Wow – first official day of travelling and a different life!
I was awake around one am with my body clock telling me it is six o’clock and it’s almost ready for the day to start, thank God for wi-fi as I could not go back to sleep. Breakfast in the hotel was free and interesting, I am not entirely sure what it was I ate, it looked like a baked omelette but it was sweet and had raisins in it, at least it tasted OK. Coffee was awful, I think I am going to have to get used to that 😦
The weather is solidly overcast with occasional showers and of course warm (30) and humid and my start was delayed due to rain. I had a bit of a loose plan, but my tourist ‘map’ only had main roads and had no scale markings at all so I had no idea of distances between the things I wanted to see so I would just have to see where it all went. As you would expect I took a few pictures and have included some of them.
First stop was Fort Canning Park, at 60 metres, the highest point in central Singapore and a key part of the history of the city. I loved the trees and the sculptures in the park !
From Fort Canning Park I wondered down through Clarke Quay on the Singapore River. The area is a bit like the viaduct in Auckland, bars and restaurants, but far uglier and in my opinion a wasted opportunity to do something visually appealing with some lovely little terraced houses there. I tried to get a photo, but there was too much junk to capture what I wanted, on to China Town.
First stop in China Town was for a strawberry and peach shake – Heavenly ! I would have taken a photo of the drink, but the battery died in my camera, right after I took a photo of the shop – DOH ! and I call myself a photographer…
Next stop was to find a shop that sold batteries and get ripped off with tourist prices. The battery was not fully charged but at least I could take some photos, though it did not last the day. The frustrating thing was I had a spare battery in the hostel, my first lesson learnt.
I paid a visit to the Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple, which is a must for all visitors to Singapore, it is places like this that I would love to have the candid photo skills of my buddies Jocelen and Brian. Something I aim to develop as I go, but i did muster up some courage and point the camera at some of the people there.
After a light lunch of spring rolls and water I took a long slow walk down and around downtown Singapore, slowly speeding up when I needed to pee and could not find any public toilets, quick nip into a Starbucks, no loo so no coffee, and the pace quickened. I finally found a small mall below a tower block and paid 20c for the blessed relief. Second and third lessons learned, toilets are not easy to find and keep coins handy.
The downtown area of Singapore is only a few small blocks but there are some very tall buildings ! Feeling slightly more relaxed I wandered down past Marina Bay and the massive new Standard Chartered Bank towers made from blue glass over to Marina Sands.
I am not sure what to think about Marina Sands, the architecture is ambitious and stunning, but the cost must have been grotesque. The complex is comprised of a MASSIVE mall, a casino, three hotel towers and the skypark and I am sure there are parts I missed. There was probably only half a dozen shops in the mall I could afford to shop at, all the big exclusive brands were on display with sections of the mall dedicated to individual products The watch and jewellery sections had security guards and were conveniently located outside the casino. The best part of the mall (apart from the aircon) was the indoor canal and gondola rides ! I wandered up through the hotel to try to get to the skypark, hoping to be able to buy a beer up there and snap some shots, but only the outdoor viewing area is open to non-hotel guests and as it was raining heavily at this stage I was advised it was not worth spending twenty bucks, so I left.
After a cheap feed of Singapore noodles in the mall foodcourt while waiting for the rain to stop I started walking further around the marina and then the second battery in my camera died. I had pretty much done everything I planned on at the start of the day so I headed to the newest train station and caught a train back to my hotel.
At the station the tracks were completely barriered off from the waiting passengers and there was a bit of a squash even in mid afternoon. The train was crowded, but not terribly so, I would hate to imagine what rush hour would be like, but being taller than most of the passengers at least I got some semi-fresh air.
As I walked up the hill to the hostel it started to drizzle again, I had been on my feet for most of five hours so I was ready to call the day quits mid afternoon. After the rain I had a quiet can of Kingfisher strong lager on the rooftop of the hotel. I was going to go back down to Little India for a snack and a drink after dark, but it was absolutely pissing down in the evening and the hostel is a good five minute walk to the nearest shelter so I flagged it and went to bed early, after charging camera batteries.
Day one thoughts ?
It was a good first day out, I really like Singapore, it is clean and reasonably friendly. There is plenty of green, some lovely old buildings mixed in with the new.
I didn’t meet any new people or do anything outrageous like ask to join people at their table. I have hardly seen people in the hostel, the public spaces are largely deserted.
I learnt at least 2 lessons, and will pack my day bag differently tomorrow.
I need to eat some protein and drink more water.
WordPress still sucks ! I cannot work out how to do line spacing properly, grrrrr