Published: March 20th 2011March 15th 2011
Flying Saucer Building
a.k.a. New Supreme Court
The next morning started in a mad panic as, at 7:45, Steph realised she had not canceled her mobile phone contract. Ten minutes later and I was camped out in front of the computer completing the form whilst Steph had rolled back over and gone to sleep!
Having been unable to figure out whether we should use our final day in Singapore to go to the zoo or to explore the city Steph, in a rare epiphany realised we could just stay longer and do both. We therefore headed out to explore a bit more of Singapore by merging a lot of the walking tours in the guide book into one day long tour.
The longer we spent slogging it around Singapore the more I decided that it was a very odd place, inhabited by some of the oddest architects in the world. Decided to build yourself a new Supreme Court building? What you need is a boring glass monstrosity with a flying saucer stuck on the roof. Some interesting colonial style warehouse buildings you say? Why if we coloured them blue and bright pink we could sell some over-priced coffee. And who wouldn't like to gamble in a
casino with a cruise ship stuck on the roof?
That said there were some lovely parks in which you could have a nice walk and enjoy the odd spectacle of the city before you. An award also has to go to the person who opened up the coffee shop in which you could play a whole selection of board games whilst you had your coffee, though it was a shame they were shutting as we arrived. We tried a prata in one of the many malls we entered. This was a complete surprise and is an Indian style paratha where they encase your flavour in the dough before cooking it in front of you. How this has not made it to England is beyond me.
The highlight of the day was the trip to Raffles to sip Singapore Slings in the colonial style bar whilst breaking into peanut shells and the discarding them on the floor, the shells not the peanuts. Alas, despite all the finery of Raffles, it did not leave a good impression on Steph, who gave a death stare to the oblivious waitress who took her drink away too soon.
The next day we
Building with boat on top
Just so you don't think we made it up!
woke up and tried to book the train to Kuala Lumpur. Despite managing to skillfully navigate the bizarre KTM website and find the right train, it would not let me book the seats available. In the end I abandoned the internet and had to call them, only to be told the train was full and to book for the day after on the internet. Another hour of my life was wasted still not being able to book the tickets. At which point I yet again called up and, after quite awhile on hold was told that the only way to get a ticket 72 hours before departure was to go to the station. Fortunately Steph was wearing a hard hat and wasn't hurt by any of the toys that came flying out of my pram. How it took so long for them to tell me this still baffles me. The majority of life probably baffles them.
My suspicions about the competency levels at KTM were confirmed when, after arriving at the train station I booked my tickets on the train that was full. After we eventually picked up the tickets, we headed over to the zoo. It was an
open concept zoo which means that a lot of the animals had open, ranging enclosures, where they could swing around in the trees above your head and they often used things like moats to separate you from the animals rather than bars or glass. We had a good look around the zoo and even caught one of the shows that the zoo put on with the animals.
In the evening we stayed at the zoo and did the night safari. This was a really great experience which started with a fire show before a tour of the different animal enclosures, where you got to see all of the animals that only come out at night. This included the slightly scary experience of the bat enclosure where they seemingly fly straight at you and turn away at the last moment. We ended our time in the zoo with another of the shows about the different animals at night and showing some of the techniques they use to help train some of the animals.
As we were booked on the afternoon train we had a bit of time to pack up in the morning before heading over to the train
station so we used this time to book our accommodation in , Kuala Lumpur, the aptly named Reggae Guest House. We then made our way over to the train station and had just about enough time to order, and then partly eat, a nice Indian meal from one of the hawkers at the station before boarding the train.
On first inspection the train was really quite nice. A large comfy, if slightly worn seat, a TV and air conditioning all in 2nd class gave the me the impression that we in the UK have a lot to learn. Sadly, the Singaporeans, and Malaysians for that matter, seem to have a lot to learn about laying track as it was one of the bumpiest train trips I have had in a long time. It also suffered from all the normal problems, such as screaming children, and the regional problems of too much air conditioning. That said the 8 hour trip passed very quickly and we soon found ourselves in Kuala Lumpur Sentrel.
In every guide book we had read it always said that the LRT, their version of the underground, was the pride of the city. It was therefore
slightly surprising that they seem to have decided to try and hide any signs of it. That said we eventually found the station and a whole one stop later we got off. After getting slightly lost on the way to the hostel (some people might notice a theme here) we eventually found the hostel. The room is actually quite large, as hostels go, the bathrooms are clean, the staff are friendly and we even managed to nab a whole load of guide books for the rest of our trip and leave our Singapore guide book. With free tea and coffee all day long, free internet and free breakfast the only thing Steph could possibly complain about was the lack of a window. Needless to say, she duly complied.
There are more photos below