Trying to catch up on the whole blogging thing!
25.01.2012 - 31.01.2012 30 °C
Ok, ok, I know I've been rubbish at this recently. Well, for quite a while in fact.
So now I have a week off work (Chinese Labour Day holiday), & I'm not going off travelling anywhere this time, I fully intend to catch up with this properly...
Chinese New Year last year was cold, wet & miserable - very similar to Autumn in the UK. I had planned to just chill out in Shenzhen & explore the city a bit, but I decided I wanted to go somewhere warmer & drier. After looking through the available flights for the cheapest & most convenient on the Tuesday of the holidays, I booked a flight to Singapore for the following day. I say day; the flight left at around 11:50pm on the Wednesday night & arrived in Singapore at 4am Thursday! So the first thing I did upon arriving at the Five Stones Hostel, after figuring out how to get in, which my room was & which my bed was, was to sleep for a few hours.
Once I was fully alive & awake again, around 11am, I went for a wander around: Boat Quay, the Fullerton Hotel, Merlion Quay, the Esplanade, the Chinese New Year display & stalls, Helix Bridge & the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Centre. Where I discovered that ‘Wicked’ (one of my favourite musicals) was on at the theatre there. Upon which I promptly bought tickets to see it that evening. The second time I’d seen it, & it was just as fantastic as the first. I also managed to get a photo with David Harris, who played Fiyero, after the show.
I had a lovely stroll around the other side of Marina Bay back to the hostel; I felt very safe walking around & one of my first thoughts about Singapore (apart from how much more expensive it is than the rest of Asia) was how clean & tidy it is.
Having gone to Singapore to escape from the miserable weather, of course the second day I was there it rained. A lot. So for the first half of the day I just chilled out at the hostel, enjoyed the free breakfast & chatted to people who were also staying there. One of the people I met, Emma, & I decided to go for a wander around Chinatown once the rain had eased off, where we had some traditional Singaporean noodles (which were really good, and cheap). It was interesting looking at the similarities & differences between Chinatown in Singapore & China itself. After a visit back to the hostel, we then went for a (rather expensive) drink at a pub on Clarke Quay called The Penny Black, which proudly sported many English memorabilia.
Saturday I had a bit of a lie in (I was on holiday after all!), then after breakfast Emma & I walked up to the famous Raffles Hotel where we sampled the equally famous Singapore Sling along with some dim sum for lunch.
After wandering to Marina Bay, we went our separate ways for a while & I caught the MTR to Orchard Road, known for being a prime shopping area. And when I say prime, I mean really expensive! Needless to say, I didn’t buy anything except a cup of tea. Having said that, on the walk back I found a lovely little Italian restaurant where I had dinner; you could design your own pasta dish: pick the type of pasta, pick the sauce & pick the meat, seafood or vegetables you wanted in it. Yummy! Once I got back to the hostel, I bumped into Emma again & met Adam & Robert, & as it was Saturday night (& we were all on holiday) we decided to go out for a few drinks... We went to a cool bar, saw one of the women who work at the hostel & had a drink with her, then got some bottles & sat on the quayside chatting until about 5.30am.
Having only got to bed (finally) around 7am, I slept until about 3pm on Sunday! Sunday I had the day to myself, so I spent it wandering around Chinatown again, trying hokkien prawn noodles & sugar cane juice at a cheap & cheerful food market, looking at the Al-Abrar Mosque, Thian Hook Keng Temple, the Indian Heritage Centre, Far East Square & Fuk Tak Chi Museum & Temple (built in 1824). Back at the hostel, there were a few people in the living room area & we all watched ‘Catch Me If You Can’ before going to bed at a reasonable hour.
At breakfast on Monday, I had a chat with another girl staying at the hostel, Luisa. We decided to go out for lunch on Clarke Quay & found a proper British fish & chip shop. I was so excited! They were really good fish & chips, served in fake newspaper too. I had a look around the Culture Museum in the afternoon when Luisa went back to the hostel, which was very interesting. In the evening I met up with Cindy, Jamie & Jeff, all residents of Singapore, who’d I’d met previously on my wanderings. We had dinner at a local hotspot, then met up with Luisa, Robert & Moritz to go for a drink. Cindy & Jeff took us to the New Asia bar which is on the 70th floor of the Swissotel – we had one expensive cocktail each & looked at the amazing view of Singapore spread out below us & all lit up. It was wonderful.
On my last day in Singapore, I managed to miss the bus to Sentosa, so decided to have a bit of a lazy day instead. I went to the Muslim & Arabic Quarter & wandered around the streets for a while, when I discovered a Swedish cafe! I decided to have lunch there (Swedish meatballs & mash) as a change from all the noodles I’d been eating. Of course, when I left the cafe, the heavens opened & I had to buy an umbrella in order to not get completely drenched! This then meant it was difficult to get a taxi, so by the time I got back to the hostel I didn’t have much time before I had to leave to catch my flight. Luckily, someone else was getting a shuttle to the airport & the very kind staff at the hostel phoned them & came out to the shuttle to get me on it so I wouldn’t miss my flight! I made it to the airport in time & flew back to Shenzhen, & spent the rest of the Chinese New Year holiday doing very little (apart from boring things like washing & lesson planning!).
As a summary, I enjoyed going to Singapore, but I’m not fussed about going there again. There are many other places I’d rather go first. It was clean, easy to get around & a fair amount to see & do in 6 days, but it was also quite expensive. I’m glad I’ve been there & it was (mostly) better weather than Shenzhen at the time. Singapore is a lovely city & the people are so friendly. The other great thing about it was that because I went by myself, I could go at my own pace, see the things I wanted to see, do the things I wanted to do & I met lots of great people.
Next update to follow soon!