Singapore - Gateway to Asia
Trip Start May 23, 2009
18Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Our flight from Perth to Singapore was scheduled for 9pm, so after a day of relaxation and swimming, we made it to the airport, eager for our first glimpse of Asia. And although, as most of you know, Valerie spent much of her youth living all over Asia, this was also her first visit to Singapore. We were all very excited to start the journey.
Check in for the flight was mostly uneventful, except Jerry must have been looking a little too suspicious in his baggy shorts, because after we passed the baggage screening area, he was motioned aside for a more thorough examination. The rest of clan thought this was pretty funny, prompting catcalls and giggles, and then proceded to break out the cameras to capture the moment on film, not aware that they were completely breaking federal law by taking pictures in a secure area, which elicited a stern warning from the security officer
So after an uneventful flight we made it to Changi Airport about 2:30 am, easily made it through customs and made our way to the taxi rank to take us to the hotel. Curious thing about Singapore is that they have extremely tough laws regarding drug trafficking, smuggling and such, but other than the rare occassional random search, there is not much of a customs process. This is way different than here in Australia where customs authorities search everything looking for illegal booty. I guess Singapore figures that with their reputation of caning and death sentences you'd be a fool to try and even if you were stupid enough to bring it in, you'll probably get caught. Very interesting....
So we made it to our hotel after driving in a taxi that was probably the cleanest car I have ever seen. The driver even had a shammy hanging in his trunk and dust cloth neatly folded on his dash, and I swear the car had a new car smell but it was a 20 year old Toyota! And as it would turn out most taxis were exactly like this one. Iit was amazing to see all these old taxis driving around still running in perfect condition after all these years.
It was still too early to do much except get a few hours sleep, so we made it to our room and called it a night. The next morning Mom and Dad let the kids sleep and went down to the street to get our bearings and find breakfast. We couldn't believe the sights! Singapore is a hustling, bustling Asian city, very international with a huge Chinese influence, but western society influences and business are everywhere
But there is some much more to Singapore. This flowery, tropical city is amazing, with it's mix of ethnic cultures, mostly Chinese, but heavy influence of Malay, Indian and Arabic. There is a huge Chinatown district as well as Little India and the Arab Quarters. And the food is incredible. The hawker stalls is the way to go, it is much cheaper than sit down restaurants, and in some cases you see them preparing your dish right in front of you in huge woks or grills.
With it's location on the equator, the weather varies very little. It is always hot and steamy, and with usually a daily shower, although for the time we were here it never did rain. It is absolutely the cleanest city we've ever seen, littering is major offence here and so you just don't see the garbage tossed down like in most cities, plus they have 1000s of workers working around the clock keeping the place clean and working smoothly.
Our first day in Singapore was Becca's birthday(#11!) so the plan was a bit of shopping for Mom and Dad, several hours relaxing at the rooftop pool with McDonalds for lunch and then celebrate B's birthday at the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo
The next day was our exploring day, with the family taking the hop on/off bus around Singapore, visiting Little India, Arab Quarters and various markets and malls, looking to score on unique souvenirs and NTSC XBox games. After a long exhausting day, the kids were ready for down time, but Mom and Dad were ready to check out the Chinatown night market for dinner and shopping, so compromises were made and it was McDonalds and movies for the kids in the room, Chinatown for the parents. Unfortunately by the time dinner was done, the stalls and shops in Chinatown were closing so not much progress was made on the qwest for the ultimate gift. But good news was we had one more day left in Singapore, our flight did not leave for Phuket Thailand until the next evening. Like it or not the kids were making the trip to Chinatown.
After a relaxing morning at the pool, it was time to check out of the hotel, stash the bags and head to Chinatown. This time we hit the jackpot, with lot's of trinkets to be found, shopping, snacking, sampling and sights, everyone had a great time and we were a bit sad to be leaving Singapore so soon. Bad news was that there was still so much of Singapore still to be experienced. Good news was that we would be coming back through on our way home from Thailand and, even if it was for only 1 day, at least we could see a little more. So it was simply so long for now, see ya in a week!
Next stop Phuket Thailand!