Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sweating in Singapore

Our flight left Darwin nearly three hours late, so we arrived at Singapore's Changi International Airport long after the trains to the city stopped running. Since the cost of a taxi was about one day's budget for Indonesia, we wisely decided to take advantage of the free wi-fi, air-conditioning, and spotless floors by sleeping in the airport.


We wanted to chill out in Singapore, so we didn't attempt to arrange a couchsurf host. We walked around Little India the first day and Orchard Street the second day. We skipped the tourist attractions, like Sentosa Island, and I don't feel like I missed out on anything. Otherwise, we slept, caught up on email, tried new foods, and Dave played pick-up ultimate frisbee one evening.

little india streetscape

Impressions of Singapore: it's clean, orderly, logical, hot, well-planned, hot, a melting pot of ethnicities, surprisingly easy for English-speakers, hot, wealthy, and hot. I've read that it has the highest quality of life in Asia, and 11th highest in the world.  Singapore is right at the equator, which means it's 80-90 degrees year 'round. Fortunately, air conditioned spots are easy to find.  Read the Wikipedia article for more basic information about Singapore.

super orderly public transport even tells you how to board and alight from the MRT

My favorite memory of Singapore is the awesome availability of fresh, cold juices and drinks, especially sugar cane juice.

sugar cane juice on the left; glass jelly juice on the right

I also tried mee goreng and laksa. I thought both were typically Singaporean, but I've seen "mie goreng" everywhere in Indonesia, so maybe not. Mee goreng is rice vermicelli noodles in a spicy sauce. Laksa is a spicy soup of noodles, tofu, and rice cake.

laksa:  this is delicious

Photo Journal:

Some recommendations if you plan to visit Singapore:

If you're going to sleep in Changi, head to the new Terminal 3. It's as beautiful as the lobby of a ritzy hotel. We were not in transit and had already collected our bags, so we had to find a place to sleep outside security. We ended up sleeping in the children's play area on the shopping floor. Bring earplugs and a bandana for your eyes. If you're in transit and can stay behind security, I hear that your options will be far more plentiful.

I stayed in the Kallang neighborhood, which I liked a lot because it's not a major tourist center. Little India seemed more impacted by backpacker crowds, with prices and amenities (souvenir shops, internet cafes) to match.

The Singapore subway system, SMRT, is amazing: cheap, efficient, easy to understand, generally safe. Never bother with a taxi.

Eat everything!  Singapore is a mix of Malasian, Indian, Chinese, and other Asian cultures, and the cuisine reflects the multi-ethnic nature of the island.  Eat in any of the cheap food courts and make sure you try something different every time!

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