Travel Blog – Singapore 1

17 08 2009

(NB: Click on the images for bigger versions)

So, for those that don’t know I’ve just left on a 1 month holiday to Singapore, Malaysia, Germany and Holland. And there might be a couple other countries along the way depending on how things go. Alyona has been at a conference in Singapore for the past week so I went to join her and spend 2 nights there. Then off to Malaysia for a beach holiday.

Got in in the evening after a long flight. And longer than expected given it went Auckland->Sydney->Adelaide->Singapore which is one stopover more than I was expecting. Alyona picked me up at the airport and after settling in at our very nice hotel (Park Royal on Kitchner for those who might be interested) we went out and explored a bit of Little India. There were loads of great stalls and restaurants reminiscent of parts of Hong Kong but with an indian flair and population. We had a dinner of dosai at a tiny little place on one of the side roads filled with lorries and people.

The next day I tried to get in touch with Matt and after wrangling a Vodafone prepay top-up online we managed to arrange to meet at some point during the day. Vivi, a friend of Alyona’s, was staying not too far away so we wandered through Arab town to her hotel. On the way we stopped at a very nice Mosque and had a peek inside. We couldn’t go fully in as it wouldn’t have been appropriate but it was impressive.

Arab St Mosque (f4.0 1/2000 24mm)

Arab St Mosque (f4.0 1/2000 24mm)

Further down the road we had an iced coffee and I took lots of shots of the interesting buildings in the area. One such colourful example is below:

Colourful buildings (f4.0 1/1250 24mm)

Colourful buildings (f4.0 1/1250 24mm)

Vivi was keen to check out Pulau Ubin which is an island in the North East so after checking the schedules we took a bus all the way out to the coast. We were lucky to get the very front seat in the top of the double-decker bus so pretty much had a free tour of the city, including its prisons and military bases. While waiting for the ferry to the island we enjoyed ice cream sandwiches from a roadside vendor. Rather ingenious idea, he would cut slices off one of those big blocks of ice cream that come in cardboard cartons, slap a couple of wafers on them and that was your sandwich.

Once we got there we negotiated for a few bikes and cycled out to the wetland reserve. The cycle was nice and cool but it wasn’t until you stopped that you realized that you had indeed been expending effort and ended up sweating profusely. Lucky we had taken a couple of cans of beer with us then. The wetlands were interesting although the water was so murky that you couldn’t see anything below the surface despite the nice informative plaques telling you where you should try to look. In the mangrove swamp we ventured up a lookout tower and Vivi kindly took a photo of Alyona and I together with the forest and water in the background.

Together on Pulau Ubin (f10 1/800 24mm)

Together on Pulau Ubin (f10 1/800 24mm)

All this time I had been txting backwards and forth with Matt and had failed to catch up. He was on the island and heading our way when there was a bit of miscommunication and he turned around thinking we were back at the beginning again. Eventually we caught up and had beer & garlic prawns by the sea.

The main event for the evening was the Singapore Flyer as we had booked tickets for the 7pm flight. By bumming around a little we managed to push it out a little and timed it perfectly so we had the sunset on the way up and the city lights on the way down. The sunset wasn’t much due to the vast amounts of smog and haze making the sun simply disappear slowly. But the city lights were amazing and so, as an example:

City lights (f6.3 1/4 24mm)

City lights (f6.3 1/4 24mm)

Turns out that Sunday was Singapore’s 44th anniversary of independence so there were big celebrations, flags on every building and a parade put on by the military. While we did get to see an F-16 flyby and one by a Chinook and a few Apache gunships there wasn’t much to see of the ground parade. As such it turned out to be a lot of waiting around for the fireworks, which we did. Weirdly there were a few false starts where a few starbursts were fired and everyone started getting excited only to calm down again when nothing else happened. Maybe there was something to see in the stadium but that didn’t really help the rest of us. Eventually the real fireworks started and everyone got snap happy (myself included).

Fireworks at night (f11 0.4 35mm)

Fireworks at night (f11 0.4 35mm)

The finale was a very cool continued series of golden bursts so the sky was full for a long time. We waited for a while to try and let some of the crowds disperse before going for some dinner. The food court we ended up at had a really weird decor that made it look like the inside of a library as I’m sure everyone associates noisy food courts and quiet book-orientated environs. The food was good and the beer better and the wait let most people leave the city center. We parted ways with Matt at the MTR station and headed back ourselves.

We got back to the hotel very tired and went to sleep almost immediately. After getting up early and packing we headed to the bus station to catch one to Mersing, Malaysia. The direct one was full so we had to take on to Johor on the other side of the border with the hope of getting transport further. And that is a story for the next update…

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2 responses

17 08 2009
Mum

A great way to follow your travels! Look forward to updates. Sounds like you’ve seen some parts of S’pore that I haven’t. Hope you get to dive in Malaysia.

17 08 2009
Rikard

Looks great mate!

I’m sure you guys are having a great time.

Be safe,
Rikard

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