Published: February 4th 2011January 26th 2011
Friday 21st January
Needless to say we slelpt most of the way down to Singnapore which took a mere 3 hours courtesy of AirAsia. The flights were a resonable price at $60 each and we didnt fancy the 16 hour bus journey on little bit.
Once the baggage was picked up we made our way onto the free skyrail which took us to the MRT railway where we paid about a pound each for the train ride into the Town Hall stop. We then changed train, paid another pound for a short journey up to Little India where our hostel the Inncrowd Hostel. As we left the train we noticed that we could deposit our used train tickets and we reiceved half our money back! Mega cheap trains here then!
On arrival at Little India we walked to Dunlop St and checked into our hostel and assesed the place and neighbouring streets. Little India is milion miles away from Singapore as you would honestly think you had arrived in Delhi. The streets are crowded with Indians, Pakistanis and Hindus and everyone's on the move to the sounds of Indian music and the lovely smells of incense which fill
the air at every turn. Its quite nice for us as we arent visiting India this time round so in a way India has come to us.
Little India is distinct under the Raffles Plan of Singapore, was originally a division of colonial Singapore where Tamil immigrants would live under the British policy of ethnic segregation.
The streets are full of fresh food markets, gold shops and clothes shops and its quite nice just to wander around the streets taking it all in. It not long before the constant smells of currys and fresh spices are making us hungry so we find a nice cheap indian food stop where we decide looks semi decent for a quick curry.
I could'nt reslly call it a restaurant, more like a canteen and our food arrives on two large banana leafs and no cutlery. Im fine with using my hands to eat up my curry and rice but Jills asked for a fork which comes with a smile which I think was more directed at me as I had more food dripping down my arms than in my mouth!
We love a good curry and we were'nt let down and the chipatis
were beautiful. I think we paid around £8 for our meal and around another £2 on drinks which was within budget for us.
We settled down for the night back at the hostel and its not long before the inevitable happens and its not long before the window gets opened and the aircon put on full power! I was scared to put the lightswitch on in case I ignited the gas cloud and brought the whole block down!
Saturday 22st January
Singapore, (Pop4,987,600 - 36% foreigners)
We enjoyed our free breakfast and then walked a couple of hundred yards down the road to the citysights bus tour stop and caught the topless bus.
We drove down Serangoon Road is the main commercial thoroughfare in Little India and already we can see the nice looking mosques and temples dotted along our route. Theres a fascinating coouncil hosue scheme here which is a high rise complex in blue, green, yellow and red and its out of place sitting here amoungst towering high rise office buildings. There's more and more towering buildings appearing as we travel out of Little india and towards Chinatown.
The city-state of Singapore has over 4,300 completed
high-rises, the majority of which are located in the Downtown Core. In the city, there are 49 skyscrapers that rise higher than 140 metres.
Theres a fair ammount of tall buildings such as the Gateway, Parkview Square and Concourse buildings which are all well over 120m tall. We begin to see the downtown area in the distance as we near Chinatown but most importantly we pass the famous Raffles Hotel.
Raffles Hotel is a colonial-style hotel in Singapore, dating from 1887, and named after Singapore's founder Sir Stamford Raffles. Raffles is where the Singapore Sling was invented. The cocktail was invented by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon between 1910 and 1915 and consists of Gin, Brandy,Contreau, bendictine, greandine, pinapple, lemon and bitters. Sounds lovely doesnt it?
Raffles has alot of buildings, statues and streets all over the city which became more apparent as we toured the city.
Chinatown was pretty as the Chinese New year is approaching. The streets are nicely decorated and colourful and theres alot going on down the side streets and markets.
As the largest ethnic group in Singapore is Chinese, Chinatown is considerably less of an enclave than it once was. However, the
district does retain significant historical and cultural significance hence large sections of it have been declared national heritage sites.
We are now driving along towards the Downtown area of Singapore and immediately you see the towering skyline and it sure is impressive. To our left we see a funny looking building standing alone which from here looks like three towers with a large boat sitting on top of it. It turns out to be the new Marina Bay Sands hotel.
Slowly we edge towards the city centre in the traffic jams and all around us large buildings are towering above us and you can only sit in awe at the architecture of some of the buildings. We hopped off at the Clarke Quay for our river cruise down the Singapore River which will take us out into the Marina Bay for a different view of the city.
Once on the river we are treated to a different perspective of the city as we are no longer aching our necks looking up but just sitting relaxing listening to the commentry on the various histories of each of the bridges and buildings.
We've just passed under the Elgin Bridge which
originally was the only bridge across the Singapore Riverin 1819. Named after the 7th Earl Of Elgin who was governor in the 1960's.
We sail out into the Marina Bay and pass the Gorgeous looking Esplanade building which is the theatre of Bay. On the horizon the ever present Marina Bay Sands towers which has a new building in front of it called the The Lotus - Museum of Arts which is nearly completed. To the left of here is the Singapore Flyer which is a London eye type ferris wheel for great views of the city.
The amount of tall buildings becomes more obvious now and we can see both the Republic Plaza and Overseas Union Bank Centre which are the two largest buildings in singapore at 280 metres tall.
Capital Tower and the Cpf Buildings are equally impressive buildings but what catches the eye the most is the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. Developed by Las Vegas Sands, it is billed as the world's most expensive standalone casino property at S$8 billion, including cost of the prime land. Its 194 metres high towers support the
upper decks and standing looking up at it is just fantastic to say the least. Marina Bay Sands features three 55-storey hotel towers which were topped out in July 2009. The three towers are connected by a 1 hectare sky terrace on the roof, named Sands SkyPark.
Cheap? Rooms start at around £200 a night for the standard rooms to around £20,000+ a night for presidential rooms. Better start saving!
As we turned around we gaze at the Merlion Statue which is roughly 9m tall and sits in Merlion Park over the water.
The Merlion is an imaginary creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, used as a mascot of Singapore. Its name combines "mer" meaning the sea and "lion". The fish body comes from Singapore's ancient name back when it was a fishing village meaning "sea town" in Javanese. The lion head represents Singapore's original name — Singapura — meaning "lion city".
Its spraying water out of its mouth into the bay and we pass by for a closer look, the beautiful city behind creating the perfect backdrop for a photo.
We sail back down the river back under the bridges
and to the Quay where we jump ashore and board our bus. We are heading for the Famous Orchard Road next.
Orchard Road is a road in Singapore that is the retail and entertainment hub of the city-state. It is regularly frequented by the local population as well as being a major tourist attraction. Orchard Road underwent a $40 million revamp in 2009, with the addition of new street lamps, planter boxes, urban green rooms, street tiling, and flower totem poles. Orchard Road got its name from the nutmeg, pepper and fruit orchards or the plantations that the road led to in the mid-1800s. Commercial development only began in the twentieth century, and took off in the 1970s.
Its really busy on one way Orachard road and it stretches for over a mile. Its quite hard to cross over at certain parts as there not many pedestrian crossings. There are lots and lots of plaza's and shopping centres for all kind of goods and theres the top end Mall that house the high end designer ranges. Its all swish, clean and new as you would expect and you feel like its taking you on a epic journey as
you walk the entire road avoiding people. We eventually made it to the other end where our bus picks us up and we're exhausted and glad of a seat!
Once on the bus we head back for Little India where we jumped off at Bugis Street which has the largest Indoor flea market in Asia. Its too busy to be fair as you are bumped along at snail pace for what seems like an eternity until you can breath at the other end. We decided to walk home from here and somehow managed to end up back in Chinatown so we had dinner there and mingled with the locals in the Markets which was awesome! Theres a good vibe in Chinatown with the year of the Rabbit approaching on February 3rd.
We walked home past the Sultan Mosque. This mosque is considered one of the most important mosques in Singapore. The prayer hall and domes highlight the mosque's star features. Further into Little India we also walked by the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple which looked very colourful and complicated!
Its been just a flying visit here in Singapore but we will be will be back to Singapore as
we have hardly had time to see the equally impressive parts around the city and beyond. We head off to Kuala Lumpar for two days tomorrow and its a very early start again to catch the MRT back to the airport.
There are more photos below