Apr 19 – 24

First impressions

Arriving on the bus from Malasia suddenly we were in a different world, a clinical world like an architect’s model of a town before it gets dirty and broken. It was so perfect, almost too perfect and with rules for everything. It was wonderful for us as tourists to be in such a well-run city but I think it might be harder to live with the oppressive rules and feeling of surveilence. About ten different rules just for catching a taxi but taxi’s here are different to anywhere we’ve ever been in the world – they don’t try to rip you off!!!! Just one thing makes being in Singapore hard work and that is the humidity – it is almost unbearable and you jump from aircon taxis to shopping centres trying to escape the heat.

Second impressions

Pete, Jo and James at the flat

We never want to leave….. For the first time in five months we are staying in a real home. My godmother’s son, James, is doing a PhD on coral populations off Singapore and very, very kindly (we can’t thank you enough!) offered us a place to stay. His flatmates, Pete and Claudio, also deserve a mention for pretending two people they’d never met before hadn’t completely taken over their living room and made a mess of it for five days. Although I think that Pete was happy to use us as a good excuse to extend his coffee breaks while in the last stages of writing up his PhD (should be finished now? – Good luck Pete and Congrats on the wedding). I can’t tell you how nice it was to be immersed in a home where we could make boiled eggs and toast and sit on a sofa and chat to interesting, normal(?) people (who weren’t backpacking). Heaven.

So what does Singapore have to offer?

James, Amanda and Richard, Boat Quay Lots. We didn’t do half of the things we would have liked to have done there, we just didn’t have time. Of course there is wonderful shopping and great restaurants and bars to hang out in, although as in Hong Kong drinks are expensive. We especially liked the Boat Quay and Clarke Quay where you can have a meal overlooking the water, watching the world go by and get a great view of the impressive and beautifully lit skyscrapers beyond the water. They are a bit touristy but, hey, that’s what we are. One of the bars we tried was Harry’s Bar because it was the bar Nick Leeson frequented. We really enjoyed doing a couple of non-touristy things. We went out with James on the University boat so that he could go diving to collect some more data for his research. We got to see the decadent yachts in the harbour and then the ugly oil refinery, a very industrial port. We tried to go snorkelling but the current was so strong we kept floating away so we gave up and chilled on the boat. The other was going for dinner and then bowling with James and Li-Yeng (we were all pretty awful at bowling but it was great to get to know them).

Raffles Hotel

The Long Bar, Raffles Hotel

The other must do in Singapore is to drink a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel and we knew we were following in important footsteps (that’s Jacqui and Sue’s two months earlier). Being the sophisticated people that we are we went into the wrong entrance! and had to be pointed back out of the main lobby and over to The Long Bar. It meant that we got to walk right through the grounds of the hotel which is a massive complex and really beautiful. We had to have a Singapore Sling but we just had one because it was really sweet and cost a massive $16sing (over £6). I was disappointed because, as you can see from the picture, the Singapore Sling is mass produced – the main mixture is actually on tap and they make up jugs and jugs of the stuff – not a very special experience. It’s much better to have one of the other cocktails which are made on the spot and very nice. The best thing was the peanuts. An everlasting supply of monkey nuts but no where to put the shells apart from the floor which was covered with them. One customer was putting the shells into the ashtray so the barman picked the ashtray up and deftly threw the contents over the bar onto the floor. When in Rome….

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari

Richard - oopps, sorry I meant Spider Monkey, Singapore Zoo Lions, Singapore Zoo Flamingos, Night Safari

Singapore has the best zoo I’ve ever been to. I know it is still a zoo but the animals do have some room. Deer and monkeys and the birds are free to roam around, or jump and swing or fly but the more dangerous animals, like lions are in enclosures which have camoflagued barriers so that you can’t tell that the animals are confined. The barriers are trenches sometimes filled with water. This spider monkey was trying to read the info about himself! The picture of the flamingos was taken with nightvision at the Singapore Night Safari. This was great, wondering around paths in the dark and suddenly seeing bright eyes in the darkness ahead of you – lions, giraffes, antelope. In one area we walked through bats were flying around our heads – spooky.

Finally we dragged ourselves out of the boys sofa and jumped on a plane to Bali for a few weeks on the beach before our final destination – Australia.

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