Getting to Singapore from KL was no problem. I boarded the bus at Puduraya and we left with a 30min delay (who knows why). At the border, I first had to carry my stuff through the Malaysian customs, get back on the bus and then do the same thing at Singapore’s boarder again. Remember your bus nr. and a few faces of the people who were on the same bus with you or you might have trouble finding the bus again, since nobody explains to you what you have to do. Before I could enter Singapore, I once again had to fill out a paper which asked for the same information several times. They took it very serious and I actually had to look up the address of the hostel on my iPod. They weren’t satisfied with just Grace Lodge.
Finally in Singapore after an about 5 hour drive, it didn’t take long until the driver said “ok, final stop” and we all had to get off, somewhere at the side of a road nobody knew. Luckily, there was a bank close by and I could get my first SGD out of an ATM. Then, I had to walk about 700m to a metro station. In that heat and with my backpack you do not want to walk 700m! I eventually made it and purchased a ticket to go to Tai Seng. Luckily, I didn’t throw the paper ticket away because you need it to get out and you can use it up to 6 times (to get back the 10 cent deposit and a 10cent discount on the 6th ride).
Nobody at Tai Seng station could tell me in what direction I had to walk but to my shoulders’ relieve, I chose the correct one on the first try. With the house nr., finding the hostel was very easy. I passed a few Indian restaurants and then rang the bell at otherwise unremarkable Gracelodge. A guy opened “may I see your reservation?” Well hello to you too…All about business here in Singapore.
I showed him the reservation and he let me inside. He showed me the room and bathroom and explained the house rules to me (no food and only water in the room, leave the shoes at the door, only wear house slippers, etc.). I was just glad when I could finally put my bag down.
I think it is the same type of bunk bed which I had in Taman Negara. Quite comfortable and there were fans AND a/c in the room.
I cooled off for a while and then decided to go back into town to do some exploring.
I took an MRT to Esplanade, walked to the Raffles hotel to take a picture and then made my way to the Singapore flyer. Just because I somehow wanted to get to the water and that was my only point of orientation. I had to pass through a mall and realized that the prices weren’t even that expensive here. Still cheaper than in Switzerland.
The ferris wheel wasn’t very interesting, now that it was still light out but the area at the bottom is very nice. There are a few cheap food stalls (and also expensive restaurants) and a small rain forest park. I bought an iced coffee since I heard that the coffee in Singapore is really good. I saw that the guy freshly prepared it but it then didn’t live up to my expectations. Perhaps I tried the wrong food stall.
I walked to the bay and had to cross what looked like a road. I carefully looked for coming cars but only saw black tire traces and then realized that this must be part of the formula 1 track. Now, there were people jogging on it. A little later, I went back to the street food area and bought a plate of fried egg with oysters for $5. The oysters were good but it was a little too much egg for me. What’s up with Asians and eggs anyways? You can buy eggs at EVERY corner and if you eat hot pot they give you whole eggs to boil in it as well.
After dinner, the sun had set and now all the buildings ignited the night. Again, it looked beautiful and very inviting to stroll around some more. I crossed the bridge over to the shopping center at Gardens by the Bay. I’d have liked to go look at them but I didn’t find the way towards it, wasn’t sure whether it’d still be open and I wasn’t much feeling like walking around in the dark alone.
I took the MRT back to the hostel. I was pretty tired and would have liked to sleep but some people just don’t get that they shouldn’t have a conversation above whisper volume after 11pm in a dorm. Is that too much to ask for?
My second day in Singapore was filled with excitement. I took the MRT to Ang Mo Kio and from there bus 138 to Singapore Zoo. It took me over an hour to get there and considering this, about 4 SGD is a very fair price for public transport.
The zoo was better than any zoo I’ve ever been to! I mean, I heard that Singapore Zoo is pretty and amazing but I didn’t expect it to be that awesome! The cages all look very natural and most of them are only divided from the visitors by plants and moats. Therefore, you get very close to the animals! You can follow a feeding time schedule and therefore will be ensured that the animals are awake and active. In addition, the employees tell you many interesting facts about the animals. There are also fact boards everywhere in the zoo and the amount of writing on it is exactly right so that you don’t get tired of reading them.
What I liked best, was something like a rain forest hall. You can walk through a forest on paths and the animals move freely around you. It was sooo cool that I actually got goose bumps being in there! There were this cute miniature deer that didn’t even reach to my knee, colorful birds, butterflies, monkeys, lizards, tortoise and huge bats (I was so mesmerized that I forgot to look what they are called). Above all they were impressive, when they spread out their big, thin wings and then suddenly hang back on a tree branch again. I could have stayed in there all day but there was so much more to see.
I also really enjoyed watching the polar bear hunt for food pieces. I didn’t watch any of the shows though because by 2.30pm I had seen all the animals and I thought I probably should head back to the city center, to see some more things. I was also pretty hungry by then and since the food at the zoo is quite expensive and the portions are small, I preferred eating at a food center in town. The entrance fee to the zoo is 22 SGD for adults. You could pay $5 more to use the tram in the zoo but since the area is mostly flat, it was no problem to visit everything on foot (however, it rained in the morning and so it was a colder day than usual, perhaps with the sun shining it could be exhausting walking around).
On the way back with the bus, I met a guy who lives in Singapore and like so many other Asian people I’ve met, he was very happy to talk about food and wanted to show me the food center. He then really wanted to invite me for lunch. As a European, I am not used to this, that a stranger would just invite you to food but here it seems to be common. I think I could get used to that 😉 Afterwards, my friendly acquaintance went home and I took a train to HarbourFront to get to the boardwalk to Sentosa Island. It was 5pm by then already. You just need time to get around Singapore, it’s not as small as I still feel it is.
There is a monorail you could take to get to the island but the distances are so short (and there are conveyors and escalators) that you pay too much for the trains. I had to pay $1 to enter the island. Sentosa is basically a dream world that fulfills any of your childhood wishes. There is Universal Studios, big resorts, a waterpark, the aquarium, theaters, look out towers, beaches etc.
It was a bit confusing to find the correct way to the beach I wanted to go and all the employees just told me to take the monorail because it would be “very far”. However, I eventually got to the big lion statue and from there it’s easy to have some orientation. It’s really worth it to walk because the paths are very pretty. A fountain reminded me of Park Güel in Barcelona. Down at the beach, you can take free trams or buses to certain parts on the island. But it actually only took me about 20min to get from the entrance to the southernmost point of continental Asia. I can’t believe how much I’ve seen in 6 weeks all the way from Chiang Mai down here traveling on foot, by bus, ship, bicycle, tuktuk, elephant, bamboo raft, taxi or train. And I’d do it again 🙂 Actually, I’d like to go on longer but I guess that just means I’ll have to come back soon 🙂
The beaches on Sentosa are very picturesque and if I had more time, I’d definitely come back here to take a swim. But it was already getting dark and so I decided to walk back and find some dinner.
I found a supermarket that sells lots of products from all over the world at a reasonable price, which would make it agreeable to live in Singapore.
Once again, I couldn’t resist the sushi (how much raw fish can you eat until it gets unhealthy?). I didn’t have enough money anymore to buy my favorite flavor of Ben&Jerry’s (Phisfood) but I thought it would be enough to try a hot chocolate at Max Brenner’s (I’ve always wanted to go there and yes, the chocolate really is delicious but just as good as at my favorite (cheaper) places in Switzerland). I cut it very close with the money because I didn’t calculate that the tax would be so high. I had exactly the $2 I needed to ride back to the hostel afterwards. Luckily, I got back my $10 deposit for a locker key and so would have something for breakfast and to get to the airport the next morning.
Singapore makes it very easy and affordable to get to the airport. Just board the green line Metro, ride to the final intersection before the airport (Tanah Merah) and change to the airport train on the middle track. It took me about 40min to get to the airport from Tai Seng.
There weren’t many people and I checked in my bags at the Air Asia counter at terminal 1 in no time. I didn’t have to wait long to board my flight but for the short waiting time, I had free wifi at the airport, which is always a big plus 🙂
Then, off to a short 2h 30min flight to Bali, my one week escape before going home. On one hand, Air Asia doesn’t offer any food or drinks (except if you pay for it) but on the other hand, they have their announcements in all the often used languages. It was weird and comforting at the same time to hear German on an Asian plane 🙂 And I thought it was very nice that they said “welcome to Bali to all our visitors and welcome home to all the Indonesians.” As far as I remembered, all the airlines usually only address the people as tourists. But sometimes it’s nice to fly to a place you call your home 🙂