We arrived at Johor Bahuru airport in Southern Malaysia from Kota Kinabalu, the flight was again really good and fairly empty, the plane had just arrived from JB and was turned around in about 30 mins. We got our bags quickly and then had to decide whether we would stay in JB for the night and head over to Singapore the next day or whether to try and get a cheap hotel for the evening in Singapore and get there today. We sat at the airport coffee shop and called a few hostels all were fully booked, we then went on to wotif.com to see if they had any availability. We found a room just out of the city for 25 we decided to book it and spend an extra night in Singapore. We booked a bus which would take us to the connecting bus for the border. It turned out we were the only two people on the massive coach. We changed on to a local bus and were taken firstly to Malaysian Immigration at the town we had to get off of the bus with our bags and take them with us through the checkpoint, it was really quick. We were met on the other side by the bus and then we crossed the causeway over into Singapore, where we had to get off again with our bags for the Singapore immigration formalities. We got in to one queue behind a rugby team, when it looked as if it was never going to move we swapped lines, which was also stuck so again we hauled our bags over to another line. This one went much quicker but it took us about 1 ½ hours to get through. We then had to queue up for the connecting bus as part of our ticket this was full by the time it left. We were dropped not far from the centre and after only a 5 minute walk we found the MTR station to take us on to the area we would be staying, it was all very clean just like Hong Kong. Once we were in the right area we walked in the direction we thought the hotel was, but the road signs disappeared so we had to ask, we had walked a bit further than we needed to but found it after about another 10 minutes so not too bad at all. The hotel was nice and comfortable but when we went out for the evening there were loads of prostitutes, this was obviously the red light district and as we both walked past together they offered their services to Wayne, obviously they didn't see me! We took the MTR to Chinatown as we thought that would be a good place to start our exploration. The station was huge and with our little map we found our way out to the street, which took us right in to the heart of the Chinatown stalls. We had a quick look around but were both really hungry and wanted to find the food street, which did not take us long at all. The street was full of tables down the middle with various vendors serving on the right. Behind the tables and vendors were restaurants and shops. We decided to eat at a restaurant rather than in the street as there were no free tables with it being a Saturday night. We had a delicious Chinese meal, with dumplings, ribs, and sweet and sour. We did not think that we were that far from our new hotel and as it cost us a fortune we thought we'd try and find it, excited at the prospect of have some luxury. As you can guess from the word luxury, the booking of the Furama Riverfront hotel was a bit of a mistake! We had heard that it was quite difficult to find budget accommodation unless you book early. With this in mind Wayne began the search a good 3 weeks before we arrived. He found the hotel for 60 for 2 nights in a deluxe room, we thought we had a bargain and we chuffed, until we were talking to a couple of people about the cost and exchange rate, when working it back out it suddenly clicked that he had used the Malaysian Ringgit exchange rate rather than Singapore Dollars! This meant our bargain had more than doubled in price and luxury awaited! We walked through Chinatown and then on to the main road along by the river, it was all very deserted for 8.30pm. We finally found the hotel and asked whether it would be possible to check in early in the morning as we were not scheduled to check in until 3pm. We then sat in the lobby bar and had a drink and complimentary peanuts while watching the football on the big screen and listening to the live music in the background. We decided to then get a taxi and head to the bars at Clarke Quay. As it was Saturday night the area was really busy. It is just by the water and is full of themed bars and restaurants, with a fountain show in the centre. We choose the Chinese style bar all very contemporary inside with drapes around the seating areas, which were mainly cushions on the floor with low tables. We managed to sit outside on some a couple of wicker sofas in front of the fountains. It was great to people watch, mainly everyone was dressed up on a night out but there were families and tourists milling around. We had a couple of cocktails here and then walked around to the waterfront where there were many riverside restaurants still serving food. We decided to get a taxi back rather than try to negotiate the MTR, there were more prostitutes hanging around and I was glad to be leaving in the morning!
Our first full day in Singapore saw us move hotels by taxi, we were luckily able to check in to our room, which was lovely, a nice big bed, large bathroom with bath, Chaise Lounge, TV and all the little luxuries you would expect for a 4* hotel. After we had settled we walked up to Orchard Road, which is the main shopping street, we had a look in one of the malls and some of the shops before deciding how hungry we were so had a walk along Orchard Road before realising that all the place to eat were in the malls. We opted for something Western looking. I had ½ Chicken pitta with some crisps and Wayne had a big meal. After we had finished we walked back to the metro station and took the metro down to the front which was another shopping centre. We then took a cable car over the water to Sentosa Island, Wayne was a little shaky with the height but it was a lovely clear day and we passed over 2 cruise ships that were in port. There was a lot of building work going on at the edges of the island and at the main port area, it seemed that they were reclaiming land. In our cable car was a guy that lived in Singapore, who was showing a friend around and he explained the landscape and that the many islands that we could see were Indonesian Islands. Once at the island we decided to got to the aquarium, which was part of our cable car ticket. The aquarium was well stocked but quite small and they even had turtles outside in a pool. We decided to take a walk to the man made beach which was a lovely wide beach with lots of people playing games and relaxing. We decided to walk along the beach path to the dolphin sanctuary but we ended up stopping after about 40 minutes as it was still a fair way, so we got the free island bus instead. The roads were really busy and as we turned around a roundabout I realised why. The Singapore golf open was in progress on the golf course and there were people everywhere. By the time we got to the dolphin show we would have to said an hour so we hopped back on the bus and made our way to the cable car station, to return to the city centre. As the hotel has a pool we thought that we should make use of it and go for a swim, the water was freezing, Wayne jumped in and I stayed on the side. That evening we got dressed smartly and headed out to dinner at Chijmes (pronounced Chimes). An old church and its grounds has been transformed into a host of restaurants situated within a courtyard, the church is the main focal point and is lit-up with pale lighting. It was a nice setting and we wandered around until we found a menu that we liked. We picked a table outside and ordered some good food, I had a stuffed chicken Kiev and Wayne has some pork in a tomato sauce. We then crossed the road, passed the Raffles place Christmas tree (which is the first one we've seen) and over to the famous Raffles hotel. The hotel is in colonial style, painted bright white and only looks as though it is 3 or 4 storeys high. We walked up the stairs to the Long Bar, home of the Singapore Sling. We sat at the bar and ordered 2 Singapore slings, which were served from jugs rather than made in front of us like I expected them to be. We also felt a little over dressed as some customers were in shorts and T-shirts, but others were smart so we did not feel too bad. The floor was covered in Monkey Nut shells, customers are given big bowls of nuts and nothing to put the shells in so as part of the tradition they get throw on the floor to be crunched. The ceiling fans were also very colonial, there were imitation palm leaves on a brass pulley system, so they swayed back and forth as if they were in blowing in the wind. The bar had an upstairs level as well where there was live music but we decided to stay propped up at the bar downstairs and listen instead of venturing upstairs. We liked it in the Long Bar that much we ended up stayed for a few rounds of drinks, which were not cheap, but we did manage to get one round free and we enjoyed the our evening. When we left the area was really quiet due to the heavy rain. We tried to hail a taxi but none of them were stopping and we were getting soaking wet in the process. A cyclo driver was asleep in his cyclo under the raffles veranda and woke to try and get us to go with him, when we said no because of the rain he was very offended and started to be rude, but we pressed on and finally managed to get a taxi at a crossroads we were drowned!
Our second day in Singapore saw us get up late after having a lie in our comfortable bed! We wanted to have a look around Raffles by day. We decided to go there for a Deli sandwich lunch which was recommended in the Rough Guide. We got the metro and then walked straight into a mall, it was huge and by the time we figured our way out we were in the wrong place and had to turn around and go back! We were hungry so gave up on the idea of lunch at raffles and instead found an American Diner in the mall. After we had eaten we found our way out of the mall and over to Raffles after a look around the shops. We headed straight to the hotel museum which was excellent, I think we were in there an hour and a ½ reading up on the history and the guests. By the time we had, had a good look around as much of the hotel as we had access to it was only mid afternoon. We walked down past the courts, art museums and the cricket ground to the river front and Raffles Landing. We thought as the sun was shining that we should take a river boat ride from Boat Quay up to Clarke Quay. It was only a short taxi ride really but there was commentary on the history and the places of interest along the way. From Clarke Quay we walked back to the hotel to relax have a bath, we were not sure when we would get another bath with the Australian water shortage. That evening we walked back to Chinatown to the food street to sample some of the street hawker food and it we had a delicious mix of dumpling soup, pork chop suey and rice.
On our last morning we packed our bags and tried to get them as light as we could as our Tiger Airways flight only allowed us 20kg each. The flight also excluded any meals so we went in search of a substantial meal which we found in a shopping mall surprise, surprise. We had a set meal of chicken soup with a puff pastry lid, so it was like a mini pie, lasagne, garlic bread and a drink, it was nice. I then went off and brought a travel hairdryer as I was fed up of having straggly hair. We took a taxi to a metro station and then the metro straight to the airport where we had to get a bus to the quiet, Low Cost Terminal. And so our Australian adventure begins!!!