Stepping back into the 21st Century!

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Travellers Inn

Flag of Singapore  ,
Monday, August 1, 2011

Singapore was a short flight from Kuching, again with Air Asia which was great, and although excited to be in Singapore we weren't looking forward to paying Singapore Dollars as we knew it would be far more expensive than the places we have been so far. Already we had an idea, one dorm bed in Singapore costs more than a really nice double room in Malaysia or Thailand with air conditioning but with just a couple of days there how much could we really spend? (Famous last words) 

Anyway, Singapore is somewhere we have both wanted to go to for a long time especially as both of our Dad's have been there before with some good reviews. Once we landed, we bought a couple of day passes and caught the MRT (Like the tube, but air-conditioned and new) to Lavender station which was just a 5 minute walk to our Guest house. When we booked the Guest house we got the idea they might be a bit strict because there was a very long page explaining all of the terms and conditions around the booking of a dorm room including a lot of text in bold stating that they take no responsibility for anything at all, and when we arrived the rules just kept on coming. We were taken to our room and told we weren't allowed to walk up the stairs too loudly, given our keys for which there is a massive fee should they get lost, and then directed to a sign on the door which explained the full list of rules which we could read at our own leisure. As we actually wanted to have some time to see Singapore, we skim read the rules list and then headed out the door as soon as we could. 

The owner of our guest house had told us that there were fireworks and a Light Show going on in the centre of the city so we headed straight there on the MRT and the city was absolutely packed. There were people everywhere which as we learned later was part of the build up to Singapore's 46th birthday since independence from Malaysia, and every Saturday the city gets lit up and there are a number of shows and events. We managed to find a spot near the water to watch the fireworks and then the waiting began. We waited for about 20 minutes with people becoming increasingly agitated before there was one firework. Everyone cheered and then nothing for another 20 minutes. A young Chinese child in front of us started chanting "Come on Fireworks, Come on Fireworks" and eventually just gave up hope and sat on the floor leaning his head against his Dad. 

 The funniest thing was that there were a number of the small tour boats in the centre of the water and a girl who had a microphone trying to keep the crowds entertained. She would enthusiastically shout "Are you guys all ready for the fireworks?!?"
And the crowd responded "Yaaaaaaaaay!"...... then silence for a couple of minutes before she tried again .....
 "Are you guys excited about the fireworks?!?
 "Yayyyyyyyy!"............ again nothing happened.
Anyway, eventually they began properly and they were really worth the wait and quite spectacular showing off what a beautiful city Singapore is. There were lights on the main skyscrapers and fireworks set off from the top of the buildings which looked brilliant.

As soon as you arrive in Singapore you can see that it has lost almost all it's links to Malaysia and it's actually hard to believe it was ever part of it. Singapore is light-years ahead of the Malaysian city's, there are people driving Ferrari's, shopping in the designer malls and eating in expensive restaurants everywhere you look. Maybe their success is a partly down to the millions of rules they have there. There are signs all over the place threatening massive fines for spitting, eating chewing gum, eating Durian fruits in inappropriate places and just about anything else you can think of plus there are soldiers on over corner with guns which I can imagine is a pretty effective deterrent. You can actually buy tourist T-shirts with all the rules on them, perhaps as a reminder to help you get through without being arrested. They are also very quick to remind you that they impose the death penalty for drug trafficking so I made sure Katy finished her supplies from every pharmacy in South East Asia before we flew in. 

In an attempt to keep our costs down we tried to eat Hawker food when we were out, which turned out to be an interesting experience. The food itself is great, there's a lot of choice, it all looks and tastes amazing and it's not too expensive but it takes about an hour of lurking to be done before you can sit down. The place was really busy and every table was taken and you can see other people standing next to a full table waiting for them to finish and claiming it as their own. Uneducated in the ways of table lurking, we wandered around for absolutely ages looking for our chance before realising that the only way is to stand next to a table who are half way through their meal and wait until they leave, preferably staring at them to apply additional pressure and make them feel as uncomfortable as possible. When they finish their plate, this is the most important time, you need to send the message that "There will be no additional food, dessert or drinks... now is your time to bugger off so we can have your table". You feel bad but then if you don't lurk you won't get to sit down. As I say, the food was great and such good quality for the money you paid, so it was worth all the effort in the end.
The next day we spent the whole day running madly around the city as we only had one full day to see as much of Singapore as possible. We explored Little India seeing the many shops selling gold and burning incense which really made you feel you had left Singapore altogether and then made our way down to find Raffles and get the mandatory photos there. We went to Bugis Street and explored the markets and in the afternoon made our way to Chinatown. Every city we've been to has some sort of Chinatown, but Singapore's was by far the best. The market stalls were interesting and full of cool gifts and souvenirs (actually related to Chinatown) so we spent quite a while wondering around, spending our Singapore Dollars and getting increasingly lost through the side streets in the area.

In the evening we went back to the centre of Singapore, to see the Light show which was on top of the Singapore Sky-park (the weirdest building we'd seen in ages, 3 pillars with a bent airplane body/boat stuck on top) which was great. We then watched a live band playing from the stage next to the water with an amazing lit up backdrop. We both agreed that Singapore is somewhere we would like to come back to one day when we're not on a backpackers budget as there are loads of other cool things to do if you have a bit more cash available such as the zoo, Sentosa island, the night safari and having drinks at Raffles. 

But anyway, we need to get used to things being expensive because we now head for Australia. Can't wait to get there but sadly we're going to have to start working soon if we want to spend more than a few more weeks away. Bye-Bye South East Asia....... for now!
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Phil and Ann on

What a fantastic end to the first stage of your adventure. Come down of cloud 9 for a while and enjoy your cooler surroundings with a little work for light recreation. Enjoy every minute - this is not a practice run. Missing you both.

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