Gucci, Prada, Louis…and a pair of fisherman pants? A short stop in back in civilization.

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Asia » Singapore
September 10th 2011
Published: September 24th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

We have to say, we were relieved to be leaving Indonesia. We knew that Singapore would be a big city and hopefully people wouldn’t be quite as shocked about seeing white people. Plus, we were going to be eating Indian again! Yes! It was really weird to be back in a country where people actually obeyed the rules of the road, didn’t litter, didn’t light up a cigarette wherever they pleased, and there was actually public transportation where everyone (yes even us white people) pay the same price to get where they’re going. The MRT system here is incredibly efficient and there’s even a free shuttle bus to take you from the end of the MRT line to and from the airport. If you’re as cheap as we are, you gotta love that! It’s a good thing they have a regulated, inexpensive public transport like this though since it’s so damn hot here! Singapore was even hotter than Jakarta! By the time we made it to Little India, Nate was in need of a different shirt…surprise surprise. We can't believe we'er using the words clean and Little India togeter but seriously it was the cleanest Little India we’ve been in yet by far! Eventually, we made our way to the place we were staying at which seemed good enough since it was one of the cheapest options in the city. The only problem here was that the old lady in the house (it was like a homestay) was a little senile. Jessie went to use the computer to load some music onto our hard drive (which had a sign that said free internet above it by the way), when she came out yelling and screaming at her in who knows what language. A little later, she was trying to make Nate pay her money for the room as if we hadn’t checked in yet. She was pounding on our door until we finally answered, but all she got was a door being slowly closed as she was yelling. So weird! Um, lady you JUST yelled at Jessie earlier for trying to use the FREE computer. Did you forget we have a key to get into our room?!

By the time we got settled there was only one thing on our minds, where are we going to eat?! We took a walk down the street where we found a place that served up a delicious banana leaf set. Oh Indian food, how we’ve missed you! The lady serving us could tell we felt right at home as we dug in with our hands, leaving the silverware off to the side like the locals. It was funny how she assumed we had been to India before just by what we ordered and the way we were eating, and we took it as a compliment. We were so happy to have Indian again we could’ve just smashed it all over your faces like a toddler eating birthday cake for the first time! Ok, that’s pretty exaggerated, but we were pumped! After stuffing ourselves till we were going to pop, we made our way to one of the malls just to check it out. We seriously could not believe how many high end stores there were here! Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, and many, many more! It was a shopaholic’s paradise! It seemed as though almost every single person had money here flashing their designer labels, the ladies swinging their designer handbags …and, no way, is that a Ferrari?!!! I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore Toto! Another thing we ran into was our trusty old 7 eleven! Big gulps? Is that you?! Too bad they were a hell of a lot more expensive than we remembered, but then again so was everything in Singapore. It’s just not a city for people on a budget. To tell you the truth, it kind of reminded us of another Hong Kong. Well, that is, except for all of the Indian people.

We didn’t really sleep much our first night, mostly because the bed’s were just not even close to comfortable and our room was like an oven. We decided to pay a little extra and move to a really nice hostel a few blocks down from us. We were going to be spoiled here with wifi that actually worked, breakfast in the morning (even hard boiled eggs), an air-conditioned dorm, and big clean showers! We were immediately happy with the choice we made. Our biggest mission at hand was to find a replacement for Jessie’s camera since it decided not to retract after zooming it out to take a picture. We never dropped it once! It just broke on us. Although Jessie’s Grandma made a good point about how we’ve probably got a normal 10 years of pictures out of it in the short amount of time we’ve had it. We spent the entire afternoon looking at different stores and pricing out the same camera since we’re so in love with it, and found that prices literally ranged by as much as over 100 SGD! Even in USD that’s a lot of money. We found one place that quoted us a good price and went back to get our new camera. When we got there, the man we spoke with said. “Why you back?” Nate, “We just wanted to shop around a little and make sure we were getting a good price first.” Man, “We don’t waste time here. You want to buy or not?” Nate stared at the guy for a second, “Look. We came back didn’t we? You said 550 right?” Man, “Yes. In USD. I told you that!” The shitty thing was that he never told us it was in USD. I mean, we’re in Singapore, not the states, so why would you even try to convince us of that? Nate knew exactly what had happened. The man barely got to reach for the calculator before Nate snapped at him and told him off in front of all his buddies at the store while grabbing Jessie and walking out. Not only was the guy rude to us and talking down to us, but then he tried to pull some shady shit and acted like we were idiots for not remembering what he said. Even though it really wasn’t worth it, Nate was pissed off for a good hour afterwards. What an asshole! At the end of the day, we were still without a camera and mentally drained from dealing with a bunch of salesman who rivaled the reputation of used car salesman.

On our way back home, we decided to take a short cut to save a little time. As we were walking down the road, we quickly realized it wasn’t a street we would be taking again. Every 20 feet or so there was a prostitute standing behind a screen door at the bottom of a stairwell leading up to a 2 story apartment. Nate, “Oh my God. These women are really freakin’ me out right now!” Jessie, “Why?” Nate, “ They look so scary hiding in there. All you see are the whites of their eyes coming out of the shadow with an intense look as they try to draw you in.” Jessie, “They’re trying to be seductive, are they turning you on?” Nate, “Hell no, all they’re succeeding in doing is giving me the goose bumps and freakin’ me out, especially some of the lady boys…or more like lady MEN!” It had been a long day, and we just wanted to get a good night’s sleep, especially Nate as he had picked up ANOTHER virus somewhere in Indonesia. We couldn’t believe how considerate and quiet everyone was that night in the dorm. Other than some loud snoring that rivaled a grizzly bear hibernating, it was very peaceful! One of the best parts was that we didn’t have a crazy ass old lady screaming at us for whatever reason. The other thing we weren’t missing was waking up at 4:30 am to the blaring prayers coming from a nearby mosque. It was a small sigh of relief, aaaaahhh.

That next day we set out to finally take care of getting a new camera. First, we took a little trip to Chinatown and visited a really neat temple that had multiple levels of things to see. One of them was home to over 1,000 small Buddha images while the top level had a rooftop garden to walk through with a giant prayer wheel in the middle. Even Nate had to cover himself for this temple, and that included a wrap for his legs AND shoulders. Afterwards we spent some time checking out a couple of underground malls before finally going to get our replacement camera, which we were convinced by the salesman would be a better option for us that our Canon G12. The only problem was that once we tried to use it outside of the store in the real world, Jessie absolutely HATED it. The pictures weren’t even comparable to the G12, but we thought we’d at least give it better chance and take it to the zoo with us the next day. We ended our day with a short walk through the botanical gardens, an incredibly peaceful place to escape the noisy, busy life of the city. It’s actually really hard to believe that this place even existed in the middle of the city! By this time though, there was something we were just dying to get…Indian curry from a place down the road from us! We were in heaven with our fresh made naan and delicious, spicy curry. With full stomachs, we made our way back and went to bed. We didn’t sleep quite as well that night because someone’s phone alarm started going off by about 3:30 and didn’t get turned off until about 15 minutes later…then a couple more times after an hour or so. Grrrr! I guess that’s the bad part about staying in a dorm, but what can ya do?

The next morning we got up, had a quick bite to eat, and made our way to the zoo. It’s not like we haven’t been to a zoo before, but we were excited just to do something different and this seemed like a good option. As we were on the MRT about to get off at our next stop, we noticed 3 fully armed security, military type men slowly make their way to our car and stand about 10 feet from us. There are signs all over the inside of the cars that tell you to report suspicious looking people as well as other signs that say no food or drink in the cars. Damn, I guess we probably shouldn’t be carrying around a big gulp full of coke then huh? They took turns casually looking over at us until we stopped and waited for the car to clear out before we could get out. The men waited for us to get out, then walked very slowly past us as if they were checking us out for some reason. We’re almost positive someone reported us a suspicious characters, or maybe it was just Nate with his long hair, 5 days of not shaving and a pierced eyebrow. At any rate, we got a kick out of it. We arrived at the zoo and couldn’t wait to check out some of the exhibits. Hell, after Indonesia we could sympathize with half of the animals here. Don’t worry guys, we feel your pain. We know what it’s like to be stared at and gawked at all day long! Haha. Ya know, the one BAD thing about traveling in places like Borneo is that when you see so many different wild animals in their natural environment, it kind of makes the zoo less impressive than you remember it being. Don’t get us wrong, it was still a lot of fun and one of the nicer zoos we seen, but by now we had seen a lot of the animals they had locked up just by traveling through Asia. One thing that’s the same at EVERY zoo is how incredibly excited the kids get to see just about ANY animal, we had to laugh watching them running and screaming as if they’re going to burst from excitement! Although this wasn’t nearly as funny (or maybe just nasty) to us as seeing the baboons with the craziest looking red asses you’ll ever see in your life! We couldn’t tell if it looked like they pushed their intestines out of there ass, they were all growing tumors, or if they had just sat in a scalding hot pot of water and scarred their little balloon knots! Obviously the males must find this pretty attractive because as soon as a female walks past and stops for 2 seconds, it automatically meant it was time to get busy. After seeing about 20 humping red assed monkeys, we started to wonder if the term “doggy style” should be changed to “baboon style.” They definitely have it down pat!!! Haha!

With not many food options, we ended up eating some KFC along with just about everyone else before making our way across the road to the “Night Safari.” At the entrance there were a couple of statues of people, one of which was a topless woman. The couple next to us sent their little boy up to take a picture with the statues (he was probably about 5 years old), and the very first thing he did was look straight up at the topless statue, reach up with his hand, and pinch the nipple of the woman as we all busted out laughing! He wasn’t the only one either! It seemed like every kid that took a picture there felt the need to reach up and rub the nipple of that statue. We almost felt left OUT by not doing it ourselves! Is there some kind of good luck charm we don’t know about here? Haha! The Night Safari turned out to be pretty cool, especially since so many animals are nocturnal anyways. One of our favorites was when we walked into the flying squirrel enclosure. You are literally in the cage with the animal and as soon as we walked in, he glided right over the top of our heads! That was pretty awesome! There’s a little tram that takes you around the park as well, and since it was included in our tickets and we had to take it to see some of the other animals anyways, we hopped on after doing the areas where we could walk. It was pretty funny to us to hear the Singaporean guide at the front talk with an Australian accent as we passed each enclosure, as if Steve Erwin himself had made a video that they all had to watch and practice as part of their training (and no this guy wasn’t from Australia originally either). Of course what little excursion like this would be complete without a couple of idiots. The guide had asked a few times in the very beginning to make sure you turn off the flash on your camera as it can actually cause permanent damage to the eyes of some of the animals. He must have asked a group in the back about 5 more times after watching flash after flash go off before he had to have one of the other workers hop on and make sure it didn’t keep happening. I mean, come on now. Either you’re just a dick and you think rules don’t apply to you, or you were dropped on your head several times when you were a baby if you were these people. Derrr! Haha!

The next day it was getting to be time for our flight to Manila at 1:30, so we went back, grabbed our things, and made our way to the airport once again. We felt pretty lucky that we picked a good day to leave when it started pouring outside just as we got there. So, we walked in, looked for which counter to check in at and make sure we were leaving on time, and…wait…how come we don’t see our flight up on that screen? What’s going on here? It IS at 1:30 isn’t it? We checked the tickets again just to be sure. Oh..HELL…NO! We’re almost embarrassed to admit this, but here goes… Our flight left at 1:30 in the MORNING, not in the afternoon! The time on the ticket was military time and we had just assumed that it was in the afternoon instead. Shit! What now? Well, we hopped on the internet and found out we had 2 choices, either fly to Cebu that night instead or pay a lot more to fly to Manila the next day and have to stay in Singapore one more night. We decided to just head to Cebu at midnight, and figure out the rest when we got there. To this day we STILL can’t believe we did that! We felt like such idiots! The only good thing that came out of this was that we had time to go back to the place we got the camera from to exchange it for the G12. Too bad we didn’t realize this wasn’t allowed, and we were forced to BUY the G12 and keep the other camera we tried out as well. Even though we’ll be able to sell it when we get home as it’s a brand new camera, it seemed like we were racking up some extra expenses on this part of our trip pretty quick. First there was the Ipod that went flying off the 3 floor balcony in Cambodia, then the laptop falling on the ground so the corner of the screen doesn’t work anymore because the LCD is all messed up, and now not only did we have to buy a replacement for a broken camera, but we ended up buying TWO of them on top of it! Oh yeah, and now we had to buy 2 more tickets on a flight we should have never had to take. Ouch! Oh well, again..what can ya do? Shit happens. The good thing is, we’re far enough into our trip and we’ve been through enough crap and stressful situations that at least we can deal with it and shrug it off instead of freaking out about it. If this wouldn’t happened in the beginning, Jessie probably would’ve been in tears and Nate wouldn’t been pissed off for hours. Now, it’s not like we don’t care, but we’re learning how to not let things we can’t change bother us so much. Sure you’re still gonna have situations where you get pissed or feel the need to smack someone, but that’s just the way it goes. Well, I guess, Cebu, here we come!

Traveler Tips
Getting There
No matter which terminal you fly into, it’s really easy to get to the city. There’s a free shuttle bus that will take you to the beginning of the MRT, which will get you to anywhere you need to go.

Ali’s Nest wasn’t a bad option, but we weren’t the biggest fans of being screamed at by his mom. You can get a dorm bed for 15 SGD each, or a fan room for 2 for 35 SGD.
The Inn Crowd is a great hostel to stay at. There’s free breakfast every morning until noon, clean hot water showers, air-con dorm rooms, free wifi, and lockers. A bed will run you 20 SGD each, which is actually one of the cheapest places to stay at and a lot of bang for the buck. The staff is also very friendly and always willing to help with whatever they can. One thing to keep in mind though is that check-in isn’t until 1pm, but you can chill out in the common area and use the free internet, watch tv, or have a coffee if you need to kill some time.

If you turn left leaving The Inn Crowd and take a right on the main road, follow it down for about 10 minutes until you see a little Indian restaurant with tables and chairs outside. It’s one of the only places in town that serves naan and the curry is amazing! Plan on spending about 10 SGD for 2 people and you’ll be plenty full! There are also a couple of places to get banana leaf sets right down the road from The Inn Crowd. You can get a vegetarian set for about 4 SGD or 5 SGD with chicken.

The MRT is by far the best way to get around the city. It’s cheap, VERY efficient, and reliable. You can’t go wrong. Tip: Be sure to keep your plastic card you use to get through the gates and redeem them before you leave Singapore at the same machines you purchase them at. You get 1 SGD for each card. Considering our average trip didn’t cost more than 2 SGD, that’s pretty awesome! If you’re going to the Zoo, you can get a bus from the MRT line. We paid 7.30 SGD for both of us round trip.

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