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Published: August 10th 2007
The day began just before we landed in Singapore at 3:45am. Once in the arrivals hall we did what any self-respecting luxury traveller would do and found a quiet corner, unrolled our sleeping bags and went to sleep for another 3 hours before getting the unfeasibly clean Mass Rapid Transport system into town. We’d chosen the Little India area as our base and our hostel was called ‘The Inn Crowd’ - a place we’d recommend with air-con in the dorms, free Wi-Fi and plenty going on all the time. We went down to the Harbourfront and found ourselves in a land of spotlessly clean shopping and entertainment malls and small hyper-polite people. We saw an advert for a new attraction called ‘Tiger Live’, which pays homage to all things Tiger-related (the iconic beer that is rather than the animal we didn’t get to see in Africa). The tour around the displays was pretty good with an amazingly enthusiastic (and loud) guide taking the 2 of us round. Their centrepiece is a ‘4-D’ presentation on the history of Tiger and why it’s so amazing. To round things off we went for a super-cold Tiger (the latest launch) expertly poured by none other
Back at the hostel we were finally able to check-in and have a belated but welcome shower. We took a stroll through the financial district and imagined Nick Leeson getting arrested for pulling his trousers down whilst dancing on a bar - behaviour that wasn’t encouraged back then when chewing gum was illegal and when an American teenager with a fondness for graffiti received 20 lashes. We looked around the very impressive Asian Civilisations Museum which had some parts we found very interesting - the bits that explain the region’s past - and collections of archaeological artefacts that were no doubt exciting to discover but not worth spending much time on.
We saw a football match at the cricket ground - a large expanse of grass in the middle of downtown with an impressive looking pavilion - which looked very much like locals versus ex-pats. The ex-pats looked very English and even included the classic bruiser of a centre forward fruitlessly throwing his substantial weight around, and the crowd were by all accounts just the English players’ drivers.
Then the heavens opened and it was just mayhem. So much rain that roads flooded in minutes,
but they’re used to this kind of thing around here and life went on unchanged except for the price of umbrellas being tripled. We found a genuine copy of Casino Royale and bought the DVD. In this shop we found some things called VCDs going for half the price of a DVD, and Ed asked what they were. The assistant just looked at him as if he’d just arrived from another planet. (They are in fact Video CDs which cram a film onto a normal CD with picture quality being a bit lower than VHS, in case anyone’s interested.) For dinner we made the mistake of believing the Lonely Planet’s map and almost paid for that mistake with our lives. Well that’s an exaggeration but they did lead us down perhaps Singapore’s only dodgy street. Finally, and despite acute knackeredness catching up with us, we watched Casino Royale, the finest film ever made.
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