I started writing my Singapore journal thinking that it would be one my shortest blogposts. We barely spent three days there, I thought. As was the case in Hong Kong, the rising mercury had had no mercy on us. It was hot as hell, I recalled, which had prevented me from truly enjoying myself. But as I began to write, I realized how so very wrong I was! Everything I had seen in that short span of time came back to me: there was a museum shaped like a huge lotus flower… a theatre molded into a giant durian… a long bridge curving like the DNA Helix… a luxurious ship chilling on the heads of three tall buildings… and a jumbo-sized wheel looking over everything like a boss! This, my friends, is just a simplified description of the magnificence of downtown Singapore only. Wait till you hear what else makes this city-state a true modern Asian attraction.
Getting into Singapore
“Shit! We slept in guys! Wake up!!” M yelled. I looked at the time on my own phone and sprang out of bed. We should be walking out of the room right now. With eyes wide open, I observed that our backpacks were open, there were shoes under our beds, wet clothes hanging around to dry, and basically no sign of a “check-out” condition. We needed to take the bus to the airport in about 10 minutes. Just as I was trying to make sense of what to do, Af knocked on the door from outside. Herself and two more of my travel buddies were staying in another room and showed up at our door wearing their backpacks and ready to go. I know that in those next 5 minutes, I packed and dressed up faster than I ever will. Anyhow, we got to the airport in time and caught our flight to Singapore in time.
Going through immigration, one would think they must’ve landed in India by accident. There were Indian workers everywhere on
the airport! Second impression – all these Indian workers looked Tamil/South Indian. Frankly, I had no clue of the composition of Singapore population so I was quite surprised. I didn’t know at the time that Tamil is, in fact, one of the four national languages of Singapore. Even one of the major subway stops is named “Dhoby Ghaut” (“launderer’s place” in Hindi)! The subway system was impressive, as expected, since by now we had forgotten the crappy Toronto subway system. Anyhow, we took the train from the airport to arrive at the closest station to “The Little Red Dot”. It was a torturous walk of at least 20 minutes with our humongous backpacks before we arrived huffing and puffing at this backpacker’s hostel.
Food Food Food
Singapore had a good way of compensating for it’s yucky weather. It spiced up our lives. As we were dying of hunger, we made our way to a food court close to our hostel. As soon as I walked in, the scents of food and their tastes started dissolving on my tongue. For the past fourteen days of travel from Beijing to Macau, I had been on a continuous search for something worthy of my taste buds – the taste buds that have specialized in savouring spicy desi food. We did get that experience once in Hong Kong, but it wasn’t enough. At last, the search came to an end in Singapore. There were fruit smoothies (with 30+ fruit varieties), coconut water, amazing dessert parlours, and all kinds of cuisines to be found here. In fact, Singapore is where we started the spell of eating delicious food and drinking freshly squeezed fruit juices for the rest of the trip.
Being Tossed Like a Salad at CLARKE QUAY
A walk through Clarke’s Quay is an amazing experience of coffee cafe’s, specialized dessert shops, and fancy patio dining. This place was so colourfully lit that it created a very fun atmosphere around itself. The reflection in the mini river that ran beside the quay just doubled the beauty of it all. We were enjoying the view and taking pictures sitting on the ledge by the river when we heard screams coming from the opposite side. It was the riders of the Reverse Bungee Jump ride. The ride stopped before we could make sense of how it works but it got us excited.
“Do you wanna do it?”
“Let’s do it!”
“You guys are seriously gonna do this?!”
“Omg! Let’s do it!”
“I could never do it!”
From the five of us that were there, myself, L and Af excitedly decided that we were up for it. Sometimes you just need to feel that crazy adrenaline rush. We walked over to buy tickets but found them too expensive. After much negotiation, we somehow convinced the conductor to give us student prices. But once I had the ticket in my hand, I didn’t know if I wanted to do it anymore. No one else had gone on the ride ever since we spotted it sitting on the other side of the river. I didn’t even know what it really involved. But there were about 30 or so people standing near the ride. I have some time to calm myself down, I thought, I’ll watch how these people fare and hopefully gain some confidence.
Turns out, the 30 or so people were not in line for the ride. They were spectators, just waiting for someone to go on so they can watch the show. Yeap! For the second time on this trip, we were about to entertain a crowd. I was still trying to take in this shock when we were summoned up to the high platform, buckled into our seats, caged into a giant metal ball, and lifted smoothly up high into the sky. Soon enough, we heard: 10, 9, 8, 7, AHHHHHHHH! Midway through the countdown, we were shot up high into the sky like a cannon ball, and I screamed at the top of my lungs. L and Af put in their fair share of screams as well. As I was being spun 360 degrees numerous times at an incredible speed, I caught a shaky sight of the beautiful Clarke Quay down below, along with a whole bunch of heads looking up at us. For the next one minute, I was in free fall, both frontwards and backwards, and it was hard to distinguish between the two. Anyhow, the ride came to a stop and at that point I thought it was totally worth it. People were now looking at our video which had been recorded through the camera fixed in front of us. It was hilarious!
Sentosa Island and the Night Safari
We made our way to Sentosa Island on one of the hottest days ever. The heat stung my skin, stepping on sand was unbearable, and I really found it impossible to enjoy the day. While some of us went in the water to cool off, others including myself sat under the shades of palm trees. We also rode a little tram around the Island and stopped over at some beaches. Although these beaches were artificial, they were absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, we couldn’t enjoy the entire island the way we wanted to. Weather plays a huge role in how your day turns out. I wanted out and wanted it fast!
At night, we made our way to the famous Singapore Night Safari park, which became one of my most memorable experiences of the trip. To start off, we watched a fire dance performance. These guys played with fire like it was a harmless toy and didn’t fail to amaze us for a second. We then boarded on an open concept mini train that took us through what appeared to be a dark jungle. As the ever-so-quiet train wound through the trees, we witnessed animals in their natural habitats. “No flash, please!” the operator would remind us from time to time, as flash could draw their attention and possibly annoy the animals to the extent that they could approach us on this open train. Along the way there were options to hop off and take certain pathways and trails to see the animals more closely, which none of us dared even consider. The animals were literally roaming about in the open within their territories. And I’m taking about rhinos, leopards, and lions, and tigers as well. It was truly an extraordinary experience and we wondered why the animals aren’t attacking us. Are they just so bored of trains full of people going by them everyday? May be. But all I know is that this made me want to go an African Safari one day. That’s got to be epic.
The Marvellous Marina Bay
Walking around Marina Bay was incredible. Hong Kong might have the best skyline in the world, but Singapore surely sweeps all the points when it comes to state-of-the-art architecture. Below are the pictures of all the crazy buildings I mentioned earlier. My camera died at Marina Bay, which totally sucked. I’m stealing some pics and posting them here because you wanna see this!
The building to the right is called the Marina Bay Sands, the world’s most expensive hotel. Two of my friends actually went up to the top to see the Sky Park which features an amazing swimming pool and beautiful palm trees. Totally missed out! Downstairs, a free show runs every night in front of this hotel, where laser lights, LEDs, and water screens and sprays are used to play an entire story mid-air. Truly memorable!
Below you can see the lotus shaped museum, the ferris wheel, and the durian-shaped buildings:
This last picture below is of the DNA bridge. I was looking up and around at its colourfully lit “helix” when I glanced on the floor of the bridge and noticed bulbs that were labelled as follows: “A—T” “G—C” Instantly, a light bulb of my own went off in my head and I had no doubt about what these alphabets meant and stood for. Adenine, Thymine, Guanine, Cytosine – The molecules that make up the rungs of the DNA twisted ladder! I started remembering their binding properties and thought about how RNA is a replica of the DNA, and so on. These nerdy memories from Grade 11 and 12 biology made me wonder for the 100th time in my life if i should’ve gone into sciences. *Sigh*
Anyhow, the last night we had in Singapore was to be spent camping at the airport since our flight was super early the next morning. The Singapore subway closes at 11pm at night and although we tried to leave well ahead of time, we caught the very last train to the airport at the very last minute. It was quite lucky actually. I found it very hard to sleep at the airport so I literally used wifi on my iPod all night, and also snapped a picture of my sleepy friends below. We were now off to Indonesia and almost half way through our trip!