Trip Start May 24, 2010
51Trip End May 04, 2012
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Where I stayed
Wow Hostels Singapore
Read my review - 3/5 stars
Read my review - 3/5 stars
The first thing people always say about Singapore is “expensive.” Yes, it is expensive. Our first evening Joon and I went to east along the river at Charles Quay, a nightlife area full of class and beautiful people, and our bill for two came to $95 Singapore dollars (about $75 US). When we ate around our hostel, it came to about $17 dollars including one large beer and 2 main dishes. The second thing people say is “boring.” This I think relates directly to the expensive part since what backpacker can afford an $8 draft beer or $14 cocktail? The boring part also probably relates to the work-oriented society and lack of “color” that the chaos and grit of a normal city brings.
Despite these hang-ups, I thought Singapore was beautiful. Each corner of the city, Chinatown, Arab Street, Little India, kept its uniqueness, but was molded to fit in to the overall city landscape. Chinatown was filled with 2-stories houses that kept the design of its original inhabitants, but was renovated to fit in with the clean and modern design of the city. Arab Street had its beautiful mosques and cafes, and Little India had its sari-wearing women stringing beautiful flower chains for Hindi offerings
Our first day was spent going to Marina Bay and seeing the iconic Merlion. The Merlion is actually a mascot designed by the tourism authority several decades ago. The half-lion, half fish is suppose to refer back to the Sumatran Prince who apparently saw a lion when he arrived and founded the tiny fishing village. The British turned Singapore from a tiny village into a bustling port city when Sir Raffles arrived looking for a place for the British East India Company ships to dock. Singapore remained in British hands until World War II when the Japanese captured it. After the Japanese defeat Singapore got its independence in 1963, fully separating from Malaysia in 1965. The other icon seen from the Bay is the Marina Bay Sands hotel, which is without a doubt the coolest looking building in the world with its three vertical buildings connected on top by a horizontal section that looks like a giant ship came to rest on top of the hotel. The Marina Bay Sands includes luxury shopping and a casino. In front of the hotel is a large white building that is shaped like a lotus flower, which is the Art and Science Museum. To the left of the museum when looking across the Bay is the Helix Bridge, which looks like the double helix of our DNA
Our next day, we visited all the neighborhoods of Singapore and went on the Flyer. The fellow passengers in our car were two Singaporean Chinese families. One of the little boys was adorable. His parents were encouraging him to speak English only but he had such a sense of self-assurance. He kept ordering everyone around, he would say, “Please sit, I am taking a picture!” or “Daddy, we must go this way!” When we were exploring the Marina Bay Sands area we walked over exactly when the lights and sound show was starting, unbeknownst to us
Our third day, we went to Sentosa Island. Our day started rough, with rain confining us to a McDonalds until it stopped. It didn’t really get much better after that. The whole island is covered in a playland, even the beaches had pirates ships and kiddie pools. The high point was being able to go to the southern most point of continent Asia and taking a picture. We bought a play pass, which was $42 dollars for 4 activities, which wasn’t worth it considering the lines we had to wait in. We went on the street luge ride, which was cool for the 30 seconds it took to get down the hill, the Go Green Segway ride, which involved waiting, getting 3 minutes of instruction, and 3 minutes of actual riding time, and a 4D ride. For our last activity we took the cable car back to the mainland. Also on the island is Universal Studios Singapore, home of the only Transformers ride, but at $80 a ticket, we skipped it. We had lunch at a Malay food court, which was designed to look like a market area. I had hokkien mee, which were noodles fried in a soy sauce
3 days was the length of our stay, which is about all people need or can afford. I’d say one of the high points of the trip was the food, we ate mostly Chinese food, but it was amazing. The diversity of people was also great, with a population of about 75% Chinese, 15% Malay and 10% Indian, you never knew who was a tourist or who was a local. About 40% of its residents are foreign as well. Because of this diversity, English is also an official language, along with Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil. A low point was also the people. Considering SE Asia is the land of smiles and hospitality, Singapore was a big exception. People were not friendly here. In restaurants the servers would act like they weren’t even paying attention when they took our orders. On Sentosa, Joon and I both got snapped at by people who thought we were cutting them in line, which we weren’t, and I got chased out of a metro station by a guard until I finished my coffee. People seemed to sort of walk around with a stick up their butt, following the rules and giving orders. Considering the large Chinese population, and considering the Chinese go about their lives with a certain callousness and “survival of the fittest” mentality, I suspect this is to blame. Nevertheless, we left exhausted from walking, but refreshed by the clean streets, air and splendor that Singapore has to offer.