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Published: October 15th 2019
78 to 81 of 81!
So this is it then. The last blog for this 11.5 weeks jaunt across Russia, Mongolia and China. And from Singapore which, as a stop, wasn't on the original itinerary.
The mid morning flight from Guangzhou, with Scoot, went fine. Although one might think of Singapore and 'China' as being roughly in the same locale, it was still a 4 hour flight from Guangzhou to Singapore. That duration would take you a fair way across Europe.
As we walked through Changi Airport we did have a bit of a chuckle at the sight of a Chinese lady walking around with an opened instant noodle pot, like the hundreds we saw on our travels through China, and a pair of chopsticks, looking in vain for a hot water supply. They are at every transport hub in China - rail, air, bus - but not exactly commonplace outside of China. We don't even recall seeing any on our travels in the other pot noodle hotspot, Japan, except possibly in the convenience stores which sold them.
Just along the corridor she caught up with a group of fellow travellers, and there were two or three
carrier bags of the pots. Oh dear.....
We have been to Singapore before. It was a final stopover on our way back from SE Asia in May last year. Looking back at our blogs, however, it turns out we didn't do a final blog. We just finished at Taiwan and didn't update when we got home.
Singapore - an island nation. Previously a British colony, invaded and occupied by the Japanese in 1942 - the English surrendered - it was liberated again in 1945 when the Japanese surrendered in the Far East following Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It later became part of Malaysia but that, after only 23 months, came to an end in 1965 when irreconcilable differences between Singapore and the mainland, due to deep political and economic differences between the ruling parties of the, to be, 2 countries, led to communal tensions and ultimately race riots. Singapore became a nation on Aug 9, 1965.
Although democratic it does have something of an authoritarian reputation and is particularly keen on law and order, without 'order' being downgraded eg 10 Singapore laws:
Singing in public - 3 months/fine
Connecting to another person's wifi - 2 years
Feeding pigeons - £300
Homosexuality - 2 years
Not flushing the public toilets - £90. Also elevators are fitted with Urine Detection Devices that set off alarms and seal the doors
Smoking in public, and vehicles - up to £450
Walk around house naked! - £600
Litter - £180. Three times and you have to clean the streets with 'I am a litterer' around your neck
Selling gum - chewing is 'ok'. Importing/selling, 2 years or up to £60,000!
Spitting in public - £600. Bet they can make a fortune from visiting Chinese.
And jaywalking / not using a crossing - £30
And they use the cane for some crimes including judicially, in prison, the armed forces, reform schools, and boys - not girls - in schools. A smaller cane is authorised for parents to punish their children.
- Over 40% of world trade passes through Singapore
- that's 2.6 billion tons in 2017!
- the world's busiest container hub, up to 1000 ships in Singapore port at a time
- building that port in 1972 was a big gamble, which has paid off.
And it is regarded as something of a technology
and engineering hot spot eg Dyson has relocated his company HQ to here.
Interestingly enough, though, despite its high rise, particularly around the water front, and modern appearance, quite a lot of what we walked around felt more 'tired' than similar facilities in China. And we don't think it is as clean, despite its litter laws. Not seen any street cleaners either.
Nice not to be stared at though everywhere we go. Outwardly Singapore is the very model of a multi-racial society. Any journey and you will see 'Chinese', 'Malay', 'Indian', 'Western'. Even the Metro signs are in 4 languages.
After a waterfront meal and stroll on Saturday evening we took ourselves on Sunday to the National Orchid Garden, part of the Botanical Gardens. We don't think there were as many in bloom as there were when we were here in May 2018, but it was still a wonderful show.
Pip's instructions were that we didn't need any more pictures of orchids. We had enough in our photo album from the 2018 trip. Didn't stop her from taking and posting 14 to Facebook though! 😎
Across the far side of the general gardens a more
woodlandy walk saw us looking for clouded monitor lizards, a species native to Singapore. We found a few small ones and many red junglefowl.
In the evening we (re)watched the Marina Bay light and water show. Having eaten cheap, for Singapore - not easy unless you schlepp to one of the hawker stalls areas, or Chinatown or Little India - a walk around Marina Bay saw us indulging in a cocktail each whilst watching the same show from across the water.
Monday we went to the National Museum of Singapore. It wasn't until we were inside that we realised that we had visited here last year. However 4 of the 7 main displays were new since last year. The one focused on the Japanese invasion in 1942, and Britain's subsequent surrender, was particularly good.
Last year we couldn't get into Raffles, the iconic Singaporean hotel, as it was being totally renovated. It is now open again, and very splendid the entrance, which as non guests we weren't allowed to use, looks too with its white suited, turbaned doormen. We did find the Long Bar, famed for its Singapore Sling gin cocktail with free peanuts the shells of
which you brush to the floor. But we had already previously decided that, at nearly £25 each!, they failed the cost/value calculation.
Another place that Singapore is famed for is its Gardens By The Bay, and its "Supertrees", gigantic, mushroom shaped erections covered in living greenery. Each evening they have a lights/music show too, that draws hundreds. Last year we recall they had two different shows each evening. It was the week of May 4th, as in 'Star Wars - May the force (4th) be with you', so the first show each evening was purely Star Wars music. A little of that this evening but amongst more general clips.
Another drink and view of the Marina Bay show finished off our stay in Singapore.
Today, after as long a lay-in as we could take, we have made our way to Changi Airport. Our flight isn't until 02.25 Weds morning so the lay-in had value. But Changi is regarded as a bit of a venue in its own right. And this year they have opened a new land-side shopping mall, The Jewel, complete with central atrium, rain forest internal walk, various landscaping on the top floor, and the
world's tallest indoor 'waterfall'.
There are also loads of places to eat in here, without touching any of the 4 terminals, including branches of at least 3 Michelin 1* restaurants. So we are going to use one of those, a Japanese ramen bar, for dinner this evening. As well as watching the Jewel's own light/sound show (showing 4 times nightly).
There are worse airport waiting rooms to spend time in!
Byeeee for now.
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