Published: March 18th 2011March 13th 2011
First view of Singapore
This is the view from the boat window in our room when we were waiting to get off the boat.
It is often said that Singapore is a vibrant place of good fortune, blessed by the seas. Alas, my apparent good fortune was blessed from the skies when, shortly after arriving, the indigenous airborne wildlife decided to use my head for a toilet.
However, this unfortunate set back to the day came after we hand landed and left the beloved MSC Palermo behind. We were, in a way, quite fortunate with this as, after a largely uneventful 2 weeks at sea the engine malfunctioned whilst we were waiting for permission to dock in Singapore. This pushed our eventual docking back from about 7pm to about 4am the following morning.
Once on land we wasted little time in getting slightly lost trying to find our way out of the port, which is no easy feat when the port takes up most of the coast of Singapore. A few pointers later from the locals and we were in the back of a taxi heading somewhere into the centre of Singapore so that we could make arrangements for accommodation.
Having paid the taxi driver, which you can do by credit card (the UK has a lot to learn as this is
Harry and the Merlion Statue
This is the tourist symbol of Singapore - part lion, part fish - because Singapura means lion city and they have strong links with the sea.
a very useful ability) and we were camped out in an Internet cafe to locate somewhere to stay. We ended up in the slightly peculiar Happy New Hotel which we managed to check into, after ever so slight;y getting lost again. This time we managed to get on the wrong bus (an overly helpful bus driver eventually spotted our mistake) and then getting the street name slightly wrong (but not majorly so and the locals were able to point the place out to us). It wasn't the best place that I've ever stayed in but I doubt it will be the worst by the time we make it back to England.
Having lost a large part of the day to being ...well...lost, after checking in we decided to head into the centre in order to buy a guide book. This mighty tome would no doubt be of benefit and ensure that the next time we got lost we would at least be able to find ourselves.
A short trip on the MRT later and we were heading for the mall. Now what we hadn't expected about Singapore was to experience the sheer number of malls. Not content with
having numerous large malls close by, in order to avoid the sun, you walk along the city mall link – a pseudo large underpass that is a mall in itself, linking most of the other malls together. Despite this ridiculous number of malls we only found one bookshop in the first three we looked in! We also, after much hunting, managed to find a pen in order to replace the one that ran out on the boat.
After the vigours of book hunting we settled down for a nice meal. Diving straight into the local (ish) food culture we went for a steamboat. This is essentially a fondue set on the table where you order and then cook the food in the steamboat to your liking. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel for the first nights sleep on dry land for some time. Unfortunately travesty struck in the hotel room, the new pen ran out!
The next day we headed over to the island of Sentosa. This is a small island, still part of Singapore, which houses a beach and a variety of amusement style parks. On the way over we got slightly distracted, yet again, by
shopping malls and ended up buying another guide book to cover the rest of Asia. We also bought... a newer pen.
On the island itself we had a a quick look around, talking a walk to the the top of the Merlion statue for some great views over Singapore, before heading over to the beach area. This had to be the oddest beach I have ever been on. Plenty of nice sand, people playing volleyball and lounging on the beach, all to a lovely view of the ocean waves and about 30 cargo ships, most so close that you could read their names
After having a look round we headed over for some luging, which is basically racing down a hill in a toboggan crossed with a go kart. It was great fun and, if we had had more time, we would probably have gone for a second run. We then headed over to play a game of Desperados. This is an odd shooting style video game based on a western where you sit on a rocking horse seat. There were about 16 of us playing and Stephanie acquitted herself well, finishing in the top 5 both times. I might as well have been shooting at my foot.
Finally we went on an extreme log flume experience. It was a 4d experience as opposed to an actual log flume but it was still good fun.
We finished the day with a nice meal down at the beach, watching the sun set before taking a stroll along the beach and then heading back to the hotel.