Sparkling Singapore

Trip Start Aug 12, 2010
1
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Trip End Sep 23, 2011


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Where I stayed
River City Inn

Flag of Singapore  ,
Saturday, March 19, 2011



Hello all,

So our Asia Adventure was to start here in Singapore. We were both really excited to start travelling independently again and to experience a new culture. Singapore is probably the easiest place to start an Asian adventure as everyone speaks English, its very modern and spotlessly cleaned compared to the rest of South East Asia. The flight in was one to remember as we flew so close to the city and it almost felt like I could reach out and touch each skyscraper we passed. Once we landed we jumped on the MRT (underground) and made our way to our hostel which was situated in the city centre and the close to Clarke Quay and China Town.

Since Australia we had been used to paying a lot of money to stay in dirty and smelly places that were mostly run by unfriendly and uncaring staff. As soon as we stepped into River City Inn Guesthouse we knew that things would be different here in Asia. We were greeted by the manager who instantly went to get us drink of water, before taking our shoes off like we were at home. In most hostels we have been to you wouldn’t dare take your shoes off in case you caught something, but this place was spotless. We were then shown to our dorm room along with our bags that were carefully placed on a mat before being slid under the bed. This was in an effort to keep the floor clean and scratch free!!! Things like this just don’t happen in your average hostel. And even though our dorm room of 24 people was the largest we had been in so far, it really didn’t matter as the place was kept so clean and tidy it wouldn’t of mattered if we were the only people in the room.

The next morning we woke to a breakfast of coconut jam on toast before heading out to the bustling heart that is China Town. Here there are several small shops, eateries, and traditional shop houses. The main highlight of the area is Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. On entry we lit some candles for good luck and paid our respects to the Buddha gods. Inside there are elaborate displays of gold and roof topping sculptures. On the 4th floor is the Golden Tooth Relict which is sacred and could not be pictured. On the roof top is a garden with a spinning scriept which is used as a means of praying.

The other main sight in China Town is oddly the colourful Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore’s oldest Hindu house of worship (1827). The temple serves mainly South Indian Tamil Hindu Singaporeans in the city-state. We decided to pop in to see some praying and to get some free food, always good. Though again we were forbidden from taken photo’s. After walking around for a few more hours and seeking out the real Singapore we went for a nap. That evening we went to eat at the famous Maxwell Road Hawker Centre. This place is generally esteemed as one of Singapore's best hawker centres, basically this is in an open-sided 30 stalled food barn. This is where the local people come to eat, and we were the only tourists in the whole place. Most main meals are around 1.50 so its dirt cheap really.

After dinner we went for a walk into town to grab some amazing views from the harbour. The city really comes alive at night with lights flashing from every building, laser beams shooting from each skyscraper, and fire shows lighting up the whole sky. No wonder the F1 Grand Prix is at night, what better stage could you possibly ask for. The rest of the evening we spent watching a free rock show being played in front of the famous Esplanade - Theatre of The Bay, nicknamed the Birdcage. Another impressive building is the newly 4 billion built Marina Bay Sands Casino Resort which holds the worlds highest swimming pool at 55 stories high. The building looks like a cruise ship has been perched on top of 3 wave bent buildings. We didn’t get time to go up there but the pictures I found look truly amazing!

The next day was spent discovering the northern part of the city including the shopping malls, national museums and Fort Canning Park. Unfortunately the highly rated Battle Box was closed for temporary renovation. The Battle Box was an emergency bomb proof underground command centre, which consists of a network of war tunnels which were used during WW II, and for the Battle of Singapore. That evening we went to Little India.

Little India is a world away from Singapore, and feels more like Delhi with its disorder and pungent smells. The area is a sight itself and one of its pleasures is wondering the little side streets and soaking it all up. The streets are filled with shops selling silk, spices, and anything else they can get their hands on. We went to eat at the famous wet hawker market called the Tekka Centre which has been running since the 1920’s. Today, shops on the upper level sell traditional Indian costumes and inexpensive casual clothes. Some of the more notable shops include those selling Taoist and Buddhist paraphernalia (stuff), hardware shops, and tailors who can alter clothes in minutes. On the ground floor is a hawker centre with stalls which sell Indian vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals, served on banana leaves. Here is where we got our first taste of a proper chicken biryani. At the wet market which is on the same level, stalls sell fresh seafood, especially crabs from Sri Lanka, and vegetables. There are also many Chinese stalls selling vegetables that are specially flown in from India.

After dinner we had planned to go all posh on ourselves and to go for a drink at the World Famous Raffles Hotel. We were of course here to try out the equally famous cocktail, the Singapore Sling ,which was invented by the hotel in 1910. It was very surreal sitting there at the Long Bar sipping on the cocktail, nibbling on the peanuts, and thinking that people like Beyonce, Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, George Bush, Michael Jackson, and Queen Elizabeth II had all once drank there. On our way out we had a sneaky walk through the hotel and took some picture out front.

The next day we went to Singapore Zoo and The Night Safari. Singapore Zoo has been voted as one of the top zoo’s in the world and prides itself in the 'open zoo' concept. The animals are kept in spacious, landscaped enclosures, separated from the visitors by either dry or wet moats. Among various attractions that the zoo offers, one highlight is the "Free Roaming Orangutan" programme that allows visitors to meet and interact closely with the orangutans in the zoo, as the roam freely just feet above your head. It was simply amazing to get so close to them, and to watch them whilst being fed. The Zoo also houses a large number or Baboons who were great to watch, Chimps, Proboscis monkeys, Sun Bears, Giraffes, Elephants, White Tigers, Leopards, Jaguars, Lions, Rhino’s, Reptiles, and much much more. All in all it’s the best Zoo we have ever visited.

Straight from the Zoo we walked into the Night Safari which is right next door. The Night Safari is the world’s first nocturnal Zoo which houses over 1000 animals. We started the night off with a show before walking around the first section of the Zoo. Again the animals are separated by natural barriers instead of being in cages, similar to Singapore Zoo’s open concept. It was also nice to see the animals awake as they naturally should be, as in most Zoo’s the animals sleeping pattern is altered. After all 90% of tropical animals are nocturnal! A major highlight of this section of the safari was the bat enclosures, here bats would be flying around your head as you walked through, at one point I felt like Batman. The second part of the trip we done by open trains (long golf carts). In this section we would see the larger animals like Lions, Jaguar, Elephants, Hippos, Rhinos, Zebra, Giraffes, and free roaming animals like Tipir, Wild Boar, and Deer which you could reach out and touch if you were brave enough. It was a great experience but one that can’t really be explained unless you go yourself. Also as it was so dark and flash wasn’t permitted it was very hard to get photo’s. All in all it was a great day and by the time we got back it was midnight so we were totally exhausted.

The next day it was time to leave Singapore and make our way across the border to Malaysia, and our first stop Melaka. Singapore is a great city and we look forward to coming back one day.

See you in Malaysia.

Love Thomas and Hollie x x x
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Comments

nan@ggrandad on

what we would/nt do to be with you //

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