Singapore-home of the "sling"and Stamford Raffles

Trip Start Feb 11, 2008
Trip End Jun 30, 2008

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Where I stayed
Navas Place, Little India

Flag of Singapore  ,
Saturday, March 22, 2008

We arrived in Singapore on the bus yesterday afternoon and took a stroll, weighed down with our ever increasingly loaded packs, into the Little India district of Singapore, which is conveniently located near the bus station. After the 6th hotel we visited had told us that they were full and, even if they'd had rooms, were a lot more expensive than we'd been used to paying for our bed for the night, we were beginning to give up hope of finding anywhere to get out of the sun! Suddenly (and exactly like the shop keeper from the children's TV programme "Mr Ben") a little guy, wearing a huge grin,  appeared by Jo's elbow. He was holding a card advertising his guesthouse and promised us a double room for 45SN$ (about 16 quid, the most we've had to pay for a bed so far on the trip) this was the cheapest room we found in all Singapore, but we were grateful to get inside the shade.
When the blinding sun had finally gone down, and the air temperature dropped to "bearable", we took a stroll into Singapore Central as I wanted to take a look at the reknowned Raffles Hotel. To my delight (and Jo's) we were allowed to wander around the hotel at our leisure and I took every opportunity to admire the turn of the century architecture. However, I didn't get a chance to enjoy a $32 Singapore Sling cocktail in the famous Writers Bar (where Somerset Maughan and Graham Green used to hang out) as I had hoped because you had to be wearing a tie!

Following this I took Jo on another fascinating (and not at all boring) historical tour of the delights of colonial Singapore. We wandered past the Padang, where I told Jo that all of the remaining British and other nationals living in Singapore after the Japanese took over in 1942 were held before they were transported to the East of the island and taken to the detention centre where the current prison is located. She was (of course) genuinely impressed with my knowledge of the history of Singapore and was not at all reluctant in tagging along behind me while I wittered on about stuff that had already happened. It's not like she isn't used to my boring anecdotes by now! (bless her, what a saint!)

We also had the thrill of wandering around the Singapore Art Museum free of charge as it was a Friday night and you don't have to pay the $7 entry fee! The exhibits were interesting enough to keep us amused for an hour and a half, but by then I was gasping for a brew, so we dropped into the ever present Starbucks and had ourselves a couple of English Breakfast teas! We know how to live!!

Today, we have taken a look at some more of the city and enjoyed looking at the Singapore Flyer (the little brother of the London Eye) and wandering through the colonial district, past the war memorial and onto the Victorian City Hall, where we sat in the shade of a tree and watched a game of cricket played on the same Padang we saw the night before.

Singapore is an okay place, seeing as it's more expensive 9naturally) than it's bigger brother, Malaysia. it's clean, green and well maintained, but I wish they'd sort out their pedestrian crossings! You wait 10 minutes for the little green man to light up and in less than 3 seconds, you have to run to the other side of the road before the lights allow cars to turn left or right onto the street you're crossing. It certailnly wakes you up!

Tommorow we hope to take a look at the park and zoological gardens to the north of the island as we have read that most of the animals are allowed to run free (a bit like Longleat, I guess.) However, if it rains as much  tommorow as it has this afternoon then we'll be buggered as at 4.30pm today the skies literally opened and the world turned black as Armageddon (Australian for "arm a getton outa here!") unfolded before us and a wall of water fell from the black clouds. Thankfully we had got back to the guesthouse in time and we were enjoying an afternoon mug of tea when it happened, but I'd not have wanted to have got caught in it!

Countdown to NZ...3 days!!
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