General, Travel

Singapore? Singapour? Singapoor?

Arriving into Singapore was a strange experience. The border was an ordeal, we were nearly abandoned by our bus driver, and we were staying in the ‘black area’ of the city. Fantastic. I don’t know if leaving Malaysia, the sudden increase in prices, or the fact it just wasn’t for me is the reason I didn’t take to Singapore, but it really wasn’t my kinda place.

Getting through Singapore customs wasn’t the most straight forward affair we have had. We got more questions and more stares than anywhere else we have been. When they decided that our finances and flights existed and were sufficient to their requirements, they finally let us through. When we got to the bottom of the escalator, we saw our bus driving away. Thankfully he noticed in time and stopped to let us on.

When we arrived, we checked into our hotel after the cab driver warned us about the area. Yes we saw a couple of prostitutes in the evening, but it felt safe enough to us, just local and untouristy. The hotel was nice, it had a bath and everything, and was in a decent location to get to the metro system and the main bus lines. We took immediate advantage of this and headed straight off to Chinatown.

When we arrived there I really started to feel that I didn’t get it and it wasn’t for me. Chinatown was nice enough, full of restaurants, stalls, shops, and people, and was a pretty nice place to walk through, but it was all not quite right. We got out souvenirs and managed to get a fairly cheap tea, but even so, I wasn’t quite right.

I feel like Singapore tries to hard and is a bit look at me, look at me. Jade said it best when she described it as one of the those model towns. Maybe it’s a bit new, or a bit clean, or a bit expensive feeling, but it just felt very unauthentic and like it wasn’t quite sure what it was either, but it was going to be the best at it.

The next morning we made sure our bags were sorted for our flights after bumping up the weight limit on one of the bags. We both wanted to head to Marina Bay, to the Gardens by the Bay, and to the race track. The Marina was very futuristically picturesque, and incredibly clean (I had heard so many stories about Singapore’s cleanliness). It didn’t take me long to feel very out of place there! Especially in the incredibly up-scale Marina Bay Sands shopping Mall, (Chanel, Dior, Cartier were just some of the designers present).

We wandered round and took photos in the mall and on the roof looking over the hotel and the gardens. The whole afternoon felt like a race against the rain. The storm clouds that were impending all day were huge and black and hovering around us. We wandered around some of the gardens and took photos of the tree sculpture things, as well as the Singapore Flyer (the largest observation wheel in the world don’t you know, and blooming expensive!)

We hesitated about embarking on a trip to the circuit knowing that we would be caught in the rain if it started; the entire route was exposed. Once we risked it, we made it with ease, walking under the flyer around the final corner of the circuit into the straight and the pit lane. I am really pleased I have managed to walk on an actual track after Malaysia. All the signs were still about the garages in the pit lane left from last season’s GP. The only disappointing thing about the Marina Bay track (other than the absence of the drivers and cars of course) was the upkeep. As a big tourist attraction of such a clean place, I was surprised at how much rubbish and debris was everywhere, including dead fish on the track.

Pretty much the only place, aside from the track, that I knew about in Singapore was Raffles: The home of the Singapore Sling. After a convoluted walk and Metro ride to get there, I took a photo outside the fairly normal building. I couldn’t afford the cocktail to go with it unfortunately.

The rain didn’t hit until we were on the metro back to our hotel, so we took refuge in a restaurant and ate dinner pre-flight to Perth. We escaped the worst of it, and just had a small shower on the way to the hotel itself. Once we had changed into our flight clothes and bagged up, we walked to the station and caught the metro to the airport. The extra time we had left proved useful in re-weighing and resorting the bags according to their scales. We could not have been more smack on our weight limits if we had tried, result.

And with the flight from Singapore, we say goodbye to Asia. It’s been an unbelievable six months travelling around some interesting, exciting, and new places that I have been dreaming about exploring for years.

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