Thursday, January 19, 2006

singapore days

i keep meaning to update the blog with all of the wonderful things i have been doing around singapore but this city is just so great, i never actually get around to writing anything! which is not such a bad thing, really.


headed out to orchard road, the shopping mecca around here. my first goal was to go to sta travel and see about my flight to darwin and about adding an extention to new zealand at the end of my trip. they were quite useless for both, and i now have to figure all that out on my own. the shopping though is quite good, orchard rd does that very well. a day filled with wishful thinking! haha.

that night i went to the infamous night safari to see what the fuss was all about. it was organised through the guesthouse, which was nice because i got to share a cab and meet fellow bunkers. our tickets did not include the tram ride but when we got to the tram section we charmed our way through for free, saving ourselves $8 each. the ride was a weird one, with the guide talking quite funny and giving odd, useless information about the animals. surprisingly, i learned that most of them like to hangout near water. how clever! anyhow, what was most bizarre was that at ever animal enclosure, the animals were always close to us, conveniently located and easy to spot. wolves were on the rocks, so were tigers, giraffe were eating and standing up, etc. it felt as if everything was constructed, like the animals were tied up at the spot or something. it was just bizarre, tacky. but what was worst was the animal show. granted it is aimed at children but it was just weird, with tidbits about keeping singapore clean. i guess that such brainwashing has to be everywhere in order to work! and it does work. it is quite a clean city. anyhow, our taxi driver told us to be at the gate at 11pm but he never showed up... so now i get to say that i was stranded at the zoo! the guy fell asleep and it was only 45 minutes later that we got into another cab and headed back to the hostel. fun times! well, it actually was. and the ben & jerry ice cream i ate there was great!


met up with trevor again. we didn't quite know where to go so we went to the MRT station and picked a random station along the way and decided to explore there. we thus headed out to "chinese garden", at the end of one of the lines. it's a small country, so we were within 22 minutes pretty much at the edge of the country. the garden was quite nice, islands on a big lake with pagodas, turtles, bamboo and heaps of kids camping on its ground. it was a nice break from the city though, and it was very quiet, with no tourist around. i mean, not everyone wants to go to the burbs!

afterwards we decided to go to "city hall" station, take in the old architecture and find a place to eat. to get there though we took the long train ride that goes all the way to the top of the country. on the train an old chinese lady started to talk to me about her travels, cruises, and backpacking around the world. it was great to meet a traveling local, but she had funny opinions about places that she liked and didn't like. apparently, the carribeans is not scenic enough and she doesn't care about its water. and about new zealand, she basically told me that the north island was crap and to avoid it, and only go to the south! she cracked me up.

city hall area was quite nice, although we never did find the city hall. i did find the best dumplings of my life though, and that great chili paste condiment you get everywhere in china with them. the are is filled with tall office buildings that are wonderful and follow the edge of the river. that part of the city didn't feel asian at all, it was quite bizarre. i felt more like in the states, it even had a certain similarity with chicago i felt. it was great though, to walk along the river, to see the skyline, to see wicked architecture for once. for dinner we ate at hacker stalls (street food) which were quite fancy and incredibly tasty. and afterwards, we ended up at the ice bar, a clever singapore innovation to provide the people here an experience of ice and snow. we walked in the first room and it was quite a shock: outside it was about 30C, inside it was a cool... -6C! haha. that got me my winter fix! we had a drink inside the "warmer" room, where you can still see your breath but where they provide you with a comfy down jacket. my toes were so cold though! they should provide boots as well!

after it was back to the guesthouse, for cheap "happy day" beers.


yesterday was a nice day so we headed to sentosa island, the beach resort spot in singapore. we took a cable car to the island, which was quite nice and very scenic. a great view of downtown and the storm clouds on the horizon! sentosa island had a weird feeling to it, kinda like the night safari. too pretty, too prefect, too manicured... it actually made me feel like brave new world, where everyone works hard and then are forced to relax and play in these beautiful locations. it was nice though, especially the man-made beach. just perfect resort-like... except for the factories smoking in the distance and the tank boats in the water!

then, we were in for a treat: an incredible thunder storm rocked the sky. we took cover at a nice restaurant, where i ate an incredible pizza... probably the best one on this entire trip. yum!

when the rain stopped, we headed back. i had to get my pictured burned onto a cd as i was out of memory, and that took a long time... and even included a fight with the internet shop guy who was upset that i was checking my cds to make sure that nothing had been corrupted in the burning process, as i had happened to me before. in the end i won, i got to check my pictures and didn't have to pay for the "extra service".

after a nice dinner at more hackers we went to see a movie at the cinema. it was nice to eat popcorn and see a movie on the big screen, in it's real version and not a pirated version where you get the bonus audience laugh and people walking in front of the screen. the movie though, the dark, was quite bad. actually, it was very bad. don't go see it! that night at the guesthouse they played the chinese movie "the promise", a much better movie. go see that instead!


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