Published: May 11th 2010December 18th 2009
Well, if there was one thing I never thought I would experience or rather see in my life its an airport like land border post. The Malaysians and Singaporeans sure have spared no cost to make their border quite amazing and super efficient, I have to say. After a couple of hours on our very comfy bus we were ushered off, with all our luggage, and into a very impressive customs hall. Naturally the two South Africans with their non compliant, un-bar-coded passports had the line halted while the Malaysian customs lady doubting our right to exit the country (never mind that they had let us in, in the first place). Thankfully after many a phone call and debate they decided that we were worth to depart and so our sun bronzed selves and enough cameras, to potentially retail, managed to make it through the customs turn styles and the x-ray machines without so much as a further question of import duty and next thing we knew we were out the other side and back onto our bus who had now drive across the border to fetch us and after 5 minutes we yet again found ourselves ushered off and into
Man made beach at its best....only no wave pool!
yet another magnificent customs arrivals hall where the Singaporean officials were only too happy to welcome us with a validation stamp in our trusty green passports.
With formalities over we got back onto the bus for a couple more hours until we found ourselves in the heart of modern efficiency and compliance, Singapore city.
Not really thinking Kenny and I had made a minor lapse in judgment, we completely forgot to change any of our money into Singaporean dollars so there we were once again with masses of luggage, a piece of paper with an address to our Singapore home but without so much as a dollar to rub together between us to even catch the nearest subway.
After a little hacking and deliberating we figured we best go and change money at the nearest hotel so in true South African style we headed towards a guest house across the road and were about to jaywalk given that there but zero cars and it was well after 10pm at night until we saw the very perplexed look on the face of a fellow pedestrian who promptly pointed his finger upwards towards a street camera and gave us
a stern warning about the potential; crime we were about to commit. Welcome to Singapore land of things that work and where you just don’t break even the smallest law.
After finding out that the hotel wasn’t prepared to exchange our money for us we set about traipsing the streets of Singapore at 10 o’clock at night in search of a trusty Visa accepting ATM machine. It took as three sets of directions and a flipping long walk before we located a machine but we finally found it, drew some of the precious few Rands that were left in our accounts and then hailed a cab.
Just a note that Singapore and Japan, old school Toyota style taxis are just the best I have come across and the bonus is that you don’t spend the entire ride in fear that the dodgy drive may whisk you away to some unnamed location.
After a fairly short but somewhat costly ride we found ourselves in the heart of the action and to our delight in an apartment that was just awesome. Our wonderful friend Tarryn had managed to offer our services as semi house sitters/ travel squatters in
Speedos allowed....if you dare
her friend’s apartment while they were away. To say we were grateful was an understatement, not only was the apartment such a great base for our last couple of days in Asia but never before has the cliché “location, location, location” been more apt. We found ourselves just off Victoria street near Buggies junction and in walking distance of just about everything it was just brilliant.
Once we had dumped our bags we figured we may as well go and get accustomed to some local cuisine and so we hit the local on the corner and sampled Laksa and some other traditional dish who’s name escapes me and google. The food was pretty yummy but if the truth be known, by this stage, I was pretty over brothy Asian type dishes so Singaporean food would have to go a very long way to really satisfy my taste buds.
Quite full and very exhausted we swung past the convenience store to get a couple of essentials (our eyes nearly popping out of pour heads at the prices of groceries) and we then headed back for a little following day plan of action discussion before hitting the sack.
In case you are worried about your safety in the the knee deep sea-lake
Kenny and I are such beach fanatics the first sight of Sentosa Island got us very excited so we got our bearings, found a bus and were on our way for some sun and sand. Admittedly Sentosa would turn out to be the most kitsch attempt at a man made beach Island ever but it was worth the visit none the less and the crazy basketball playing monkey show was well worth watching. Coupled with the fact that manufactured sea sand and a waveless sea are not entirely up our street, the sun had also decided that it was remaining behind the clouds for the day and so a mutual decision was made to catch the very next shuttle bus off Sentosa and rather go and act like ten year olds at the acclaimed Singapore Zoo.
I don’t think that there is possibly a sufficient description for the awesomeness that is the Singapore Zoo it is truthfully one of my top attractions that I visited on my trip and 100% worth spending hours walking around and watching some of the star attraction shows. Ken and I were like kids in a candy shop running around mesmerised at the myriads
of awesome creatures housed in the most magnificent enclosures. Our close encounter with the magnificent Orang-utans was most defiantly a highlight for me though.
After a number of hours in the zoo we managed to do a full circuit and I think we quite successfully saw all the animals within the massive zoo before we headed back onto a bus and back into the city.
For the rest of the evening we found ourselves meandering along the main drag and just generally getting a feel for the city before another night was called. First day in Singapore a definite A!
For our second day in Singapore we had a lunch date with Tarryn so we hopped navigated our way, on the subway, across the city and met up for some yummy lunch and a great catch up with a good friend before heading back to see Tarryn’s gorgeous kids and some more banta. It’s amazing how time runs away from you when there is years of news to catch up on but unfortunately time was not on our side so we said our goodbye’s and headed out the door in pursuit of the National Orchid garden. Once
Tanning in the cloudy weather
again Singapore didn’t disappoint the Orchid garden was just the most magnificent sight ever, in fact I took so many photos I don’t actually know what I am ever going to do with them all but each flower was even more beautiful than the one before. Kenny and I spent quite literally hours mesmerized by the exquisite flowers until the chill in the air and the approaching dusk signalled the end of our visit. Don’t miss an opportunity to visit this stunning spot and if you are lucky enough to have a sunny day, take a full day out to have a picnic on the magnificent lawns before spending hours amongst the magnificent Orchids.
For that evening’s entertainment, last minute shopping was on the cards and so we found ourselves braving the absolutely packed Buggies junction market to see what interesting things we could maybe pick up. To our complete surprise and excitement we happened to bump into Andy and Matt, our Harlong Bay buddies and so the crew decided that since it was the first night of the lighting of the Christmas lights on Orchid road we would head out and see what all the fuss was about.
The Southern most tip of Asia
Needless to say Christmas lights in Singapore are on steroids. I don’t think I have ever seen any Christmas lights and decorations like that in my life, it was complete madness but well worth the visit. Orchid road itself is an experience and unsurprisingly we found a bright orange Ferrari casually parked outside one of the class hotels.
Sadly Andy wasn’t feeling 100% and so after we had sufficiently walked the streets of the very la-di-dah Orchid road we parted ways and Kenny and I went in search of the China Town market. After some searching we finally found the food court, the only part of the market that was still open and while Kenny opted for some Singaporean delicacy I rather opted to try something of a more Indian persuasion since my taste buds were reeling at the thought of more Chinese style food. Nothing like a nice long walk home to settle your tummy and your conscience before bed.
It was quite hard to believe that that evening would see us packing our suitcases for the very last time on our trip together, it was quite astounding that we had only half a day left
in Asia before the two of us would be parting ways and bidding farewell to Asia but I suppose the end of my Asian adventure was inevitable so with a bitter sweet taste in my mouth I packed my bags and set about planning a last couple of fun things to do for our final morning!
What a stunning morning it turned out to be, a truly brilliant conclusion to our trip. Our morning started out at the toast box where we finally got to taste the totally decadent but totally delicious soft boiled eggs dunked with Kaya toast. Let me just tell you that this is a not to be missed meal if you are in Singapore. Truly Kaya toast is absolutely scrumptious and if I wasn’t at all concerned that I was already completely overweight, luggage and waste line wise, I think I would have stock plied a good couple of kgs of Kaya jam to bring home!
From The toast box we headed to the pier to go and see the famous Merlion and we then walked on in the direction of East Coast park. After some kilometres and little frustration that we had little
time and couldn’t quite find the park we were about to head back when I managed to convince Kenny that it was worth the extra Singapore dollars to find a cab driver who ken better than us where the heck East Coast park was and all I can say is what a good negotiation because East Coast park is brilliant. If you have time you can hire bikes and roller blades and for those of you, who like us, are pressed for time you can just enjoy the sun and the wonderfully soft real beach sand while acting like complete clowns all in the name of photographic posterity. Kenny and I had an absolute ball on the beach, it was a really fantastic way to end our trip.
One last crazy photo and it was back into a cab, across town to collect Kennys bags and then walk her to the subway destined for the airport. Lucky this goodbye was only a temporary one since I would be seeing Ken back on home soil on her return from Aus and my return from Botswana.
My last couple of hours were spent surveying the city from the heights of
the national library building, last minute camera shopping and then an epic luggage haul on the subway with as much luggage as I could manage, to alleviate kennys load. I have to say I got super lucky because I had probable around 32kgs+ of luggage in total but I sneakily distracted the check-in lady when I requested fragile baggage tags for my luggage, she got so busy trying to find tags and ensuring that they would stay on my bags that I somehow managed to depart Singapore with well over my luggage allowance and well over my electronics goods purchase allowance but hey I most certainly wasn’t complaining!
With a number of hours to bide will I awaited my midnight flight I found myself accumulating more unnecessary luggage at the duty free store, as you do (It’s imposable not to be tempted to buy the Merlion chocolates), eating my very last Asian meal in Asia, catching up on some emailing and finally heading to the boarding gate for my flight!
So long Singapore and so long Asia what a truthfully life changing and memorable 13 months! I may have left Singapore without trying the Sling but I reckon
it’s because it’s only a matter of time before I realise that you can’t go to Singapore and not have a sling and head back!
There are more photos below