A day in Singapore

Trip Start Sep 17, 2007
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Trip End Oct 08, 2008


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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Singapore.  If you've got money, there's a lot to do.  If you don't, there's not so much.  Still, we managed to see what we wanted of the city.  Got into the Singapore swing, if you will. 

We did not get a Singapore sling.  They cost around $20 per drink, and that's US dollars, not that it really matters, because the Singapore is nearly even with the US dollar.  Sometimes exchange rates really get you down. 

I'll start at our hostel because it was amazing.  It's called The InnCrowd and it is clean, comfortable, and has lovely amenities.  Movies, kitchen (with everything you need!  Mostly from IKEA...), and free breakfast.  Breakfast is even substantive, which is more than most free breakfasts can boast.  I think they can do this because you make your own breakfast.  So for two mornings I fried up four eggs while Travis toasted, buttered, and jammed four toasts and then we each made ourselves a cup of coffee.  It's hard to find a good breakfast, but these guys definitely got it.  And the cost of a room isn't a million dollars.  Very good. 

We were staying in Little India.  Travis started calling it Indiatown because it should be uniform with Chinatown.  We ate some lovely thalis here.  I ate with my hand because Indian food really does taste better if you use your fingers.  This caused some locals to comment on me.  That's okay. 

Our real tour of Singapore consisted mainly of walking.  We took the underground down to Charles Quay so we could see some quays.  Then we made our way to the Esplanade.  This journey took us through part of the colonial district, which was charming, even if it was completely surrounded by skyscrapers with about a yard of space between them.  The esplanade was a giant durian.  It's a theater and concert hall with a few nice restaurants in between.  Next we crossed the bridge back to Merlion Park.  I made the mistake of calling it a "mer-lee-on" statue and wondered what was so special about that, but it's a "mer-lion," as in king of the jungle with a fishtail.  Very strange.  I mean, lions don't even live in the jungle. 

Anyway, the merlion was entertaining, so we lingered for a little while, but it was hot and we were hungry.  The hostel had circled points of interest in a map they had pinned up, and I'd found a market.  Because Travis always seems to want to taste food I put it in our itinerary.  Then he asked me why I put it in our itinerary.  Ga!  On the walk to the market we passed Raffles Square, which is...nothing.  A metro stop and a statue that looks a little like a Coke ad.  The market was a real surprise.  It was more of a food court, and it was enormous.  Travis pointed out that you could eat every meal in there for one year and still not try everything.  We got more Indian food.  If you go to Singapore I recommend you have lunch there, it's got a nice vibe.  It's called Sat Festival something...

After lunch we ventured into Chinatown.  Our two goals here were to see the Buddha's Toe Golden Stupa and to see the Hindu temple.  The stupa was inside a four-story Buddhist temple.  That's new.  The stupa was on the fourth floor, and we got there just in time, because they were covering it up.  There are specific viewing hours, so it's good we didn't totally have our heart set on seeing it.  Maybe that was why we lucked out.  The main temple area is covered in Buddhas, and each one has six specific offerings.  The room behind this one has 108 auspicious Buddhas.  But some are missing.  In true capitalist fashion, if you want to make a donation to the temple, you can buy a $3000 dollar lantern or a $100 dollar Buddha.  Also new. 

The Hindu temple is a pantheon of gods and animals.  We wondered why we never saw anything like it in India, but then realized that we never went to the south, and most Indian immigrants are southerners.  This is also why north Indian food is unfamiliar even if you eat a lot of Indian food in your own country.  Anyway, the temple was pretty and unique.  Next we stopped at a 7-eleven that also served as a bookie.  That's different. 

Our last stop of the day was at Raffles.  Raffles is, like, the first luxury hotel in Singapore.  Apparently the food was always really good (now they have a cooking school) because Rudyard Kipling said, "Eat at the Raffles, but sleep at the Hotel l'Europe."  Unashamedly the owners of the Raffles took this endorsement and embellished it to say, "Eat at the Raffles and sleep at the Raffles."  It's also said to be the creation point of the Singapore Sling.  In the Long Bar, I believe, but there are several bars.  Most of our time at the Raffles was spent in perusing various artifacts at the Raffles Museum.  Here we learned that the Raffles doorman is the most photographed doorman in Singapore.  He was big and scary.  Here we also learned about Rudyard Kipling's sojourn.  Then we peeked into the Long Bar and called it a day. 

The best thing was, in a city that's full of expesive things, we managed to spend our dollars only on food and a couple metro rides.  So it's possible to enjoy Singapore on any size of budget. 

Erin
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