Published: May 27th 2006July 25th 2005
Nothing more to add
I was having trouble finding a word to describe Singapore until somebody told me that they found it to be 'sterile'. I like that word.
Singapore is also described as a nanny state - it's illegal to chew gum and until recently it was also against the law to dance on tables in clubs (?!?). A plus point to this government hard line is that there is very little litter and the areas that we saw were very well kept. Although Singapore is very multicultural with friendly people, I felt that it lacked a real atmosphere, without being boring. If that makes sense?
Our arrival didn't go too smoothly as we hadn't booked ahead. We were surprised that the first few places that we tried were fully booked; our best offer was a night under the stars on the rooftop of a hostel and it was so hot and our bags so heavy that we were really close to taking them up on it. We persevered though and eventually found a triple room where we all collapsed in front of the air con.
The following day started with a visit to the Central Business District which was nothing
special. We then got a lovely Chinese dim sum lunch and rushed to a sports bar to watch the first Lions test against New Zealand. I'm not an egg-chasing connoisseur, but I know a thrashing when I see one! Anyway, the place that we chose was rammed to the rafters with Kiwis - we were honestly the only
English in there. They were a friendly bunch though, which was fortunate for us as they were all bloody huge!
We spent most of the evening in a Spanish restaurant and my part of the food bill came to 22GBP - a real extravagance/pointless exercise considering you can eat much nicer food at one of the street stalls for one pound. We did manage to save some money that night though because instead of going on to a club we ended up playing poker until the early hours.
The next day was spent at the water park, which, according to their brochure, is "one of the largest water parks ever built in Singapore". Now, Singapore ain't a big place and the alarm bells should have been ringing when it was only described as 'one of the largest'! As you might
have guessed, it wasn't anything to write home about. So I won't.
The afternoon's activities got infinitely more interesting after we jumped on the metro and headed down to Sentosa Island. We didn't have long there before it got dark so we had a quick look around, took a ride up the skytower for (even more!) views and then went down and got our seats for the musical fountain show. I didn't really know what to expect, but I guessed it would be fountains squirting along merrily in time with the music. I was kinda right, but it was much more than that as there was a lot of pyro and there were lasers projected onto the fountain and the mist. The 'storyline' of the show was aimed at kids, but I was really impressed with the effects. The photos here don't really do it justice.
Anyway, just when you thought I'd stopped moaning, here's one for you:
Singapore is an expensive place. Fact. Their water is dear because they have to get it from Malaysia. No dispute. Nonetheless
, is it just me, or does 13GBP for one load of washing seem dear? Talk to me here
people. Hmmmmmm.... I was desperate for clean clothes so I got my essentials together in a bag with Howie's, cleared it with my bank manager and then dropped them at the laundry. Cash up front.
When I got the clothes back to our place the next day it was clear that they'd been washed at a really high temperature and left in the bottom of the drum for ages after the wash had finished. They were creased almost beyond recognition and one of Howie's nicer t-shirts had shrunk so much that he could no longer wear it. I went back to politely request a refund but after an increasingly heated telephone conversation with the store owner I came back empty handed. He was adamant that our 13GBP only entitled us to the most basic of services i.e., throw all clothes into the drum together, press the 'on' button, and take out to dry at their convenience. I dread to think how much it would have cost us if we'd have wanted them to use more than one brain cell for the whole operation. What was most galling was the fact that the inside of the shop was plastered with
The first, but not the last snake that I'd charm.
giant posters extolling the virtues of following the correct washing procedures and giving in-depth explanations of what each of the care symbols actually meant! So please find below a picture of this laundry and please think twice about ever trusting a company's slogan again!
Later that day Arf and I decided to fit a bit of culture in, so we went to the Asian Heritage Museum. I must sheepishly admit that we got bored quite quickly, so we went to play frisbee nearby instead. We followed our mammoth frisbee session with a trip to the zoo, where I held a snake for the very first time. Cold, not slimy etc etc... The local girl that was looking after them was cute, but her english was good so I exercised restraint and didn't use my 'one-eyed trouser snake' chatup line. I'm desperate to increase its success rate from the current level of nought percent.
The zoo was quite good and we finally saw a Komodo dragon. Hoorah. The white tiger was the highlight for me though, with the monkeys a close second. We hung around until it got dark and then went on 'night safari' which was a trip
We didn't need to go halfway across Indonesia after all!
on a tram around a different part of the zoo at night - rather than a trip on a jeep across miles of desolate savannah! Despite of this, I actually quite enjoyed it.
Our last day in Singapore kicked off with a trek to the Stock Exchange. Nowadays most of the world's stock exchanges are computer based and therefore much less of a spectator event than when they used to be open cry. As far as I know, most are now closed to the public too, and Singapore, after looking promising for a while, was no different.
After this, we went on a boat tour along the river, took some photos and then had a beer in 'Hooters'. Take my word, it's just as much fun to glance in 'Hooters' as you walk past as it is to sit in there and pay over the odds for beer.
Little India was the venue for our evening feed and a mighty fine Indian buffet it was too. I didn't have a clue what the majority of it was, but that's probably the best way to experiment with new dishes. We left there full to the brim, but I
Beautiful, but handle with care.
couldn't resist stopping on the walk home to watch a street trader cutting up the durian fruits. Although they smelt a bit iffy I was keen to try one out for myself. Take a look at this guy's eloquent description of the fruit: DURIAN FRUITS
Until I just found that site I was unsure as to whether I'd been given one that had gone off, but now I'm convinced that they just taste like s**t. I took a bite in front of the street trader and was very quickly pulling some very sour faces, shortly accompanied by increasingly frequent bouts of retching. What was quite amusing (although not at the time) was that the street trader was looking at me and was nodding his head as if to say 'do you like it - it's nice isn't it'!!! I indicated that it was, out of politeness, but I'd be amazed if my mannerisms didn't give me away!
After a quick puke in the drain around the corner I rushed to the nearest shop and stuffed my gob full of Fishermans Friends. A harrowing experience, which was to be my last of any note in Singapore as we left
for Malaysia the following morning.
Until the next time.
There are more photos below