Thursday, November 12, 2009

Singapore Trip Report, Part Three

Already better than working. Today's breakfast treat was mashed potatoes with sausage and veggies and who knows what spices. We presume it's somewhat Singaporean. We followed it up with Indian food for breakfast. Roti, curry, kopi. Yum.

After breakfast, we went to the National Botanical Gardens, but not before misreading the map, and having a longer walk to get there than we had planned on. But it was sort of cool, because in addition to passing a few embassies (Russia's looks like it's straight out of the cold war, Saudi Arabia's looks like it's straight out of a Florida trailer park - I was surprised) we saw easily the biggest residences we saw in the country. I assume this is where Big Important People live, but we're talking compounds, estates. Massive mansions.

Anyway, flowers. There were some great ones, and inside the gardens is the National Orchid Garden, which was also spectacular.

Not too many clouds today, so it's getting pretty hot pretty quickly. When we finish, we headed back to Orchard Rd. for lunch. This road is basically one ridiculous shopping mall with a smattering of high end hotels. Luckily, you can find food with aircon. So we had Korean (what the hell?)

We also popped into the Trek Store so that we could say we had been in the Trek Store Singapore (also, they have aircon).

After somewhat dodging the heat of the day, we went to Sentosa Island, which is a tremendous tourist trap/resort, but does have some WWII significance, including Fort Siloso, where the the Brits surrendered to the Japanese, and where the Japanese surrendered to the Allies. It was a little bit on the cheesy side, in terms of restoration, but had some fairly interesting facilities and museums. And that lack of clouds? The heavens opened up, and we (somewhat) shortened our trip and went back to the "mainland."

View from a gun placement

A beach at a "resort." It sounds like people with money go to Indonesia to get a view.

One thing that we had missed was the widely recognized merlion down near the Fullerton Hotel. So, after Sentosa, we went back towards town, and went to find it. It was a bit of an adventure (I was having the damnest time with my sense of direction the whole trip), but we got there eventually. We stuck around a while, and watched people, and the changing light as it got darker (and cooler).

And yes, a merlion is half mermaid, half lion.

Dinner was at a hawker stand near our hotel, where we had cheap and excellent spring rolls and Thai green curry. And big, cold beers. And a whole coconut.

Melbourne Cup Day. Somebody won, I suppose.

We had a bit of an awkward amount of time today due to our flight and never knowing standby procedures at international stations. We opted to take one of the train lines to the end and went to Pasir Ris Park. It was a pretty nice park, and rather large. You could even see Malaysia. (I can see Russia from my house?)

It was just a nice place to chill out and take in the quiet. It was a good reminder that there is more on the island than just a busy city. After taking in the sights and failing to crack into a coconut because I'm a wimp, we took the train back towards town, and started making a list of things that we wanted to do in our remaining hours.

So we went to Geylang St to try to find lunch. It was supposed to be an excellent place to eat, and it was. We had prawn mee, which was great, but I was bummed a little bit, because we still had not had a crab, and it was here that we learned that they are basically for dinner only. Not having a crab is probably my only regret from the trip. There was some cool old architecture here.

The other places we wanted to check out were the Bugis St. Market and Arab St. Upon arrival at Bugis St, we realized that we had been there before without realizing it, but before it was open. We also learned that any connection to its food roots was long gone, and now it's just a place to sell cheap crap to tourists. So, two S$1 ice cream sandwiches later, and we were gone.

But, Arab St. (and a lot of the surrounding streets) were extremely cool. I sort of wish that we had found it sooner. Tons of middle eastern vendors selling all kinds of handmade rugs and garments. Cool architecture, and a big mosque. Very interesting area.

So, at this point, it was time to head to the airport. No issues getting there, aside from ruining my shower within sixty seconds of departing. We were far too early, as it turned out, as Qantas didn't even have the counters open yet.

So we had some time to check out the airport. It's supposed to be the best in the world, so I had high expectations. I don't know if it was because so much of the terminal was under construction, or we were not in the "good" terminal, but I was a little bit underwhelmed. We had assumed that we could find a trinket for our shelf of collectables at the airport. You can almost universally bank on that. No dice in Singapore. I thought the pre security food selection was week (and I'll be damned if I'm paying S$14 for a Tiger). I thought it was lame that I had to register my passport with an information kiosk to get on the Internet. We got to figure all this out after we were pushed away from the desk because they weren't sure if they could get us on. No problem with that.

Luckily, they were able to get us on. Based on how the plane looked in flight, it was fairly close. Since we had to go quickly through security and passport control, we split up. I went looking for trinkets and Shannon went for duty free. Duty free booze in Singapore is amazingly cheap! Too bad this airport cuts you off 1 hour before your flight and delivers it to the gate. So, no cheap duty free for us. Only sort of reasonable Aussie duty free on the other end.

I've got no idea what else was behind security. Maybe it was awesome, but we were at a run. Generally though, kinda disappointed with the world's best airport.

Uneventful Qantas flight, except that we couldn't sit together. Good service, acceptable food, ice cream, and hot chocolate. No complaints.

Good trip all around. Very few regrets. I'd recommend it.

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