shops, shops and more shops!
15.01.2010 - 18.01.2010 36 °C
We arrived in Singapore on friday 15th January at about 5pm local time. We had no idea what to expect and were a bit worried about being somewhere new and no longer being in a Westernised country. We were a bit overwhelmed at first, trying to take in all of the hustle and bustle.
We checked into our hostel, very basic and just on the outskirts of the city but right next to a train station. We were sharing a room with two other guys, one from India, who couldnt speak much english and kept leaving the door unlocked! and the other from England but he didnt say much either, he just grunted a few times. So we pretty much kept ourselves to ourselves!
The first night we got there we headed over to a food court that the girl at reception had recommended. It was full of local people all bustling about and was a chance for us to get stuck in there and try the real food people eat. I will say this though...thank God they had pictures up of what there was to eat or I wouldnt have had a clue! It was a case of point and nod. Some of them did speak English though and they were all really friendly. Then I had a go at trying to eat my chicken and noodles with chopsticks...took a bit of practice but I managed to eat it all. I think we were a bit of a novelty to the locals because they were all watching us and smilling...probably laughing at me trying to eat my dinner with chopsticks! It was so cheap, our two meals and two drinks cost us about £5!!! Some difference from Australia. Kev was loving it, he was in heaven trying to decide what he wanted to try.
The next morning we got up and headed over to the train station to try and get into the city. We were stood like lemons for about 10 minutes at the ticket machine trying to work out how to use it. We had to select one button for one thing, press the screen for something else, select destination, etc. We eventually got there in the end. It said on the board that it cost $1 to go to the city hall stop but when we selected it it asked us for $2, $1 was for a deposit! Ive never had to pay a deposit for a train ticket before. Its because you get a plastic card spat out at you to swipe as you go through the barrier and then when you get to where you want to go you have to return the card to the ticket machine to get your deposit back, all a bit to confusing for us!
The trains were pretty flash, they were quite big inside and had the route displayed above the doors. There was a red light around the station you were going to next, all to help us stupid tourists I guess. We had to switch trains at City Hall and head for Orchard Street Station. We went up the stairs, got our deposits back, went through the palava of getting another ticket, back down stairs and ended up at the platform directly opposite the one we had just come from! We could have saved all that messing about if we had just selected the destination as being Orchard Street Station in the first place! Never mind, you live and learn
When we got off the train at Orchard Street we were straight into a huge shopping mall. It was massive, it had every store you could imagine. We headed for the exit because we thought that the main shopping bit was outside on the street. Wrong! The street was mainly made up of massive shopping centres, everything was inside, which was pretty good because it was way too hot outside to be walking about for ages. The malls were like giant maizes, just when you thought you had come to the end there was another corner or another escalator leading you to more. There were so many floors inside the malls, some of them must have gone down underground for 4 to 5 levels and up for just as many. We ended up feeling way to overwhelmed by all the shops, you would have needed a week in just one mall to see it all. We had a look in a few and then needed a coffee to revive us.
The malls were beautiful inside, most of them were done up in chinese lanterns or flowers. We were not sure if they always looked like this or if they were done up for Chinese New Year which is in February.
We went to a really cool sushi restaurant for lunch. You get a booth next to the sushi train and you just grab what you want when you see it. The boothes had a computer and mouse for you to select other dishes that werent on the train. There was also a hot water tap for you to keep filling up your cup when you were done. We loved it. We were like a couple of big kids playing with the computer and sampling all sorts from the sushi train.
After lunch we headed into another mall that must have been at least 12 floors high (but double floors) and ended up on the roof garden. The view was amazing, we could see for miles. It was really good to be up so high and see all the other high rise buildings that seemed to stretch on for miles.
That night we were exhausted from all the walking we had done and were glad to get back to the hostel and into bed.
The next day we were up early again and off to the area of Bugis, we got off there and had a wander. We realised then that nothing really opens until 11am. Everything seems to come to life at night time, thats when it gets packed and the shops are all open till about 11.30pm. We went to a wee juice stall that was open and ordered some drinks to try and kill some time before the shops opened. I got a mango smoothie which was delicious and Kev ordered a Durian fruit smoothie. Durian fruit is a locally produced fruit that Kev read about in a book. It said that the fruit smells really bad but tastes great, so Kev wanted to give it a go....it smelled alright, of smelly feet and it also tasted of smelly feet!!! Who ever wrote that it was good must have been having a laugh, it was rotten. After our foot smoothie experience we walked to the Singapore Flyer, a massive big wheel, which we went up in and could see the entire city and beyond.
After our ride on the big wheel we passed a spa place that had fish tanks in them. There was a sign up to have these fish eat the dead skin from your feet and legs, supposed to be quite relaxing. So we gave it a go...it was so weird at first, it really tickled but once you got used to it it felt really good. I ended up feeling so relaxed I almost fell into the pool!
Then we walked to Merlion park, where they have the big fountain of the half fish, half lion statue. The statue was built to promote Singapore's harbour and its myth. The Singaporan people are very into luck and good fortune, one building was designed to have the number 13 incorporated into the outside of it as they believe that 13 is a very lucky number. It was only when it was pointed out to us that we could see it, before it just looked like bits of the building were a different colour.
Singapore is a lovely city, it is so clean and well looked after. Kev says that they are not allowed chewing gum in Singapore. They banned it because of the mess it makes when people throw it on the street or put it under a table.