Starting the 2017-2018 academic year as we mean to go on and only our second venture out of the land of smiles, street food and stenches. We are back and ready to blog you, Singapore. At least this won’t break the bank. WELCOME BACK!
A tiny two-hour flight from Bangkok, Singapore was an easy-peasy trip… well, sort of. Will caught an Air Asia flight on Thursday evening and I followed in a wife-like fashion on the Friday. My little cabin bag packed, I was ready to fly alone. Anyone who knows, KNOWS that I am terrified of flying and the fear has worsened over the last year. However, I muster on. My new trick is to take a long scarf to hide myself under. I spritz it with perfume and then close my eyes, take a deep breath and pretend that I’m rocking in a hammock. When the turbulence hits, I pretend that someone has just pushed me a little harder to see if I will fall. On this trip, I did and peeked out from behind the corner of my scarf and at the giggly Thai girls next to me. One shouted “you afraid?” I think I laughed out loud from the nerves, then crept back into my hammock world, like a hermit crab going back into it’s shell. It must look strange, I guess. A twenty-eight year old married women just sitting under a scarf, rocking.
Upon arrival you realise that Bangkok has been well and truly left behind. There is order, calm and a nice smell coming through the AC. It is very different to the chaos, craziness and the Klong. The lady at the airport asked to scan my thumbs for entry and then I was through. Straight to the taxi rank and on to meet husband at the Concord Hotel (Orchard Road). The taxi man charged me a hefty thirty Singapore dollars and that was the first sting. Will, by comparison, went via the train and it took him about one hour and twenty minutes. Thirty dollars for thirty minutes is a fair deal then. The night didn’t go to plan, as it never does in a new city, but we did end up on Emerald Hill in a local Spanish bar. We scoffed cheese and had a glass of wine each. The cost cannot be mentioned, but totaled up nicely for sting two. Emerald Hill is beautiful. Pictures here:
First Day in Singapore
This is where Will went for training – The School of the Arts Singapore. SOTA is stunning, with quotes about creativity scrawled beautifully around the building and on the steps. It is a real hub for the community. Singapore has recently become well-known for supporting the Arts within their education system, so we high-five them.
Being a lone wolf for the day, the first venture was the Botanical Gardens. I got a SMRT pass from the Metro station and loaded it with seven dollars. Not knowing how far that would get me, it actually lasted the whole weekend. I did my fair share of bus and train travel too, as it was so organised and on time. It was a lovely experience and I enjoyed traveling around on buses again. Everyone was so helpful when I was lost, and I could ask for bus routes in English and get a straightforward reply. After two hours, I felt totally at ease in this new city and began to strut my feathers pretending to be an SP expat.
The Botanical Gardens were worth it. I ended up walking for two hours by myself, from one end of the gardens to the other. I paid extra for the Orchid Garden, which was full of beautiful colours and so many different species of Orchid. From half-heardedly troweling away at the ‘weeds’ in our small garden paradise in London, to walking around the Botanical Gardens of Singapore, I did feel a little out of my depth. Gardner I am not, but I pretended to know what I was looking for. After all, I had a new Canon swinging around my neck. I was ‘all the gear and no idea’ in all it’s glory, but nobody else knew that.
For lunch I ventured to the infamous Little India and loved it. They call it the Brick Lane of Singapore. Haji Lane certainly had it’s similarities, from the cute little coffee shops to shop houses transformed into vintage clothes shops. As soon as I arrived it rained, but it was fine as I had a Vietnamese coffee in hand with some Iced Gems. Stuffing these down, I reminisced about how my sister and I used to get through packets of these at home, shoving the wrappers down the side of the sofa to make out that we weren’t pigs. Unfortunately, this cover is now blown and everyone knows that we love food- any kind to be honest. Although, lunch was not good. I had a pizza- like thing with chips. Hardly fit for the culture tripping woman I am trying to become, but it filled a gap. and the inner-pig.
If you keep wondering around Haji Lane, you may end up at a famous Mosque. There was a major event outside where children were showcasing their martial arts skills. The sun had started to shine too, which was perfect and enticed some more Canon action. ‘Royal Fabrics’ will be my claim to fame one day. It is my favourite picture of the trip. The pink reminds me of bubblegum and the turquoise of mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Sun downers at ‘Ce Le Vie’ rooftop bar nearly broke our Thai bank accounts, but the atmosphere and the view were breathtaking. This was sting three. You have to pay twenty dollars each to go to the bar, but then this goes towards your drinks. Ahem, it does not pay for them, it definitely goes towards getting your hands on one. Whilst waiting for my extra special gin, I had a debate with a member of staff. She raised her eyebrows at me and asked me what I was doing sitting at table. I was waiting for my gin, of course. Maybe I didn’t quite fit into this fancy affair, but I was wearing my MAC lipstick which helps the tramp to vamp look within a few seconds. Or maybe it’s because I enjoy the odd argument. Either way, she didn’t like me just sitting there. Oh look, there’s the gin…
Wondering around the Marina Bay Sands, we stumbled upon Gardens by the Bay. We went via the walkway underneath the main hotel, which was cleaner than my kitchen- not a speck of dirt in sight. Moving up on the escalator to the the other side felt like we were approaching a scene from Avatar.
As we crossed the bridge I took the photo of the wheel in the middle, and Will took the photo of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, which was behind us. It was funny to think that we were are the top just minutes before, drinking our gin and making new friends…
As we wondered around the big trees, gazing up at their grandeur, we noticed lots of people sitting around on the extra clean floor. Suddenly, a voice boomed down through the speakers. “We present to you the musicals!” The trees went dark and everyone fell silent. Within a few seconds, all the trees began lighting up in time and in rhythm to the music. Some flashed yellow and orange, while others lingered blue, then merged into purple. For fifteen minutes we were mesmerized and I began to sing along in a whiny American accent to Annie. “Santa Claus we never see…”
Our evening was rounded off with a fancy meal inside the Singapore National Gallery at a restaurant opened by chef Violet Oon. We indulged in an expensive bottle of wine (sting four) and gorged on a traditional Malaysian food within this unique setting.
Second Day in Singapore
After running two laps around Fort Cannon Park (recommended) in the morning, then accompanying my studious husband for a cup of coffee at break time, I went to visit another well-known site in Singapore; the Raffles Hotel. I cannot say that I sampled the Singapore Sling though. There was construction work going on in the famous Singapore Sling long bar, and was ongoing until December 2017. Too tight-arsed to pay thirty-six Singapore dollars for a tipple of one of these in the boring, old billiard room, I just wondered around taking photographs. After doing my research, the Sling was invented so that women could drink alcohol with the men, passing the sling as a mere fruit punch. Here here!
Lunch consisted of this view:
There were cafes and restaurants all centered around this Church. It was a tranquil setting, called Chijmes (pronounced ‘chimes’). I ate a silly, skinny salad and drank a black coffee for my lunch and paid a big 2-5 dollars: sting five. We actually came back here for dinner, but but the time the clocks hit 7pm, we were ready to go back to our second home. We ate our plates clean and jumped in a taxi for the quickest ride back to the airport I have ever experienced. Treating ourselves to a bottle of gin at duty free, and some beers from 7/11, we boarded the plane.
We have mixed views about Singapore. From the streets of Bangkok to the streets of Singapore, it was definitely an expensive treat. It runs like clockwork and everything is in it’s neat little place. It is interesting that we were close to moving to Singapore once upon a time, and I wonder how our lives would be different now. My uncle calls it ‘Asia Light’ and I think this is true. But as I sit here tonight overlooking the pretty lights of Bangkok, and listen to the toots of the traffic below, I feel like we made the right choice. Cheers to that!