Thoughts of a geek

13 May 2010

Exploring Singapore

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , — qwandor @ 5:48 pm

Like the previous post, I wrote this while on the bus up to Melaka, on Wednesday.

After arriving in Singapore on Monday night, I just checked into my backpackers’ hostel, tried to call a friend of a friend who lives in Singapore, then had a bit of a look around Little India (where my hostel was). Even at 10:00 pm there were lots of people around, and lots of shops still open. There were stalls spilling out into the street selling all sorts of fruit and vegetables, crowded department stores selling electronics, whiteware, clothes and more, stores selling Indian music and movies, with a few others thrown in at random, clothes and jewellery stores, computer repair shops, places selling cellphones, and of course lots of food vendors, bars and clubs. By 11:00 some of the stores had closed, leaving the food and drink vendors and some others.

After not much sleep on Monday night (the mattress was not very comfortable, people were coming and going from the dorm at all sorts of times, and I was missing a sheet so was — ironically — too cold), I decided to head out to Singapore Zoo. I wandered around a bit first, through another nearby street market, then took the MRT out towards the zoo. I had planned to catch a bus from the MRT station to the Zoo, but someone convinced me to take a ‘free’ minibus instead. The deal with this was that you had to buy your zoo tickets from the people operating the minibus, and you had to buy the $23 ticket including both zoo entrance and tram rides around the zoo, rather than just the $18 standard ticket. I think I would have been better catching the bus, as I had to wait on the minibus for 15 minutes or so while they found other people to go along for the trip, and I did not ride the tram at the zoo much. The bus would have cost less than $1, I think.

Anyway, once I finally made it out to the zoo it was quite nice, though really hot wandering around in the sun. I went to a show at the zoo called “The Rainforest Fights Back”, which was alright. It was about half an hour long, not great for plot or acting, but with quite a few animals trained to take various parts which was cool. There was also an opportunity to the end to have one’s photo taken with a snake, which I did not go for as the queue was quite long and I was tired and hot.

Heading back from the zoo, at the bus stop and on the bus I talked to a friendly Vietnamese lady, from Ho Chi Minh City, who was in Singapore visiting her niece. I had found Singapore’s roads a little bit crazy, but apparently compared to Ho Chi Minh City it is very orderly. Her English was not that great, but we managed to communicate well enough. I was amused that she asked whether I spoke French; apparently her French was better than her English.

After the zoo I took the MRT to Chinatown to have a look around and buy some food. It was about 4:00 pm by this stage, and I had not really had lunch, so after a bit of a wander round I just bought 6 beef satay sticks for $4.80, which were nice. The price of water varies quite a lot. At one place in Little India I had earlier got a 500 mL (I think) bottle for $0.50; here it was $1.30. I also bought some chopsticks and a t-shirt in Chinatown, as souvineers.

Heading back to my hostel, I had just enough time to sort myself out before going on a free scooter tour organised by the hostel, which I had signed up for that morning. The 12 of us plus our guide left the hostel at 6:00 pm on our scooters, and imitated the bikes I mentioned earlier in going the wrong way up one-way streets, on the wrong side of the road, and ringing our bells lots. We also went on footpaths and other paths in areas where they were available. We started off going through the Thieves Market near our hostel, then shortly visited the Arab area where our guide had us introduce ourselves to each other (name, where we were from, where we were going next after Singapore, whether we were single), took photos of a mosque, and visited a shop selling antique toys, where we were encouraged by the owner to take lots of photos.

After a few hours touring around, we stopped at the museum. Apparently during the day it costs to get in, but in the evenings four of the exhibits (food, photography, fashion and movies) are open for free. We had a quick look around these and took some photos, then toured around on our scooters a bit more, and took some group photos down by the river with the Merlion. Eventually we headed to an enormous food court for dinner, which we were quite ready for at around 9:00 pm. From memory it was divided into about 10 streets with over 100 stalls in total, and a live band playing in the middle on top of a circle of shops selling drinks and desserts.

Have a look at photos of the trip to Singapore, miscellany around Singapore, Singapore Zoo and the scooter tour.


1 Comment »

  1. Not surprised about the Vietnamese speaking french as they were a french colony once. That is why they still do great pastries and coffee in some parts.

    Comment by Neil Walbran — 13 May 2010 @ 6:05 pm

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