Singapore

Singapore is a bit of an odd place. An island city-state of over five million people, it sits at the bottom of the Malaysian pensinsula, and is one of the most Western-Asian fusion cities that I've ever visited. A shopping area filled with Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton stores, a Universal Studios theme park, and hotels that look like stranded boats, contrast with a truly genuine Chinatown, almost Soviet style blocks of flats, and a Little India filled with mosques and curries. I did enjoy the various colonial remnants - English signs and designs appeared randomly across the city. My first hostel choice right next door to one of the biggest mosques in the city wasn't particularly inspired - the call to prayer five times a day made sleeping tricky, although I couldn't deny the atmosphere in the area was great. Finding some street theatre on my first night just down the road was a particular treat, even if I had absolutely no idea what was going on. After a few days wandering (aimlessly as ever) around the city, I felt that I'd covered the major spots - the CBD, Chinatown, Little India, the waterfront. I had a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel - definitely an experience, drinking a 'legendary' cocktail and throwing peanut shells on the floor, though I don't actually like the cocktail 🙁 I changed hostels so that I could get some sleep, though that plan failed on the first night...
Masjid Sultan, next to my hostel

Masjid Sultan, next to my hostel

The obligatory Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel Long Bar

The obligatory Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel Long Bar

Marina Bay, and the Sands Hotel

Marina Bay, and the Sands Hotel

Street Theatre

Street Theatre

Statues in Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Statues in Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Cavanagh Bridge

Cavanagh Bridge

Thaipusam I was lucky enough to wander out of my hostel looking for a shop, only to discover hundreds of people milling about, and lots of neon in the distance. Hurrying back to the hostel to grab my camera (and my brand new fast lens), I headed out again to watch the Thaipusam parade flowing through Little India. Thaipusam is an annual Hindu festival celebrating... actually I had no real idea what I was seeing at the time, so you can check the Wikipedia article for an explanation. I just saw a line of crazy neon tents, apparently supported by long needles going into the skin of the people carrying them. Occasionally, a group of people around the devotees would start playing drums and singing, prompting the tent-carrier to start spinning around, neon flashing. Various friendly people offered free snacks and drinks along the route, which I followed for about 3km. Walking slowly, mesmerised by the action playing out around me, I spent over four hours alongside the parade - I found out later that the parade had been going on all day, and some of the devotees had been carrying their offerings all day. An impressive display of mind over pain - especially for the guy towing a small cart with mini-shrine on top by means of hooks in his back. Thinking of health and safety, someone had carefully put corks over the sharp points of the hooks - after they'd come out of the guy's body, of course...
A Thaipusam devotee

A Thaipusam devotee

A Thaipusam devotee

A Thaipusam devotee

Singapore Zoo The zoo is one of Singapore's most popular attractions, and so I headed up there early one day to check it out - the intention beng to avoid the crowds that would arrive after lunchtime. It turned out that I needn't have bothered, as the place was never particularly busy, and I ended up spending all day there, as I wanted to go to the neighbouring Night Safari in the evening. At any rate, the zoo was top notch - enclosures were generally very big and full of foliage, and the majority of the animals appeared at ease. The lemurs in particular were great fun, as you could get right up to them in a huge covered area. The Giant Panda's just looked a bit daft, but I guess that's what evolutionary dead-ends should look like 😉 The Night Safari was a bit of a let-down in comparison. A train ride through the park was designed to give you an idea of what the animals get up to after the daylight has faded, but the more 'top drawer' animals were either totally hidden in darkness, or just the same as in the daylight. I'd definitely recommend the zoo, but less so the night safari.
Lemur at Singapore Zoo

Lemur at Singapore Zoo

Giant Panda at Singapore Zoo

Giant Panda at Singapore Zoo

White Tiger at Singapore Zoo

White Tiger at Singapore Zoo

Squirrel

Squirrel

Leaving Singapore was fairly easy compared to the previous countries I had visited. A combination of a short visit, and a bit of underwhelmment (have I just made up a new word?) conspired against the weird city/country. I was also very much looking forward to Malaysia...
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One Response to Singapore

  1. Hannah says:

    ow ow ow ow ow.

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