Day 23/72: SingaporeNovember 19, 2018 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C
Woke early this morning and got packed ready to go to the airport. On the way in, Phuket airport was stressful so we gave ourselves plenty of time to check in etc. Luckily though, we passed through breezily and changed our 1000's of Baht for a disappointing amount of Singapore Dollars (the days of bartering in hundreds are behind us). We stepped off Thai soil, the feeling of leaving Thailand for good not quite sinking in, and flew on to our next stage of the trip, Singapore.
We expected a change but even so, the difference between Thailand and Singapore is significant. We got on the train that runs above the streets of the city and looking down, saw what looks like those CGI make-ups of new building developments you see outside building sites, or on the internet. It's such a clean looking, modern city. Best compared to a large, well looked after European city like Brussels, with a distinct air of business. We got tourist 3 day underground/overground rail passes, and everyone speaks English so we arrived at the hostel with ease. We'd just set ourselves up on the bunk beds and decided to head out to explore, when the rain came down and the streets were suddenly rushing with water. We decided to wait for another 10 minutes before borrowing an umbrella from the hostel and making a run for it.
The first stop on our exploring list was the long bar at Raffles Hotel, famous for making the cocktail the Singapore Sling. In this very bar in 1920, men would frequent to have a drink or 5 and observe the women walking along the street below. The women, who were not allowed to drink in those days, were given fruits and juices to drink. The barman at the time then came up with the idea of making a drink that looked like juice but adding clear spirits so the women could drink alcohol without being caught. It worked a treat and over time, dispelled the social norm that it was bad taste for women to drink alcohol. It's a gin based cocktail with cointreau, benedictine, pineapple juice, lime juice, grenadine and cherry liqueur. Extremely tasty! The bar itself was bizarre too! It had bamboo fans that wafted lazily overhead, and sacks of peanuts that you could eat and then drop the shells on the floor, so that it looked like the ground of a very chic monkey's house.
The second stop was the Gardens by the Bay. We found these after going to the wrong station and having to walk through constriction site Singapore but that was soon forgotten. The beauty of the gardens in the post rain haze was incredible and they have these huge "trees" that help the environment in some way. We're returning tomorrow to find out more, as there are 2 glass houses, one with a huge flower garden and the other with a forest in a cloud. We aren't sure how they managed to catch the cloud yet...
It was really quiet, which was strange as we were sure Singapore was a fairly touristy spot. We wandered around the gardens, taking photos of the trees (which as night fell had been lit with a bedazzlement of lights) and nature and generally getting lost. Then, as we were making our way back to the nearest station, we came through the main tree area and saw a huge crowd crammed in together, all looking at the lights. Feeling pleased that we'd somehow avoided all the crowds, we headed up towards the station. As we got higher, we turned back to look at the trees from a different vantage point and saw that a light show had begun. The LED's flowed and colours burst up and down the branches and trunks! It was brilliant to watch and a real treat to end a very good day.Read more