He just said not to be surprised if I am woken up tonight by someone next door Hahahaha.
When I checked in to the hotel you wouldn't have really known, unless you were told. Turns out I couldn't check in until 3pm without paying a fee, so I left my suitcase and boardbag in the locked store room, and set about exploring.
I went left out the front door and walked 50m down the road, then all of a sudden i could understand what I had been told! Just walking past the shop fronts I was amazed that every other woman was quite obviously 'working' despite it being 11:30am. Quite an eye opener having never been anywhere like it before! I decided being lunch time it was as good'a time as any to get into the local food, and had a selection of noodles and fried chicken etc for lunch. Other than having to blank the odd woman's introductions, who could obviously spot the outsider (doesn't take a rocket scientist!!) it was a really cool experience.
From there I went back to the hotel and looked at some fliers in reception, asked the woman behind the desk about where to go, then went right out the front door, down to the main road. I waited for a while, then hopped on a bus down to the city centre.
When I jumped off again I wasn't quite sure where to go, I asked a woman in the local shop and was soon on my way down towards the 'Boat Quay'. Walking along the river gave a brilliant view of the buildings around. There are some absolutely beautiful really old well looked after ones, mixed in amongst lots of huge modern style glass skyscrapers.
When you get down to the quay at the end, all the buildings are built right up to the end, and some in, the water. Despite this your can still walk all the way round the water, which I read is a 3.5km circuit, to get a full panaramic view of the buildings. It's clearly a very expensive area, with amazing hotels and resteraunts. One of the resteraunts (with vallet parking, of course) had everything from Ferraris, Lambos, Mazzaratis (spelt wrong) and M5s out front. Quite a sight to see!
Something that doesn't even cross your mind until your there, is that being English (or just of western decent) means your stand out like a sore thumb, as obviously, the vast majority of people here are Asian. This plus the fact I have dreads, which I'm not sure Asian people do (?), meant I got a few looks from people. What was really funny though was when I was taking pictures of a point around the Quay, a guy came over and asked for a photo with me. It seemed pretty funny so of course I did, then others saw what was going on and I ended up doing about 5/6 photos with a big group of guys. It really made me laugh.
Also when I was walking past a super posh hotel, one of the guys on the door came out with 'cool hair mate!' which was funny.
I wandered round for ages just taking it all in, then remember what my taxi driver had said - 'go to the lookout at the top of Marina Bay Send Tower 3'. This is one of 3 tower blocks all next to one another, with a 'ship' linking them all together at the top. They are amazing buildings, with a Mall underground (but open to the air at the front), hotel space up to the 'ship' at the top, with a lookout over that part of the city, and an infinity pool etc.
I walked round to that side of the water and by this time it started to rain - I spoke to an elderly Aussie couple who told me about the weather. Its wet season now so it's incredibly humid and pretty hot, then each day at 1pm almost on the dot, thunderstorms kick in and it rains for the rest of the day.
Fortunately I managed to buy my ticket and get up to the view point during a break in the rain, and MAN was I lucky! The views from up there are absolutely mind blowing, evening with cloud masking the more distant sights. If I ever speak to anyone going to Singapore I would 100% reccomend it. On one side you look over the quay area and the skyscrapers I had been walking around by. On the opposite side you look out to sea, which you wouldn't have known was there without a high view point. I couldn't belive it when I saw how many tankers were out in the bay, it looked like a scene from Pearl Harbour of the D-Day landings, especially in the stormy lighting and low cloud.
I had just about managed to walk round it and partially take in the view, when a huge thunderstorm just enveloped everything and there was lightening zipping around pretty close to the top of the tower. As you have to pay $20 go up there, and I had only got 5-10 mins of a view before the weather came in, I was given a full refund...laughing!
By this time it was about 4pm, it was raining so hard you couldn't walk around (especially if like me you didn't have a jacket) and I was starting to feel the lack of acceptable sleep. I got a taxi directly from the hotel back to the one I was staying at, with another nice driver and it was only about $6 so I was stoked.
When I got back to the hotel I signed into my room and collected my bags, then just chilled a bit. I had a shower and looked at the days photos, then got changed and headed back up to the little place I ate earlier for some dinner. It was about 6pm and the place was really bustling, and lots of people were out on the street and cars were swerving around blowing their horns. What was also noticeable was there were far fewer women working the street, so I guess they had made the most of the crowds and picked up a buddy!
As I was walking back to the hotel again after it struck me for a second time, I had really enjoyed just sitting there having my dinner and watching the world go by. Considering 2 days ago I hadnt been all that keen on having to be in Singapore at all, I have had a really really enjoyable day! I guess it goes to show you shouldn't write anything off until youve done it..
Im glad I've managed to keep busy all day though and found lots to see, as it has kept my mind busy. On the shuttle bus to the airport yesterday I was completely gutted to be leaving Australia and Mark+Fenella's, as I'm always crap at goodbyes. But with so much to see, all of which is brand new to me, I have barely thought about home/home#2 or even Bali all day!
Speaking of home it is Mum's birthday today! Im going to go down to reception and get an hours Wifi in a moment, so I must wish her a Happy Birthday. It's not really that long until I see her and dad in Bali, it's nuts!
(Photo - Marina Bay Send Towers and their Boat topping!)