Finally we have settled! The place we are in now is perfect. No more complaints. We are staying in the Inn Crowd - a nice little place in Little India, and we have our friend Pete to thank for recommending it - so thanks man!
Yesterday morning we had our first taste of a Singapore storm. Unfortunately we could not see it because it was early morning, and we were still stuck in our windowless cell, but we could hear the ferocious thunder calling out, teasing us with it's vicous voice, calling us to observe.
We stayed in bed.
So, seeing as we moved to Little India, it seemed only right to explore our new surrondings and see how they compared to the real thing. And funnily enough they do. It was a bit strange. First off, obviosly there are Indians walking around - which is a good start. And they aren't just people pretending, they are real authentic Indians! But more importantly, the atmosphere is quite similar - there are shops selling all sorts of things lining the streets, and people waiting outside trying to lure you in like a commercial Pied Piper. Bollywood music played from every other shop, all mixing together to make a tumultous mess of high pitched screeching and drums. And the smells oozed as if we were stepping back to a Delhi spice market - fusing in the air and flowing up your nose causing you at times to draw breath at it's strength. It doesn't seem too artificial either, but just a natural cultural district that has sprung up over time. There are no cows wandering the streets, or beggars on the street, and it is obviosly a lot cleaner, but for a couple of hours yesterday, we could have been back in India.
That done, we decided to join the hostel on a free walk around some more of Singapore, on the promise we would be talken "off the tourist trail". I'm not sure if that happened, but we saw some pretty cool things, the highlights of which included -
- Visiting a local shop full of paper re-creations of everyday things - glasses, cigarettes, money, cars etc. The idea being that Buddhists are burned with the things that they might want in the afterlife, and rather than burn the real things, these paper imitations are what's sent with them. It was pretty weird, and the people did not look especially happy about us wandering into their shop - it was kind of like strolling into a funeral parlour for a look round. Not right!
- A fortune telling temple. You go in and pick up a bucket of sticks and two red pieces. You shake the bucket until a stick falls out, and when it does throw the red bits down whilst asking your question. If they land the right way up, then you take the stick that fell to the desk and they give you the corresponding fortune. Mine was good - everything is going to be OK. Good times!
- We strolled through the largest street market in Singapore, and I could not resist trying the "King of Fruits" - the Durian. It is a spikey fruit, about the size of a melon. They have a bd reputation because they smell terrible. Walking down the streets you can tell if someone is eating one from about 50 metres away, and if you eat them on the tube you get fined $500, but I think these things have to be tried. It was not all that bad. The smell is deceptive. The fruit is quite slimey, and it looks a bit like a yellow heart, but the taste is not terrible. I'm not seeing it's great, but it was not as bad as the aroma would have you believe. Needless to say Dan hated it - as did most of the group.
- We had ice cream in bread. Exactly that. not that strange, but a local delicacy. A block of ice cream betwee a slice of bread (green and pink bread though!)
There were a few temples too - but boring!
So that done, we ate at the Chinatown Food Street. It was beautiful stuff - cooked for you there and then - blissfully fresh. There is something about eating in the open air, beneath all the lights and paper lanterns, that made the evening alot more of an experience - an event that I think we will be repeating.
One more district left to explore today - the Arab Quarter.
Hopefully we leave with our wrists intact!