03.01.2009 - 07.01.2009 -17 °C
Hello world, welcome to Singapore, the land of endless shopping malls, faultless efficiency and mass development. This place is pretty crazy. Capitalism on steroids, yet there still remains an underbelly of really interesting ethnic quarters, amazing street food and (limited) greenery.
We arrived here at 6am on the 3rd of Jan, after a hassle filled flight (never again Tiger...). But we made it, and were greeted at the airport by Nicola's friend Hussein ('Hussey') and his cousin Fahmy. We were put up in Fahmy's apartment for the 4 nights, which was excellent and extremely conveniant to transport etc (not that anywhere in Singapore isn't close to public transport it seems, which always runs on time).
First day we did what all good visitors to Singapore do, we shopped. Orchard street style. It's hard to ignore the hyper-super-massive-future-malls. Managed to find some bargains, and bought a whole lot of stuff (clothes mostly) that we probably didn't need, but couldn't walk away without. After that Hussey took us to experience the super fantastic street food for dinner. Best Mee Goreng ever. Cost - no more than $3 each for dinner. Amazing. Then we tried a Malaysian/Singaporean specialty - durian. It is the weirdest fruit we have ever seen. First, it is covered in sharp, hard spikes, then when it is opened it stinks. Really stinks, kind of like rotting garbage. Durians are even banned on the subway because of this...The actual fruit you eat is this creamy white, sticky goo that surrounds each large seed. It tastes ok, but is hard to swallow / keep down because of the horrible smell and texture. Awesome!
We have filled the rest of our time here cycling around a tropical island just off Singapore (Pulau Ubin), complete with rustic fishing huts and a 'dirt skills' bike track, eating chilli for breakfast, shopping a little more, and checking out the Indian, Chinese and Malay-muslim quarters. These areas have definitely been the highlight, with great food and atmosphere - the 'real' Singapore. Also went to a theme park island (typically Singapore with 'concepts' and 'attractions' executed to perfection) called Sentosa, where we had our own private encounter (due to rain scaring away everyone else) with a monkey, a python and some eagles, which had been rescued from the animal trade.
All in all, Singapore has been great - crowded, humid, busy and a little overwhelming, but this chaos is all tightly controlled, monitored and regulated by the amazingly efficient Singapore bureaucracy. And the people are incredibly friendly and accomodating and inqusitive. And it is clean, very clean.
More photos are up at http://www.travellerspoint.com/photos/gallery/users/mvicol/
Hope you all are well, next stop Vietnam.