Monday, 19 December 2011

Singapore - days 103 - 106

Singapore is awesome. It’s like a beginners guide to Asia – cos everything is English and it’s totally geared to tourists. And i basically behaved like one for my last three days on holiday!

First of all, Singapore is HOT. Actually it’s more humid than hot. Ridiculously humid. And unfortunately it did take its toll on me on a daily basis. I could manage about 2 hours wandering around in the heat, but would then have to come back to the hotel, cool down in my freezer-like room, and go for a swim at the hotel pool. Then i’d go out for another 2 hours and do it all again!

Secondly, it’s cheap – and sort of expensive at the same time. Cab fares were joke money, couldn’t believe how cheap they were. The food and beer was a whole other ball game. In Clarke Quay and the tourist areas, food and beer were quite pricey (although with a rate of over 2:1, it didn’t work out too bad), however in places like Chinatown and Little India they were dead cheap.

Managed to check out Chinatown and Little India while i was here. Both were kinda what you expected, however the Chinatown was far more fun than most of them i’ve been too. This one actually had pubs, and a random german bratwurst stand, Erichs Wuerstelstand, too! Also got hassled everywhere I walked by people wanting to make me suits and sell me kimonos. Noone seemed to understand that not only did I not have the money, but I didn’t actually want a new suit! I’ll hand it to them for trying their hardest to sell stuff though, they almost convinced me I needed 7 kimonos to lounge around the house in!

Little India was more of the same, but unfortunately the day I went I had an upset stomach. I really fancied a curry, but the no-frills restaurants in the area made me change my mind as I didn’t want to add to the problem. But pricewise the food was joke cheap. Was a bit gutted as I was so up for having a non-tourist curry, but my bottom couldn’t face it! So I just settled for being shouted at by more hard sellers in the street instead.

Every night I played it easy and wandered over to Clarke Quay for food and beers. I just wanted an easy few days and it was so close to the hotel. The only decision I had to make each night was where to eat and where to drink! Obviously I’d already done Hooters, and I went back there on my last day. I had an awesome curry at a place called Ras (to make up for the one I missed in Little india), and also ate at a mega steak restaurant called Hot Stones. Basically, you order the food and they bring you a red hot stone that you cook the steak on. Yes its kinda fun, but I don’t understand how they can charge you twice the price when they aren’t cooking it!

Beerwise I frequented two bars in the area. The first was the Bungy Bar, next to the reverse bungy jump thing on Clarke Quay. It was the only non-restaurant bar I found, was a small place, had fun bar staff and played loud music. The bar had no walls so was open to the Singapore heat and was a very pleasant place to hang out at night. My other bar was a place called Sque that I was excited to see served Little Creatures. I popped into here every night (and day if I passed) for a Bright Ale, and the bar staff remembered my drink everytime. Brilliant.

The major tourist thing I managed to do was get to Singapore Zoo. This was recommended by everyone, so I had to go. Absolutely incredible place – except I got bitten to buggery by the biggest mosquitoes ever (I’m surprised I don’t have Dengue Fever!), and it was by far the hottest day I was there. I managed to see most of the zoo, but was flagging badly by lunchtime, so was home after three hours. It’s a huge place, so there’s a lot of ground to cover. The only place I can compare it to is San Diego Zoo, mainly cos they are both huge. But in Singapore Zoo, most of the animals are “free range”, and don’t appear to be hindered by being in cages!

I got to hang out with some Sloths in the rainforest exhibit (they were literally uncaged and inches away from me – you could have stroked them), and obviously I spent a lot of time watching monkeys. The chimps were pretty amusing as usual, but the big surprise for me was the huge family of Proboscis Monkeys. I’ve never seen these guys up close before, and I spent ages watching them running around, feeding each other, and being harassed by the one baby in the cage. Man they’ve got some noses!

The highlight though was the Orangutans. On first impressions, it looks like they’ve just got a few huts and logs on a little island, with one solitary miserable looking Orangutan sitting in the middle of it. It took me a while to realise that there were vines and nets high up in the trees, hanging over the paths and walkways of the zoo. There were Orangutans everwhere, and it was cool to see them looking down on us with mild amusement. Spent most of my time here, watching their antics and taking a shit load of photos.

My major non-tourist project however was to get hold of an SLR camera here. I basically spent three days dealing with this, checking out every place I found that sold cameras. The only problem was, it seemed the dodgier the place, the more hardcore the sales technique – and the higher likelihood that I was probably gonna end up buying a bootleg. I eventually got my Canon 1100 from Funan IT Mall, from the first shop I checked out on my first day, and I must say, I think I got a pretty good deal all things considering, and I’m dead chuffed with it. Was mega hard work sorting this though, especially as I kept waking up my camera guru in the UK due to the time difference. Sorry Andy!

Day #106 was my final day on holiday, and spent most of it sorting out the camera. Then there was a torrential downpour that lead me to the Bungy Bar for a few beers while I waited for the rain to stop. It was incredible – the rain was actually WARM, and was literally like running through a shower. If I’d had a change of clothes to hand, I would have just stood in it just for the sheer hell of it! Had my final Hooters of the holiday, then it was time to get sorted back at the hotel and to head to the airport.

Not much more to say. The flight was relatively ok for a 14 hour stretch, however I must say that yet again the Quantas food selection wasn’t up to much, but I did get a spare seat next to me to stretch out in so that kinda made up for it. Watched most of Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 7 for the journey home. Got back to Heathrow, was out of the airport under an hour and out into the FREEZING COLD. Stupid flippin country!!!

I was glad to be home – mainly so I could get rid of the rucksack, but was also looking forward to seeing everyone again. I had a couple of quiet days coming up, but on the Saturday (two days after arrival back in the UK), I was due back into London for a week to see bands, roller derby and catch up with the crew again.

And that’s it. End of my 3 and a half month holiday – apart from a quick trip back to San Francisco for New Years Eve. There’s plenty more to say on the subject, but I’m gonna leave that for the next blog. Until then, thanks for reading so far. I’ve had an utterly brilliant time, and I’m still glad that I sold the flat and left my job to do it.

Wish it wasn’t so flippin cold though....

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