Singapore Surprise

So, Ams and I have arrived in Melaka (or Malacca) after a pretty sweet 4-hour bus ride from Singapore. By sweet I mean relatively inexpensive (for Singapore standards – $25pp), comfortable (massive chairs that can be pushed back lay-z boy styles) and hassle-free! The border-crossing was very straight forward and I swear the smiling ladies never even looked at whatever screen was in front of them when our bags were x-rayed. They seemed pretty side-tracked… probably gossipping about the latest scandal on Malaysia’s version of Shortland Street… whatever it is.
But enough of Malaysia. Our first stop on our adventure was Singapore. This small island nation off the southern tip that makes up Peninsular Malaysia is a busy little bugger huh. In a nutshell (insert Austin Powers parody here) it seems like Singapore is trying it’s darndest to implement a hybrid Gold Coast/Dubai strategy to pull in tourists. The tri-phallic Marina Bay Sands Hotel is crazy big and impressive (Dubai) and Sentosa Island seems a crazy commercial project (Gold Coast) destined to be the physical definition of “Tourist Trap”… but probably worth a quick look… if you’ve got money.
Speaking of which, in stark contrast to most of South-East Asia, Singapore ain’t cheap. Tiger beers can sting you up to $14… and that’s “nett” (excl. Tax & service fee – which turned our pitiful 1/2 pints from $8.50 to $10ea). We stayed at Value Hotel on Thomson for approx. $110 per night and to liken the room to a shoebox would be generous. But… Singapore was a good adventure.
Ams and I took great advantage of the fantastically efficient public transport system (MRT train is the way forward) and invested in an “ezi-link” card which means discounted fares, quick access (swiping on & off both the MRT and the bus) and we could get a refund off any un-used funds when we were finished. Boom. The cards are S$12 and include a non-refundable $5 deposit (and $7 credit – see how that works?) but are worth it if you’re there for a few days.
We checked a number of other places such as:
• Fort Canning – the site of a underground war bunker where the then-British-ruled Singapore forces made an historic (so the sign said) decision to surrender to the Japanese in 1942 during WWII. There’s a 45min tour but we were too buggered by then to do it.
• Marina Bay Sands – this place is huge! Funnily enough the Singapore “Flyer” (the London Eye’s Asian cousin) sits right across the bridge and barely comes up to MBS’s non-existant armpit. S$20 to get to the top (56th floor from memory) so we forked out just to say we’d been on the top. There’s a sweet infinity pool on the top too but us pauper/back-packing types don’t belong there.
• Chinatown – yep, another touristy-yet-seemingly-genuine area designated to the wonders of China. Lanterns are strung obligatory-like over alleyways full with stalls selling t-shirts, food, knock-off Canon lenses (I almost got sucked in), souvenirs etc. Still though, the Singapore version is quite authentic as the bulk of the population are… Chinese. Well worth a look.
More to come on Singapore (maybe via this blog, maybe via actual story-time… we’ll see). Blogging on an iPhone is not fun.

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