The great Asian adventure begins!

Trip Start Sep 19, 2002
Trip End Sep 22, 2003

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Flag of Singapore  ,
Sunday, February 16, 2003

And so we arrived in lovely Singapore after a scary night in Darwin. The fire alarms went off at 03.30 and we all had to congregate by the pool. They still don't know what caused it which is not very reasurring.

When we arrived at the airport we went to the reservation desk to book some digs. We obviously chose the least expensive one out of the list of 100 as these were registered hotels rather than hostels. We grabbed a taxi and had a runing commentary from the driver all the way there. As we approached, he asked who had recommended we stay there as it was a red light district! However, the hotel was clean, air conditioned and had everything you'd expect from a decent hotel.....even free pot noodles!

14th - Went to Orchard Road on the tube. This was an expreience in itself as we spent ages trying to fit our plastic ticket in the hole as people rushed past us. Eventually a young girl helped us and explained that you just scan it in over the top - very high tech! We have to be careful here as you are not allowed to eat, drink, smoke or put your feet on seats on the tube and you can be fined for smoking in public places, dropping litter or eating chewing gum! Orchard Road is also an experience as it is a long road of hundreds of eating places and shopping malls and would take you a month to look in each one. We had breakfast - Pip had egg and bacon clay pot and I had vegetables and noodles as neither of us can stomach the traditional breakfast congee. This is a watery rice porridge with savoury bits in - yuk! Then we went in the first camera shop we came to and spent ages selecting lenses and bags etc to kit Pip "David Bailey" Johnson out. We spent about 225 pounds including tax so were really happy with our bargain but he's now talking about tripods and flash units which I think is a little way off yet.

We headed for McDonalds for a drink (still the cheapest place for beverages) and laughed at the different things on the menu such as mushroom soup and some rice dishes. Pip played with his new toy while I went to the loo. This was another experience. The main part was just the same as home, wash basins with taps etc like everywhere else. One inside the cubicle hoever, it was another matter - the first dreaded hole in the floor. As I wasn't expecting this I wasn't dressed for it and had to hold my trousers out of the way. It's also an automatic flush and in my struggle to get comfortable I set the sensor off and there was water everywhere. I later discovered that most places have both and you just have to choose your cubicle carefully.

Eventually we made it to Raffles for our Valentine's day high tea. It was strange to be in so much luxury after the previous few months with crisp white table cloths and silver jugs and sugar bowls. Of course we had a Singapore Sling which was surprisingly good despite neither of us liking gin. Then we scoffed our way through dim sum, finger sandwiches, open sandwiches, noodles, pastries, cakes, biscuits, fruit and cream. All the while our every move was watched by the waiters as they removed each plate and re-folded your napkin each time you got up for more. They weren't in your face but there if you needed them - perfect! Our venue for this extravagence was the Tiffin Room which was one of the original rooms at Raffles when it was built in the 1800's. It was also the place where a tiger (or tayger as they were then) was found sleeping under the billiard table in the late 1800's and had to be removed by a brave English colonel.

After all this extravegence we headed back to our hotel before it got dark (just in case) and started to notice our surroundings. Lots of high rise office blocks but loads of building work too which seems to have increased a lot since we passed through 4 years ago. We also noticed that they now have count downs on the crossings so you know how long you have left to get across the road! We were also happy to be in the minority for a change and we really feel like we have come abroad now. We only saw other white faces when we hit the really touristy places and even then there were not too many. The old collonial style buildings and names of places are gradually being replaced with characterless high rises by the chinese who are keen to eradicate traces of everyone else from places like Singapore and Tibet which is a bit of a shame. However, anyone who thinks Singapore is sterile would be very much mistaken. Yes the tube stations are pristine and the main streets are clean and well ordered but there are parts, such as Geylong where we are staying, where things are a little less salubrious. We tried to look confident and walk quickly to our hotel and not to look hesitant at all. This all went out of the window though when we got lost and had to look at our map. Well we survived anyway and went on to do some exploring the next day. But that's another log!
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