I love Singapore!! The six days I spent here were completely unlike the rest of my trip so far, it’s been nice to take a break from the beaches and head to what is the most civilized and organized place I’ve been in Asia. Of course, that label has its pros and cons, but it was a good change nonetheless. I arrived around 8pm and was dropped off in the middle of downtown, I had no idea where I was and only a vague idea of what Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station was close to me, so I wandered a bit and with the help of a lovely Singaporean lady, found the station and took a smooth if not sweaty ride to the place I was staying. I am lucky enough to have some family friends with a brother living with his family on the island, and when they invited me to stay for a few days I jumped at the chance! Staying at a hostel is nice, but it’s always cooler to see how people actually live when you visit a new place, it gives a whole new perspective on what life is like for them!
It turns out due to lack of space on the island, nearly everyone lives in condos or government constructed housing, with lots of food centers and community spaces in between, not to mention about a thousand malls. I wish I was exaggerating! Singaporeans must love to shop!! I got out of the station at Yio Chiu Kang and followed the instructions on how to get to the Dias household, where they welcomed me in and we got acquainted. I had missed meeting with my new travel partner Micheline at our rendezvous spot, and was a little worried until I got on the internet and heard her flight was delayed. I was able to meet her at the station and walk with her ten minutes to the condo, which has a gorgeous pool and layout, all the amenities one could want, and I was feeling pretty lucky as we settled down to sleep.
The next day involved an EPIC amount of walking. Micheline and I both agreed that we should just check out the downtown before deciding to do anything, and we picked a station and set off for Little India. We wandered into a little Hindu temple and right into a pooja, which is a ritual worship or mass. We watched, totally out of place as the priests blessed the statues and people who were praying to the goddess Kali, who is a goddess of destruction and kinda scary looking! We walked around the temple grounds and watched as people prayed to the various idols and gods, setting little ghee candles and flower garlands on the gods and drinking what looked like milk or ghee (clarified butter) that had been blessed. It was so surreal, the exact opposite to the Roman Catholic masses of mu childhood, Hinduism seems to me to be the Vegas of religions, with its multiple brightly painted gods, flashing lights, incense, chanting, fires and offerings. It was sweet! I’ll never forget it!
Our next stop in our wanders was the aptly named thieves market, a badly put together market of what totally looked like stolen goods and junky stuff. We stopped for lunch at a hawker center, finding tons of cheap eats in this otherwise expensive city. Most of our meals consisted of rice or noodles and some kind of meat like duck or pork, and yummy chili sauces. Sometimes we would just point at some picture of something without knowing what it was, laughing as we ate and guessed what it might be made of. After lunch, we found ourselves in a cool covered market area by Bugis station that was selling tacky souvenirs, fruit shakes, pastries, a lot of Asian clothing and accessories, and pretty much everything in between. We were totally overwhelmed and took it all in, three floors of tacky Asian goodness. When we finally emerged back into the bright sweltering heat, it was time to find refuge in the Asian civilizations museum.
After a long, hot walk, we found the museum and stepped into an air-conditioned time warp. The museum was HUGE! and AWESOME! For a culture nut like me, it was so interesting to learn about the various Asian civilizations in and around Singapore, and how they all ended up together in this one giant melting pot of a city. It took us a couple of hours to get through the museum, and after that we walked to Chinatown, which is, I have to say, one of the most bland ones I’ve ever seen. The market was cool, and there was another cool Hindu temple, but overall I would say i preferred the more vibrant and historical Little India in this particular city! We stopped for pork-filled buns and beer in the Peoples Place Mall before wandering over to Clarke Quay, a trendy spot where everyone goes to drink and hang out after work, it seems. One look at the prices and we decided to give the patios a pass, although it was a gorgeous riverside spot that we would visit many times over the course of our stay. We just. kept. walking. and found ourselves on Orchard Road, which is pretty much a paradise for shoppers, with mall after mall after mall offering the latest luxury goods, we saw all the best and well-known brands were present, and laughed about how we could spend our entire trip’s budget on one Miu Miu bag!!
Our feet were done at this point, so we hopped on the train at Orchard Road station and went back to the condo, settling down for the best nights sleep we had both had in a while!
- Singapore City Tourist Attractions (swissotelthestamford.wordpress.com)
- 25 Random things about Singapore (beontheroad.com)
- Destination Singapore – Best Places to Visit (siyakumar30.wordpress.com)