Singapore

Trip Start Sep 27, 2009
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Trip End Ongoing


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Sunday, May 2, 2010

We left Melaka on the bus and headed to Singapore. It only took 4 hours and we crossed the border no problems, the most organised, smooth and modernised land border crossing so far. The bus dropped us at Lavender bus station and we got the space age MRT to the colonial area where we found a cheap little guest house called cozy corner just down the road from Raffles Hotel. We got a double room for $40 Singapore dollar (12 pound) which is really cheap by Singapore standards. It was a box room, bunk beds and a shared bathroom but it did the job, we were going to get dorms for $17 each but Chris insists on getting naked as soon as we step through the door as its so hot so we thought we had better get some privacy haha!

Singapore was founded by the British as a place to control trade in Asia, after the second world war it was given independence but it has remained a centre of world wide trade. The city is a huge metropolis of modern sky scrappers with a few colonial buildings in between. We were amazed how clean and modernised the city was, how organised it was and how gigantic all the buildings were. In Bangkok, Mumbai and KL we saw lots of sky scrappers but this is nothing like we have seen before, there are sky scrappers as far as the eye can see, its amazing. Singapore is a mixture of all different cultures and the most multi cultural place we have been to, it was nice not to feel like the odd one out for a change. The food is great as well as it is a mixture of Indian, Malaysian and Chinese so loads to choose from and pretty cheap too.

Singapore is most famous for its shopping malls and great food so that is all we did with our first day, ate and shopped. After some lunch of curry soup with noddles and chicken we headed to Orchard Road to do some shopping. Orchard road is the centre of the shopping world in Singapore, it is a huge street totally lined with shopping malls, there are over 20 huge shopping malls down this one street, it was mental. It was almost torture for Em as we were just window shopping but the malls were really grand so it was fun just wandering around. By the 10th or so shopping mall we eventually snapped and decided to treat ourselves and got a couple of things. The shops were brilliant, there was so much choice, it was mostly design shops but there was quite a lot of high street shops and even one mall were you could barter! The shopping malls were great fun and they were all so busy.

After we were totally shopped out we had some Indian food from one of the food courts in one of the malls and decided to go to the cinema and catch a film as were exhausted. They are crazy for the cinema in Singapore so most of the cinemas were all booked out but there were loads of cinemas in all the shopping malls so we eventually found one that still had some seats left! After the film we wandered back through the city which looked even better at night with all the buildings lit up.

The next day we got up and headed out to explore the rest of the city and keep Em away from the shopping malls. We first visited Raffles Hotel which is named after the English man who founded Singapore and is the most famous building in Singapore. It is a huge colonial building, ultra posh and a maze of things going on, bars, restaurants, tea rooms and designer shops. We had a wander around and took a few pics, we were tempted to go for a Singapore sling (this is where the cocktail was invented) but it was $25 so we gave it a miss, the cheapest room was 400 pound a night!

Next we went to St Andrews cathedral. This is a huge cathedral that was stunning, it was built in 1862 and is the main church in Singapore. It has been great seeing some churches and cathedrals after so many Hindu and Buddhist temples. Next we headed to the Esplanade which is a 300 million pound theater and concert hall recently built on the bay. It is a little crazy looking, it looked like two spiky domes and was of course huge just like everything in Singapore.

We then followed the Singapore river inland through the CBD district (Central Business District) which is even more chock full of massive high rise buildings with the colonial bridges and buildings sprinkled in between. We couldn't believe how huge the buildings were walking around. It was strange being in an Asian city with a lot of the street and building names in English.

We had lunch in the CBD at Lau Pa Sat, which is loads of different hawker stalls under a huge iron gazebo, imported in from Glasgow in the 1800's. There was a huge variety of food but we tried a few things that Singapore is famous for. We tried crispy carrot cake and char Kway teow which is noodles, prawns, cockles, sausage, bean sprouts and chili all fried together, lovely stuff.

After lunch we headed back up the river to the Quay area, with our ice cream sandwiches in hand. There are old men on every corner selling big blocks of ice cream wrapped in a piece of bread its great (and yes we are addicted to food). The quays used to be the centre of all the trade coming into Singapore and were lined with warehouses, its now lined with swanky bars and restaurants, we nipped into a micro brewery for a beer at happy hour.  

After wandering around the quays we got the MRT to China town. The MRT is Singapore's equivalent of the London underground and it is ultra efficient, cheap and a good way to get around the city. In China town we walked down Pagoda street which was lined with stalls selling all kind of Chinese things and went to Sri Mariamman temple. The temple is strangely enough a Hindu temple, it was really magnificent, we liked as it was something different. There was a massive tower at the entrance with loads of really colourful sculptures of different Hindu gods and inside was much the same.

After Chinatown we were pretty exhausted so went and chilled out at Fort Canning Park for a while. The British built their government on the centre of a hill over looking the city and later the military built a fort there. Now its just a nice park in the middle of the city and is surprising peaceful, it reminded us that if the city wasn't here Singapore would just be a huge jungle. After our rest we ran out of steam so had a wander around another mall (couldn't resist) before going back for a much needed shower, it is so hot and humid in the cities, Singapore is not too bad as there is AC absolutely everywhere but outside its boiling.

After putting on our new glad rags we went and spoiled ourselves at New Asia Bar on the 70th floor of the Stanford Hotel. We decided this is the poshest place we have ever been, it was really swanky and the views were out this world. We were totally wowed by what we saw, it made the view of KL look like Wolverhampton. The views of the sky scrapers just went on and on and it looked fantastic. We both had a cocktail which cost $19 each (10 pound) which we thought wasn't actually too bad for where we were and they were probably the best cocktails we have ever had. We made our drinks last as long as possible and enjoyed the views over the city, it was great to live the high life for an hour or so!

After our cocktail we had a bite to eat and wandered back down to the quays. The quays and the CBD looked great at night so we took a few pics and wandered around the bars. We were going to have another drink but the prices were just too much so we didn't bother as nothing would have compared to New Asia bar haha!

We decided to leave the next morning as we increased our budget for Singapore but what we had planned to spend in 3 days we ended up spending in 2 days so we decided to get the hell out of there, too much temptation. Singapore was great, we had a really good time, the shops are brilliant and never ending, the foods fantastic and its all so clean and organised which is a refreshing change in Asia. The highlight was definitely seeing all the sky scrappers from New Asia bar, it was superb.
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