After Cairns, I took a flight down to the Gold Coast where I spent a day and a half preparing for my upcoming trip to Singapore and SE Asia. I choose Scoot Airlines, a Singapore based airline for my flight. Scoot is a no frills long haul carrier. They didn’t even have adjustable air vents over each seat. Still I only paid approximately $170 USD for the 8 hour fight.
I was fortunate enough to spend 3 full days in Singapore. Though since I am quite behind in my blog, I will summarize my 3 days into 1 post.
I arrived at the airport around 3 pm and spent the first few hours or so collecting my things, going through customs, and trying to figure out Singapore’s metro system. I finally made it to the hostel and was immediately greeted by some fellow Westerners. They were on their way out for dinner, Indian food. Having never eaten Indian food, I decided to join them. As my first parlay into Eastern food, I decided to take it easy. Over the next couple of days that would soon change.
The biggest plus of the day was later that evening I meet a fellow American, Alex, who was more or less a Singapore expert. We hit it off and spent the next two days traveling around Singapore together.
I got a late start on day 2, but my first order of business was finding an external hard drive. I have accumulated quite a lot of GoPro video, and it would be devastating if something were to happen to my videos. I also went shopping in the hope of finding antibiotics. I believe it likely that with all the random stuff I am eating, I will at one point get food poisoning. Unfortunately I needed a prescription in Singapore to obtain antibiotics so that plan foiled quickly.
After shopping, Alex and I went to a Hawkers market for dinner. Basically a Hawkers market is an outdoor food venue with dozens of street stalls. I choose Tai food. My whole meal was approximately $3 USD. It was the first time in awhile that I was actually full.
That evening, Alex and I went to Clarke Quay; the top area for nightlife in Singapore. You can drink in public in Singapore so we bought beers and drank them overlooking the water. Then we went to a bar where I paid $10 USD for a shooter. Yes alcohol at bars is more expensive than in Australia. But that might be the only thing.
Unfortunately Alex left to go back to the US so I was once again… all alone. I got a really late start as I spent the whole morning and early afternoon planning my trip to Malaysia. I have 7 days in Malaysia, and I didn’t want to spend the whole time in Kuala Lumpur (KL), the capital of Malaysia. So I bought a plane ticket from Singapore to Penang. I plan to spend 3 days in Penang and 4 days in KL before I board a flight to Phucket, Thailand on the 3rd of June.
After sorting out that mess, I headed into the city. I first took the metro to Chinatown to try the Chinese hawkers market. Upon exiting the metro at the Hawkers market, I was completely surrounded by Chinese people and food vendors. There were probably a hundred or so vendors, so I went to the outdoor vendor with the longest line (that is usually my indicator if the food tastes good or not). Of course, the menu was all in Chinese. To solve this dilemma, I took a picture of the meal I wanted. When it was my time to order I kindly showed the guy working the counter my phone. He made an ok sign and then pointed outside or down at the table. I reasoned that this meant ‘dine in’ or ‘takeaway.’ I pointed to the table.
The difficult part wasn’t over. When each order was ready, the server would call the number out in Chinese. I didn’t know my number and I definitely don’t know Chinese. Luckily they just handed me my food when it was ready. It didn’t come with rice. I assume rice was separate but being I didn’t know the word for rice, I just made due. The seating in the market was cafeteria style. So I sat at a table with 6 other Chinese people and tried desperately to eat my meal with the chopsticks provided. The looks were priceless.
After dinner I walked around from late afternoon to late in the evening. Singapore is a stunning city. I was extremely impressed with its beauty and cleanliness. I walked all around Chinatown. I saw the light show at Marina Bay and went into the Gardens by the Bay. The use of public space, lights, and central city planning was stunning. Look at my pictures below!
Day 4 was my favorite day in Singapore – I went to the world’s largest Aquarium. Over the next 3 hours, I literally drooled over the massive amount and variety of wildlife that existed. After that I went to the Botanical Gardens which were probably one of the nicest gardens I have ever been too.
Also I had 4 meals that day. Total cost was less than $20 USD.
My flight was at 3 pm so I needed to get to the airport around 1. I spent the morning relaxing, researching Malaysia, reading, and of course, eating.
Overall I was extremely impressed with Singapore. The food was great, the city was beautiful, and the culture was diverse. Singapore is a unique blend of Malay, Indian, and Chinese people. There are also small minorities of other ethnicities including ex Pats (foreigners living abroad). Each respective community has its own distinctive neighborhood and walking through each was an experience like I have never had before.
Singapore is also very safe. The laws are so strict that it deters a lot of petty crime. More serious crimes, like drug trafficking, are punishable by death. I never felt insecure while walking late at night.
Singapore’s public transportation is also phenomenal. The trains run frequently, have full cell service, are spacious and clean. Washington DC’s metro pales in comparison.
Singapore is also known for its shopping. The size of their malls (see below) reinforce this fact. Huge posh malls are scattered all over downtown. The prices were extremely similar to the US but the experience was much more dramatic.
Singapore is also rich. Below is a picture of the port from my flight to Penang. There is an endless amount of ships waiting to be loaded and unloaded. Commerce and shipping drives this city. The state’s investments in infrastructure and beautification of the city are evidence to the fact of Singapore’s wealth. Of course there are probably things I didn’t see, both good and bad, but overall I very much liked Singapore. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting an excursion into SE Asia without diving in head first.