Happy Chinese New Year!
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
54Trip End May 05, 2011
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Where I stayed
A Beary Good Hostel, Chinatown
So yesterday as I say I arrived in the morning, and even though I couldn't check in til 2pm they let me have a shower and have breakfast, for which I was very grateful as I hadn't slept at all on the flight over
Batteries recharged we then walked on to "Little India" (we were going to get the bus but I incoveniently rushed to the loo at the moment it decided to show up, whoops). Little India was hilarious as it's what India would be like if subject to strict laws on littering, noise and traffic. I had great trouble waiting patiently for the green man everywhere - you can get fined for jaywalking so after India it was a bit of a shock to not be able to cross the road when there's not even traffic there! In India you never even get a road without traffic!
From Little India we walked to Arab St, the muslim area where we planned to eat. It was buzzing, and we chose a little corner shop with plastic chairs outside which was bursting with people and served huge mugs of what looked like masala chai. Unfortunately they had nothing veggie so while Sarah tucked into a Malay fish dish served in a banana leaf I crossed the street to order some veg noodles which they brought over. The tea was amazing and just what I'd been craving. In total for two of us we paid less than five pounds so I can confirm that despite what people may say it is possible to do Singapore on the cheap! As the place was so busy we shared a table with two local guys who we got chatting to and were really friendly. We were getting increasingly worried about the time as te zoo was a train then a bus ride away and we didn't even know the nearest station. After quite a bit of persuasion we agreed for them to give us a lift there. It's the kind of thing you'd never do if you were by yourself but sometime you just get a good feeling about people and they seemed very genuine. They dropped us at the zoo and said they'd be happy to pick us up afterwards and take us for a drink
The zoo itself was probably worth the entrance fee as it was a unique experience really. The animals aren't in cages, there's a little ditch which separates them from you as you take a 'tram' ride around the whole place, which includes a good commentary. Some of the animals were sleeping of course but only like you would geti n the daytime anyway. After the tram we walked all of the routes, which took about another hour, so we definitely made the most of it and saw everything. The guys (Arrif and Rahman) lived nearby and insisted on picking us up so we went with them back to Arab St at first, then on to the riverside area which was really modern and nice. We went to a Scottish themed bar with a great live band: one of the least kitschy bars there. We sat outside opposite "The Clinic", a bar themed as a hospital with dentists' lights, green screens, and wheelchairs to sit on! It was a great night, and they refused to let us pay for anything on the proviso that if they ever come to Australia or London they can look us up. There really is nothing better than seeing a city with a local. They also have a really interesting job, developing packaging for medicines, as you have to have different packaging for different climates etc
They dropped us back at our hostel late - Sarah had an early flight this morning but I went to bed exhausted as I couldn't remember the last time I'd slept! I woke up late this morning with aching feet from yesterday! I wandered round Chinatown this afternoon, eating a Thai meal for lunch, and think I'm just going to hang round locally tonight as well.
There's something about Singapore that just makes you want to spend money! I don't know how they do it but it definitely works, and I ended up buying a load of stuff that I now have to carry round for several months... As soon as I got off the plane I had noticed how well-dressed the women were. In fact they probably don't spend any longer on their appearance than anyone anywhere else, I think I just like their dress sense (i.e. lots of pretty dresses and skirts!) The problem came on my second day when all the shops in Chinatown reopened, meaning that in order to get to my hostel (situated on the first floor), I had to literally walk through a clothes shop full of the most beautiful dresses! With the New Year half price sale I literally could have bought one of every style and colour, no exaggeration. I limited myself to trying on just three different styles, and spent about an hour deliberating over colours etc before finally making my purchase. I think I have a serious problem. I also ended up buying three pieces of artwork, another weakness of mine with the added diffciculty that since I'm currently homeless I have nowhere to hang any pictures anyway! Still, Singapore is famous for shopping so I suppose it's all part of the cultural experience...