Singapore Sling!

Trip Start Jan 21, 2007
1
62
67
Trip End ??? ??, 2008


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Monday, October 15, 2007

My trip back to the mainland Malaysia included a lucky escape from paying excess baggage (Air Asia only give 15kgs and I had 18kgs, fortunately a Dutch guy I checked in with only had 12 and they let us add together.)  I do think 18kgs is too much to be carrying though, things must go!!

I flew back into the city of Johor Baru, just across the water from Singapore.  The journey included a taxi to the border, into immigration to be stamped out of Malaysia, a bus across the causeway, into Singapore immigration to be stamped in, then back on the bus for the hour or so journey into the city.

I walked the short distance from the bus station to the hostel I had booked on the net, Sleepy Sam's, supposedly the 2nd best hostel in Asia or some such nonsense.  I was not impressed.  I had booked for 3 nights at a cost of 75S$ (about 25pnds) and they wanted me to pay it all upfront.  Not normal, but ok. I requested a look at the dorm before paying and was told no.  After a big debate with the less than delightful receptionist I paid for 1 night and she cancelled the other 2 nights.  Had I not been in a rush to meet a girl I had met on the bus, I would have gone elsewhere, but never mind.  Then I asked for a receipt for the 10S$ key deposit I had paid, was again told no. The hostel wasn't even that nice, it was just ok, but I was lucky being in the girls' room with only 6 beds and the rest were just in a cramped open space outside.

So anyway, I met up with Sarah from the bus and we spent the day iPod shopping (which distressed me as they are half the cost they are at home and my nano is already obsolete.)  Then it was time for Raffles Hotel for the obligatory Singapore Sling.  I have nothing nice to wear so the best I could do was jeans, flip flops and a nice-ish top.  Knowing the Long Bar was the place to go, but not knowing where it was we approached the doors to the lobby, which was opened by the doorman who took a very long and pointed look at our feet (both is flip flops) before looking at us and asking if we could help.  Replying in the haughtiest voice I could muster, I replied that we would ike to have a drink at the bar. That was fine, apparently our shoes were acceptable then and he pointed us in the direction.  First impression of the Long Bar - disappointed.  It wasn't nearly as posh as the rest of the hotel and they strangest thing was nut shells all over the floor.  There were tubs of monkey nuts on all the tables and people eating them throw the shells on the floor.  Not wanting to do it, Sarah made a nice little pile with hers on the bar, which as soon as we stood up, the bar man swept onto the floor anyway!  The music was also odd at first, dance tunes which seemed out of place in such an establishment.  After a while though a band started up with some easy listening numbers which seemed more appropriate and in the end I decided I was satisfied with the experience. The drink?  It was nice, nice enough that I would have happily had another one had it not cost 23.55 $$ (more than 7pnds!).

Next morning I check with the receptionist to make sure I can stay the other 2 nights.  No, it's fully booked. I don't actually believe it was, I think she was just being evil.  Anyway I had to move it torrential rain which was nice.  Found a new place straight away, the Prince of Wales which was much more satisfying and cheaper.  Then it was shopping time, with my new friend, Irish Ann.  This was exhausting and also a bit disappointing because of the cost.  They have all the same shops as the UK but more expensive.  We still managed to spend about 8 hours shopping and our plans for a big Saturday night were forgotten as we both went home early for a sleep!  The fact I had a cold and felt rubbish probably also had a lot to do with it.

Next day we abandoned plans to do the open top bus tour as a lot of the stops seemed to be where we had already been so seemed a bit pointless.  Instead we took a trip on the MRT (the tube) to the river to have a walk along the river and some lunch.  The MRT is great, really cheap and spotlessly clean (chewing gum is banned in Singapore so the white blobs that cover the streets of Glasgow, and everywhere else in the UK probably, are absent).  We had, I think, the most expensive meal I have had in almost 9 months of travelling, 7 pounds!!  It was 2 pounds for a coke.  This might not sound a lot, but when a daily budget in Asia is about 10 pounds, it's outrageous!  That evening Ann came round to my hostel, intending to have one drink there then we would head out.  3.30am we were still there.   I had to go to bed at that point since I was getting up at 6.30, leaving Ann to it, watching the rugby that had started at 3am.  Still don't know if she made it til 5am!

I liked Singapore a lot, the only issue being the cost, a pint in the hostel bar was almost 3 pounds!  I guess coming from home though it would be normal, I'm just used to Asian prices.  Generally though, it felt very safe (I believe the penalties for breaking the law are harsh which is why no one does), as I said already very clean, easy to get around.  The people - I didn't really have enough interactions to decide if they were friendly or not.

Next stop is my final stop being Australia, Hong Kong, for one week.  I have someone to stay with so am looking forward to some home comforts a lot!
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