A Marine, a Magician and some makeshift chopsticks... Singapore
As soon as we touched down in Singapore we decided we loved it...and that was before we'd even left the airport. Much of this had to do with Starbucks greeting us as soon as we stepped off the aeroplane, no queue at passport control, a very helpful lady at the information counter, luxurious toilets and an adorable little old man offering to help us get our bags off the conveyor belt. We heart Singapore.
Our hotel was quite nice (obviously we were on the top floor again but it least we had a lift) there was just the small problem that it was located slap bang in the middle of the red light district! Unable to check in straight away, we went out for some food, after walking past massage parlour after massage parlour and girls in every doorway we found a food court which looked the best of a bad and very strange bunch with things like deep fried chicken feet and curried pigs trotters on the menu - not much appealed to us. Lodge found a dish she quite enjoyed but my attempt to find something vegetarian resulted in a plate of very unappealing stir-fried Morning Glory in a dodgy sauce - yuck! At least it was cheap, our very first and only cheap meal in the country.
Everything we did, ate and drank in Singapore cost a fortune, especially after living in Thailand and Malaysia for the past 5 weeks where everything was ridiculously cheap. Not here though, it was four pounds for a can of coke or ten pounds for a small glass of wine. Wowzer! But that wasn't going to stop us having a good time. We'd already booked some accommodation for our next stop in Bali which cost slightly more than a can of coke but slightly less than a glass of wine does in Singapore so while it was going to be three expensive days, we had 2 weeks in Bali afterwards to get back on budget.
We visited all the big tourist attractions in the city, the Singapore Flyer which is like the London Eye - which had brilliant views across the city including the financial district, Marina Bay Sands and the formula one track although the rain meant visibility wasn't the best. Obviously Lodge was scared and I had to force her to go near the edge of the pod, you can see how much she's forcing her smile in the pictures.
After the flyer we headed somewhere Lodge wouldn't be scared, the bar. More precisely, the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel to have a cocktail, the iconic Singapore Sling. We spent the rest of the evening at Clark Quay, a really cool place with restaurants, bars and clubs on the river. At dinner, an American marine came over to make friends with us. At first he tried to tell us he was English in a very dodgy accent, then he went away and came back and told us he wasn't English but in fact he was a commerical lobster fisherman, then he went away and reappeared saying he was in the marines as well as being a lobster fisherman, then he disappeared again but this time reappeared with two jars of Mojitos for us which we gratefully accepted and promised we might meet up with him and the rest of the marine crew later in the next bar.
Instead, we headed to a bar called The Clinic where the chairs were wheelchairs, the staff dressed as nurses and the drinks came in drips. We must have been wearing our "if you are a couple of weird old men, come and join us" t-shirts again as not much after we got our (very) expensive and (very) small drinks, up popped Jerry and Praknash (or something like that). Jerry was a half Australian and half Singaporian street magician and Praknash, a millionaire from India. They'd just come from the casino where Praknash was a VIP, in a limo. Honestly, we're not making this up! Jerry taught us some tricks whilst Praknash taught us how he made his hair grow back so Lodge could pass this on to her Dad. They did buy us some cocktails so we humoured them for a bit before getting sick of their constant talk of how rich they were (oh bore off!) and left. Should have stuck with the marines!
We spent all day Saturday at Sentosa Island, a man made island full of attractions, hotels, nature trails and beaches. They even had a Universal Studios. There were a few ways to get over to the island but we opted for the cable car which was probably a silly choice seeing as Lodge is scared of everything. Sentosa itself was like a Barbie Town, all clean and pretty and symetrical. We had a wander, no surprise everything cost a fortune to do so we opted for a 4D ultimate log ride which was the same price as cocktails in Raffles, but only about half as fun. We also did the LUGE ride, a cross between a toboggan and a go-cart which was very funny, especially on our second ride when we timed it perfectly and pretended to be asleep for the ride picture. Probably a bit dangerous to close your eyes while in control of a high speed vehicle but being two highly skilled, non-clumsy and co-ordinated drivers, we pulled it off and our picture was hilarious. We were literally crying with laughter in the gift shop...we do amuse ourselves!
Only problem was, once you'd ridden the LUGE down you had to take the Skyride back up which scared Lodge even more than the cable car - and I was with her on this one! Especially as it started to rain and looked like a storm might set in while we were hanging above the trees on what was no more than a metal bench suspended from a cable. All this having fun took it's toll and Lauren "I'm always hungry" Simpson needed feeding so in an attempt not to bankrupt ourselves, we decided to only share a meal, that way we could have cocktails. Unfortunately, the weather ruined our economical attempt to just have one drinkand leave as it began to pour extremely hard just as we paid our bill. So naturally, it was only sensible to stay for another round...and another meal.
We made up for our indulgences by picking up a cheap dinner from the MRT station on the way home. Dodging all the goings on of the red light district in full swing on a Saturday night we got ourselves a pot noodle from the 7-11. We've become quite inventive during our trip so far, from the hair spray can sink plug, to a washing line made out of a bandage and our skills were put to the test again when we got back to our room and realised we had nothing to eat our noodles with. Luckily, Lodge had her brain switched on and fashioned some chopsticks out of a couple of pens. Genius!
Sunday we headed to Marina Bay Sands, a huge hotel with a Skybar at the top. It had an observation deck, restaurants, gardens and an amazing infinity pool which looked like it ran right off the side of the building. Obviously we had to pay to go up there and obviously when we got there we had to have a glass of wine on the roof top bar. We spent the afternoon window shopping (can't quite believe how much restraint I've demonstrated whilst in shopping centres over the past five weeks, I didn't know I had this much will power!) We spent our last evening in Singapore at the Night Safari. In an attempt to have a cheap dinner, we got some take away noodles to eat at the hotel before we went out. This time we remembered the forks but the noodles were so spicy they set your mouth on fire and the veg was soggy and tasted of fish. Lovely!
The night safari was more successful and lots of fun, we went to a live nocturnal animal show which was really good and then we took the tram safari ride around the park. Needless to say, Lodge was frightened during both of these activities - she doesn't like the dark! So I had to hold her hand during the show and reassure her during the safari that the animals weren't going to suddenly charge at her and savage her. We did see lots of animals - elephants, hippos, lions, tigers, wolves etc but unfortunately we couldn't use the camera flash so we had no pictures. Well, actually we do...we have about 40 pictures of pitch black...good work Lodger!
The safari was a great wasy to top off our few days in Singapore, one of our favourite places we've been so far and somewhere we'd both like to come back to - only witha lot more money to spend! Surprisingly though, as we left Changi Airport - the most delightful airport ever - bound for Bali, we found ourselves much better off than expected. In fact, we left as multi-millionaires. Unfortunately this was due to the Rupiah exchange rate and not because we'd got lucky in the casino!