Published: April 4th 2012April 3rd 2012
My first two days in Singapore.
(Written on Tuesday 3rd April, published on Wednesday 4th April).
I arrived in Singapore at around 7:30am yesterday morning and arrived at the Little Red Dot hostel shortly after. The airport here is lovely and the taxi driver was super nice and knew exactly where I was going, which is lucky as I was completely fried after the plane journey. I slept the whole way and I never
sleep when I'm flying normally so I must've been exhausted! No surprise I suppose, I was awake until 5am the morning before, partying on Unawatuna beach with my Sri Lankan buddies! There was a huge electrical storm underway when I landed, which looked amazing from the sky but a little scary, forks of lightning aren't what you need to see when you're in a plane that's trying to land!
Anyway, I left my bags at the hostel with a hungover receptionist who was not happy to see me so early in the morning! I wandered around the local area for a while and had a coffee, checked out a local guide book and decided to head off to Orchard Road (shops!). I
have been deprived of shops for 3 weeks! This is a new record for me! So imagine my joy at the thought of Topshop and Forever 21! I jumped on a bus just around the corner from the hostel... everyone here seems really friendly and helpful so even though I got a bit lost there were plenty of people around to help point me in the right direction. One lady even put her umbrella over me when I was waiting to cross the road, she just snuck up behind me! I was about a foot taller than her so I imagine it wasn't covering her at all, very sweet.
I got off the bus too early so I ended up wandering around the Cathays Leisure Centre for a while... I saw a Starbucks, it was beckoning me inside with the liquid gold beverages. I ordered a cup of tea and a banana and chose a seat by the window so I could take full advantage of both the air conditioning and the opportunity to people-watch. I sat there for a minute or two, collecting my thoughts, before I looked down at the magazine on the table in front of
me. 'Asian Journeys' magazine, some sort of travel publication, I've never seen it before. Imagine my suprise when the cover photo is Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka! Not only that, it was taken from the exact spot I had been standing two weeks ago! With Budde's Beach Restaurant in the background and Mambo's Bar in the foreground. I suppose it doesn't seem so strange now, writing it down like this, but at the time I wished I was with someone so I could explain the coincidence! To be honest the article itself was poorly written, I could've done a better job myself.
Urgh, can I just mention this... it's a bit random, but Singapore loves
One Direction! You know, that rubbish English boyband? I've heard their songs about 10 times already today, in shops and cafes, and now they're on the radio in the hostel! One of the Singaporean volunteers in Sri Lanka was wearing a One Direction t-shirt and I thought it was strange at the time... I didn't realise they had taken off internationally!
Ok. So... where was I? Yes, Orchard Road. Bloody hell, Sri Lanka and Singapore are like chalk and cheese! Everyone here is perfectly styled
and preened to within and inch of their lives. Not in an obvious, tacky sort of way, but extremely tidy. I felt rather scruffy on the first day, especially after the night flight and no shower! Eventually I found the Central mall on Orchard Road... the first shop I came across was Forever 21! One of my favourites in New York. I must've walked around in there for an hour, picking things up and putting them back (it's what I do... weighing up my options!). Eventually I settled for a pink necklace and a yellow top. Believe it or not I'm already sick of my all black wardrobe... even though I only wear black at home! After 3 weeks of no make-up and cold showers in Sri Lanka, Singapore feels super glamourous. Later on I found a little blue playsuit that I fell in love with so I bought it to wear in the evening (check the photos!). As well as all the beautiful clothes, my goodness, Singapore has the most beautiful food! And real
cheese! Are you taking note Sri Lankans?! REAL cheese! Not dairylea, haha. Everything I've eaten here has been the best thing I've ever eaten, oh
apart from the Subway sandwich I had for dinner last night, which tasted exactly like a Subway sandwich... reliably tasty.
I headed back to the hostel at around 2pm, I had to get away from the shops before I went crazy! So I jumped back on the bus. I got off at the wrong stop, so I had to walk through Little India to get back to Lavender Road where my hostel is. I'm so glad I did because I saw some amazing temples on the way, and I met a really nice lady who checked the GPS on her iPhone to make sure I was going in the right direction. She had been living in Singapore for a year and a half, with only six months left until she heads back to the US. She advised me to go to one particular shop in Little India called 'Mustafa', or something like that! Anyway I hope I get the chance to head back there and see what it's all about.
At 3pm I checked in at the hostel and posted my mini-blog to let you know that I had arrived. I'm sharing a room with 7 other people,
some of them left this morning and I think I have new people now... which is good because the original people were rubbish! Three girls who didn't even bothered to introduce themselves, a Scottish couple and an American guy who is only in Singapore because he messed up his visa application to Indonisia. The American clearly hates it here and has no interest in exploring the city or talking to anyone. On the plus side there is one girl here from Stuttgart who has been travelling for months, I mentioned her already I think. Her name is Steph and I spent yesterday evening and all day today with her.
Last night we went to see the Waterfront and walked along to the 'World's Largest Fountain' - which was excruciatingly dull. Well, the walk was beautiful, but the fountain was shit. Still, at least I can say I've seen it I suppose! Another thing crossed off the list. Then we walked up to the Raffles hotel, but it was getting late by the point so we had to jump on the MRT (tube system) and head back to the hostel. Oh and we got lunch in Subway! I got Steph
to take a photo of me in there - I had to explain that two of my friends work in a Subway in Southampton, I don't just think Subway is a good photo opportunity!
I actually slept really well last night despite my new surroundings, I hope I can do the same again tonight. I managed to grab a cup of coffee and do some laundry before Steph and I left the hostel and headed for Sentosa Island at around noon. I bought a 3 day travel card on the MRT system for $20, which gives me unlimited travel in the city on the trains and buses... it's a bit like an oyster card in London. The MRT system is lovely too... just like a posher version of the London underground, and eating and drinking is banned on punlic transport! Can you imagine if they tried to do that in London?! During the rush hours the tube stinks of breakfast/dinner, I think they should start fining people depending on how gross their food smells.
There is no MRT route to Sentosa Island, so Steph and I got the train to the harbour and walked from there across the
bridge. Sentosa island is south of Singapore and is basically a huge leisure park... (oh, and I'm hearing my eleventh One Direction song of the day - good God!)... it has a Universal Studios theme park, a beach, various bars and clubs, swimming pools with wave machines, manicured gardens... all that stuff! But most importantly it has a Hard Rock Hotel and Restaurant! Get in! I had the chicken quesadillas (is that how you spell it?) and a 'purple haze' cocktail. Steph just had a coffee... she's being sensible with her money. Whatever! I wanted a friggin' $15 cocktail, I'll be sensible in Australia, I promise! After lunch we started walking around the island, checking out the views and taking lots of photos. I went on the 'Sentosa Skyride', Steph didn't... sensible. Dull might be closer to the truth! She works for Unilever so I bet she's got loads of money really. Anyway I saw some beautiful views and had a lovely time being a bit drunk and getting vertigo. I nearly bought the cheesy photo that they take of you mid-flight, but I thought it was kind of depressing because I was on my own on a bench that
seats four, looking like a proper sad case! Oh and I got a bit sunburnt up there too... predictable or what! I hate being so fair. We had a little walk along the beach, which is a bit creepy as you can tell it's not 'real', it has been created by dredging bays where bays shouldn't be. Plus the water looks pretty nasty... it's no Hikkaduwa or Unawatuna, put it that way!
We spent most of the day wandering around the island before catching the monorail back to the harbour. The monorail drops you in the 'VivoCity' mall, which is unbelieveably huge and full of all the naughty shops that are so good at catching my attention. Topshop was calling to me. I know what you're thinking, how on earth am I going to fit any extra items into my already bulging backpack? Well if the towel needs to evacuate in order to make space, I can live with it! In fairness I only bought one little basic top in Topshop - restrained or what! On the way back from VivoCity we stopped off at the Bugis Market, which is an indoor market very similar to Camden actually. Just
with more interesting food!
I think that's it! Now I'm back here in the hostel lobby, I've been sitting at this PC for hours, hogging the facilities, so I suppose I should save this and go to bed. It still seems early though, it's not even 11pm yet. I won't be able to sleep. Maybe I'll write some postcards or something. I'm going to post this blog tomorrow once I've uploaded the photos... I can't be bothered to go and get my camera USB lead right now you see.
Hope you guys are all good at home, I heard you're having nice weather, hope you're all making the most of it! Missing you all... and now missing my Sri Lankan crew too just to add to my woes!
There are more photos below