We arrive in Singapore at about 18:00 local time on Tuesday 26th January 2010. The journey though long went without delays or complications and due to us flying over night UK time we even managed a bit of sleep on the plane which helped! We figured out how to get to our hostel using the MRT Singapore's equivalent of the tube and arrived at about 20:00. The hostel in the Little India area was good we had checked out loads of hostels before we left the UK and this one seemed to come up as the best rated overall, so after a quick shower we headed on the advice of the staff to the local 24hour food court known as hawker centres. They are full of hundreds of stalls all offering various food items for sale. The dishes we chose cost only about $4 each (2pound!) and they were really good, the chopsticks were a challenge we did get a few stares partly because we were the only white people in there but mainly because we used the chopsticks with about as much finesse as someone trying to shave with a chainsaw!
Wednesday was our first full day in Singapore and we packed a lot in. First we walked through Little India and the Arab quarter into the central business district which is the main activity centre in the city. It was on this walk near the first few photos we took of the temples we encountered a crazy old local woman who started speaking broken English (singlish) to us, all we could understand was "welcome to Singapore" and "you have a beautiful face" which Franki claims was addressed to me, though I'm not so sure unless her eyesight was as bad as her teeth, she had less than that guy out of the pogues and her smile reminded me of a certain Andrew Yeates after that famous night in Manchester!
We went on the Singapore flyer a bigger version of the London eye it was really impressive it gave fantastic views of pretty much the whole country and the audio you were given told the history of and future plans for Singapore. After the flyer we wandered around the marina bay area were the Grand Prix takes place, the architecture is amazing there are so many fantastic sights you can't help but take countless photos as you will have seen from the number we put up! In the afternoon we visited Chinatown, the colours are magical and there is a real buzz around the place. After that we went to the Orchard Road area, basically a giant shopping mall its unbelievable how many shopping centres there are. Here was where we ate Ice Cream sandwiches sounds weird but tastes really good, I think they need to be brought back to the UK. On the evening we got the bus out to the Night Safari which was really good fun.
On Thursday we went to Singapore Zoo (no holiday for us would be complete without a trip to the zoo!) next door to the night safari it really is the best zoo we've ever been to, so well designed and thought out, the animal enclosures are huge and nothing is housed in cages and the animals seem happy. After the zoo we visited the famous raffles hotel. We had the original Singapore Sling from the Billiard Room Bar, sat on a terrace enjoying our tipple as a wedding ceremony was taking place in the courtyard. The Singapore Slings were tasty but not cheap, cost $56 for 2 (about 28pound!) We wandered around the hotel and the museum. After this we headed over to the Fountain of Wealth supposed to bring you prosperity just from touching the water, hope so! Then they have a big fountain display and laser show it's the world's biggest fountain apparently.
As it was getting late we planned on heading pack on the MRT to little India for some food then an early night as we were up at 06:00 the Friday morning to head to the airport for our flight to Sydney. Here we encountered our first problem on the trip we got back to Little India station and put our tourist transport passes in the ticket machines to get our deposit back on the cards. (In Singapore public transport is really cheap, but you have to pay a deposit on the travel cards even for a single journey to ensure you return the card when you finish your journey and the cards are recycled, so there is no waste) What we didn't realise was you couldn't return the tourist travel cards in the ticket machines you have to take them to a manned ticket booth, problem was there is only manned ticket booths at about 7 of the 100 stations and they only open certain hours as we discovered. So without returning these cards and getting the deposits on them back we had no cash! Not enough to get to the airport in the morning! We had pretty much spent up as we only needed enough for the train to airport and some breakfast in the morning which the returned deposit would easily have covered. We manically went from station to station trying in vain to find a ticket booth but couldn't, we then couldn't find a cash machine to withdraw some money and when we did none of the machines would let us withdraw any cash, the third cash machine we tried retained Franki's card (thanks Nationwide that's twice we've tried to use our cards and twice they have been retained in cash machines) even though we told you we are abroad! Luckily I had quite a bit of English cash on me but trying to find a money changer at 10:00pm is not easy, though we eventfully did, phew! Adventure not over though as at this point we were starving so went to the hawker centre in Little India near our hostel, all other hawker centre's we had been to were 24hours though this one wasn't most stalls were shut or shutting. We found one that was open and I ordered a curry. Before I knew what was happening the stall server had wrapped the rice in a brown paper parcel and put the curry in a plastic bag, not on a plate as I was expecting, cheers, hence the photo of curry in a bag and the drama of me trying to eat it with no cutlery or plate! Good times.
On the Friday we got up early and got to the airport for our onward flight.
We really enjoyed our time in Singapore and would recommend anyone to go. There is a lot to see and do and we could probably have done with another day. It is so clean and tidy, there is literally no rubbish anywhere, seemingly no poverty and as a very multicultural country it works perfectly. Everything is signed in English first, Mandarin Chinese second, then Malay and Tamil Indian.They seem to have real affection for the British and are not trying to escape from or paint over anything from the colonial times. The government keeps the population under close watch, there are strict laws for everything no Jay walking no chewing gum yet despite being kept on a tight lead they are rewarded with a prosperous country, one of the richest in the world and we loved it!
Next stop Sydney.