Following on from my previous post, 12 and a half hours of flying later and we landed, about 1 degree north of the equator in the lovely city of Singapore. Changi airport is (for those used to London Heathrow) a bit of a revelation. Clean, efficient, and only the equivalent of £1 into the city centre on the shiny underground system. Singapore is very free of litter, and the underground trains are a real contrast to those in the UK – you are not even allowed to drink from a water bottle whilst on board, so they are not full of old newspapers and litter.
We had been slightly chicken, and booked a European hotel (the Novotel Clarke Quay). However, this turned out to be right near the centre of the thriving area of the same name – a beautiful spot for eating wonderful local food by the quayside. We had a fantastic meal (the picture on my previous post), and retired to the hotel to bed, having been given a free upgrade to a premium room.
A day of exploring
The next day dawned bright and sunny, and we were up early (about 6am); owing to the 8 hour time change it felt a bit like mid-afternoon. We had been told about the botanic gardens, and decided to head there before the day got too hot – coming straight from a British late autumn (or winter if you prefer) to 30 degree heat being a bit of a challenge for us (although a pleasant one). We had been warned that in December, Singapore is prone to being cloudy and rainy virtually all the time, so we were pleased to see the Sun during the morning!
Singapore is a very clean city, litter laws are strict, and even the dogs seem to have learnt from this. We saw many dog-walkers in the botanic gardens, and each time a dog needed to do its morning business, the owners managed to get pieces of news-paper down on the ground for the dog to defecate on, to avoid mess in the gardens. Lovely!
For us, the particularly interesting parts of the gardens were those in the original tropical rainforest, and the other tropical plants, since these are so different from home – even the grass in Singapore is different.
Returning from our walk in the gardens – it got too hot – we had agreed to meet a lovely friend for a guided tour. Our friend had moved to Singapore earlier in the year, and was clearly settling in well. After meeting near Marina bay, we had a walk around, and went to “The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands(r)”. This is a large, air conditioned mall, complete with lots of designer shops, and also such things as an indoor canal with Venetian gondolas! The real highlight, in this city of much wonderful food, was lunch at Din Tai Fung, which consisted of wonderful dim sum, and beautiful fruit juices.
After lunch, is was time for a bit of a walk around, with the main aim of heading for the iconic Raffles hotel, home of the Singapore Sling (a cocktail), to sample one of the same. The odd thing about the Raffles bar is the tradition of customers discarding monkey-nut shells onto the floor, creating a distinctive crunch! It also creates a slight issue with pigeons flying into the bar area! In the end, we thought it a bit overrated for what it was, but the Singapore Sling was very very tasty (if a bit pricey).
By now, it was time to wander back to our hotel to pick up the luggage, to bid our friend adieu, and to head back to the airport for our onward flight. All in all, Singapore is a lovely place for a stop, and we would certainly like to go back there, possibly for longer than 24 hours, in the future.
Next up – Sydney, and a thermal disappointment…