We were fortunate enough to stay with BB’s family friends in Singapore, Jackie and Anurag, which was about forty-five minutes away from the core of the city. They were very hospitable and gave us an insider’s look into Singapore. Unfortunately because we were only there for a short amount of time, we didn’t get a full grasp of Singapore, and we didn’t get to see a lot of the city, but we still had a great time!
Our one and only full day in Singapore was spent at the world famous Singapore Zoo! I didn’t even know until we were walking around that is the sister zoo to Steve Irwin’s establishment in Australia, and I could instantly tell why this zoo has been regarded as the best. The animals could be touched and fed by paying visitors (about $5 to feed certain animals a basketful of food during feeding time), allowing anyone from three to eighty years old, to get an up-close and personal look at creatures that could only be seen from several feet away at a normal zoo (ex. Toronto). We felt like we were walking in a jungle- as monkeys could be seen above our heads, playfully jumping from branch to branch, escaping from their “locations” as if to say hello to the animals. It was extremely humid all day and overcast (a bonus on an already hot day) despite trying to beat the heat and getting there at 11am as Jackie had mentioned to us that these had been the hottest few days in Singapore they’ve had so far. My favorite animals had to have been the white tigers with striking blue eyes, the giraffes who in my opinion had the nicest spot in the entire zoo (they had a nice view), the red bottom baboons who stared at us intently as if we were the ones on display, and the cute elephants.
We managed to leave the Zoo just as it had begun to pour cats and dogs outside- we hopped on a bus and got on the LRT to Orchard Road just downtown. Talk about a shopaholic’s mecca. Overwhelming, enormous and excess. That’s how I would sum it up in three words. Several malls were interconnected by underground pathways, tourists and expats throwing away their disposable incomes like water (which might I add is safe to drink in Singapore, thankfully). The only downside is that the Singapore dollar is close to being par with to the Canadian dollar, so everything wasn’t exactly as cheap as Malaysia had been. It’s hard paying $1 for a delicious meal and then going back to shelling out $10 for lunch. A lot of goods converted into our dollar would have actually been more expensive (ex. a dress at Zara), which is why we were frugal in Singapore (much to my dismay as BB knows there were several great clothing stores I would’ve easily bought out- oh well). We ended up spending about an hour and forty five minutes just getting lost in the underground malls, and once it stopped raining we finally found daylight and came to ground level to see that Orchard was literally just an outdoor mall, with lavish stores (Chanel, Hugo Boss, Zegna, etc) and hotels lining the the busy boulevard on either side. Even in the rain, hoards of Singaporeans were indulging themselves.
We eventually met up with Jackie, her daughter, and her sister in the Little India for some good ol’ Indian food for dinner. Afterward, we walked around Little India for about fifteen minutes, and wow. In Melaka, I thought the Chinatown there was the one full of the most character. In Singapore, the Little India was the craziest one I had EVER seen. Considering it was maybe around 9:30-10pm, and most other places we’d been to would have quieted down, getting ready for sleep at that time, this definitely was not the case. People absentmindedly jaywalking (remember: in Singapore this is illegal, except in LI), hoards of locals chattering with each other, families carrying heavy and large packages from the local galleria, hawkers trying to sell you calling cards and light-up gizmos, sooo many people, everywhere! It was bananas. We even caught a certain negotiation occurring between a lady of the night and a local in a outdoor food court. To say this neighborhood was crazy, is definitely an understatement. It was buzzing with excitement and I was sad to leave it abruptly because I was excited to see what else this electric Little India had hiding under it’s sleeve.
We left Singapore the next at 2pm to catch our flight to Bali, Indonesia. The Changi Airport was pretty cool- free internet booths (no longer needing to pop into the local Apple store to use their free wifi), a rooftop pool in Terminal 1, and other surprises you might find if you’re in Changi.
A FEW THINGS ABOUT SINGAPORE THAT I LEARNED:
- The government is pretty scary and basically controls everything, I thought Google satellite was like Big Brother- jeese, was this place a huge shock. Anurag told us there were about 10 million people in Singapore and about 60 million cameras. About 95% of the stuff you do in Toronto would be considered illegal, punishable and fined if you dare do it in Singapore. No jaywalking, no littering, no smoking in public places are among the list of many prohibited activities in the city.
- The MRT/light rail system is like a futuristic spaceship, very interactive maps and so clean you could lick the floor. The stations reminded me of airport terminal because they were so big.
- Orchard Road is basically like Yorkville, except possibly 100 times worse.