Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Singapore #1

Well that was an exciting day.

It didn't start out in a particularly exciting way.  Was a quite unremarkable start to the day.  Apart from the fact that we all woke up at around 4 in the morning, and The Builder has a cold.  But we made our way in a calm and measured manner for breakfast and were delighted to find watermelon and cantaloupe and cheese and other yummy and healthy things (although I'm not sure the pastries were particularly healthy).  Then we took the hotel's shuttle bus to Suntec where we were hoping to find the Duck Hippo Tour desk.

Suntec is huge.  Absolutely enormous. Gigantic.  And made up of several buildings dotted around the outside of a huge roundabout.

Signage is almost impossible to understand.  The signs are in English (all the signs in Singapore are in English) but working out how to get anywhere is almost impossible.

It was more by good luck than good management that we looked out through a door and noticed Duck Tour vehicles outside.  We asked one of the drivers where the stand was and it turned out we were about three steps away from it when we diverted through the door.

A Duck Tour submersible

So Lindsey bought two day passes for the Hippo buses (tourist hop on hop off buses) which included trips on the Duck Tour and the Singapore Flyer. And off we set on the Duck Tour.  Which is kind of fun because the Duck Tours are run on Duck submersible vehicles which are land and river craft.  Gave us really good views of Singapore from the river and the guide was clear and informative.  Did you know that the marina area used to be part of the sea and is now partly reclaimed land and partly a freshwater reservoir?  No - neither did I.  They've built a dam to block off the sea and freshened up the water and claimed some land back.

Then we headed on a Hippo bus to the Singapore Flyer, which is at the moment the tallest observation wheel in the world. It's not as elegant as the London Eye - but neither were there the crowds that you find in London,  and it moves ever so ever so slowly so that you are hardly aware you are moving.

The Singapore Flyer with the F1 pit building below

Right.  Lunchtime.  There are restaurants and shops in the Flyer complex. We gave brief consideration to a seafood restaurant, but decided that the roughly $40 per main course was a tad on the expensive side for lunch and repaired to an area that was made up of street food style stores and had sweet chilli prawns, fried chicken, sautéed pak choi and rice for lunch with tiger beer.  Coming to a grand total of $50 all told.  Much better, and very tasty.

The remains of our lunch

Right, said Lindsey. Let's go over the Helix Bridge that Frannie wants to collect and we can go for a stroll in the City Gardens.  So we did. And were having a lovely potter about admiring the trees and the metal flowers and the buildings - when the real excitement of the day came upon us. We noticed a storm blowing in. So we moved fairly sharpish towards the visitor centre which has plenty of cover and watched a monsoon like thunderstorm whoosh in.  After about ten minutes the paths were awash with water (I have to say that the drainage system is extraordinarily good) but the intensity of the rain was lessening.  We have rain ponchos and umbrellas with us.  It is, after all, the rainy season.  Right, said Lindsey. The rain's not too bad now. Let's make a bid for the main road and a bus home.  The Builder objected.  The pavements were still awash with water and he only has one pair of shoes here.  OK, said Lindsey.  I'll go up there, under cover, to the loos and we'll see what's what when I get back.  Off she went.  And a minute or two later there was a distinct, loud and quite disconcerting HISSSSSSSSSSSS and FIZZZZZZZZZZ above The Builder and my heads, accompanied by a spark of lightening and a huge, enormous and very loud crash of thunder. It wasn't scary so much as very, very disconcerting. I have never before ever actually heard lightning.  I think, if we had been out in the rain, we would probably have been OK, because there are lots of very tall metal things around that area which would have been hit first.  But I am profoundly glad that we were not out in it.  It made the hairs on our arms stand up as it was.  Imagine if we had been wet! We left our sheltered area when we noticed that locals were beginning to leave!!!

We never did find the place where the Hippo bus we were after left from. But we did find a taxi rank and came back by taxi instead. In the rain.

Then Lindsey and I griddled our lions and put our ponchos back on and put our umbrellas back up and headed down to Orchard Road to find the little supermarket we had discovered on Sunday evening.  While we were pottering about I noticed that there were twiglets and cheese balls from England, Cold Power washing powder from Australia. Italian cooking sauces from England and Italy. Things from all over the world - but nothing much from Singapore.  It's an import store! That's why the lady in the Japanese restaurant on Sunday evening had asked if we minded a Cold Storage supermarket.  So last night I made dinner with Australian beef, Chinese shitake mushrooms, Italian spaghetti (but via the Waitrose Essentials range), Taiwanese Oyster sauce, Japanese soya sauce, Malaysian salad and Singaporean tomatoes.  Was quite tasty considering!!

The Builder was in bed by 8:30.   I think 48 hours of virtually no sleep had caught up with him.  Lindsey was in bed by just after 9.  I held out until 10:30.  And we were all awake bright and early this morning ready for another day of excitement and adventure.  No more audible lightning overhead though, please Oh Weather Dogs.

Just a bit of rain.  Click on the picture for the Singapore photo album

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