(Day 210 to 214)
19.06.2010 - 23.06.2010 36 °C
Both Steph and I had been looking forward to Singapore for a while as we haven’t been in a first world, modern place in a long time, however, the thought of expensive food and accommodation was giving me a rash just thinking about it After 7 months of backpacking I’ve managed to turn myself into a saving freak and every amount is accounted for and we try to save every penny, as every backpacker does. So the though of our budget being blown out of the water really worried me!
Nonetheless we had a great time in the “fine” city of Singapore. The Fine city because you can get a fine for chewing gum, jaywalking, not flushing public toilets, eating in the metro the list goes on, its what keeps it so neat and orderly.
We chose to stay near Little India, close to many of the sites and not far from the city centre.
During our 5 days there we wandered through the beautiful streets of the Arab Quarters where carpet, cloth, bags and baskets shops line the streets under the shadow of the golden domes of the Sultan Mosque.
We also wandered through Little India and Chinatown, the latter being very impressive with beautiful temples where incense is burnt continuously and dragon statues sit atop their broad roofs. Little India is a hustle and bustle of action in the late afternoon and also consists of many beautiful and interestingly decorated Mosques.
We spent an afternoon in the Colonial District and CBD where we enjoyed the views of the city from the Swiss Hotel, took in the colonial buildings and visited the imaginary creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, used as a mascot of Singapore, the Mirlion. Its name combines "mer" meaning the sea and "lion". The fish body comes from Singapore's ancient name back when it was a fishing village — Temasek — meaning "sea town" in Javanese. The lion head represents Singapore's original name — Singapura — meaning "lion city" or "kota singa". No stop on the island is ever complete without a visit to the grand Raffles Hotel. There we enjoyed the must-have deliciously sweet “Singapore Sling” cocktail whilst enjoying eating peanuts, where the custom is to throw the shells on the floor and my generally very tidy wife had a field day doing just so!
We enjoyed eating most meals at the food courts found scattered around the city, usually in the basement floor of shopping centres. The food is excellent and very cheap and there is always a large selection to choose from although the general theme remains Asian with a few western exceptions here and there.
On one particular day we met up with Vicki and Leon (from our Komodo Boat trip). We had a very nice afternoon wondering the streets and the markets of Chinatown and ate at a delicious (and crowded) food hall market place before parting ways again. There next destination was to be Australia whilst we were heading north into Malaysia.
Our final afternoon found us walking up Orchard road, the equivalent to 5th Avenue in New York, Regent or Oxford street in London and Calle Melchor Jimanez in La Paz, Bolivia . It’s a pretty road and you don’t feel like you’re in the main shopping area of a huge city.
The heat is another factor that needs to be mentioned. It’s constantly boiling there. Obviously this is due to Singapore’s geographic situation so close to the equator. This knowledge however does nothing for your body to accept the high temperature, and we spent our time walking in and out of shops to get a blast of aircon whenever we could!
We bid farewell to Singapore and caught a bus to Melaka, (Malaysia) and it took us a whopping 45min to reach the Malaysian border.