Singapore. Part 3.

Saturday 26 January 2019 – Singapore. Part 3.

With Chinatown visited yesterday it would have been rude to not visit Little India and Kampong Glam, the historic Malay Muslim section of Singapore. After eating our body weight in hotel breakfast we were back down to the metro and off to Little India. Just after rush hour it was still quiet early in the day, particularly for Little India, and even more so for Kampong Glam.

Our first stop was the Tekka Centre, a must for anyone visiting Singapore. I always take a walk though here, often stopping to buy a snack, though not today after the amount I hoovered down during breakfast. The ground floor of the building is all about food, the outer ring being well patroned food courts and the centre a large fresh food market. The upper level is pretty much all about the sari, lots and lots, and lots of saris. With the occasional tailor tossed in to balance things out. The middle of the ground floor is a large fresh food market, selling everything from live (short lived) chickens, to fish and seafood and on to that wonderful range of Asian vegetables and fruit. Including the dreaded durian. It wa very quiet.


We did not stay long in Little India, there was not a lot open and not many people out and about, way too early. We crossed over towards Bugis and walked past the Kwan Im Thon Hood Temple. 


There is a lot happening in the streets here, and towards Bugis with quite a few market stalls selling all the tat you would ever need for Chinese New Year. There was a good mix of European tourists and Chinese here, probably the most diverse crowd we have been in since we arrived.


I like Kampong Glam, it is my favourite part of Singapore, mainly because it is the most hipster-ish east London area. It has changed massively since I last came here seven years ago. There are a lot more bars and cafes and a lot more street art. I still liked it, and if I wasn’t so tired all the time we should have come here one evening to experience it more fully. We found a Scandinavian coffee shop and stopped for the first flat white since we left NZ. It was good.


I like the contrast between the older shop houses and the ultra-modern glass towers, along with the very un-Singaporean awning on the sandwich shop. Public profanity! Outrageous!


Leaving Kampong Glam we started a walk down to the City Hall metro station, it was getting quite warm, and time again to think about getting off the open streets. On the way we passed by the magnificent Parkview Square building. Being a sucker for Gotham Gothic architecture this is one of my favourite tall buildings anywhere. Straight out of a Batman movie. Belying its 1930s art deco look the tower is entirely modern, being completed in 2002.


There is a small art gallery on the third floor, showing a collection of Chinese prints; we had a look but it was not really my thing. The ground floor lobby was pretty stunning!


Continuing on the journey we happened to come across Raffles Hotel next to City Hall station.


It seemed to be very rude to not complete the ultimate Singapore tourist task and go to the Long Room and have a Singapore Sling cocktail. Not being rude people, that is exactly what we did. All the tables in the Long Room bar have a large bag of peanuts for customers to graze on with their drinks. Shelling the nuts and discarding the empty shells on the floor is all part of the pleasure of visiting. The nuts were so wonderfully fresh, I ate quite a few, leaving a decent size sea of mess around me.



Today is the sixth anniversary of El and I meeting, so El had booked dinner in one of the restaurants in Marina Bay Sand Hotel. After an after of relaxing and writing back at the hotel we headed down to the metro and out again in to the late afternoon. We arrived early so had a bit of a walk around the marina.


Walking through the mall to the hotel we passeda  very large and impressive DC comics shop. we were tempted to buy a little something to take back as gifts, but decided not too.


Dinner was early, it was the only table we could get at such short notice. The restaurant was an all you can eat buffet and was pretty amazing. There was a terrific array of foods, and it is fair to say I ate a lot. Including things I do not normally eat, like crab and lobster. I also got to have what turned out to be only laksa I had during the stay. It was very nice, I love laksa. nooodle soups in general. This will be another thing I will endeavour to cook at home. 


There is a night time light trail here, I was really looking forward to seeing some of the installations, but found it all a little uninteresting, though there are works over quite a large area of downtown Singapore and all around the marina. I was expecting BIG, but big was not the thing.


Saturday was our final day in the city, we had a whole day to kill before our evening flight back to London. We lingered in the hotel for a while, making the most of breakfast again, and the air conditioning. We had decided to take one of the city bus tours. I don’t normally do them, but found the one I did do in Dubai to be quite a good time killer, and we had a lot of time to kill today. The weather foreacast was not brilliant either, so this really made sense.

We jumped on one near the hotel and it took us to the massive Suntec Plaza where we had to wait for a different tour. The bus was not that interesting, there was a huge amount of traffic and it moved very slowly, mainly past the places we had already been. After consulting the map and we jumped off one bus and on to another heading in a different direction and ended up by the riverside. Something I wanted to do today anyway.

We found a riverside, and touristy, Vietnamese place and sat down for a drink and a couple of Vietnamese snacks and just enjoyed sitting by the river in the warmth, no work to do and no real cares. The last until our next holiday. It was a pleasant end to the afternoon, and to the trip.


Soon enough it was back to the hotel, a shower and a change in the gym bathroom before a final glass of wine on the rooftop bar and then the airport and home.

It was a good few days, I am glad I got to share one of my favourite cities with El. We will come back to Singapore, it is an easy place to visit.

Singapore. Part 2.

Saturday 26 January 2019 – Singapore. Part 2.

Having gained a little knowledge on the Singapore metro system yesterday we avoided the streets and took the lift down to the metro station underneath the hotel. Speaking of hotels, I should mention breakfast. OMG (as the kids used to say, but probably not any more as that was so 2016). The breakfast buffet was enormous. One of the things I love about a large Asian hotel is the wide and wonderful array of Asian and European breakfast choices. Every day was a treat, and I could indulge in fried rice and egg for breakfast again. Mmmmmm.

We left fairly early for our visit to the amazing Gardens by the Bay. The walk from the metro to the gardens exit was a pretty good start to what was a very good day. I am loving this combo of hooped t-shirt, check shorts and sandals that I am modelling here. Travelling allows me to indulge in terrible fashion, while pointing and laughing at other tourists poor fashion choices. El, was far more elegant, I am surprised I was allowed  to take this photo of me standing next to her dressed as I am.


I was expecting there to be a fee to get into the gardens, but the area is free, you just pay for things you want to do. I like this. We wanted to visit the magnificent Supertree Grove. I saw these from the rooftop viewing platform of Marina Bay Sands Hotel last time I was here, and they are the number one thing I wanted to see.. They did not disappoint, they are quite amazing. Standing between 25 and 50 metres tall and with a viewing walkway between two of the taller ones, they totally dominate this section of the gardens.


We were there reasonably early so there were not too many people queuing for tickets, or to take the lift up to the walkway. I would hate to be here when it was busy, it would be brutally hot waiting for entry. The view was pretty special, obviously not the same as being at the top of those three towers, but lovely none the less. These SuperTrees are pretty awesome!


I had a bit of a plan in mind for a walk. It was not much past 10:00 when we left the gardens as we didn’t visit any of the other attractions, yesterdays botanical morning was enough garden for this trip. Something saved for next time. We crossed back over the road and entered the strange world of Marina Bay Sands shopping mall. It is big, not massive, but still pretty big. As I observed seven years and a few days ago when I first came here, it is full of shops I could never afford to even walk in, not that I ever would.  Seven years ago today I was 27 days into the jounrey that started this blog and diving in Malaysian Borneo, I cannot believe it was that long ago!

We stopped for a cold drink in a small gallery on the far side of the marina and after consulting a map decided to skip plan A and do freshly conceived plan B; a short walk to China Town. It was a good a plan. Chinese new year is not far away, and preparations are well under way to welcome in the year of the pig. If planning had been better, it would be great to have been here for Chinese New Year.


It was starting to get quite hot and China Town was busy as mid-day approached. I wanted El to visit a temple while we here, get a feel for the things I love about visiting SE Asia and its mix of religion and culture that is so different to our experience in the west. I am fairly sure I have visited Thiang Hock Kem temple before, but am not 100% on that. I still enjoy walking through Buddhist temples. My abiding memory of those months travelling, and the subsequent trip to Sri Lanka, was visiting these small oasis’ of calm and peace. Singapore is a young country and this is not an ancient place of Buddhist worship, only being established in 1840. It was an enjoyable visit.


We walked through some of the side streets backing on to the temple before the heat overcame us and we found the nearest metro, jumping into a nicely air-conditioned train back to Orchard Rd.


Somewhere along the way I must have dropped my cap. I had just bought it in NZ, specifically as I left one back in the UK and I didn’t want to get sunburnt here in Singapore. We decided to visit some of the lower-end malls on Orchard Rd to find a replacement. One that didn’t cost more than a small number of pounds. There is a vast array of shopping choice on this street.


Arriving back in the hotel in the afternoon, I chose to start on one of my priorities for these four days in Singapore. Finding a quiet spot in the hotel bar (me and the bar person) I started writing a very short story, my first piece of fiction since school, 40 years ago. El and I have set a challenge to write a short story each month. It is going to be tough; it is close to the end of February as I write this and I haven’t started on this month’s story yet. I want to be a better writer, I love words, stories and books, and all sorts of written things. One of the reasons I have maintained this blog for so long is to be able to write more than a few words in an email, though I have yet to find my ‘voice’. I did enjoy writing some fiction in a bar in Singapore though.

As the evening settled into something cooler than day and we had recovered from earlier activities we headed out from the hotel to look for a local food court I had found on the internet. I wanted Malaysian food, to be specific I wanted char keow teow; a flat noodle dish with chicken and prawns. This was one of the first meals Alex introduced me to when I stayed with him in Kuching, and my introduction to local Malay food. It is simple, hearty and delicious and I cook it badly on occasion. I found one, and It was good.

One of the things I love about food court food, is being served the meal, and then being able to add the garnishes; choosing from dishes of chilli, spring onions, coriander, soy sauce. Adding that little extra zing, exactly how you want it to be. In the spirit of not being in London, I added a pile of diced red chilli. Maybe it was a little too much…

I cannot remember what El had, but she visited a different stall to me. It was good too.


Singapore. Part one.

Saturday 26 January 2019 – Singapore.

This is my fifth visit to Singapore and El’s first. I was keen to come here for a few reasons. Obviously, it is on the way back from New Zealand and is sort of half way. Not having been here before it is a fun place for El to visit and for me to show her around. It is a nice city and an easy introduction to SE Asia. Finally, I have done everything I want to do in Singapore, except Gardens at the Bay, so with four nights here I was planning on spending some proper time doing nothing. Not that we did much of that of that nothing. I didnt finish my book!

Before I launch into Singapore I have to confess that I made by first ever flight scheduling blunder. I was trying to book everything via BA and the only way BA does NZ to Singapore is via Australia. I grudgingly booked us via Sydney, but absolutely missed that there was a six hour layover, only noticing a couple of days before the flight. Sydney airport is not too bad, but six hours is a long time. We ate.

We arrived in Singapore quite late on Tuesday night, but with time enough to check in to the hotel on Orchard Rd, get up to the 19th floor rooftop bar and pool and indulge in an end of a long day drink.  We also got to enjoy the amazing view over the city and towards the magnificent structure that is the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. It was humid, but not outrageously so, and it wasn’t too hot, conditions that remained for the whole trip. Thankfully.

In what seems to have become a standard activity for this holiday we hit the Botanical Gardens on Wednesday morning, a recommendation from a friend who had been here recently. A very good recommendation too. I could get into this plant thing. The gardens were seemingly not too far from the hotel, so I decided we should walk, time wise it was the same as taking the metro. The metro is air-conditioned, walking isn’t. We were hot before we arrived, so our first stop was a cool drink in one of the many cafes.

The gardens are huge, laid out in different blocks, we got to see about a third of it before getting too tired and hot. I really liked it, tropical plants are so utterly different to what we see in the UK, and to a lesser degree NZ. The difference is just so pleasurable, big, big leaves, los of weird shapes and am amazing colour.

These leaves looked like someone had painted the colour on.

I particularly enjoyed the orchid garden, I know these are fancy flowers with a billion varieties and shades, shapes and colours, but seeing so many in one place really did make me appreciate nature, and her human tweaked variations so much more.

There was a nice fake waterfall that was very much the key attraction for a large group of small children on a school trip.

After lunching in the park we headed to the nearby metro station and with a bit of help from the ticket counter got ourselves metro passes and took the, very long, ride back to Orchard Rd. We learned how to use the Metro as we went. It is a good system for the centre of the city.

I have to say that in the four days we spent in Singapore, not one single person I/we interacted with was anything but courteous, friendly or helpful. I know Singapore is very touristy, and very authoritarian and retail and hospitality jobs are probably better than other options, but it was a really friendly place and it made me very happy. I was walking down a road one afternoon and a cycle courier clipped my shoulder with the very edge of his bag, it was the most minor thing ever. I was shocked when he stopped, apologised and asked if I was OK. England used to polite like this, but now we have Brexit.

I love this big and very old plane trees outside the entrance to the President’s residence.

One of the things on El’s list of things to see in Singapore was Emerald Hill, a street of lovely old  shop houses that I had taken photos of on previous visits. Purely by luck, definitely not good planning, the street was literally over the road from the hotel. Emerald Hill is a conservation area so the houses that remain here from the early 1900s have been well preserved, they are a small snapshot of what a lot of Chinese influenced SE Asia looks like. They are very nice.

Our hotel from Emerald Hill.

Emerald Hill from the hotel bar.

We were pretty whacked when we got back to the room, so the decent thing to do was to head up to the roof, have a swim and then relax by the pool. Conveniently it was happy hour with half price Singapore Sling cocktails. It would have been rude not too….

The view from the roof.

We didn’t venture too far for dinner, the tiredness and jetlag that had plagued me in New Zealand followed me to Singapore. We found a ‘street’ curry house for dinner, and enjoyed a very nice meal, and not too far away from the hotel.

It was a good first day in Singapore!


Friday 18 November 2016 – Singapore.

I arrived in Singapore at 7:00 am on Tuesday after a not too bad a flight from Delhi on Air India. I have booked myself into a good hotel, in Singapore’s East City where I am getting a whole lot more room for my pound than I would in the city centre. I also booked myself in for last night so I could check straight in and go to my room rather than having to hang about until mid-afternoon to check in. I had barely any sleep in the hotel in Delhi and after 14 hours in the airport, plus 5 half hours of flying I just wanted to lie down in peace. I didn’t leave the hotel until Wednesday. The view from my room was not the most exciting, residential Singapore. Cleaner than India though !


I have been to Singapore twice before and have seen all the things I want to see. When I decided to leave Delhi I initially thought about other places to go for the three days, but I have a flight booked from Singapore to Brisbane on Friday so it seemed the logical choice. It gives me three days to relax, do a little sightseeing, and unwind from the last couple of days in India.

My first day was spent lounging about in my room, getting laundry done, contacting airlines to cancel flights and seek refunds, editing photos and writing some blog posts. I had dinner in the hotel bar, a nice big juicy burger and a glass of wine. I missed wine when was I was in India!

The following day I ventured out for a couple of hours. I had found the weather in India to be really good, I was in the drier north so there was not a huge amount of humidity and the temperature had been pretty moderate; it had been a lot cooler than I had expected anyway. Not so in Singapore; walking out of the hotel mid-morning was like walking into a sauna. I had forgotten how humid it is here. It was 91% according to my weather app, though only 27 degrees; it could have been a lot worse.

I caught a bus to as close as I could to the Marina, last time I was here I did not make it to the viewing deck on the ‘surfboard’ at the top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel.  I was going to go up but it poured with rain when I arrived and as it was almost closing time I decided not to go up. This time there was no such issue.


It is quite a long way up!


The view from the top is spectacular, sadly only one end of the platform is open to the public, so no 360 degree views, but still, it is pretty good. Next time I come to Singapore I will go and explore the botanical gardens below, I love those massive constructed ‘trees’.




I was not planning on being out for long, I had a Skype call with El mid-afternoon my time, and before she went to work so my list of activities for today was very small, the next objective was to find the recently opened National Art Gallery. I walked around the small Harbour and quickly nipped between the tall blue towers of the finance centre.


I seemed to have missed this little area of old buildings the last two times I was here, it is really nice, not quite surrounded by towers, though they are standing quietly on the horizon in all directions. The Victoria Theatre.



The gallery is in two converted court houses.


I spent quite a bit longer in there than I had planned, it was quite interesting, obviously the focus is on SE Asian art, and a lot of it was very modern, something I do not see much of, I enjoyed it. There was a good view from the roof deck of the Marina Bay sands and the Victoria , dwarfed by the towers in the background.



I headed back out of the comfort of the air conditioned gallery and back out on to the sticky streets, I was looking for the road I got off the bus on, with the expectation that I could wait on the opposite side to get the bus back. I hadn’t noticed it was a one way street… I did find some street art though. There is not a lot in Singapore, it is strictly illegal unless permission has been granted by the wall owner.


I ended up getting the metro back towards the hotel, and had to do a 2.5km sweaty power walk back. A lesson for tomorrow; make sure I know the return bus stops.

The following day, Thursday, I ventured back out again, but this time later in the day. I wanted to roam Little India and China Town and then head to the big shopping street of Orchard Rd to get myself a t-shirt and some jeans for Aussie and New Zealand.

I got to Little India OK, I could see a heavy cloud looming as I walked up from the bus stop on Orchard.



I had just got to the Tekka Centre when the heavens opened and the heaviest rain I have seen in a very long time fell on Singapore; it was probably a small shower by local standards, I took a walk around what seemed like a mall full of saris. I guess it is Little India.



The heaviest bit of the shower took 15 or so minutes to pass, and it was still raining when I finally left the shelter to continue to my walk through Little India and on to China Town. I was looking for shop houses, some of the old Singapore that has survived the bulldozers and modernisation that is modern Singapore. There are plenty about in this part of town, but there are also a lot of large vans and small trucks about. I did find a couple that I could take photos of, in between the rain drops that fell for the rest of the afternoon.




I was also looking for some street art, I had read there was some around the north end of China Town. Street art and graf, are definitely not condoned in Singapore, so there is very little around, only on buildings where the owners have given permission, and that seems to be few and far between. Singapore is a very ordered society. I did find some, and I was specifically looking for this piece, though it has been commercialised by the building owner since it was originally painted by Lithuanian artist Earnest Zacharevic.


I also found a piece on a graffiti wall by Alex Face who has painted in London in recent years.


The rain started to get quite heavy again and most conveniently I just happened to be walking past one of the very few bars I have seen (naturally it was an Irish bar – name a country without one!) so I stopped in for a beer and to wait out the rain.

I was not far from Orchard Rd, the shopping mecca of Singapore, so headed up there to try and achieve my shopping aims of a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. These seem like quite simple tasks, but I can assure you that if I am not in a shopping ‘zone’ then any form of shopping is no easy task. It took me a while, but I did achieve my goal. I then fled…

But I take a quick detour to Emerald Hill, a small side street from Orchard Rd, which has some lovely old Singapore homes, well it did when I came here five years ago, now they just seem to all be bars – maybe I was in the wrong street, I hope so as I was disappointed in what was there.



And then there was Christmas. Damn, I was really trying to avoid it so early in the year!


I caught a very busy late rush hour bus back to the hotel, grabbed some food in the mall over the road and then headed back to my room to get ready for the flight to Australia tomorrow.

I like Singapore, when I first came here I was not that impressed, it seemed too nice, but I have seen a lot more of the world in the five years since. Maybe it was the total contrast to India that appealed to my Virgoan sense of order and tidiness. I did like the noise, chaos and cow shit on the street feel of India, but the order of Singapore sits more easily with me. When El and I next visit New Zealand I will suggest we come via Singapore, I suggested Hong Kong last time as I thought it more interesting than here, but I am not sure if that was really correct. El can be the judge of that!

Visiting the orange haired cousins

Day 7  -03 Jan 2012 – Kuching

Ta da – today is the day  – going to Semmengoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Wahoo ! I have been looking forward to seeing orang-utans in the ‘wild’ for a very long time and seeing them was one of the primary reasons for coming to Borneo.

The park has a number of rehabilitated and semi-rehabilitated orang-utans living within its 750 or so acres. The orang-utans are collected from villages where they have been kept as pets and once rehabbed are returned to the wild, and hopefully, unlike  Lyndsay Lohan,  they don’t come back. The park has been going since the 70’s and there have been a number of babies born there. I was really hoping to see a young one. The park has daily feedings at 9.00 am and 3.00 pm when visitors are allowed in to see the orang-utans. Unfortunately it is local fruit season so there is plenty of food available in the forest (probably not so unfortunate for the O’s I guess) so there is never a guarantee that we will see anything at all.

Naturally, when I got up it was pouring with rain, after three relatively fine days it was a bit disappointing, but nevertheless we decided to carry on and head out to the park. We left just after 7.30 for the 20km trip to the park for the 9.00 am feeding session and got there just in time! As today was a work day and the first day back at school for some the traffic was worse than Aucklands!

The rain had stopped by the time we had walked down to the feed area which was great as I really wanted to be able to grab some photos. There was about 30 tourists there, lots of Europeans so hopefully that means plenty of people to hang with when I am out on my own ! We hung around the feeding spot for a while and then got the message that one of orang-utans had appeared at another feed station we (slowly – some old buggers there) made our way over to where the action was. Looking up as we walked we spotted a large hairy orange blob up in the tops of the trees, he moved over to a rope above one of the rangers and hung there for a while, before clambering down a tree and taking a piece of fruit and climbing back up to eat. The O that came to see us was Annuar. He went up and down the tree a couple of times to eat and after about ten minutes climbed back to the tops and swung away on a vine back into the forest – that swinging was so cool. For a large ungainly looking beast they are incredibly graceful in the trees and very quick ! I managed to snap a few photos, I am really glad i bought the long zoom lens as all these were shot on 200mm, the 20mm would have been hopeless.  Naturally Annuar managed to stay in a position where we were all shooting into the light!

It was a great experience and I am so glad I came out, I missed seeing a young one, but you never know on the day how many (if any) will come to feed. When I am in Sabah later on my travels I will also go to the Sepilok park as well, plus real wild ones are seen on occasion, so you never know !

 Also saw this cute little chameleon on a bush !

And my second favourite sites of the day, some awesome toilet signs !


After a slooooooow journey back into town Alex and I had mee jawa for lunch at Kopi o corner. (mee means noodles). This was another delicious chicken and noodle dish, the amount of chilli seems to be increasing per meal 🙂

I am really liking the default motor scooter fashion of wearing your jacket back to front, I have been trying to snap a good sample, and this was the best I managed. My favourite one had the hood up over the mouse and nose, but sadly it was coming the other way in traffic so I did not manage to get a shot at it.

Once we got back to the apartment (and after a wee lie down) we popped upstairs to see my old Hudson colleague, Andy’s sister and I delivered the Christmas presents I had brought over from NZ from him for his nephews. Claire and her family have been living in Borneo for a few years now but are packing up and moving to NSW fairly soon. They had an amazing view from their apartment. Claire gave me the phone number of some friends in Kota Kinabalu where I will be visiting in Sabah in a few days or so, which is great !

So, a good day !  I saw an orang-utan !

Changi prison, Singapore shoppers heaven (or hell) and off to Borneo !

Last night was another night in and early to bed, some noisy neighbours in the night and the aircon was making a noise like a freight train but somehow I managed some sleep. I think I am making progress in resolving my must have dark and quiet to sleep issue.

Even though I did the same amount of walking on day two as I did on day one I didn’t feel nearly so wrecked after a day in trail running shoes, I am wondering if I will get used to walking in sandals soon as it will be a tough holiday otherwise.

It is my last day in Singapore and I need to be at the airport for 4:15 this afternoon,  so a short day and the first sunny day of my time in Singapore. Up at 6.00 and a sunrise ! (shot through my window)

Breakfast today was baked potatoes and baked beans, they have not quite got baked beans to the normal hotel standard, nice an congealed – just how I like them, so it was a bit disappointing 🙂

Leaving my bags behind, I checked out of the hotel before leaving for the day and got the train out to Tenah Mirah for a visit to the Changi Prison Museum. The train was above ground for a good portion of the  trip so I got to see a lot more of suburban Singapore,  lots and lots of low rise towers, but it all seemed clean and tidy. Even out in the burbs they have full length bariers at the train station.

At Tenah Mirah, I,  along with some English tourists, failed to read the directions to the bus properly and had a wee moment of confusion before being helped out by one of the women waiting at the bus stop, I guess we were not the first tourists to miss-read the sign !

I was a bit disappointed at the museum, unfairly I guess, it was small and interesting, but no photos were allowed and it was only near the original site, so everything was a re-creation. Changi is/was Singapores main prison, during WWII thousands of allied troops and Singaporean civilians were housed there by the Japanese. The museum commemorates this and a number of atrocities carried out during the war. The prison itself has been expanded and built on many times since the war but the original gates are still standing, however you only see them via sideways look through the main prison entrance with the front view hidden behind a massive green fence. I was disappointed to say the least.  At Changi I made photographers blunder number two and left the camera on manual focus and didn’t notice till later in the day.

Changi museum and a replica of one of the war time chapels.

I wandered up to a local Caltex and bought a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch, my first bread for 3 days – YUM, then caught the bus back to Tenah Mirah and the train to Orchard Rd. Orchard Rd is the premium shopping street in Singapore and as you would expect was packed with tourists ! it is not my place at all.

Emerald Hill Rd, is a side street of Orchard Rd and  less than a hundred metres up the hill are some wonderful old cottages, some have been converted into cafe/bars but most still appear to be residences. I could have spent some serious time here, but was pushing the time I had available to get to the airport. I was surprised (or not), that given the number of people on Orchard Rd, it was deserted up here.

I caught the tube from here back to the hotel and learnt a lesson in travelling outside of (relatively) polite NZ, I let other people squeeze onto the train first and then could not get on myself as it was jammed. For the next train I was first in and stuff everybody else ! All for one and all for one !

I was then off to Changi  airport, leaving behind Singapore and its air-conditioned shopping mall sanctuaries on every second street corner and head for the new hot and humid world of Borneo.

Changi is a biiiiiiig airport…

The Air Asia flight from Singapore to Kuching is about an hour and a half, jammed into a full  A330 I could barely move my legs. We left Singapore slightly late, with a cloudless sky and with a setting sun behind us.

We arrived in the dark at Kuching with a thunderstorm lightening up the sky, just how I love to fly ! Kuching is the main city of Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo and is in the same time zone as Singapore. Alex picked me up from the airport and we went back to his apartment in the Petra Jaya area of Kuching.  Shower and sleep.

I liked Singapore, certainly felt like a place I could live, but I only saw the glossy tourist side of the place I guess.

Travellers mistake for day 3, I left my power plug adapter thingy in the hotel wall, and I “borrowed” that from my shipping company employer as well ! Next time I leave somewhere I will double check the room.

Singapore – Day 2

Day two started a bit later than day one, I slept well and was still dozing at 6.30 which was great. Breakfast consisted of a baked egg and ham pasta and baked beans… Yum !

I was just getting ready to get out the door for the day when the fire alarm went off. I threw a few things in my bag and made a slow exit down the stairs, no obvious signs of fire so I was in no panic and the people in front of me seemed less so. We all made it down to reception by the time the alarm stopped, and people were already heading back up the lift, so I did likewise…

I started off the day with a walk through Little India, checking out the Tikka Centre first, though it was probably a bit too early for real action, but the food court was interesting with a good mix of butchers, fish mongers and green grocers selling their wares. The smell of spice was pretty awesome 🙂

The first floor of Tikka was pretty much dedicated to tailoring and the selling of saris, and no, I do not want a suit or a shirt made, though I had plenty of offers.

I mooched around the Little India for a couple of hours, stopping for a beer, a rest and a wee at the Inn Crowd backers. The place was pretty full but everyone seemed to be doing their own thing and the guy who’s table I invaded seem none too thrilled at the intrusion, I am assuming he didn’t speak any English as I apologised for the inconvenience and he didn’t even bother to grunt. We were obviously not going to be travel buddies!

The Sri Veeramakaliamman temple was my next port of call and I spent an interesting half an hour wandering around its interior.

From Little India I moved down to the Kampong Glam area, an old Malay Muslim part of the city with some cool old buildings and the Sultan Mosque. I had a chicken kebab and apple tea lunch just outside the mosque, so got my daily protein in.

The area also had Hadji Lane, the “alternative” street in Singapore, which had a cool selection of shops and the only graffiti I have seen in Singapore. There were two quite funky bike shops.

and the Blog Shop…..

A fashion store.

I missed the Singapore Flyer due to the rain (and lack of camera) yesterday so walked back down there today, I was not planning on taking the ride but once I arrived I decided to spend the thirty bucks and go for a spin. The views from the ride were amazing ! I will take back any comments I made yesterday about the lack of high rises in Singapore, they are just well hidden.  The photos are all taken through thick ‘blued’ glass, so apologies for the colour cast, and I cannot be bothered trying to correct it.

Don’t tell anyone, but this shirt was worn on Christmas day and has not been washed, I am running out clothes, but will wash in Kuching. I am practising for the feral life of a backpacker 🙂

When I came in from the airport two days ago we drove along the coastal highway and I was amazed at the number of large ships that were queued up waiting to get in to port. I used to work for a shipping company, if you were wondering why this was interesting !

On the walk back towards the city I got to test out the umbrella mum bought me for my birthday, it worked fine, which was good as it hammered down. I made it into a mall, through a convention centre to another mall where I stopped for a coffee at Starbucks. Best coffee of the trip so far, a sad indictment on the standard of coffee in my hostel as I am not a fan of Starbucks coffee. When I popped out of the mall the rain had stopped and by good fortune rather than good skill I ended exactly where I wanted to be, which was completely the wrong place ! The building I thought might have been Raffles (it was old and majestic) turned out to be the Park View hotel

A bit more map reading and I found Raffles, which looks nothing like the Park View !

I made my way up to the Long Room bar where I laid my thirty dollars on the counter and bought myself an original Singapore Sling cocktail (a Singapore must do !)  It was nice, I could have sunk a few if I wanted to spend all my money and end my travels today. One of the key features of the long room is the free peanuts, it is customary to shell the peanuts and throw the skins on the floor.  What miffed me about the Raffles experience was the guide books (and interweb) said there was no admittance to the bar in shorts or sandals, so I sweated in long pants all day only to discover most of the patrons had shorts on. Oh well, it was Raffles Hotel!

After my cocktail, I headed back towards the hostel, past the Singapore Art museum. The sun made a brief appearance as I walked back and it got seriously warm for a while.

Past the Photographic Society of Singapore.

I picked up a couple of cans of Tiger from the local seven eleven and went back to the hotel for some serious relaxing and another early night.

Observations from day two;

  • Singapore is very “English”, all the signs are in English and they drive on the right side of the road – being the left hand side 🙂 You can also buy single cans of beer which you cannot do in NZ.
  • Tourists don’t necessarily want to socialise with other tourists.
  • There is almost no graffiti, I saw some in Hadji Lane today, but I suspect that was part of its “alternative” character. I saw a couple of gig posters for old gigs that I would maybe have gone to, but nothing new, and have been unable to find a decent gig guide for Singapore. I really hope I will get to see some bands while I am away, Indonesian death metal maybe ?
  • For a city with a lot of rain, there are a lot of tiled footpaths….

Tomorrow I will experiment with another format and load photos to Flickr and link them. This post took close to two hours to create, and the text was pasted from Word. Maybe there is a better way to do it. I did at least find out how to do line spacing !

Singapore – Day One

Wow – first official day of travelling and a different life!

I was awake around one am with my body clock telling me it is six o’clock and it’s almost ready for the day to start, thank God for wi-fi  as I could not go back to sleep. Breakfast in the hotel was free and interesting, I am not entirely sure what it was I ate, it looked like a baked omelette but it was sweet and had raisins in it, at least it tasted OK. Coffee was awful, I think I am going to have to get used to that 😦

The weather is solidly overcast with occasional showers and of course warm (30) and humid and my start was delayed due to rain. I had a bit of a loose plan, but my tourist ‘map’ only had main roads and had no scale markings at all so I had no idea of distances between the things I wanted to see so I would just have to see where it all went.  As you would expect I took a few pictures and have included some of them.

First stop was Fort Canning Park, at 60 metres, the highest point in central Singapore and a key part of the history of the city. I loved the trees and the sculptures in the park  !

From Fort Canning Park I wondered down through Clarke Quay on the Singapore River. The area is a bit like the viaduct in Auckland, bars and restaurants, but far uglier and in my opinion a wasted opportunity to do something visually appealing with some lovely little terraced houses there. I tried to get a photo, but there was too much junk to capture what I wanted, on to China Town.

First stop in China Town was for a strawberry and peach shake – Heavenly ! I would have taken a photo of the drink, but the battery died in my camera, right after I took a photo of the shop – DOH ! and I call myself a photographer…

Next stop was to find a shop that sold batteries and get ripped off with tourist prices. The battery was not fully charged but at least I could take some photos, though it did not last the day. The frustrating thing was I had a spare battery in the hostel, my first lesson learnt.

Meat seller –  the shot of the ducks didnt work !

I paid a visit to the Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple, which is a must for all visitors to Singapore, it is places like this that I would love to have the candid photo skills of my buddies Jocelen and Brian. Something I aim to develop as I go, but i did muster up some courage and point the camera at some of the people there.

Buddha Tooth Relic temple.

After a light lunch of spring rolls and water I took a long slow walk down and around downtown Singapore, slowly speeding up when I needed to pee and could not find any public toilets, quick nip  into a Starbucks, no loo so no coffee, and the pace quickened. I finally found a small mall below a tower block and paid 20c for the blessed relief.  Second and third lessons learned, toilets are not easy to find and keep coins handy.

The downtown area of Singapore is only a few small blocks but there are some very tall buildings ! Feeling slightly more relaxed I wandered down past Marina Bay and the massive new Standard Chartered Bank towers made from blue glass over to Marina Sands.

I am not sure what to think about Marina Sands,  the architecture is ambitious and stunning, but the cost must have been grotesque. The complex is comprised of a MASSIVE mall, a casino, three hotel towers and the skypark and I am sure there are parts I missed.  There was probably only half a dozen shops in the mall I could afford to shop at, all the big exclusive brands were on display with sections of the mall dedicated to individual products The watch and jewellery sections had security guards and were conveniently located outside the casino.  The best part of the mall (apart from the aircon) was the indoor canal and gondola rides !  I wandered up through the hotel to try to get to the skypark, hoping to be able to buy a beer up there and snap some shots, but only the outdoor viewing area is open to non-hotel guests and as it was raining heavily at this stage I was advised it was not worth spending twenty bucks, so I left.

Marina Sands Hotel and Skypark, the mall is the long low building at the front.

After a cheap feed of Singapore noodles in the mall foodcourt while waiting for the rain to stop I started walking further around the marina and then the second battery in my camera died. I had pretty much done everything I planned on at the start of the day so I headed to the newest train station and caught a train back to my hotel.

At the station the tracks were completely barriered off from the waiting passengers and there was a bit of a squash even in mid afternoon. The train was crowded, but not terribly so, I would hate to imagine what rush hour would be like,  but being taller than most of the passengers at least I got some semi-fresh air.

As I walked up the hill to the hostel it started to drizzle again, I had been on my feet for most of five hours so I was ready to call the day quits mid afternoon. After the rain I had a quiet can of Kingfisher strong lager on the rooftop of the hotel. I was going to go back down to Little India for a snack and a drink after dark, but it was absolutely pissing down in the evening and the hostel is a good five minute walk to the nearest shelter so I flagged it and went to bed early, after charging camera batteries.

The Hangout hostel. I am on the top floor at the back, under the airconditioners…

Hostel rooftop garden, 2 self portraits in one day !

Day one thoughts ?

It was a good first day out, I really like Singapore, it is clean and reasonably friendly. There is plenty of green, some lovely old buildings mixed in with the new.

I didn’t meet any new people or do anything outrageous like ask to join people at their table. I have hardly seen people in the hostel, the public spaces are largely deserted.

I learnt at least 2 lessons, and will pack my day bag differently tomorrow.

I need to eat some protein and drink more water.

WordPress still sucks ! I cannot work out how to do line spacing properly, grrrrr