Singapore,Singapore so good they named it twice!
We fell in love with Singapore, well its hard not too, friendly people, friendly place, easy to get round, lovely food, stunning Architecture, and so clean….Actually I am still in Love with it!
Our first taste of Singapore was the SMRT (metro) so easy to navigate and very cheap, escalators to anywhere above or below ground floor. It needed to be easy we had had quite a difficult time in China and we needed a break.Singapore was it!
We followed the easy instructions to our Hostel, 5 footway Hostel near the Masjid Sultan Mosque. This was literally ten minutes walk from the metro (reviewed). Welcomed by friendly staff who didn’t argue about price, booking or even taking us in the first
place because we might actually dare to be “tourists”.Such a difference, we had arrived after a late flight (9.00a.m.) we didn’t really feel up to the rigours of sights seeing after a 24hr escape journey from China, so settled down with a drink at the tables and chairs just outside the Hostel. Booking in time is not before 3.00p.m.But we did get into our room at 12, I think they realised how tired we were and very kindly let us rest. We didn’t venture far from our Hostel that evening we had spotted on the way in a steak house with something on the menu we had not seen for 6mths. Jacket Potato, I know silly things you miss from home, but this was one we did not want to pass up. We were ideally situated with so many lovely eateries around us, we could have had local food, Indian, Persian, Egyptian, Western in fact it was a bit like being back in London, anything we liked was in easy reach.
The street next door had a collection of more shops inc. a small (by Singaporean standards) mall. A 7-11(handy for drinks etc) various take aways, hairdressers (where I got a great haircut), foot massages etc. Oh and only ten minutes walk from the metro with a great small eatery that did a great dumpling soup for breakfast, right next door to the KFC, and Subway and just down from the Pizza hut!! Don’t worry didn’t fancy those.
Our first day we took a bit easy (hah!) we made for the shopping mall (this was huge) for the nearest M&S. Now I don’t know if anyone has told you, but after 6mths travelling your clothes start to fall apart, especially Angela’s trousers, and we had both lost a lot of weight so this was going to be serious downsizing! Not sure by how much but it was serious, Angela had lost around 25kilos
and I have lost around 20. I knew Angela would find something but I wasn’t sure about me, sure enough good ‘ol M&S came up with the goods. Angela had dropped two dress sizes and so had I, the first time I had sampled the clothes from M&S since before I had my first daughter (22yrs), Woohoo, what a result. Both feeling better attired (did I mention how nicely dressed everyone is in Singapore) than when we walked into the mall, we stocked up on the daily sundries. We basically spent the day around that and getting our bearings and working out the air conned metro, nice and relaxed with no pressure worrying about how we were going to get around.
I did manage to sample the healthcare system here in Singapore, after a nasty fall on one of their spotless pavements and giving myself a large nasty gash on my right knee, we sought help from a nearby hostel close to where it had happened.
They kindly brought out their first aid kit, flagged down a taxi (much quicker & faster than an Ambulance) to take me to The Raffles Hospital, where I was greeted by a gent with a wheelchair ready to take me straight to A&E. few minutes later I was Triaged and sent for three x rays on my knee to make sure there was no other damage returned to A&E for 14 very very neat stitches. The cost? Not as hideous as you might think £260 saw me with all that plus 10 ten days worth of antibiotics and four changes of dressing at the two day later check for infection (all clear) for a further £45 saw the total bill at a very reasonable cost, I was impressed, and thank goodness for travel Insurance.
Singapore is a wonderful place with one caveat the attractions (brilliant and stunning as they are ) are expensive and your RTW budget can take a hammering, so our focus was on cheap and free things to do.
We had spotted the Changy museum advertised which is actually free, but we paid 8SD for the audio tour which is excellent. This is definitely worth a visit if you are here, thoughtfully laid out and very moving especially when you listen to first hand accounts of peoples experiences at the hands of the Japanese. A box of tissues might be needed for some people. We saw a lot of Australians visiting and people were encouraged to leave their thoughts and comments, a fitting memorial to such a waste of life and all nationalities that were there were represented equally, a sobering experience.
We decided that we wanted something quiet after that so the cities Botanical Gardens was our next destination. We picked up some food supplies from the nearest supermarket (a bit like a small M&S) and settled down in the beginning part of the park.
There were Singaporean Au Pairs with ex pat children having a great time there. The Botanical Gardens are very big and house an Orchid Garden, a Ginger Garden, a Health Garden along with a rainforest and small lake. I was primarily interested in the Orchid Garden as this stopped selling ticket at 6pm and it was getting on for that we hotfooted it to there first. Angela decided to sit this one out and just wanted to look outside and relax. Heaven for me to see such beautiful collection of flowers in their natural climate. My camera had a field day (around 150 shots of differing blooms), so many colours, shapes and variations. The garden is laid out as a garden with a smooth stone path running all the way through it (did I mention how disable friendly Singapore is?) they have a VIP plant centre where they prepare plants for “ fostering international good will” by gifting them to other countries
They also had a green house, without glass but instead with green netting to prevent the plants from scorching to death in the midday sun. They were stunning! I spent around two hours in there and was left to let myself out along with three or four other people. We walked back through the park to the metro, and passed lots of people including single females jogging in the park, unremarkable except that it was now 8.30pm and I don’t know anywhere else a single woman would feel safe doing this. Note the park was well lit.
Our next day we decided that we would take the LP Little India Walk, as LI is not far from our accommodation we decided we would walk it. The main aim of being to see up close the mosques, temples and colonial Architecture.
We started with the Masjid Sultan Mosque which was just round the corner from our accommodation. This modern looking, twin domed mosque with its attached madrasa was impressive. When you enter you walk into a large vestibule. If you are not properly attired they will offer you a blue gown to cover up with. Basically chaps & girls in shorts and strappy tops need to be sensitive. Once up the few stairs you are greeted by a huge prayer hall, non muslin visitors are not allowed into the prayer hall or upstairs but you can walk in the wide corridors by the sides which allow you to see in through the wide wooden doors. Back in the vestibule there is a brilliant display about Islam and the prayer process. It was very informative without being intrusive
We actually got quite a lot out of it, considering we thought we knew quite a lot, how shall I say, it took the mystery out of the praying five times a day and how and what they do during this time.
After passing neatly coloured tower blocks and colonial Architecture of the usual shop front buildings. We stopped by the Kampong Kapo Methodist Church, a sight for sore eyes amongst all the mix of colonial and modern buildings around us. The Manse which sits behind it is now a private dwelling. It is still a functioning church with a thriving congregation so we moved on as there was a mother and baby group meeting inside. Our next viewing was Sri Srinivasa Permul Temple a beautiful temple adorned with many effigies of all beautiful colours along with its own swami, again camera time.
Following the LP guide we continued the route to a cluster of three temples one Buddhist and two Taoist. The Buddhist temple was lovely, butted up next door to the first of two Taoist temples. It had a large Buddha in the main hall , with a small reclining buddha in a chamber behind the main one. The guide at the temple was very helpful and explained that there were info cards at the entrance in several different languages inc. English. Yay! After visiting theTemple we of course dropped in next door to theTaoist Templewhich was really more like a shrine with the real deal across the road. This one housed a golden round shaped Buddha as well, almost like they had merged the two together Buddhism and Taoism.
We continued on our LP round Little India walk picking out colonial buildings with my camera.
We were on our way back to our Hostel when I had this fall, the one that I rolled my foot over and landed on one of Singapore’s spotless pavements and ended up in Raffles Hospital and 14 stitches to my left knee later! And the excellent medical facilities and a super Dr., who did some very very neat stitching, bit like Singapore really.
Another place to visit is Santosa Island, joined by Cable car (and road) to the Fake Island of palm trees, sand and as I affectionately call it, “Stromboli Land”, We took the cable car to the Singapore side and then back to the Island, you fee includes entrance to the Island so you might as well explore. There are various packages that include theme park rides and attractions. We didn’t as my knee didn’t allow and actually they didn’t really appeal to me, but great for families.
We took the cable car to the Singapore side and you do get stunning views from the mount, the café right on top of the cable car station does do food and drinks(very expensive) and is a lovely viewing place if you cant stand the viewing platform round the outside. It’s just it will cost you. We walked a bit further on after walking the viewing platform and found another nice place to stop and view the City side of the Island. This was a bit more reasonable and the staff were lovely. After tiring ourselves out eating and drinking and relaxing we took the cable car back to Santosa, there for your cable car fee you can see the Merlion, get a free beach bus that drops you off anywhere along the fake beach which is pristine, the cove is carefully buoyed off from all the super tankers that que up to get into what I can only describe as the tidiest and cleanest docks I have seen anywhere in the World! Beach front restaurants are everywhere and in true Singaporean style offer all World foods for a slightly higher price.