Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Wow wow, weeeee wow! That pretty much sums up our 3 days here in Singapore. We arrived on Thursday and got settled into our hostel which was called the Betelbox packpackers hostel. Very cool hostel with easy access to all the cities main attractions.
My original expectations of Singapore prior to visiting were fairly pessimistic from the reports of what I’ve heard from others who visited. A “lifeless soul” of a city in “immaculate, pristine condition” was just one phase I remember hearing about Singapore.
From my own research, Singapore was more of a layover city on route to/from Australia rather than somewhere people would flock to for a few days to gain some authentic Asian cultural experience.
And in fairness, only for we were kindly invited to a wedding over here by good friends of ours then we’d never have even thought about setting foot here.
Yes its expensive. The standard of living is sky high compared to home. Singapore recently moved into 6th spot in the world ranking for most expensive country to live in.
So, the first night we just went out to find somewhere to eat that was close by. We found a local outdoor restaurant(which there were literally hundreds of)! The menu was very limited in that if you didn’t like fish or crazy exotic dishes then you were not going to like it.
I ended up choosing the fish head soup, which I was ealger to try since I love fish. Florence decided to go for the safe option of just having a bottle of water!
The soup contained as you would have guessed a concoction of fish heads and other fish parts all mixed with a glupy brown broth. Now, as I said I like fish but when I saw this arriving I wasn’t sure I’d be able to eat it.
The texture was very grizzly and fatty which was very off putting at the start but soon I got into the swing of it and finished the whole lot. Florence was retching most of the time and got a little video clip of me munching into something with long tail!
We were meant to go the our friends wedding that evening(Thursday) but we were just shattered still from the jet lag and so we decided to just crash at the hostel. The after party was the following day so we wanted to be in top form for that.
The actual wedding we found out was a surreal event. Sinead O’Donnell from Boyle married Sheng Oon who’s originally Singaporean and he’s family are a very well known family in Singapore, with his father being a top doctor/surgeon in his discipline.
Everyone was treated like royalty we later found out with VIP style treatment getting into clubs etc afterwards along with one club having Fat boy Slim as the DJ there for the night!
We met up with everyone Friday for the second part of the wedding which was a traditional Singaporean banquet at poolside of the Conrad hotel(where the wedding was also held). The view, food and people here was spectacular to say the least. Free bar for everyone and an choice of food that would make your eyes pop out.
Before the buffet the Arch Bishop of Singapore gave a blessing to the newly weds and everyone present. During the buffet a bottle of McCallan whiskey was produced by the grooms brother, also named Sheng and we had a good drink from that I can tell ya! I don’t know how much a bottle of that stuff costs but I was later to find out that it goes for a few hundred euro!
After the buffet the party crowd was brought to a roof top bar overlooking the marina and the marina bay sands hotel which is a world famous megastructure as you’ll recognise from the photos. One of the grooms family members owned this bar/club so when we arrived at the lifts to enter we were told the was a couple of tables been set up for us.
The photo’s don’t do the view justice here, but it was magnificent. So the party got under way and these guys out here don’t drink like we do. What I mean by that is when we go to the bar to order a drink we get a shot or bottle of whatever we’re having. Here, these guys just go up to the bar and order a bottle of Jack Daniels if your drinking whiskey or vodka or a bucket of beer if your drinking that. And they don’t spare any thought for the costs involved.
This bottle of vodka that you see Felim trying to drink costs something like s$1000 a pop!!
Sheng and his family and friends really made up feel very welcome and their generosity when bringing us out to party was nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. Genuinely good people who wanted to show us how to party “Singaporean style”…..and we did!
I want to give a special mention to Jeremy Tan(who’s in the photo above with Flor). This guy along with the others really knows how to party and he was a total funny man, gent, comedian and host all rolled into one. He looked after us after we left the first bar and showed us a few other top spots. At the end of the night he wanted to bring us( Felim, Florence, Aileen and myself) to get some traditional dish called simplely “chicken and rice”. Was delicious by the way, but the interesting thing was that when the taxi man dropped us off at the restaurant he told the cab driver that if he waited for us while we sat down and eat that he’d give him $100 extra!
So low and behold there the cab driver was waiting patiently for us outside an hour later to bring us all home.
Jeremy was first to get dropped off so he tossed the $100 to me in the back and said if this guy doesn’t drop you to the front door of our hostel then don’t give him the money and to ring him and he’ll sort stuff out!
Needless to say the taxi driver more or less dropped us inside the front door!
I liked this guy Jeremy’s style. He also wanted to bring us all out again the following night for a real party that included going to the bar that the facebook guys drink at when in town and when they are there himself and a few other mates compete with them at buying crazy priced drinks. Jeremy admits that he never wins, but its good fun trying!!!
Anyways, we just couldn’t bear the thought of another night’s crazy partying apart from been hungover, our flight to Bali was the following day.
But we definitely will take Jeremy up on his unreal offer if we manage to return to Singapore before we leave Asia in December(somehow I think we will manage to return)
So Saturday we just chilled around the hostel and met up with Felim and Aileen. Felim was heading back home that night and Aileen was coming down to us in the hostel as she’s going to be travelling with us for a few months.
We eat in a Vietnamese restaurant that night and I enjoyed some seriously delicious prawns in noodle soup!
For our final day in Singapore we decided to go visit the Marina bay sands hotel and casino. This megastructure is pretty awesome and the architecture that went into its design architecture is something to admire. The hotel and casino made a profit of 1 billion within the first 6 months of opening its doors.
At the top of the hotel thres a skywalk which gives a 360 degree view of Singapore.
We really enjoyed our 3 days in Singapore and would love to return before we end this trip. The city is really something that you have to see for yourself in order to see how pristine and safe it is. We never once saw one single cop or cop car while there and were told that the crime level is ultra low because of the severe penal system in place. For instance drug trafficking comes with a mandatory death penalty – no get out of jail cards with that one!
One other point before I sign off. We learned very quickly on arrival that our hostel was located bang in the center of the red light district. Prostitution is legal in Singapore while watching porn or reading porn is Illegal! Tough one to figure out!
However the red light district wasn’t your typical sleezy scene. Sure there were the girls walking all over the place and going in and out of the pubs to work etc… but they don’t bother people and never approach them. Also we never felt one bit uncomfortable staying there as no one bothered ya.
I’m just finishing typing up this blog update as we fly to Bali, Indonesia where we will be really starting to get into the thick our our travels.