3 days in Singapore

2 Nov

I was surprised to find how much I really enjoyed Singapore.  I thought I’d find such a big, populated city to lack character and to be a little soulless.  But it was the complete opposite. Singapore is constantly buzzing and the people are so friendly. It’s a very transient place and an interesting fusion of Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian cuisine and culture.

We finally left for Singapore after being delayed for an hour and a half, and arrived a bit dazed and tired but at a reasonable hour at least (bout 7am) and we both slept on the plane a bit so actually weren’t feeling too shabby.  Though the man next to me had the worst breath everrrr and jetstar flights … urgh, the leg room is tiny. Dont do it to yourself if you can help it.

We spent half of the first day getting a 3 day pass and mucking around travelling through the underground MRT system. Can’t believe how enormous these stations are. The Singaporeans might be onto something. As well as building grand skyscrapers, they’ve built underneath the ground. In some stations, it is 4 or 5 floors deep. And I think because they love paler skin, they don’t seem to give two hoots about the fact that all the air is manufactured and the aircon has the dial permanently set to ‘freezing’ nor that there are no windows for miles and miles.  I had a flash back of being in Vegas.  It’s odd being able to spend so long navigating underground tunnels without seeing a bit of the outside world.

The first day we discovered just how small singapore is.  There’s a lot crammed into a tiny city!  We took the train to chinatown for a terrible tourist-trap restaurant lunch, then walked up to Boat Quay, around over to Clarke Quay, and walked through the beautifullll Fort Canning Park.  Of which the thunder and the rain then came in, as it does every afternoon, and we got well and truly drenched in the 5 minute run for cover. Then we went down to The Waterfront expecting a nice view but couldn’t really do much with the rain so just had a coffee before heading on over to Orchard Road for a look around and a drink.

After a few cheeky G&T’s with Mikey when he returned from work, we headed for dinner and shisha on Arab Street, a morroccan / middle eastern cuisine hub of singapore.  Was really yummy, and cheap!

As a side note, Singaporeans are lovely people. I would only need to glance confusingly at my map (a common occurrence for me, of course) before someone would ask where we were trying to go and if they could help. And when it rained on us in Fort Canning a man with a tiny little one person umbrella offered to give us shelter from the rain.  Completely impracticable, but such a kind thought.

Though there are so many rules here.  No eating or drinking on the trains (yes, this includes your water), stand here, go there, dont do this, dont do that, walk along that path, no that one, which one, that one, its the same, no its not, dah dah dahhh. Probably one of the best ones was ‘no durians’ on the train.  It specifically just mentioned durians, not other fruits.  When I asked Mikey what he thought, he said it’s because they stink.  Can you believe it?  No strange smells on our trains, thank you very much.  But it really is the cleanest, most ungraffiti-ed, most pleasant public transport systems I’ve ever experienced.

So, day 2 we had a bit of a sleep in and by the time we headed out it was time for lunch.  We met Mikey at Lau Pa Sat – one of the oldest hawker centres in Singapore and the home of Singapore’s infamous satay stalls (though we didn’t get to try these as they’re unfortunately only open in the evening). I had some delicious Korean and the boys had Vietnamese noodles. Cheap. Delicious.

It was at this point that I discovered a Singaporean custom. Even though the hawker centre is enormous, the place is heaving with people. After I bought my food, I toddled around with my tray trying to find a spare table.  When I finally discovered one, I maneouvred the chairs, sweeping off a few tissue packets from the seat that I thought someone had left behind.  Oh no no no.  This, in Singapore, is called ‘seat-saving’. I was quickly informed (albeit terribly politely) by a Singaporean fella that you find a table, put your tissue packet on it to ‘save’ it, then go hunt for your food. Obviously so you dont have to toddle around precariously balancing your tray on your head while you surf the crowd searching for a table like I was doing.

We strolled up to the National Museum of Singapore for a squiz in the arvo.  Very interesting. It’s evident singapore has always been a place of transit (mostly due to its location between other countries and the necessity of the Malaka Straits for transport of goods).  The museum also covers the historical journey of its cuisine. Food is a real fusion of Indian, Chinese (mostly hokkien style) and Malaysian.

Stopped for a cheeky drink at Clarke Quay before meeting up with Mikey in the evening and headed for a stroll and dinner in Little India. Which is like Melbourne’s Chinatown except Indian and about 4 times larger. Incredible.  Food was delicious and cheap (notice a theme here?). This is just how we travelling gypsies like it!

On day 3 we went back down to Chinatown and visited the newer Buddha’s Tooth Relic Shrine where I was required to wear a sarong to cover my legs to enter and which was covered in gold and very grand.

Monks were chanting endlessly which was captivating…

The temple also has a gorgeous rooftop orchid garden complete with 10,000 little gold buddhas and a prayer wheel.  Definitely worth a visit.

We had lunch at the Chinatown Complex hawker centre. I knew we were in an excellent place for food when I couldn’t spot many other foreigners. We shared a plate of duck on rice and enjoyed some of the best dumplings I’ve ever had (I watched him make them from scratch!) from China La Mian – Blk 335 Smith Street, Stall #02-135 (yes, there were that good I wrote down the address for you).

We then headed to Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple, the Sri Mariamman Temple. It was interesting to see, but I’d recommend researching it some more before you went to see it.  There is no information on the temple’s history or significance provided at the temple itself, so I found it a little uninspiring.

After a relaxing massage at a quiet little beauty spa, we headed up to Boat Quay and took a boat ride up the Singapore River.  The river seems to be an integral part of the country and its culture. Most of Singapore’s best tourist attractions are built by the river.  The north bank of the river is where the older sections of Singapore are found. Many of the country’s government buildings are located there. The south bank is a much newer section, and is the main financial district. In between the two are the majority of Singapore’s nightspots. Clarke Quay, Robertson Quay and Boat Quay are extremely popular with both locals and tourists; together they contain some of the best nightclubs, restaurants and pubs in the entire island. The boat ride seemed a bit touristy for us, but in the short 45 minute cruise it took, we were able to see parts of the city we hadn’t been able to get to, as well as enjoy the warm early evening air!

Finally, we met up with Mikey for one last cheeky bevvy before packing up and shipping out.  Thanks so much for having us Mikey!

Qantas had only just announced that all their flights were back up and running so our fingers and toes were crossed everything would pan out ok.  Luck was on our side when we got on the plane and found that obviously MANY other people had moved/cancelled their flight and it was practically empty!  3 seats EACH to ourselves, yes please, I’ll be sleeping on this flight me thinks.

Nightey night!

x kel

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