Well we made it to Singapore!
Arrival in Singapore was quick and easy – what was great after an 8 hour flight! We only had to wait about 5 minutes to clear immigration, our bags came out quickly and customs was essentially non-existent. We had pre-booked our transfer to the hotel from the airport to save a hassle, and on the way our bus driver was friendly and cheerful and gave us a brief insight into the city.
We arrived at our place, the Perak Hotel, and checked to discover that we had received a free upgrade from “standard” to “superior”. Good thing, too, because while we weren’t planning to spend the majority of our time in the room, the superior rooms aren’t huge – I can’t even imagine what the standard rooms are like! Having said that, we walked in to a pre-air-conditioned room which was a dream after the humidity of the city. Our bags went on the floor, a quick swipe of deodorant and a toothbrush over the fuzzy teeth after an 8 hour flight and we were off to explore Little India!
The first thing to accost the senses are the smells – spices, herbs, incense – and they’re all amazing. We walked through crowds surrounding mobile phone kiosks and witnessed a line that stretched a block long in front of the Western Union as we weaved in and out of people and traffic. After making a few (inadvertent) circles around our area and enjoying a cold Tiger beer at the Indian restaurant on the corner we decided to head over to the Arab quarter. All the maps that we’d seen were different scales so we weren’t sure how far we had to go, but we were happy to discover that it wasn’t far at all!
After coming across the Sultan Mosque and taking the obligatory photos we gaped at the amazing shophouses and storefronts and gazed at all the brightly colored fabrics and intricate embroidery before settling in to partake in a watermelon shisha and some hummus. We rested our weary feet for about an hour (plus) as we people-watched along the street and headed back due to pure exhaustion.
The next morning (Monday) we were up early for our free breakfast at the hotel before wandering to the nearby Tekka Market and having a wander. Like markets all over the world, this one was a bit of a mishmash of fresh produce, live crabs, fish on ice and butchers. The other half is a massive food court that was a bit of sensory overload, and we felt a bit goofy wandering around watching people enjoy their breakfasts. Before making our way to our (free) city tour meeting point I tried a local tea (nothing too exciting – hot tea with milk and sugar) and Matt had a cold sugar cane juice.
The city tour that we went on was about 3 hours long and was not only thorough but very entertaining. Our guide, Adam, was pleasant and – even though he didn’t really answer my questions because they were part of his commentary and he would “get to that later” – his jokes were quite dry and witty and he gave an amazing insight into Sinaporean culture and society. First stop was Little India, where we’re staying; next to Chinatown where we had free time to wander around and Matt and I picked up a slice of BBQ’d pork – YUM!; onto the waterfont from here so everyone could get their obligatory photo of the iconic “Merlion” spouting water into Marina Bay after passing Raffles Hotel and the Fullerton Hotel (the old Post Office); from here we had a stop at a gemstone/jewellery production area (trying to get our money – hmm, Matt and I have been through this before!) before ending our tour at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. We stayed there for about 15 minutes before making our way to Orchard Road, the infamous shopping area, where we were told we could catch the MRT (subway) to HarborFront and the Tiger Brewery.
What a kerfuffle! We finally got to the MRT station at Orchard Road only to get lost amongst the underpasses that lie under the main roads for pedestrian safety (and, I’m guessing, because it’s cooler than out on the streets!). After a bland lunch and regrouping, we eventually got where we thought we needed to be – HarborFront. Upon arrival we learned we were in the WAY wrong place so we tossed up the idea of going to Sentsosa, which reminds me a bit of a giant playground area. It’s where Universal Studios and a few other theme parks are, but we weren’t really up for it. After another regroup we hopped on a bus to take us to West Singapore (considering the island is only 27km east-west we can truly say we’ve seen the length of it!) where we caught another bus to the Tiger Brewery. Our plan to take the 2pm tour was foiled and we made it in time for the final tour of the day at 5pm. We may have lost a few hours, but the tour itself was good and there was free beer flowing for 45 minutes after the tour so we couldn’t really complain!
Once we made it back home we treated ourselves to the best Indian dinner either of us have ever eaten – which is saying a lot since we eat Indian at least once a fortnight! The butter chicken and chicken korma were delicious, and what better way to wash them down than with another cold Tiger?! Food and alcohol comas kicked in shortly after finishing dinner and bed beckoned!