Singapore

Singapore Travel Blog

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Day 1 - Sunday 15th of February - Footprints Hostel - Singapore, Singapore

So as per my previous post, I have successfully left the country, after 2 delays and a great deal of frustration. I flew out at 11:20 on Singapore Airlines, and arrived in Singapore at 4:00pm local time. I was one of the last off the aircraft, due to a great conversation with the cabin crew, regarding my apparently famous seated neighbor.

Central Australia from a plane

Singapore Airport was really nice. I flew into Terminal 3 of 3 (plus a budget terminal), which also featured the MRL Train to the city. After clearing Immigration, collecting my bags, and clearing pretty lax customs, I changed into shorts, organised my bags, and headed for the train station. There was a lovely customer service lady there, who not only gave me a city map, but also brilliant directions, and even gave me some smaller notes to use to buy a ticket. The train was perfectly on time, amazingly clean, and very quick. We seemed to travel underground for about 3 minutes before actually clearing the airport grounds, which gives you some indication of how big the airport is. I changed trains at Tanah Merah to Platform B, and then again at Outram Park to the North East Line. I was heading for Little India, and my hostel Footprints. It was about a 4 block walk from the station, which in the 37 degree heat / 75% humidity, was a challenge. I checked in, locked up my bags, made my bed, and jumped on the free WiFi. Funnily enough, my parents were on the computer, so I had a good conversation with them, which was pretty funny considering I had seen them that morning. I also responded to the several Facebook notifications.

Singapore Train Station

Whilst sitting on my computer, I got chatting to three English boys, who had been in Singapore for a few days, arriving from India. They were talking about this tower they had been to, that had a ‘brilliant’ view of the city, but not so brilliant beer prices. They were heading there to take in the view, drink one expensive beer, then grab some food. They quite nicely invited me to come along, so I packed up my computer, changed my shirt and we headed out. It was a decent walk, probably about 15 minutes. The city is quite a conflict of the senses, as it has the heat, feel and smells of asia, but is extremely clean and very modern. The walk was great fun, taking in the large shopping complexes, the busy streets, and street eateries. We arrived at the tower, one of the tallest in the city, and proceeded up to the top two floors, where the bar “Equinox” was situated. Luckily, it was ‘happy hour’ and so out beers only set us back SNG$9, which is roughly the same in Australian Dollars. The view was something else. The city has so many high rise buildings, featuring apartments, offices, shopping complexes, and carparks. There was also a great view of the observation wheel, and harbour.

View from New Asia Bar, Singapore - 3

After we had been asked four or five times whether we wanted any more drinks, we bailed, but not before seeing the smoking room. It was quite literally that, a room, where you can smoke, that has a seriously large aircon system that blows the smoke outside. We headed back down the tower, and went to get some food. The hostel was about a 15 minute walk from the tower and we ended up almost the whole way back there, chatting on the way. They are all 21 to 22, and have headed away for about 6 months because they couldn’t get work at home. We had a good laugh at the financial crisis, and talked about comparisons between Australia and England. Eventually, we found a street side shop, and grabbed a menu. The waiter was pretty cool about us being there and pointed us in the right direction with a menu choice. We all ended up getting Chicken Wonton Noodles. It was pretty damn good, and we all agreed that this was a pretty authentic experience.

We headed back to the hostel and by that stage it was 11:15, so we all pretty much retired to bed. So here I am, sitting in bed, on the free Wifi in my hostel! I am planning out what to do tomorrow, and got a great email of tips from Elina, a 2nd year at VCA, who is from Singapore. She even gave me her mums number if I got in trouble! :-D

Anyway, until tomorrow! Geordie

Day 2 - Monday 16th of February - Footprints Hostel - Singapore, Singapore

I was up pretty early, considering my quite late bedtime the night before. The breakfast at the hostel was basic, bread & spreads, but okay. I set out with a great deal of pointers from a VCA 2nd year student, Elina, who is from Singapore. My list of things to do, would take me across the various sectors of the city and involve a great deal of walking an swapping trains.

Sim Lim Square (IT Mall), Singapore

I began by heading to Sim Lim Square, a nearby shopping complex that specialises in IT products. It was quite amazing, 7 floors of cameras, computers, accessories, mobile phones and more. They even had a food court in the basement. It is renowned for being the place to bargain for a good deal, but as such many shops have shop keepers that sit at the front of the store and try to coerce you in. As I was carrying my Digital SLR, I had many offers of lenses, spare batteries and memory cards. It was pretty daunting, and I did have a quick browse of the camera lenses, but as I packed so well, I didn’t really need anything, so I headed to Bugis Station, to catch the MRL to my next stop. On the way, I spotted a great advert, see here.

Sim Lim Square, Singapore - 4

The MRT is amazing, and I found that the longest I waited was 3-4 minutes. The stations are all airconditioned as are the trains, and a good respite from the heat and humidity. My next stop was Esplanade, and Theatres on the Bay. It was a short walk from the station, and an underground mall was available, but instead I chose to walk at street level to get my bearings. On my way, I spotted a very large building, which turned out to be where I had been the night before, New Asia Bar. I arrived at the Esplanade, and walked into the main theatre foyer. It was stocked with a seriously large collection of lighting fixtures, for the VCA people reading, the foyer had more lights than VCA AV Store. It also hosted a great temporary sculpture by a local artist, made out of dried tree roots and branches, it was titled “Calligraphy”.

Esplanade / Theatres On The Bay - Singapore - 21

As with all things in Singapore, there was a mall attached to the back, so I wondered through, and found a great little arts space called Jendela, which was displaying an artists work, with free admission. There is a photo f the space on my Flickr, it was quite cool, I wouldn’t mind a cool party in there. After navigating past all the shops, I headed out the back, past Harry’s Bar, a well represented Singapore franchise. At the rear of the building they had an amphitheater with believe it or not (sound nerd alert) a D&B Sound System that was amazingly too large for the space. It would most likely be able to de-clothe the audience members, and certainly remove them of their hearing. After my tech nerding had finished, I took a few photos of me by the water, with the assistance of the nearby brick wall. Across the other side of the bay, they are building 2 new casinos, as part of Singapore’s plan to increase entertainment in the city.

Me, In front of Singapore's Financial District

I perched myself next to the water, and got a coke from the local street vendor. After a few minutes, I was greeted by a elderly man and asked where I was from. He kept chatting to me, and sat on a seat next to me. At first I was suspicious of him, thinking he was either going to scam me, or try to sell me something, but in the end it seemed like he just wanted someone to listen to him. His said his name was Frank, and showed me his elderly citizens card. We chatted about the fires in Victoria, the new developments in Singapore, the city and it’s different parts, and he took my map and a pen and highlighted the places he thought I needed to see. After about ten or fifteen minutes, we were interrupted by a few large crashes of thunder and significant lightning, then within 3 minutes, it was raining. Frank and I retreated into the Theatres building, where he informed me that he was heading to the Library on the bottom level, to take a nap in a comfortable chair. He grabbed my map again and showed me a place to get lunch, then shook my hand and he was off.

Victoria Theatre, Singapore - 1

After the rain had stopped (about 10 minutes) I decided to take Frank’s advice, so I headed along the river, past the old Victoria Theatre, The Parliament Building and headed towards Boat Quay. I headed past that to a place called DK Eating House. I selected Dumpling Noodle, for $3SG (about $3.10 AUD) and settled in to watch the locals go about their business. I also couldn’t resist getting a pork bun for a semi desert. Once full, I walked back across the river and into the city, to yet another mall, called Funan Digital Life. Like Sim Lim, Funan Digital Life was an IT mall, except Funan was more high end. It was much like Sim Lim, except it had more brand name store, like a whole store dedicated to Case Logic cases. It also featured a Harvey Norman, which I visited out of respect to the Australian Franchise. I had a great giggle at a 3-4 year old boy, playing on an interactive mat, that had a sensor that allowed you to play soccer, or disturb fish in pond. Once again, I resisted the urge to buy something technical that I didn’t really need, and headed back towards the river, to check out the number one night spot in Singapore… In the day!

Funan Mall, Singapore - 06

Clarke Quay was a collection of restored buildings and new riverside platforms that featured some of the ‘best’ nightspots in Singapore. I wandered around for a bit, looking at the very overpriced menus and taking photos of the amazing roof that they have constructed over the whole precienct. As it was a nightspot, and it was the day, there wasn’t much going on, apart from a few drunk Americans, sitting in the Hooters bar and making suggestive yelps at the staff. I moved on from there pretty quickly to the Clarke Quay MRL Station, to see Orchard Rd, the centre of shopping in Singapore. As usual, the MRL was amazingly efficient, and I arrived in no time. The whole strip was quite commercial, and as I couldn’t afford to buy anything, I was a little disinterested. I popped into the Singapore Tourist Information Centre, and asked about the Zoo, the lady there was convinced she had served me before, and was in for a chat. Do I attract these people??? I got out of there, and decided to call it a day, I had a 7am flight the next day, and needed some rest. On my way back to the Hostel, Rafi, a VCA Production Alumni and local Singaporian messaged me and asked if I wanted to meet up for dinner and a beer. I was very much up for it, and so I made a beeline for the Hostel. I was to meet him at 7:30 in the foyer of the Theatres on the Bay.

Lunch Spot, near Esplanade

I once again caught the very efficient MRT, and met up with Rafi in the foyer. I jazz duo were playing to a small audience, but we headed out to grab some food. I hadn’t walked north past the theatres building in the day and was surprised when Rafi headed left, to reveal a series of authentic food stalls. Rafi asked about my food preferences, and I said I was up for anything, so he ordered us a selection. We had satay beef, asian greens, carrot cake, which contains no carrot, and singray. Rafi beat me to the obvious stingray joke about doing my civic duty, and we started to eat. I loved everything on the table, and the our conversation went quiet whilst we indulged in some seriously awesome food. Rafi is working at an arts school at the top of the island as the theatre manager. He originally studied with me at VCA and we designed a show together, Blind Giant Dancing, directed by Bruce Miles. Toward the end of the meal, Rafi suggested I try a sugarcane juice, which I went to get. It was amazingly good, very sweet and full of sugar, but had a kind of woody taste that made it a perfect desert. Once we felt suitably fat, we headed back to the Theatres building to grab a beer at Harry’s. I felt it was customary to try the Harry’s beer, which wasn’t too bad, and much like a Heineken. Rafi had to be at work the next day, and I had my 7am flight, so we called it a night after a good catch up.

I really enjoyed my time in Singapore, despite everyone telling me that it’s just a giant shopping mall. I was really lucky to find such a good hostel, and also to be introduced to good food by a local. It’s off to Hanoi in Vietnam next, so I am expecting to have to adjust a little from the very civilized and westernized Singapore.

Till next time, :-D

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Day 1 - Sunday 15th of February - Footprints Hostel - Singapore, Singapore

So as per my previous post, I have successfully left the country, after 2 delays and a great deal of frustration. I flew out at 11:20 on Singapore Airlines, and arrived in Singapore at 4:00pm local time. I was one of the last off the aircraft, due to a great conversation with the cabin crew, regarding my apparently famous seated neighbor.

Central Australia from a plane

Singapore Airport was really nice. I flew into Terminal 3 of 3 (plus a budget terminal), which also featured the MRL Train to the city. After clearing Immigration, collecting my bags, and clearing pretty lax customs, I changed into shorts, organised my bags, and headed for the train station. There was a lovely customer service lady there, who not only gave me a city map, but also brilliant directions, and even gave me some smaller notes to use to buy a ticket. The train was perfectly on time, amazingly clean, and very quick. We seemed to travel underground for about 3 minutes before actually clearing the airport grounds, which gives you some indication of how big the airport is. I changed trains at Tanah Merah to Platform B, and then again at Outram Park to the North East Line. I was heading for Little India, and my hostel Footprints. It was about a 4 block walk from the station, which in the 37 degree heat / 75% humidity, was a challenge. I checked in, locked up my bags, made my bed, and jumped on the free WiFi. Funnily enough, my parents were on the computer, so I had a good conversation with them, which was pretty funny considering I had seen them that morning. I also responded to the several Facebook notifications.

Singapore Train Station

Whilst sitting on my computer, I got chatting to three English boys, who had been in Singapore for a few days, arriving from India. They were talking about this tower they had been to, that had a ‘brilliant’ view of the city, but not so brilliant beer prices. They were heading there to take in the view, drink one expensive beer, then grab some food. They quite nicely invited me to come along, so I packed up my computer, changed my shirt and we headed out. It was a decent walk, probably about 15 minutes. The city is quite a conflict of the senses, as it has the heat, feel and smells of asia, but is extremely clean and very modern. The walk was great fun, taking in the large shopping complexes, the busy streets, and street eateries. We arrived at the tower, one of the tallest in the city, and proceeded up to the top two floors, where the bar “Equinox” was situated. Luckily, it was ‘happy hour’ and so out beers only set us back SNG$9, which is roughly the same in Australian Dollars. The view was something else. The city has so many high rise buildings, featuring apartments, offices, shopping complexes, and carparks. There was also a great view of the observation wheel, and harbour.

View from New Asia Bar, Singapore - 3

After we had been asked four or five times whether we wanted any more drinks, we bailed, but not before seeing the smoking room. It was quite literally that, a room, where you can smoke, that has a seriously large aircon system that blows the smoke outside. We headed back down the tower, and went to get some food. The hostel was about a 15 minute walk from the tower and we ended up almost the whole way back there, chatting on the way. They are all 21 to 22, and have headed away for about 6 months because they couldn’t get work at home. We had a good laugh at the financial crisis, and talked about comparisons between Australia and England. Eventually, we found a street side shop, and grabbed a menu. The waiter was pretty cool about us being there and pointed us in the right direction with a menu choice. We all ended up getting Chicken Wonton Noodles. It was pretty damn good, and we all agreed that this was a pretty authentic experience.

We headed back to the hostel and by that stage it was 11:15, so we all pretty much retired to bed. So here I am, sitting in bed, on the free Wifi in my hostel! I am planning out what to do tomorrow, and got a great email of tips from Elina, a 2nd year at VCA, who is from Singapore. She even gave me her mums number if I got in trouble! :-D

Anyway, until tomorrow! Geordie

Day 2 - Monday 16th of February - Footprints Hostel - Singapore, Singapore

I was up pretty early, considering my quite late bedtime the night before. The breakfast at the hostel was basic, bread & spreads, but okay. I set out with a great deal of pointers from a VCA 2nd year student, Elina, who is from Singapore. My list of things to do, would take me across the various sectors of the city and involve a great deal of walking an swapping trains.

Sim Lim Square (IT Mall), Singapore

I began by heading to Sim Lim Square, a nearby shopping complex that specialises in IT products. It was quite amazing, 7 floors of cameras, computers, accessories, mobile phones and more. They even had a food court in the basement. It is renowned for being the place to bargain for a good deal, but as such many shops have shop keepers that sit at the front of the store and try to coerce you in. As I was carrying my Digital SLR, I had many offers of lenses, spare batteries and memory cards. It was pretty daunting, and I did have a quick browse of the camera lenses, but as I packed so well, I didn’t really need anything, so I headed to Bugis Station, to catch the MRL to my next stop. On the way, I spotted a great advert, see here.

Sim Lim Square, Singapore - 4

The MRT is amazing, and I found that the longest I waited was 3-4 minutes. The stations are all airconditioned as are the trains, and a good respite from the heat and humidity. My next stop was Esplanade, and Theatres on the Bay. It was a short walk from the station, and an underground mall was available, but instead I chose to walk at street level to get my bearings. On my way, I spotted a very large building, which turned out to be where I had been the night before, New Asia Bar. I arrived at the Esplanade, and walked into the main theatre foyer. It was stocked with a seriously large collection of lighting fixtures, for the VCA people reading, the foyer had more lights than VCA AV Store. It also hosted a great temporary sculpture by a local artist, made out of dried tree roots and branches, it was titled “Calligraphy”.

Esplanade / Theatres On The Bay - Singapore - 21

As with all things in Singapore, there was a mall attached to the back, so I wondered through, and found a great little arts space called Jendela, which was displaying an artists work, with free admission. There is a photo f the space on my Flickr, it was quite cool, I wouldn’t mind a cool party in there. After navigating past all the shops, I headed out the back, past Harry’s Bar, a well represented Singapore franchise. At the rear of the building they had an amphitheater with believe it or not (sound nerd alert) a D&B Sound System that was amazingly too large for the space. It would most likely be able to de-clothe the audience members, and certainly remove them of their hearing. After my tech nerding had finished, I took a few photos of me by the water, with the assistance of the nearby brick wall. Across the other side of the bay, they are building 2 new casinos, as part of Singapore’s plan to increase entertainment in the city.

Me, In front of Singapore's Financial District

I perched myself next to the water, and got a coke from the local street vendor. After a few minutes, I was greeted by a elderly man and asked where I was from. He kept chatting to me, and sat on a seat next to me. At first I was suspicious of him, thinking he was either going to scam me, or try to sell me something, but in the end it seemed like he just wanted someone to listen to him. His said his name was Frank, and showed me his elderly citizens card. We chatted about the fires in Victoria, the new developments in Singapore, the city and it’s different parts, and he took my map and a pen and highlighted the places he thought I needed to see. After about ten or fifteen minutes, we were interrupted by a few large crashes of thunder and significant lightning, then within 3 minutes, it was raining. Frank and I retreated into the Theatres building, where he informed me that he was heading to the Library on the bottom level, to take a nap in a comfortable chair. He grabbed my map again and showed me a place to get lunch, then shook my hand and he was off.

Victoria Theatre, Singapore - 1

After the rain had stopped (about 10 minutes) I decided to take Frank’s advice, so I headed along the river, past the old Victoria Theatre, The Parliament Building and headed towards Boat Quay. I headed past that to a place called DK Eating House. I selected Dumpling Noodle, for $3SG (about $3.10 AUD) and settled in to watch the locals go about their business. I also couldn’t resist getting a pork bun for a semi desert. Once full, I walked back across the river and into the city, to yet another mall, called Funan Digital Life. Like Sim Lim, Funan Digital Life was an IT mall, except Funan was more high end. It was much like Sim Lim, except it had more brand name store, like a whole store dedicated to Case Logic cases. It also featured a Harvey Norman, which I visited out of respect to the Australian Franchise. I had a great giggle at a 3-4 year old boy, playing on an interactive mat, that had a sensor that allowed you to play soccer, or disturb fish in pond. Once again, I resisted the urge to buy something technical that I didn’t really need, and headed back towards the river, to check out the number one night spot in Singapore… In the day!

Funan Mall, Singapore - 06

Clarke Quay was a collection of restored buildings and new riverside platforms that featured some of the ‘best’ nightspots in Singapore. I wandered around for a bit, looking at the very overpriced menus and taking photos of the amazing roof that they have constructed over the whole precienct. As it was a nightspot, and it was the day, there wasn’t much going on, apart from a few drunk Americans, sitting in the Hooters bar and making suggestive yelps at the staff. I moved on from there pretty quickly to the Clarke Quay MRL Station, to see Orchard Rd, the centre of shopping in Singapore. As usual, the MRL was amazingly efficient, and I arrived in no time. The whole strip was quite commercial, and as I couldn’t afford to buy anything, I was a little disinterested. I popped into the Singapore Tourist Information Centre, and asked about the Zoo, the lady there was convinced she had served me before, and was in for a chat. Do I attract these people??? I got out of there, and decided to call it a day, I had a 7am flight the next day, and needed some rest. On my way back to the Hostel, Rafi, a VCA Production Alumni and local Singaporian messaged me and asked if I wanted to meet up for dinner and a beer. I was very much up for it, and so I made a beeline for the Hostel. I was to meet him at 7:30 in the foyer of the Theatres on the Bay.

Lunch Spot, near Esplanade

I once again caught the very efficient MRT, and met up with Rafi in the foyer. I jazz duo were playing to a small audience, but we headed out to grab some food. I hadn’t walked north past the theatres building in the day and was surprised when Rafi headed left, to reveal a series of authentic food stalls. Rafi asked about my food preferences, and I said I was up for anything, so he ordered us a selection. We had satay beef, asian greens, carrot cake, which contains no carrot, and singray. Rafi beat me to the obvious stingray joke about doing my civic duty, and we started to eat. I loved everything on the table, and the our conversation went quiet whilst we indulged in some seriously awesome food. Rafi is working at an arts school at the top of the island as the theatre manager. He originally studied with me at VCA and we designed a show together, Blind Giant Dancing, directed by Bruce Miles. Toward the end of the meal, Rafi suggested I try a sugarcane juice, which I went to get. It was amazingly good, very sweet and full of sugar, but had a kind of woody taste that made it a perfect desert. Once we felt suitably fat, we headed back to the Theatres building to grab a beer at Harry’s. I felt it was customary to try the Harry’s beer, which wasn’t too bad, and much like a Heineken. Rafi had to be at work the next day, and I had my 7am flight, so we called it a night after a good catch up.

I really enjoyed my time in Singapore, despite everyone telling me that it’s just a giant shopping mall. I was really lucky to find such a good hostel, and also to be introduced to good food by a local. It’s off to Hanoi in Vietnam next, so I am expecting to have to adjust a little from the very civilized and westernized Singapore.

Till next time, :-D

Rising Sun, over Singapore
8,929 km (5,548 miles) traveled
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