Merry Christmas from the Tropics

Singapore's flag
Asia » Singapore
December 26th 2006
Published: December 26th 2006
Edit Blog Post

Christmas Eve on Orchard RoadChristmas Eve on Orchard RoadChristmas Eve on Orchard Road

Everyone was wearing balloon modelled hats, which was abit weird. Perhaps its Christmas tradition over here?
On 22nd December we flew with Tiger Airways from tiny but very shiny Krabi airport to Singapore. We passed through immigration with no problems and were given a 30 day stay. This was lucky because we had read in some guidebooks that Singapore used to be very strict about who they let in, and had been known in the past to give blokes with long hair a short back and sides before coming in. There were also rumours of having "Suspected Hippy in Transit"' stamped in your passport. This was abit worrying for Kris as a Catholic priest at a recently family baptism picked him out of the congregation as a "latter day hippy''. So we were quite relieved when they let him into Singapore without labelling him a S.H.I.T.

An unusal welcome to Singapore

We arrived at the BetelBox hostel during the hostel 3rd birthday celebrations with presents, cake and drinking. It was rather overwhelming so we went for a wander down the street to see what was around. On the way back to the hostel for an early night we bumped into a big group of hostel staff and guests on their way to a bar. They took no excuses from us and immediatly frog marched us to a dark bar where we were fed lots of jugs of Tiger beer and entertained by a 'rock and roll' band. The lead singer looked like an american indian with really long dark hair, leather waistcoat and a belt carrying 5 harmonicas. We thought we knew what sort of music he would play, perhaps some 60s rock or blues, the Doors or something. But no, the band started up and launched into YMCA. It was all rather surreal. We ended up staying in the bar until after 2am.

It turned out that this introduction to the hostel was quite typical. We have a double room here (at 15 quid a night its our most expensive room yet but Singapore is alot more expensive than Thailand) but most people are in dorm beds. There is a big common area with dining area, pool table, table football, free internet, sofas and tv. Its really friendly, we have met loads of people and had some interesting conversations over our free breakfast and some cans of Tiger beer in the evenings. The staff are really helpful giving advice on where to go. Its a complete contrast to places we have stayed in Thailand where the guests didnt mix at all, where there hasnt been any common areas just to hang out and where the staff will advise you on where to go but will then try and sell you a tour/transport/ticket. Here they just seem to want to tell you all about Singapore.


"Could you speak up a little...?"

Ever since swimming in the sea off Ko Jum I've had impaired hearing. Obviously, not one to whinge, I haven't mentioned this on the blog so far but it's been a right pain. Well actually, it hasn't. I figured I must have picked up an ear infection but it didn't (and still doesn't) hurt. It just means I can't hear very well. So on top of not knowing what's going on half the time because I've missed complete conversations, I also struggle to make myself heard as I have no idea how loud I'm speaking and apparently I keep talking in a whisper. I've explained to everyone at the hostel now that I'm half deaf and they find it surprisingly amusing.
Anyway, before you all start worrying, I thought it
Eating our Christmas Dinner Eating our Christmas Dinner Eating our Christmas Dinner

with an interesting girl from South Africa who was doing a PhD in architecture. She laughed alot.
might be a good idea to visit the doctor. Particularly while in Singapore where doctors speak English. We were wondering how complicated this would be, what with getting an appointment and filling in forms and it being Christmas....

Anyway, it was a lot easier than we thought. We wandered into a clinic, showed my passport and within seconds I was sat in the doctor's office with him staring into my ears with one of those lighty-up ear scope thingies. He even let Kate have a look in both ears, making me feel kind of like her pet dog or something. Apparently my ears are full of wax. You can't even see the eardrum - I'm informed. Luckily Kate didn't suddenly have an urge to peer into any other orifices despite the doctor's enthusiasm ("Ha ha!! Wax! Would you like to see?? I'll show you the other ear too!") and I picked up a prescription of de-wax ear drops. I have 4 days on these and I have to go back to the doctors to get my ears syringed. The nurse looked very excited about this and told me that "a lot of stuff is likely to come out!" in her experience. Great. I can't wait. Rest assured there'll probably be a blog entry about the experience shortly...


Christmas in the Tropics

The reason for us coming to Singapore for Christmas was that its a big thing here and we wanted to spend Christmas with other people who were celebrating it. "Christmas in the Tropics' is sold as a big tourist event. The main shopping street, Orchard Road, a consumer heaven of shopping centres with many of your big favourites, Marks and Spencers, HMV, Borders, Topshop, and many big designer names, has been decked out with Christmas Lights. There are Christmas trees of every description, and lifesize nativity scenes along the street. In the evenings different choirs sing carols on stages along the street. On our first day in Singapore we went along during the day, and then on Christmas eve, after a curry in Little India (which is very much like Bradford), we went along to see it at night. They have really pushed the boat out, everyone had santa hats, and the streets were apsolutely packed with people seeing in Christmas and doing last minute late night shopping. It was very festive but also very very
After dinner gamesAfter dinner gamesAfter dinner games

International Extreme Jenga. Great Britain versus USA and Argentina....
busy. I think everyone in Singapore was there. After a while it all got abit too busy for us so we went back to the hostel to see in Christmas over a Tiger beer.

We woke up on Christmas morning on our first Christmas together and our first one away from our families. Both of us always go to our respective parents houses for Christmas, and this one was definatly going to be very very different.

The hostel had put on Christmas dinner for everyone. The laid out a massive spread of hams, chickens, mash, bread, cheese, salad and a keg of Heineken. We all ate until bursting and drank frothy cups of beer from the keg. After that we ate chocolates and played Extreme Jenga. We shared our Christmas dinner with people from all over the World who happened to be in the Singapore on Christmas day - people from South Africa, USA, Argentina, Australia....

After dinner we went out in the area around the hostel. Its in Joo Chiat, which is a Peranakan area, people who decended from Chinese men and Malaysian women who moved to Singapore in the 17th century. It has some lovely
Serious move at Extreme JengaSerious move at Extreme JengaSerious move at Extreme Jenga

Its really was very Extreme. "Edge of your seat fun" according to the box.
painted buildings, although some have some 'girlie' bars underneath! After the hardcore Christmas celebrations on Orchard Road this was a contrast because all the restaurants were open and not celebrating Christmas at all. The restaurants and food halls serve some really strange food and have some interesting photos of different choices on the walls. One of the specialities seems to be frog, and there are big tanks of them everywhere. I just cant bring myself to eat something that is looking at me with big eyes. Luckily you can just sit out and have a drink, so thats what we did to finish our Christmas celebrations. It wasnt Christmas in Brewood or Horden, but it was definatly one we will remember.

Merry Christmas Everyone. Love from Kate and Kris

Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


Lucky the hostel catLucky the hostel cat
Lucky the hostel cat

He doesnt look very lucky with that cone on his head though.
Tony making chicken soupTony making chicken soup
Tony making chicken soup

With typical Christmas dinner leftovers
Advert outside the restaurant across the roadAdvert outside the restaurant across the road
Advert outside the restaurant across the road

Its like Value meals, frog style. 5 frogs and 2 bowls of porridge for 30 dollars. Bargain.
Kris and Jeff outside the frog restaurantKris and Jeff outside the frog restaurant
Kris and Jeff outside the frog restaurant

Jeff is American and teaches English in Japan. He was eating a sizzling platter and a bowl of frog with chilli. Didnt have any but there didnt seem to be much meat on it.

28th December 2006

Happy Christmas
We missed you on Boxing Day Kate. We have been wondering how you were getting on in Singapore. Frog does'nt sound as tasty as turkey for Christmas dinner! We have lots of frogs in the garden, living in the strawberry bed- sort of mingling with all the cats, so I definately could'nt eat them. Mind you, they can't be worse than octipus and I ate those in Sicily.

Tot: 0.058s; Tpl: 0.01s; cc: 8; qc: 24; dbt: 0.0223s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (; sld: 2; ; mem: 1.1mb