Edit Blog Post
Published: March 27th 2009
We entered Singapore in the early hours of the morning and got the standard shuttle from the bus to its destination, usually the town centre, - this time it was further along the seafront to the passenger terminal (our ship was berthed in the container ship harbour. It is too big and needs a deep water harbour to dock in). We got out of the bus and were approached surreptitiously by one taxi driver after another offering to take us on a tour for “a good price”. We said no, and then a man approached us and (very helpfully) told us what was to be seen in Singapore and where to get a legit taxi to take us. He professed to be a tour guide for bus parties and was not touting for any business - just being helpful. What a nice guy - wrote out the places of interest on our map, took us to the taxi rank, directed us to a taxi, opened the door for us - then…. promptly jumped into the front seat - spoke to the driver and off we went !!!!! Where to? Well he gave a commentary on what we were passing,
and said he was taking us to china town for shopping….. This was 8am and most places didn’t open till 11am!! By this time my camera was getting wrapped round my knuckles. We did enter china town and stopped at a shop that was opened. We then got out of the taxi, paid the taxi driver and to our surprise, out popped the “guide” from the front seat.. - enough’s enough I thought and squared up to him and growled “ why are you with us??? - he seemed a bit disturbed by this and muttered that he lived around here and was just directing us to the shop - then he legged it. Cheap lift or what?
So not knowing where we were or how to get to where we wanted to go - we entered the shop… want a lens for your camera sir? A suit? We can make it for you in 3 hours!! Anything for madam? It was like an episode of the fast show!
This was the only shop opened in china town!!! We departed and after a wee walk round the block we got into a taxi - nice helpful driver - the taxi
was metered, so no problem agreeing fares.
This taxi took us to the real shops and dropped us off with suggestions on were the cheapest shops were and what ones to avoid. Judi and I wandered about the shops, waiting for them to open. We then bought Judi’s replacement camera and got into another taxi - another nice guy. We told him we wanted to go to the Chinese/ Japanese gardens. He looked at us as if we were deranged… “its quite far away and the taxi could cost quite a lot” - did we really want to go there?? After all, at this time of the year it’s free to get in, and that’s because there is nothing to see… it’s the wrong season - no displays and no flowers! Never heard of a taxi driver turn down a fare, especially a long distance one, before. He suggested we visit to the Orchid garden in the Botanical Gardens- not far away and everything in bloom.
At this point I am thinking “what nice helpful people these Singaporeans are” and maybe, just maybe I have misread the first “guide” we encountered.
At the Orchid garden there was plenty to see
and appreciate. It has received many accolades for its layout, displays and plants.
We wandered around, me getting hotter and hotter as the humidity got higher and higher - I was sweating like a leaky fountain while Judi was coolly appreciating the orchids.
We had an ice cream and went into the shop to see what orchids were for sale, to perhaps take home with us. Then the heavens opened - A torrent of water dropped down accompanied by lightning and thunder. The lights in the shop went out as a direct strike hit the building. We knew it was close by the flash and horrendous ‘bang’
It was a tropical storm / shower to the locals. Not knowing how long it was going to last we settled back to wait it out - bang, crash, flash and more water than you could shake a stick at. After an hour we decided we better buy one of their ponchos and head out of the gardens and get a taxi back to the ship. Ponchos on and having walked 100 yards, the rain stopped!!!! Just like the thing….
We got back to the ship in time for our ‘Nostalgic Singapore’ tour.
On to the bus and off to Little India for a Trishaw ride through little India and china town - a fascinating experience as we whizzed around the city, dodging cars and vans and generally ignoring all but traffic light. There were 30- 50 trishaws going off in what our tour guide called a “cohort” with flashing lights, beeping horns and some with ghetto-blasters pumping out music. What a site that must have been to passersby.
I had an old mostly silent man peddling me around while Judi had a running commentary from her driver. It took about 30 minutes till we arrived back at where we had started. This was next to a market selling clothes, handbags and everything with a fake label you could have asked for. We had 20 minutes to explore this before getting back on the coach for our next destination. As we were leaving, our tour guide bought durian fruit for us to try when the tour was finished - we should see her before we got on the ship to try some - no wonder she left it till we were boarding the ship!!!
Off to Raffles’, that famous iconic hotel commemorating Sir
Stanley Raffles, the founder of Singapore and where the equally famous Singapore sling was invented.
It was an amazing hotel, full of colonial splendour and a sense that the ‘Empire’ was still great.
We were directed to the ‘Long bar’ to sample our complimentary Singapore sling and to see how it was made. It was a heady mix of 4 liqueurs and spirits mixed with some fruit juices. Judi had a Sling and I had a virgin sling (one without alcohol) Judi felt it must have been just one sling diluted among all 50 of us, as it didn’t taste that strong. Oh dear, oh dear. Suffice to say, as she was climbing up the centre stairwell of the ships atrium, holding on to both handrails, she exclaimed in a singsong voice, to passengers trying to descend, that she had partaken of a Singapore sling and felt swaying, even though the ship was still hee, hee, hee. Still it was a hoot. Singapore is a very clean city with severe penalties for littering - fines and hard labour. Chewing gum is banned - cant buy it and possession is a crime. So the site of the only place in Singapore
where you are allowed to litter (The Long bar) was astounding - there was a big bowl of peanuts on every table and everyone threw the peanut shells on the floor - crunch, crunch as you walked in. We both had trouble throwing the shells on the floor, aware that we might continue this practice when we got back on the ship, and get slung in the brig for fouling the ship.
We left Raffles having had a real good time and headed back on our bus to the ship… remember the Durian fruit??? Well it stank, I mean really stank the way only stilton that has gone off can stink then some. Taste it? I couldn’t even come within 3 feet of it. However dear Judi, in her slingified state, wanted to taste it… “Its nice as long as you don’t breath” … “tastes like!!!! Mmmmm….. some soft squishy sort of fruit”
That was enough for me. Time to get Judi back to the cabin; after all I was sharing that close environment with her for the rest of the night. And who knows what the ramifications of a combination of Singapore sling and Durian fruit might be!!!!
last photo is Judi’s new lipstick - nice colour, don’t you think???
Tot: 2.241s; Tpl: 0.1s; cc: 9; qc: 51; dbt: 0.0451s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb