25.05.2012 - 26.05.2012
It only took 5 hours by bus from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. Singapore is a very interesting and enjoyable country, and with a little effort and help, can be done within budget! It is the size of a small city, its government run by a business-minded dictator, and it’s RIDICULOUSLY clean. One actually has to make an effort to find garbage on the streets because there virtually isn’t any! It’s interesting to see that everyone seems to have a job or some kind of function. No one is idle on the streets. There isn’t any begging. Even the elderly and the mentally challenged have a function in the hawker markets selling handwipes and Kleenex. Most young women carry some kind of high-end designer bag, or their boyfriends or their husbands will carry it for them. Most people are very well dressed, all of the time. Their designer duds are apparent from their Armani eye-glasses to their Gucci shoes. Apparently it’s illegal to buy or wear fake designer clothing!
The temperature is always in the 30 to 40 degree Celsius range and is constantly humid. You can’t even escape the humidity at night! Consistent sweating and frizzy hair are guaranteed!
We stayed in a well-run hostel in the Ann Siang area of Singapore – it’s pretty posh. We stayed at the Matchbox Concept hostel in a 16-pod room, equipped with lights, hanging space, and a cute little “peep hole” if you want to talk to the person next to you! I quite enjoyed the pod-like layout because it gives you privacy from the other people staying in the room. However, I was quickly reminded the reason why we usually avoid multi-bed dorms – the snoring and constant coming-and-going of people make it very difficult to sleep! Still, it was the coolest dorm-room I’ve ever slept in!
We were fortunate that our friend Jeannette was available to meet up with us and show us some sites. We met her and her fiancée in India and quite enjoyed their company. Thanks to her and her insight as a Westerner working in Singapore, our stay was even better than we could have expected!
Just to give you an insight as to how clean Singapore is, Jeannette mentioned that she can walk to work barefoot in the rain and not have dirty feet afterwards. Also, we watched a bunch of teenagers practicing their break-dancing in a subway station ON THE FLOOR WITHOUT GETTING THEIR DESIGNER CLOTHES DIRTY. Amazing!
Jeannette took us to a couple of fantastic hawker markets where you can buy a huge meal and a large fruit drink for less than $4/person. The Hainan chicken-rice is a MUST. The famed “chilli-crab” is supposedly another must-try, but Derek felt his had too much chilli and less crab.
Jeannette also took us to the Marina Bay to watch a free and innovative lazer/light show displayed on a background of fountain mist (best watched next to the Louis Vuitton flagship store), showed us a restaurant where people are hoisted onto cables to reach wine bottles from the biggest wine rack I’ve ever seen, hotels with cars that would take me at least 10 years to buy (provided that I forego a home and eating), high-end restaurant rooftops where drinks cost a minimum of $20/glass, and a mall with a drain that fills streams so that boats can take passengers through the mall and peruse by their favourite designer stores. Jeannette topped off our night by taking us to a wine bar that only served wine. After backpacking and being in countries that don’t serve wine, it was refreshing to sit back and sip on a glass of delicious Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and paired with great conversation!
On another night, Jeannette brought us to an Arabic-centric part of town that was very vibrant and full of expats, locals, and tourists. We ate a very inexpensive restaurant with fantastic food, then went off to an outdoor patio/jazz bar for my first shisha/hookah experience! We had the apple flavour and only later did I learn that you’re NOT supposed to inhale it (duh).
We had such a memorable time in Singapore thanks to Jeannette! It meant so much to us that she was able to take time out of her busy life to show us around and introduce us to all the wonderful things Singapore has to offer… and on a budget!