Singapore is a small fortune in the money making machine that is Apple. Everywhere you look an iPhone is in sight. I counted 7 iPhones in view on 2 seperate MRT trips. And they were full MRT trips, as in, no room to look very far. Seven! Twice!
Speaking of the MRT it really does put the London Underground to shame. It is quite possibly the best metro system I’ve used so far in my life. Bear in mind, I’ve not used one outside of Europe yet, but I have seen a fair few European attempts. It whoops London’s ass for the following reasons;
- It is clean. Impeccably so. I think the fact that a S$500 fine is attached to eating or drinking on a train or in the station has a small part to play in this.
- It is calm. Yes, I know, I know, you must think I’m crazy, “Calm + Underground?! Those two words don’t match!!” Well Singapore has proved they do.
- It is one long carriage. To be fair to LDN, I did recently ride one that was a long carriage there….or it could have been Paris….probably Paris.
- It is cheaper. If you get yourself an EZ link card then you just swipe away. Ok, London has the Oyster card, 1 point for London.
- But really, it’s just better.
I can’t really take pictures of the metro, if I get a late MRT one day I’ll try but when there’s people it feels a bit awkward to grab the camera.
Day One. Singapore.
On my first day in Singapore, I took the MRT from my hostel to City Hall and walked a pretty big circuit of the CBD (Central Business District) and Chinatown, followed by stumbling across Clarke Quay and Fort Canning Park.This was interspersed with an uncountable amount of mall walk arounds (mainly because it rained!) and a brilliant meal in my first hawker centre.
It was Lau Pa Sat Festival market, and it was not far out of the CBD so it was full of people dressed very smartly on their lunch breaks, all queuing and eating in this very different environment to where I imagine they had spent their mornings. It was nice to see that even the Big Wigs love this part of Singapore culture. I didn’t see a restaurant that day that was as full as the hawker market.
The only problem you may encounter in one if you visit yourself is deciding what to eat and where from. There is so much choice and a small bit of variation in price so it was definitely worth me taking a little wander round before deciding where to eat. In the end I settled for a S$3.50 (1.75GBP) veg and tofu dish with rice. It was huge for what I paid! You couldn’t even get a Boots Meal Deal for that in England!
I found myself on the edge of Chinatown when I left, which unless I didn’t hit it in the right spot wasn’t overly exciting. The antlers horns in the Chinese medicine shop windows put me off slightly. So I didn’t stay long.
After that, I headed for Clarke Quay which is a quirky looking area of Balamory coloured style buildings. They’ve all been converted into restaurants, bars and nightclubs now, and seeing as I was wandering throuhg at around 5.30pm, not a lot was going on! One place diod catch my eye though – Clinic. They had real wheelchairs spraypainted gold, a dentist’s chair and converted hospital beds for chairs. The menu included such delights as a ‘blood transfusion’, ‘Oral Me’ mouthwash (in 3 different flavours!) amoungst others. All priced at….S$50 each. 25GBP!
I meandered out of Clarke Quay and crossed the road into Fort Canning Park. A rather nice unexpected discovery. From what I could gather from the info on the signs, basically, this is where that Raffles chap set up base. It was then used by loads of different folk including the Japanese army and…I forget who else! I was paying a little more attention to the fact that I’d just left a busy, bright, brash clubbing hotspot and entered a silent National Park! There was lots of lovely art sculptures including some mooing cows and ladders crawling up the trees! I sat myself down on a bench to check the map and there was an old man stood by a pillar reading the newspaper out loud in Chinese….fair enough. Nice place to do it if you’re gonna do it at all. Then he calmly placed the newspaper down on the bench, and started to do some Tai Chi. As you do. I wish we could do that in England and not get looked at. How cool would that be!?
I ended day one with a waltz through Funan Digitalife Mall. A mall literally dedicated to IT, computers, camera, mobile phones, TV’s and all things techno. Except for raves. And glowsticks. By now I was starting to discover that 99% of the gazillion malls in Singapore have a food hall/market in the basement, so I headed down and had my bargain meal of the day #2. This time I was feeling a little more adventurous and so I opted for “Yong Tau Fo” (I think). I stood and watched a few people before me picking 7 fresh ingredients, then passing the bowl to the lady who puts it all into a deep mesh pan in boiling water and adds noodles. I ended up with a massive soupy mix which was delicious and very filling. This time I only spend 2GBP!
Day Two. Singapore.
I felt like I’d had my fill of the city on day one, so I planned to spend day two at a wetland reserve way up in the north of the island. I’d found the leaflet at Fort Canning Park, and it wasn’t in the Lonely Planet so I figured it would either be a hidden gem or a waste of time. I was intrigued by the journey so I took the risk. It paid off as soon as I arrived at the entrance to find a HUGE lizard sat on the walkway! Luckily a German couple had got the same bus so I was able to ask for a photo with it. (See Flickr!) I took an hours walk through the reserve. I was feeling up for opting for the 4-5 hour jaunt but then I saw this sign:
In particular, this bit of the sign:
PYTHON?! ROAMING FREE?! IN THE PARK I’M ABOUT TO ENTER?!
I walked 300 yards and saw this sign:
So I took the short way round.
I spent the afternoon browsing the expensive delights of Orchard Road and the evening in the Asian Civilisation Museum which is well worth checking out. Full of artifacts and explanations on Asian history, religion etc. So all in a all a good start!
And unfortunately, due to my phone deciding it can’t be charged via USB, I’ve spent most of this morning browsing the less expensive delights of Orchard Road (the basements!) and found numerous phone shops that will hopefully be able to help me out tomorrow when I actually have it with me! Fingers crossed…