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Published: September 15th 2009
Mersing to Singapore
Our very comfortable bus
30 August 2009 - 05 September 2009
Mersing to Singapore by bus (RM15.50) 4 hours
We left Mersing about 45 minutes late for no apparent reason at all and headed off south to Singapore. The bus was a comfortable one, taking us through scenery that we could say was similar to the Canary Islands or somewhere similar--rolling hills of palm oil plantations. We were a little stressed already as we were behind schedule and we had until 6pm to check into our hostel, and then 7pm to catch the Grand Prix somewhere. We arrived at Malaysian immigration at Johor Bharu, which was a peculiar affair. We had to get off the bus with our baggage and walk through a building similar to that of an airport. We passed through immigration with no problems and had to walk towards the departure section and then back onto our bus. Not easy to find with dozens of other buses parked there. We hopped back on the bus and crossed the short Causeway into Singapore. We had the same process to go through at Singaporean immigration. We had some idiot of a women checking our passports, obviously new on the job,
Mersing to Singapore
Malaysian Immigration building
asking the most idiotic of questions. To Amy she asked if she had ever visited the UK. Amy had a UK passport, so to answer the obvious...YES!!! To Dan she went through the passport asking him about the stamps in there. About 45 minutes later we finally got set free by the idiot customs officer and went through customs (which, surprisingly for Singapore, was straight forward!). We couldn't find our bus and not surprising either! It had left without us and we were stranded at the immigration. We had no Singapore Dollars to get another bus and there were no money changers or ATM's. There didn't seem to be anywhere to get a taxi so after a long walk we found one and paid S$20 for a taxi into the city. What a waste!! Thanks idiotic Singaporean immigration officer!!
We arrived at Cosy Corner Backpackers Hostel dead on 6pm (we had made sure to reserve a room). The area is a great area we found out, opposite Bugis MRT station, opposite a mall, and not far from everything that you need. We checked in and walked over to Chijmes, a cute square full of bars and restaurants, and realized
Mersing to Singapore
Crossing the Causeway
we weren't going to have a problem finding the Grand Prix. It's big in Singapore and every bar had a big screen showing the race and even 2 huge screens in the square. We set down in a restaurant and devoured some burgers and dessert and a few cocktails. It was another expense but you know what? We're in Singapore and it's not cheap!! So we thought we'd make the most of it and cheer ourselves up after immigration.
The first job of the day was to head to the Indonesian Embassy to apply for our visas. After a few hours in a queue we headed nearby to Orchard Road, Singapore's shopping mecca, and did the mall crawl, taking in everything that is truly Singapore. We headed back to the hostel via Victoria Hawker Center, which was not too bad, but didn't have much choice. Hawker Centers are the places to eat in Singapore. Cheap, lively, hectic...great food!!
Our full first day in Singapore, we planned to head out to Singapore Zoo & Night Safari. We rode the MRT (Singapore's ultra-clean, ultra-efficient underground service) to the suburbs at Ang Mo Kio..... it was raining...ALOT!!!
Proboscis Monkey @ S'Pore Zoo
And it didn't stop. We decided it wasn't worth wasting yet more money and going around a zoo drenched down with rain. The animals would all be sheltering anyway, so we headed back to the city and tried to work out what to do with our day. We decided, finally, to head to East Coast Park, a strip of imported sand, with cyclists and rollerbladers and a few amusements. It's interesting as the beach isn't too bad but looking out over the bay all you see is the giant container ships parked up in the distance! We headed for Lilliput, an indoor mini-golf set around mini-site of Singapore. It passed the time nicely, with Dan beating Amy (thanks dad for teaching me how to hold a club properly!) We headed back to the city and grabbed some food at Newton Food Center outside Newton MRT. This is one of the most famous hawker centers in Singapore, however, it has changed in recent years. The food was great and most importantly, very cheap. Bellies full and satisfied, we headed out towards Marina Bay, where the Singapore Grand Prix is held. We tried to walk the track but as the Grand Prix
was approaching, there was alot of construction so sadly (for Dan) it wasn't completely possible. We bumped into the Singapore Flyer, the world's biggest wheel, similar to the London Eye. We decided it would be good to ride it at night, to make the most out of the sparkling views of Singapore's skyscrapers and since it was near closing time we got a cabin all to ourselves. The views were amazing as expected...the only problem was that the camera battery died just as we set off and so sadly we have only memories of it! Sorry!
We knew we didn't have another full day today as we had to collect our Indonesian visas in the afternoon, but we headed back down to Orchard Rd for some more window shopping. We successfully got our visas, which took a massive weight off our shoulders and decided the best thing to do the remainder of the afternoon was to search for the train station in order to buy our train tickets back to Malaysia. We found the train station after 3 hours! 3 HOURS!!! We were in the right area but walked the wrong way and it's amazing that people
Park View Hotel
didn't understand the word "train station". We found out that they are called "railway stations" here!! Hmph!! We finally found it, with aching feed, and a mild case of heat stroke. The ticket office was closed!! From 7pm to 8pm for fasting. It was Ramadhan of course, and since the train station was owned by the Malaysian railway company their staff had to break their fast! That's fine, but wouldn't it be sensible to hire maybe just one non-Muslim to cover the ticket office, instead of closing the whole station down. Seriously, we were getting frustrated! We decided to return in the morning.
We returned to the station and successfully bought our tickets back to Malaysia on Saturday. We then headed, finally, to the zoo. Singapore Zoo is up there with the world's greats and it didn't disappoint! The highlight however, was the Night Safari, which gave us to see the nocturnal animals. Although we could see much, it did feel like we were in the middle of the jungle here!! It was a great day out and one not to be missed!! We returned to our hotel 8 hours later, tired, hot and ready for some
Dan's dinner...fish balls or something of the sort!
sleep! The problem was with the room we stayed in was that it was hard to wake up. The room was windowless and so there was no natural light to help wake you up. But it was the cheapest in Singapore for S$48.
Our final full day was spent on Singapore's "resort" island of Sentosa. We rode on the cable car from Fraser Hill over the harbour, over a huge cruise ship complete with swimming pools, tennis courts, golf driving range...the lot!!
Sentosa is an interesting place. Your in the city but your also at a pretty decent beach! We visited the Butterfly & Insect Kingdom, which, frankly, was a rip-off. The we traveled down the hill on the luge, which was fun but could have been better. We walked along Siloso Beach and visited the very interesting Fort Siloso, a WWII museum about the Fort and about the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. The layout is fantastic, and even though Dan had been here before, we both really enjoyed it, and it was definitely the highlight of Sentosa. We returned up the hill on the Sky Ride, a ski-lift type of thing. It was pretty good,
Amy was happy should could buy a Crunchie!
with a decent view, but Dan got scared again!!
So Singapore was over and done with. More time was probably needed to truly experience what an awesome city it is. It's expensive by SE Asian standards, and because of this, and because we still had another 5 months of traveling to get through, we were on a strict budget. We couldn't help but over spend, but that's one of the only ways to truly enjoy it. We are definitely going to plan a return trip here in the future so for Singapore....TTFN!!
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