Singapore Stopover

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February 10th 2017
Published: June 15th 2017
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A 22 hour stopover!

10th Feb: My flight arrived in the early evening. I had booked with Scoot, but had received an email a couple of weeks ago saying that due to aircraft maintenance we were being upgraded to a Singapore Airlines flights. That was a score! It was nice to have a bigger, comfier plane and get a meal included (I had a lovely beef rendang curry), but they had took out all the magazines and there was no in flight entertainment. Instead I had almost 8 hours of kindle time. I also chatted to my seat mate, which is something I never normally do. It was nice to have some conversation to pass the time, especially during the turbulence. Immigration was fairly quick and painless, and I headed into the city by metro. The journey didn't take too long and it was about a ten minute walk to my hostel. Check-in was a breeze and I got changed out of my travelling clothes into something cooler. I'd developed a headache on the plane, but popped a couple of pills and hoped that they would take it away.

I asked at reception what was good to do in this area. I was staying next to Arab Street. The lass at reception told me that the beautiful mosque at the end of the street wasn't open to the public, I presume it was because it was Friday prayers. I headed up the street in the opposite direction to the mosque. The street I am staying on is basically filled with restaurants and they are all trying to get you to come in and eat. I headed to the place the girl on reception recommended Kampong Glam cafe, it was rammed, which is a good sign, but it was too busy for me so I decided to skip it and try somewhere else. I walked around the block and headed to one place, where I had chatted with the helpful staff earlier. The waiter was lovely, explaining what their most popular dishes are and what is good to have depending on your appetite. I ordered a lamb kofta kebab and a mango juice. I sat and read while I waited for my food. I didn't have to wait too long. The juice was definitely freshly made, as the ice hadn't cooled it down when it arrived at my table, for me that's a good sign as they aren't jsut getting a load of pre-made juice out of the fridge. A short while after my food came. My plate was filled with two lamb kofta kebabs, cooked a bit rare, with a big dollop of hummus, too much rice and a nice salad. The waiter also brought me some freshly baked pita bread. It was delicious, the first time I'd had lamb in forever. I had a good position on the balcony area of the restaurant meaning that I was above street level so I could people watch on the others in the restaurant and those walking along the street. I paid $26 for my meal, not cheap by Singaporean standards compared to the hawker centres, but in my opinion worth every penny. One of my last few treats before going home and to a strict(er) budget.

After dinner I had a little walkabout the area. I walked back down to the mosque, so that I could get some photos of it all lit up. It looked really beautiful and my pictures don't do it justice at all. There were lots of people about sitting on the benches near the mosque. The mosque is called Masjid Sultan and is the most prominent landmark in the Kampong Glam neighbourhood. It is also one of the most important mosques in Singapore. In 1819, Singapore was ceded to the British and the island's chief was given a lot of money in exchange for giving up their power, along with an annual stipend and the use of Kampong Glam neighbourhood. The Sultan decided to build a mosque in the area befitting his status. the original mosque took two years to build and was finished in 1826. However as the area grew Sultan Mosque became too small and the trustees of the mosque decided that a bigger and better mosque should be built. It took four years to complete the new mosque and it was finished in 1928.

It was really busy as it was a Friday night, there were lots of bars with outdoor seating filled with people. I stopped a coffee shop to get an americano, then continued my walk. I loved the contrast of the small shophouses in my vicinity with the huge skyscrapers in the distance. I saw a few massage places and that put the idea into my head that I should treat myself to a massage. I finally found on on the main road that I liked the look of. I decided to get an hour's foot massage for $35. I really enjoyed the massage, it was nice and relaxing. In fact, it was so relaxing I fell asleep twice during it and that was after drinking a strong coffee. I was definitely ready for bed back at the hostel.

11th Feb: Well, I had hoped to have a good night's sleep, but my 14 bed dorm shattered that illusion. Loads of the lasses seemed to know each other so were nattering the night away when I got back. Also there were two snorers, I only thought men and old women snored, I was proved very wrong. I definitely had to hit the snooze button a few times when my alarm went off. While I may have been unlucky on the sleeping front, I scored on the bathroom front. The hostel doesn't have enough bathrooms for all the guests and I timed it just right to grab the shower as someone was getting out. Breakfast was included, so I munched on watermelon, dragonfruit and peanut butter on toast. There was no one on reception so I had to wait until check-out time to grab a coffee.

My plan for today was to go to the National Museum of Singapore and Chinatown before heading to the airport to catch my flight. The museum wasn't too far away from where I was staying, so I decided to walk. It took me about twenty minutes. When I got there it wasn't bloody open. I was meant to look up the opening times but I had completely forgot to do it. I could have stayed in bed for longer, bugger! I walked around the outside of the museum. It looked very grand. Off to one side there was some information about Fort Canning Park, which was located behind the museum. I had a quick look at the Old Malay Wall of Singapura, which has existed since ancient times. There isn't much left, but it is still a cool sight to see. I had a little walk around Fort Canning park, well part of it. I saw the arts centre and some graves and the wall/entrance to the old Christian cemetery. If only I had more time, I could have explored further.

I was by the back entrance to the museum, so went in and had to walk down to the front to get a ticket. Hurrah for student discount. I got tickets to both the permanent exhibitions and the visiting ones for only $11. Since I was on the ground floor, I decided to look at the exhibitions there. The first one I visited was a small one all about the different museums that Singapore has to offer. For a small nation state, they have an impressive amount of museums. I would love to return one day to see more of them. I spent a couple of hours going around all the different exhibitions. I really enjoyed the museum and it was nice to escape the heat and learn about the country. I didn't know that Singapore had been occupied by the Japanese so it was interesting to learn about that era. I also enjoyed walking around the rotunda, as the walls were covered with projections of the forest. It looked so cool.

On exiting the museum, I headed along the street in the direction of the subway station I would need, Dhoby Ghaut. Since the day was heating up a treat, I headed into a Starbucks I passed to grab a cup of cold brew. I thought I was still quite far from the metro station, but when I came out of Starbucks and re-joined the main road, the entrance to the station was just across the street. Since I was short on time and the uber strict Singaporean metro rules, I necked my coffee. My journey was a short one as Chinatown was only two stops away. I took the exit that deposited you smack bang in the middle of Chinatown. I remember a little bit about it from my previous visit, but I don't remember it being that busy. the street was filled with people and all the buildings seemed to be filled with shops or restaurants. I spent a little while wandering the streets, I found a cute little side street that had some pretty murals painted on the walls. Also, one of the streets is filled with street food vendors, but they either didn't appeal to me or had big long queues.

Instead I headed to Chinatown Complex. I saw a sign which pointed up to the food stalls, so, naturally, I headed up there. I perused a few stalls before settling on one I liked the look of. I ordered their Hokkien Fried Prawn Noodles. It didn't take the bloke to rustle me up a plate. I had wanted the large size for $8, but the bloke convinced me it was too big and to get the medium sized plate that was $5. Bless him, he obviously thought I couldn't use chopsticks as he forced me to take a spoon, and I had to be insistent when he tried to make me get a fork, too. He also wasn't impressed that I wanted to add the sweet and spicy soy sauce to my dish and would only let me take some in a dipping cup.

Additional photos below
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17th October 2017

Hawker stalls
We've never visited the National Museum in Singapore and will definitely need to add it to the list for our next visit. I laughed at the hawker stall man not letting you add the sauce to your noodles...they are so fierce about how their food should be enjoyed :)
18th October 2017

The museum is interesting and gives respite from the heat. It's great that they are so proud of their food and don't let the traditional ways become lost.

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