A steamy stopover in Singapore

Trip Start May 01, 2008
Trip End Jun 24, 2009

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Flag of Singapore  ,
Monday, September 28, 2009

2.45am is an unfriendly time to fly out and the streets of Brisbane seemed positively empty as Ross drove us to the international airport around midnight.  The customs folk were none too happy with Emirates for putting on a flight at this time which has only been going for about 3 months, however they managed to smile still.  We have been very impressed with the friendliness of the Brisbane Int. Airport staff most of the time.  The good thing about a flight at this time is that it was fairly empty and i managed to stretch out over 4 seats in the middle to try to have a bit of sleep.  However that was not to be as pretty soon there was a bit of commotion and I notice the stewards fussing over the chap in the seat in front of me.  They were giving him oxygen, so I alerted H who offered his medical expertise.  Turns out he had a cardiac rhythm disturbance and was ok by the  time we disembarked. H scored a very nice bottle of white wine from First Class for his efforts.

Arrived at Singapore about 8.30am and took a taxi to the Link Hotel on Tiong Bahru St.  The Formula One races had just finished yesterday so the place was still buzzing, and as we were very early we were allocated a not so good room, - better than having to fill in time before we could move in.  After a shower and change we headed out. The first taxi dropped us at the brand new Ion Shopping Centre (only 2-3 months old) where all the big names were: Dolce & Gabbana; Georgio Armani; Louis Vuitton; Miu Miu; Prada; YSL  to name just a few.  A bit beyond us this place so we wandered on to the Orchard Rd Shopping Complex where H got enthralled with the many camera shops and I wandered around aimlessly waiting for him! I was able to tear him away for a little while to eat at the food court there,  great selection at a very reasonable price.
Eventually separated H from the camera gear (with the exception of one new super duper camera which was apparently loads cheaper here than at home) then we walked to the Botanic Gardens and through them to the National Orchid Garden which was absolutely fantastic with a variety of orchids and gingers planted en masse in an area of one hectare!  They now have over 1000 species and 2,000 hybrids in the Gardens' collection, with about 600 species and hybrids on display. Fantastic, much better than shopping!!!!

Feet really feeling the heat and all those kilometres we must have walked, so back to the hotel for a clean up and rest, then off to Chinatown where the whole place was lit up for the mid Autumn festival. Lots of street stalls, markets, food and music.

The next morning the Straits Times announced that the population of Singapore was just under 5 million with 3,733,900 residents and non residents 1,253,700, and there are now more females than males here.  What amazed me was the statement that broadband coverage in Singaporean homes is 122%.  The current Prime Minister is the son of Lee Kuan Yew the first prime minister in modern Singapore, (from 5 June 1959 – 28 November 1990).  Funny how these Asian countries like to keep it in the family!

The taxi driver on the way to the airport was a fount of knowledge, and told us among other things,
- that traffic jams are considered  a sign that the economy is going well;
- that a good condo will rent for about $4,000SD a month (a bit less than the Aussi dollar)
- only about 30% of Singaporeans pay income tax...you only pay if you earn over $40,000 a year, and then it is 20-30%, and company tax is 17.5%; 
- National Service is compulsory for all boys for 2 years after college before university.
- Golf is very expensive and to join Tanah Merah golf club will set you back about $200,000 annually.  Others are $25-35,000 a year.  It costs $250-300 just to play a round!

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