Singapore - days 1-3
April 26, 2012
Oh, how tiring these last days have been.
The Lufthansa flight from Bucharest to Singapore via Frankfurt was, well.. the longest flight we’ve ever had so far. It started with a 45-50 minutes delay in Bucharest, a 2.5 hour flight, then with us running through Frankfurt airport to make sure we don’t miss our flight to Singapore. We had the middle and isle seats, with the passenger at the window being a somewhat overweight Singaporean, bare-footed, with a half-emptied whiskey bottle in his hands, which he managed to finish during the flight(when he wasn’t staggering on his way to the bathroom – at one moment he actually fell over our seats – but we were luckily standing in the isle, waiting for him to find his place). Oh, and he was snoring and talking/shouting in his sleep. But he was cute, in a clumsy bear kind of way. The tipping point of the trip was when I (irony, indeed) managed to spill half a glass of water on my pants, his pants and the small bag where I kept the passports, iPad, Kindle and iPhone. Phew! Luckily, one heart-attack later, I learned that they had survived the incident.
Now, Singapore. The most modern and civilized city I ever laid eyes on. With Changi being the best airport in the world (according to airports awards it has got). We were nervous at first about entering the country, having read all those warnings concerning fines, jail time and even death penalty for various crimes, minor or major – but apparently there was nothing to be afraid of. Everyone was great, airport staff extremely friendly, signs aplenty, etc.
The hotel: turns out that what I had thought to be a hotel was in fact a hostel, with the smallest 2 bunk beds room I ever slept in – I have closets bigger than it. No window, no space for two people to stand up, no closet or wardrobe or even a coat hanger. But it was clean, had air conditioning, private bathroom(no towels, though) and two lockable drawers and had a reasonably central position. It cost double than the 4-star hotel I’ve stayed at in Bangkok two years ago, but was among the budget-priced ones in Sg. What else can I say: very minimalist yet decent looking, with very friendly staff and a good free wifi connection.
As I said, Singapore:
Impressive skyscrapers with great design. Lots of gardens everywhere, including terraces. Lots of heat and humidity. Tall trees, lots of equatorial flowers, almost everything was spotless clean, even around construction sites(where they were building more skyscrapers). Almost everybody speaks English – which is the second language on all signage(the first being Chinese, the others I don’t quite know). People were very polite, a young fellow even offered me his seat in the MRT(their subway), so I could sit next to Vio. Thanks, guy.
Did I say it is extremely modern and civilized? I mean it: 90 percent of all people had iPhone 4 or iPhone 4s or 4G iPads which they used all the time on the MRT, in malls or even on the road – yes, I once saw a guy crossing the street headphones in ear while typing an email on his iPad. I also saw a few HTC’s and one Galaxy Note. Singapore loves Apples :)
And the food. We ate a lot of food. Didn’t get to try the famous chili crab, but I had a great Soup Tulang on the first evening(if I get the name right – I can’t check it right now) in a nearby hawker center(a food court, only cheaper and less pretentious looking, and the kind of place where ordinary locals eat). Google it.
Other foods we ate include Laksa(somewhat similar to the hot Tom Yum thai soup, but different tasting), Hokkien Mee and many others whose names we didn’t catch.
What we did and saw? We walked all the way to Marina Bay, on a long route that also led to the front of the Parliament, took lots of photos with the Merlion and all the cool looking buildings, circled Marina Bay in a failed attempt to eat to the East Coast hawker center(apparently famous for the aforementioned crab) and instead got to the Marina Bay Shopping Center. Oh, and on the way we were asked(and agreed to) appear in the group photos of several Indonesian school students on a trip. They were all quite excited to take pictures with us(and we, like any celebrity couple, graciously agreed :-) ). They didn’t know, however, where Romania is, and the only European country they knew of was England – so I explained that Romania was around 2000 km to the east of it (I would have said 3000 but didn’t want to scare them) :)
By noon(after two sleepless nights) we were already dead tired and barely breathing from the equatorial heat, so we did a bit of mall-hopping in search of air conditioning. We also managed to see a bit of Orchard Road, the shopping center of this most incredibly shopping-passionate country. If only we had been less tired, and with fuller bank accounts :)
What else? Little India, Arab quarter, Singapore Airport, eating at the cheap and really great airport staff cafeteria(thanks to Lonely Planet for the tip), some rest in the great free lounges and .. that was it with Singapore.
Indonesia, here we come!