Monday, 21 November 2011


The night bus was nothing special to be honest. As with most public transport in Malaysia it was freezing! Seriously if you're ever travelling by bus at night, take something unless you're prepared to freeze. They seem to have the air con on full blast and don't believe its possible to turn it down, and I wasn't the only one who was cold. I was dropped off at Lavender Street Bus Station at about 6am on Saturday morning. Due to the time I was arriving, and the way I'd been feeling, for the first time I'd booked accommodation in advance. I was staying at the Green Kiwi Backpacker Hostel, also on Lavender street. When I found the place I was shown to my dorm and allowed to go to bed.

I was in a 10 bed, relatively spacious dorm, and when I arrived I was the only person there! Less people in your dorm makes it a bit harder to meet people but does mean less disturbances. I slept for a few hours (the beds were really comfy by the way and had duvets which always makes me happy) and then went to check in properly. The hostel is relatively new, but the staff are very friendly and helpful, and the facilities are great. There is a roof top garden where you can sit out and look across the city - its partially covered which is helpful due to the amount of rain I've experienced since I arrived, and has comfy wicker chairs all around. There are 3 computers in the reception which you can use for free and free wi-fi as well. The toilets and showers are really clean and there is an overall chilled out atmosphere. They often have music playing through the day too which is a nice touch.

After sorting out my bill, I went out to explore the city. I managed to walk to Little India which was a lot more developed than the previous Little India's I've visited - I have to admit Penang has to be my favourite for it's Little India. I then navigated myself to Chinatown which was amazing! It stood out well above the likes of Kuala Lumpur and Penang for so many reasons. I think most of all because it was just so big and so obviously Chinatown. The stalls didn't have as much pointless knock offs as previous places, instead there were multiple Chinese trinkets and artwork scattered around the spot. I didn't feel too harassed either. Obviously one of two were trying to get me to look at their stall but not every single one like in KL. I spent a good couple of hours there just because it was so extensive  - there was even an indoor "Chinatown Complex".

When I tried to return to my hostel I got quite lost so ended up jumping on the underground to the station closest to where I was staying, Boon Keng. I'm not a city person in all fairness, and up until now undergrounds have always confused me. Over the last couple of days I've used the underground so many times that I've become a bit of a expert! I even had to help some Asian tourists to use the ticket machine, and direct some others to the correct line. The underground is immaculate - not surprising really considering there is a $500 fine for eating/drinking and $1000 fine for smoking on the premises! I was really impressed with how quick, easy and efficient the system was. Obviously we don't have this sort of transport in Carlisle but I have used the underground in London and a couple of other cities, and I found the transport in Singapore one of the best and relatively inexpensive.

Singapore itself is incredibly clean, as I'm not a smoker, I hadn't been aware of the fact you had to pay taxes on cigarettes brought into the country. A couple in my dorm told me they were asked to pay a total over $160 just to bring their cigarettes into the country, however they were allowed to leave them at the airport and collect them in a few days time when they were flying home to Holland. In addition to this, chewing gum is illegal! I can understand fines for putting it on the street etc but making it totally illegal seems a bit steep. Having said that, the streets are spotless so I guess it pays off.

The Merlion - Half Lion, half fish
I took the underground to Harbour front and walked across to Sentosa - the island part of Singapore. I hadn't given much thought as to what would be there: I knew from my lonely planet that I could take a cable car from which I would get good views of the city, and that there would be a couple of beaches but otherwise I didn't know. It turned out to resemblant to a theme park minus the majority of the rides. Universal studios, The Merlion, iFly Singapore (An indoor air tunnel) and a 4D Cinema are just some of the attractions. I went on a Sunday so as you can image the place was packed with visitors, the majority of whom were Asian. For the second time, I was approached by a group of girls asking to have their photo taken with me - they surrounded me so it was difficult to say no - I'm not sure what the obsession is, I can't quite imagine a group of British girls running up to and Asian in the UK desperate for a photo, can you? I found that whilst it was only $1 to enter Sentosa, everything on the island was incredibly expensive. I opted against the cable car ride in the end as it was quite pricey and it had started to cloud over so I probably wouldn't have seen an awful lot.

After wandering around the different areas, I found my way to one of the beaches. It was packed with sun loungers and had a real holiday resort feel to it. Eventually I'd seen enough so headed back to underground. Since arriving in Singapore, I've been in multiple shopping centres - not through choice but it seems that above most underground stations, there is a huge shopping centre! Similarly to KL, the shopping centres are huge and in pristine condition. They are all decorated for Christmas and have seasonal music playing from loud speakers. It feels really weird that it's coming up to Christmas time: for starters its ridiculously hot, and secondly that fact that I'm in Asia just doesn't make it right!

If  you're a fan of cities, and have plenty of money to spend, Singapore is a great place to be. I've only spent two and a half days here, and there's not an awful lot more I can take. It clean, friendly and easy to get around but its so big and busy. Compared to Kuala Lumpur I much prefer it but at the end of the day, its another big city so I'm looking forward to leaving. Tonight I fly to Cairns, Australia: I'm feeling almost back to normal now and I cannot wait. So for now its Goodbye Asia, but I can almost guarantee I'll be back!

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