Saturday, 30 January 2016

Singapore

It is our last day in Singapore and Brian and I are sitting in a cafe called Forty Hands, enjoying the air conditioning and (finally) our first really good coffee since leaving Australia. Every day has been around 34 degrees, has included lots of walking in the hot sun and then getting caught out in a sudden onset of torrential rain!


Brian arrived in Singapore a week ago to attend a conference on big data, called Strata. The same conference that he attended in New York in 2014. Man he gets some good perks!! He and three colleagues were exhibiting their work on machine learning and privacy. I arrived in time to catch him in his nice hotel, with spectacular views. I meant to arrive a day earlier but I stuffed up my flights a little, allow me to explain... 

Brian and I have been married for about three months; during that time I thought it would be a wonderful idea to change my passport to reflect my new name - Sarah Thorne. My passport arrived a week before I was due to leave and I booked my flight the night before - using Mum’s staff travel, lucky me!


So I'm in the car with my bags packed, a brand new passport and my recently purchased ticket when the penny dropped. The name on my ticket did not match the name on my passport! 16 hours later, after filling out forms and sending off marriage certificates to Qantas Staff Travel I was finally on my way to Singapore, travelling under my new name, Sarah Thorne.

Under way - and business class!

Four movies and four wines later, I was in a cab and on my way to reunite with Brian - the thorne in my side. After showing off my new outfit we ventured out into the Singaporean heat in search of some food. We visited a night market where we ate satay chicken skewers and tufu curry, yum yum.


The next morning we made an early start - attempting to avoid the sweltering heat in the middle of the day. Our plan was to walk around the Marina Bay and find a nice spot for breakfast. Most shops were closed so we made good progress through the malls around the bay. About two thirds of the way around we stumbled across a food court with plenty of breakfast options. I was very keen to rest my legs so gave Brian the task of ordering. This is where things got interesting.





After  our “breakfast” we sought higher ground to reorient. Level 57 on the floating ship building. As expected, the view was spectacular:










Back at our hotel, we went for a dip in the pool to cool off before checking out of our hotel and heading to our AirBnB place near Orchid Road. Unfortunately we were 35 minutes late, so there was no one to meet us to give us a key. Luckily a friendly neighbour let us in to the air conditioned lobby. While I waited in the lobby, Brian was sent to find an internet connection in order to contact our hosts. One hour later and we were finally in our new apartment. Much to my disappointment, the apartment reminded me of a small cave, with absolutely no windows to the outside world!


We spent the next days trying to fit in as many tourist activities as we could. We got to experience the monsoon season rain - it would start instantly at full force. Walking across a single road was enough to get drenched to the bone! Quite out of character Brian really seemed to enjoy visiting the many Malls around Singapore - although the air conditioning seemed to be the main attraction.

The stand out activity had to be eating - Singapore is a food lovers delight. We enjoyed everything from tapas, pizza and tiramsu in a jar to the incredible night markets. It is well worth going to the Tekka market - really good indian food at very affordable prices. Try the white carrot cake - more like an omelette. We found this really yummy fish thing made out of chocolate and something strange...



We went to the hawker market in china town where we had deep fried sweet potato palls, sugar cane drink (which is not recommended if you don’t have a sweet tooth) and coconut water. We easily spent a night exploring the market in China town - this is highly recommended! Wandering through the many street stalls we found a $30 travel suitcase - we were almost going to pay $300 in the mall. Win!

We visited the Zoo on our last day, both really enjoyed spending the whole afternoon there. Only downside was we stood in a taxi queue for just over an hour trying to leave the zoo. Omg saw a sloth, and it moved!!!



One day was spent at the Gardens by the sea - got very hot walking there! Pedestrian access isn't that great. You often have to walk long stretches of road before you can find an underpass or crossing. Ate at the Pollen cafe on level two, which is inside the flower dome. Eating here will get you free entry into the flower dome.

Getting home was yet again a struggle. Qantas didn't bother to tell us that the plane from Australia had never left so we got to the airport and along with another few hundred people had to queue up and get processed one by one. After about six hours we booked a last minute hotel and had a bonus day enjoying an amazing pool. We spent our bonus day on Sentosa Island which was touristy but cool.





General observations
  • Locals have said that you have to pay around $60,000 for a certificate to own a car!
  • I didn’t see many bikes using the road, but motorised scooters on the footpath seems to be a great way to get around.
  • Price of taxis is pretty good.
  • Food in cafes and restaurants is more expensive than Sydney prices.
  • Alcohol is much more expensive than Sydney.