Published: January 22nd 2007January 22nd 2007
Street Life ...market stall on Serangoon Road
After a 7 hour flight from Melbourne, we have now arrived in Singapore. We were joined in cattle class on our flight by Joe Tsonga, who we'd seen beaten by Andy Roddick at the tennis on Monday - just goes to show that it's not all glamour in the world of international tennis. We've calculated that we've now topped 23,000 and are effectively on the homeward leg.
It was good to escape the searing heat of Melbourne...out of the frying pan however and into the fire, as it's not exactly freezing (if you don't count the air-conditioned shopping malls). We walked outside the airport at Changi and instantly abandoned the plans to take a metro and a walk to the hostel, in favour of a nice cool shuttle. A good night's sleep was in order - made possible by the air-conditioning and the apparent lack of other creatures sharing our room.
We took a bit to get going in the heat - there is a huge temptation to just sit in the cool - and wandered off down Serangoon Road towards Little India. As you can see by the photos, we had an overdose of Indian temples along the
way - ironically the one about twenty paces from the hostel is allegedly the most decorative in Singapore and there was a celebration of the new moon ongoing with half the population offering up gifts to the gods for fertility and prosperity.
We ended up walking all the way into the centre of city - through Little India, past markets and shopping malls too numerous to mention - before resting for a while in the nice whicker chairs on the terrace at Raffles. We declined the Long Bar for our Singapore Sling at this point, in the interests of economy. Miranda found another Croc shop in Marina Square, which she has her eyes on and wandered to the now relocated Merlion - the symbol of Singapore. It seems that with recent reconstruction, the statue has been moved to still give it a commanding view over the entrance to the Singapore River. Sir Stamford Raffles is still keeping a watchful eye on proceedings nearby. We succumbed to our better instincts and had an expensive (by local standards) banana leaf curry and a nice big jug of Tiger to end the day.
The next day was a more leisurely affair
...waiting for a Sling on the terrace
- off to the Changi POW Museum and then into Chinatown on the metro for a wander and some lunch (including the obligatory Tiger). We were quite surprised having been here nearly 48 hours not to have had a sight of rain - it didn't disappoint though and there was a huge thunderstorm in the early evening. As a result, we only wandered down to our local hawker stalls' market for our food and yet more Tiger. As there is only a 8 hour time difference between here and home, the SuperBlues arrived on the TV at a reasonable hour with a lunchtime kick off and spectacularly self destructed against Liverpool. The locals (except the Arsenal fan smirking in the corner) seemed less than impressed.
We headed for the Kranji War Cemetery on the north side of the island, overlooking the Strait of Johore towards Malyasia. It was absolutely baking - you just can't imagine fighting in this heat. After paying our respects, we got caught in the rush as the locals converged from the MRT (the super efficient metro system) towards the Singapore Turf Club just behind the station for their Sunday afternoon horse racing. We dined at
Miranda tries to blend in with her banana leaf curry
a hawker stall in China Town, before heading back to the hostel for a shower and a siesta.
Using the logic of "if it isn't broken, don't fix it", we dined at exactly the same hawker stall as the previous night with a Kiwi couple. We're almost locals and you can't beat their Mee Goreng at SD$3 i.e. just over a pound.
We spent our final day on Sentosa Island - formerly a British military base guarding the entrance to the main harbour, which in latter years has become a resort island with beaches and lots of staff behaving in a very Disney type fashion i.e. smiling and being very nice to all the guests. The island was home to Fort Siloso, where the British guns were positioned to protect Keppell Harbour and it is now a museum dedicated to the history of the military up to the end of the Japanese occupation. There are some good views of the city from the lookouts at the top of the island and also views towards the nearer islands of Indonesia. The shipping channels were full of vessels, awaiting their turn to dock. There are a few ways to get
to Sentosa, but we opted for the newly opened monorail system, which ferries you across the water in a couple of minutes from the also newly opened Vivio City shopping complex. It only opened in December and a local told us that this is the city's new Orchard Road - mind it is difficult to walk 20 paces here without bumping into a new mega shopping centre. We resisted the temptation to purchase with the promise of cheaper items to be had elsewhere.
The plan now is to get the bus across into Malaysia in the morning and on to Melaka. We are going to try and get an early express coach before it gets too hot, as they leave from just down the road from the hostel.
There are more photos below