A whistle-stop tour of Singapore…

After spending two months travelling through the relative chaos of Indonesia, arriving in Singapore was somewhat of a reverse culture shock for us. The streets were clean, the buildings were high quality and everyone spoke English. However, we also found some of the laws and customs slightly overbearing and unnecessary. People queued in single file to get on the MRT, there were fines for eating or drinking at stations and at each and every step there were a myriad of rules explaining how to perform basic tasks (for example, escalators had about 10 different instructions on them for how you should and should not ride on them). We also got told off once for taking a sip of water between exhibits at a museum!

It was interesting to experience how acclimatised travelling can make you become culturally. After the conservatism of Indonesia, we found seeing ladies wearing clothing that exposed their shoulders or legs quite unfamiliar and the advertising of alcohol and various other vices seemed very overt. The other strange thing about being in Singapore, was that for once we blended in. We no longer had the special attention that we had in Indonesia: the constant calls of “Hello Mister,” the photo requests and the rounds of applause. Suddenly we had regressed to being ordinary again and actually that was quite refreshing.

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Despite its plethora of somewhat overzealous rules and regulations, we enjoyed our time in Singapore and found it to be a fascinating and diverse city. On our first day we took a Bumboat from Clarke Quay to Marina Bay to see the sights, including the Quays, the Merlion and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel (the one with the ship on top that you’ll recognise from the Grand Prix).

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After being set a photo challenge by a friend (Alan!) we decided to blow some budget and do the touristy thing by going for a Singapore Sling at the famous Long Bar at Raffles Hotel. Whilst sipping your Singapore Sling it is customary to eat as many of the free monkey nuts as you can (in order to make up for the cost of the drink!) and then carelessly discard the shells on the floor. Apparently this is the only place in Singapore that you are legitimately allowed to drop litter and it does make the floor fairly crunchy underfoot! We finished off the day with a cheap dinner at a food court in a flashy mall and by watching the light show at Marina Bay.

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On our second day we visited the National Museum of Singapore to learn about the state’s colonial past and rise to independence. In the afternoon we explored the colourful sights of Little India and China Town, including visiting a Hindu Temple and the Buddha Tooth Temple which contains a relic that is said to be a tooth from the Buddha’s funeral pyre. We also went for a wander along the main shopping strip on Orchard Road. In fact, we literarily walked down Orchard Road as the road was closed for Pedestrian Night. Jay walking is illegal in Singapore and it was funny that the locals were getting so excited about walking on the tarmac away from a crossing!

We hadn’t originally planned to visit Singapore, but decided that it would be an interesting place to add in. After realising that our Malaysian budget was never going to cover the costs of Singapore (apparently the most expensive city in the world) we decided to not worry about it for a couple of days and to go for some Mexican food (which we had been missing for 2 months) and some beers at Boat Quay.

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Our final day started with a trip to Singapore Zoo, which had some interesting animals and focused on education for visitors and enrichment activities for the animals. We spent most of the day there and saw a huge amount including a large troop of baboons, where the females had huge swellings to show they were ready for mating, which looked like they had chronic haemorrhoids! That evening we managed to successfully blag our way up to the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel for free by pretending to be guests of the hotel (well people assumed and we didn’t challenge that assumption) and we were rewarded with stunning night-time vistas across Singapore.

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After a whistle-stop tour of Singapore, we took a bus to the border and crossed over into Malaysia…

2 thoughts on “A whistle-stop tour of Singapore…

  1. Hi Alex and Kate, we find your travel log very interesting so thank you. Jan and I want to send you our very best wishes for a Happy Christmas and a Special New Year!!! Just in case you do not already know we are cat sitting your cats this weekend while your parents move. We will let you know if they behave themselves and they will probably let us know if we forget to do what they want. Take care, do continue to enjoy, with love, Karen and Janxx

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  2. Hi Karen and Jan,

    Thanks for your message and glad you are still enjoying the blog! Thank you so much for looking after the cats whilst my Mum and Dad move house. I hope they don’t cause too much trouble for you! Merry Christmas and all the best for 2015 to you both. We shall be on the Island of Bohol in the Philippines for Christmas – looking forward to some sun, beaches and diving! Love Alex and Kate xx

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