85 miles from the equator

Trip Start May 13, 2008
Trip End Jun 28, 2008

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Flag of Singapore  , Singapore,
Thursday, May 15, 2008

I arrived into Singapore at 1:30 am Thursday morning (for those in Phoenix that is about 10:30 am Wednesday!) and was not feeling like much of a "globe trotting goddess", in fact I felt exhausted and like I needed a shower! After heading through customs, I caught my airport transport to the hostel.

Never staying in a hostel before I wasn't sure what to expect. I checked in and was given my room & bed number as well as a towel. Being that it was 3 am, I cleaned up and went straight to bed. 

I awoke 3 hours later to te sound of snoring...not any snores I recognized, but the snores of complete strangers. What an odd feeling to sleep in the same room with people you've never met! Not sure about the etiquette rules in hostels (etiquette & hostel - can I even use those words in the same sentence?), I decided to stay in bed a little longer so as not to wake anyone up.

Feeling refreshed after a shower - it was time to set off in search of breakfast before my "hop on/hop off" bus tour. I got lost and never actually found breakfast, but did find the bus stop! From the open roof of the bus we drove through all the ethnic neighborhoods and I listened as the guide explained some of the history behind many of the sites we past. One interesting fact is that many of the building are built feng-shui with rounded edges, etc so as to promote good energy flow.

Singapore is a very unique place. Each ethnic quarter is as if you are transported to another country - much in the way Chinatown in San Francisco is. As we passed each place different smells hit my nose..Little India with its curry and Jasmine, Chinatown with its incense and the Arabic quarter with its blend of spices unique to middle eastern food. The heat and humidity here are very high and when the bus would stop the air would just be so heavy with the blended smells that it was overwhelming.  

After completing the bus circuit, I got off in Little India and walked around. Down back alleyways and through little shops I spent several hours walking through this unique area. Then, trying to head back to the hotel, I ended up near the Burgis Center - where a Buddhist temple sits beside a Hindu Temple and vendors hawk a variety of wares (you're bound to find something you didn't know you needed!). 

Several hours of walking and no breakfast made me very hungry so I grabbed a bowl of Chicken Curry with noddles from a street vendor. I grabbed some chopsticks and the vendor (who spoke little English) kept handing me a fork. Apparently I don't look as though I could eat with two wooded sticks! The curry was very good - with chicken, noodles and tofu in a coconut curry sauce (for only SG$3!), but it was hot which made me sweat more than I already was from the heat and humidity.

Back at the hostel, I finally met my roomies - David, from the UK and Sung-chi from S. Korea. We all went and grabbed dinner at the Banana Leaf Apollo in Little India. An interesting restaurant where food is served then eaten off a banana leaf. The waiter tried to get us to order their fish head curry for which they are famous, but we politely declined (I would need several Tiger beers before I could stomach that I think!)  I had fish mala - which was good but didn't sit well with my stomach.

Anyway, we headed back to the hostel and when we walked into our room, we were greeted by four very boisterous boys (also from the UK). They were all very nice, but it definitely felt like a frat house. One looked like a younger Orlando Bloom - I should have gotten some photos to show my niece as she would have thought they were cute.

Oh, and for my husband (before I forget!)- the toilets here flush clockwise some but mostly straight down. David who had just travelled across Africa said that whe nhe passed the equator there was a guy who had a bucket with a hole & water - 20 paces north of the equater water went clockwise down, at the equator straight, and 20 paces south water went counter clockwise
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Paladin on

I'm in Singapore now, and your comment about the unique smells is right on. Suggest you go to Ft. Canning. It is the site of the original 19th century bontanical gardens. The smells are unique and wonderful. Especially the plumaria. (The Hawaiian name for the lei flower--I think it's called something else here.)

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