Just as I thought I’d experienced Asian heat to its fullest, I get to Singapore and witness its full potential. It is ROASTING here. I feel like I’ve spent the last two days in an oven! You know that kind of heat where you’re walking down the street (especially after a meal when you’re feeling full) and you’re drowsy and scuffing your feet and it’s so bright that you have to squint even with sunglasses on?
Getting here was longer than expected; the bus was late and then the driver faffed around for a bit and then there was a big queue at passport control at the border. But the bus was spacious, comfortable and had wifi so it was an overall pleasant journey. A £10 journey from one country to the next can’t be complained about!
We got here at two AM and were once again saved by 7/Eleven readily cooked food. We were dropped off outside a large food court, which was scattered with a mixture of drunken youngsters or late- working oldsters. There was a karaoke bar on the bottom floor so that explained the wavy people trotting around in heels or sat on the floor outside smoking.
Why is it that whenever me and Jenny book ourselves into six bed mixed dorms, it always ends up being us two with four guys?! Four guys that always seem to smell like they’re decomposing and leave the room a mess and shout in the early hours of the morning. This time we walked into our room at Footsteps hostel, and the smell was so overpowering that even after an hour of being in there my senses hadn’t adjusted. It was like a mixture of rotting cheese and sweat and fish. But then these two American guys left early in the morning (I know because they woke me up) and the smell seemed to disappear with them.
£10 was the cheapest hostel we found in Singapore that didn’t have reviews about bedbugs. Yep it’s pretty pricy here for Asia! So Footprints has done us good for two nights, but it is pretty simple. So simple that you need to put on your own bedsheets and pillowcase and remember to bring them with you again when you check out. But it’s clean and in a great location and doesn’t have bed bugs which is always a bonus!
On our first day here as we strolled around the small but lanky city, I kind of felt like I should have saved myself the money and come here at a later date when I had more to spend. We wanted to go on an open roof bus tour, but it was too expensive. We wanted to have a Singapore sling at the Raffles hotel, but it was too expensive. We wanted to go on the night safari, but it was too expensive. But now I’m more than happy we came, as it’s a city which has just as much free/cheap stuff to do as stuff you have to pay for.
Our hostel is located in Little India, a district in Singapore which is a must-go to place. Streets and streets of Indian restaurants and canteens give off that inviting, potent smell of curry and spices. Shops and stalls selling gold jewellery and bindis and Hindu ornaments line up one after the next on both sides of the road. Incense are lit and people stare or take videos of you as you walk past. Indian music plays from small radios and locals pick fresh fruit and veg from stalls.
We’ve just got back from having a meal there- garlic naan bread with Daal for me and Dosi with different dips for Jenny. It was served just how you would expect it to be in actual India- cheap and cheerful, full of flavours and on plain metal trays. They even gave us the whole pot of cutlery because everyone else was eating with their bare hands. Next time I would definitely go for a curry (I wasn’t hungry enough to this time).
The contrast between little India and the main city centre was crazy. Especially the financial area and Orchard road, the retail and entertainments part of the city. The fact that the tiny city is just over fifty years old is really apparent. The skyscrapers are all made up of windows and glass, making them blindingly shiny and new-looking, but also ridiculously fragile. It actually reminded me of Canary wharf, just on a larger scale.
Orchard road is PRISTINE. There seems not be any dirt or litter and it’s probably to do with the strict rules and laws in Singapore. You can get fined for doing anything from spitting on the floor, or chucking your chewing gum on it. The road is full of malls and upmarket, expensive brands from Louis Vuitton to Chanel. People drive around in Bentleys and Ferraris and some even slide around on electric scooters.
As you’ve probably gathered, Singapore is extremely westernised. Everyone speaks good English and the green road signs resemble the ones in America. Like Kuala Lumpur, they have the same western fast food restaurants, clothing stores and coffee shops.
The main attraction I was looking forward to in Singapore, was the Marina Bay sands hotel and the Supertree Grove. Whenever I see something online beforehand, I get worried that it’s bigged up and that in real life it will be a disappointment. But in this case, it was the other way round- the internet could not ever do it any justice.
The newly built hotel, which looks like three apartment blocks with a giant surf board on top, is up close and personal and makes your neck hurt if you look up at it for too long. It is massive!! Trying to count how many floors there are only makes your eyes hurt.
Seeing the hotel at night went people’s lights were on and the outside blue and green lights were illuminated, only made it look even bigger and better. As for the supertrees, I loved them so much!! I expected there to be three or four in the middle of the city. But instead, there were about ten- fifteen and some were more spread out and they all emerged out of a bushy, tropical garden.
They had a bridge which led you closer to them and all around them, which was level with other trees and overlooked a gorgeous lake. The fact they were placed in the middle of such a busy and beautiful garden was what made them appeal to me the most. Because the ‘stem’ of the skyscraper-sized trees were covered in thick foliage and different colour flowers, to make them look like real plants. And then their ‘heads’ popped up at the top, overlooking all the other trees but seeming like part of them.
We waited around for the light show, which was even more impressive than I expected. Music was played and every single colour in the rainbow glowed and flashed and disappeared again. I didn’t expect such a versatile show with so many different dances of light. If you’re looking to go, there are shows at 7:45pm and 8:45pm every night. It’s completely free and so impressive.
My favourite part of the whole day obviously involved food. After the light show we headed to Satay by the Bay which is a large food court selling mostly Singapore cuisine and BBQ chicken and prawns. Why is the street food always the tastiest? And the cheapest? Honestly, this place had so much variety. I don’t know if any of you remember me saying in Hong Kong about the street food I had (the seafood curry), which was the best meal I’d ever eaten in my life (don’t worry mum, your roast dinners are up there too), but this was on par with that. It was so, so, so flavoursome and the noodles were the perfect amount of sticky and although it was probably just whipped up by the chefs out back, it tasted like there must have been a million secret ingredients in there. All for six Singapore dollars!
You get given a buzzer after you’ve ordered your food from one of the stalls, then when it’s ready you go and grab it and sit on one of the tables in the middle. It was really busy but the service was so fast.
After having a morning of feeling a bit off about not being able to do everything we wanted to do in Singapore, I felt more than satisfied on our taxi journey back that day. You don’t need much money to admire the incredible, animation-like buildings, the stunning, bustling gardens, to try the delicious local food, in fact all the best things are usually free.