SINGAPORE - Thu 10/05 to Sat 12/05
After quite a short flight from Perth - 5 and 1/2 hours - we arrived in Singapore, the airport is so clean and pristine - everything shines! On our way to collect our bags we noticed a free internet kiosk & took the opportunity to check our mail. Once we left the airport the heat just hit us, it was menacing, like someone had just grabbed you around the neck - so hard to breathe but the humidity was the worst part. Luckily enough we got into a lovely air conditioned taxi so we savoured that while it lasted. Our first impression of Singapore was of a very well run, regimented city - everything seemed to work like clockwork.
Singapore gained it's independence from England in 1959 and as a result the first language is English, the other languages in use there are Malay, Chinese and Indian. Singapore tries to have mixed communites, there's a Chinatown and Little India in Singapore. Each area of Singapore must have a set percentage of Indians, Chinese and Malay residents. If someone is selling their house, they must sell to someone of the same ethnic background.
We arrived at our hostel in Chinatown and unfortunately it had to be a dorm room for us as all the hotels we called had no double rooms but lucky enough we managed to get a double room for our second night. The dorm wasn't so bad, there were only 6 of us in it so we coped. That night we went for a wander around the city and to find some food. As we were in Chinatown we managed to find a restaurant that served lovely Chinese delicacies such as 'fried pigs intestine' & 'fish porridge' one that nearly had Maurice running for the hills. Maurice settled on a 'Seafood with stir fried vegetables', I decided to wait and taste Maurices' before making any rash decisions. It was tasty so I got the menu and chose what I thought was a type of noodles in some type of sauce. Maurice went up to order for me and the kind man told him 'hmm, I don tink yo lady gonna like dis wan, is fish stomach, is good fo us but fo you, not so good' and he kindly made me up a special dish of noodles with seafood and
veg. Ahh I liked these people already - looking after me like that, if I'd eaten fish stomach I may have died from the shock!! The meal was nicely washed down with a large Tiger beer and all for less than €2, I was really starting to develop a fondness for Asia!
The next morning we had to go get breakfast, Maurice asked how I felt about rice for breakfast to which I kindly replied 'there's no way I'm eating rice for breakfast'. After a walk around one of the food halls in Chinatown and seeing all the locals tucking into what I class as 'dinner', I began to open my mind and lo and behold before I knew it there I was eating chicken fried rice for breakfast. As we struggled with the chopsticks, a guy from one of the restaurants gave us a 5 minute tutorial on 'table manners and how to use chopsticks correctly', he supervised us for 10 minutes of use and once he confirmed our expert status, he left us be.
Later that day we took a walk down to Orchard road - the large shopping street in Singapore, knowing how bored Maurice
would get as I wandered the shops we agreed to split and meet 2 hours later. Shopping is great in Singapore and I realised that being a backpacker on a budget and shopping in Singapore just leads to pure frustration so I gave up. I met Maurice at the specified time and he informed me he had been to the Botanical gardens and it was spectacular and the Orchid garden was the highlight - seemed like he had had a much more productive afternoon than me! That evening we took the extremely efficient and clean Metro to Little India, I was looking forward to a nice Biryani but alas, we arrived too late and most food stations were shutting up shop, we managed to get something to eat but nothing special to be honest and had to drown our sorrows with a few Tiger beers!
So our trip to Singapore was short but enjoyable, it was a good introduction to the Asian culture! The next morning we took a bus to Malaysia.
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