Leaving Athens in 12 degrees at midday on Saturday and arriving in 30 degrees at 6am on Sunday without jetlag would be a challenge. Unlike my fellow passengers who slept throughout the flight I read three books in 12 hours. I allowed myself 4 hours sleep before I ventured out into 80% humidity, but I live in Auckland and it shouldn’t be that difficult to adjust right? Wrong, it nearly killed me for two days.
My hotel is situated in the old part of Singapore near Little India and has a colonial vibe about it. Little India by the way, isn’t like India. It’s a Singaporean version which is clean, orderly and tidy. I took the MRT (underground train) to Bayfront which didn’t exist last time I was here.
Transportation is cheap, its only 77 cents for a one way trip, and the trains arrive every few minutes and are spotlessly clean. Waiting on the platforms passengers are told eg. “Too many people are waiting on the first half of the platform. Please move down to the end.” Posters and announcements in Chinese and English remind people to give up their seats, not to lean on doors, not drop litter, not to trip while alighting and not to loiter at stations otherwise they will be reported. A train arrives at the station and the closed doors from the platform to the train open, and you hop on. A few minutes later the train arrives at the station. Last night while waiting for a train, a graphic video played explaining what action passengers should take in a terrorist attack.
I went to the Botanical Gardens primarily to see the Orchids. The plants and the trees are pruned extensively and the lawns are probably cut every other day. Of course, there is no litter, cigarette butts and employees wander around smiling enquiring if they can assist you. Were the orchids stunning? Absolutely, and beautiful kept, definitely a must see if you visit Singapore. I took a taxi back to my hotel as I was exhausted. The taxi driver chatted throughout the 20-minute ride which cost a mere 10 dollars.
Taxi Driver. “New Zealand is a stupid country.”
Me. “Why do you say that?”
Taxi Driver. “Because you are selling your farms and land to the Chinese. No country does this.”
Me. (Hopefully). “Perhaps things will change as we have a new Government.”
This was not the only time I’ve been challenged about NZ’s policy in selling chunks of land to foreign investors. I enquired about the lack of police on the streets. “We don’t need them patrolling. We are an orderly country and have very little crime. Most of the population work and you will see no homelessness or begging on the streets here, but on the downside, we are not a democracy.”
Well, I guess you can’t have everything. I did visit Burgis Junction on a shopping exhibition which isn’t like the numerous huge malls which are packed with designer labels. The driver was correct, I didn’t see any begging, pushing, shoving, swearing and or other anti-social behaviour, and if someone accidentally bumped into me they apologised.
Raffles Hotel the icon of Singapore is closed albeit temporarily until the middle of the year. Fifteen years ago, I visited and had a drink in the bar, now it’s being extensively refurbished and it’s no longer near the sea. Yes, it’s still situated on Beach Road but the land has been reclaimed and the docks seem much further way from where they used to be located.
One of the popular places to visit are the Gardens in the Bay which is a nature park and spans over 250 acres of reclaimed land. In the heart of the gardens there are two massive domed conservatories which are environmentally sustainable.
These house the Cloud Forest and Flower gardens. I bought tickets for both, but I wouldn’t recommend the Flower Dome if you live down under. Most of the plants on display eg. dahlias and flowers in the Australian gardens we have in NZ. The Cloud was incredible, and replicates the cool moist conditions found in a tropical mountain rainforest. A lift takes you up, and you descend down a path, past a fantastic waterfall. Talking of water, the heat builds during the day and usually about 4pm the thunderstorms begin with torrential rain. Umbrellas have two uses here, to protect you from the sun and the rain which soaks you in less than thirty seconds.
I planned to go on the Cable Car tomorrow, but after feeling dizzy and sick on the Supertree Grove I have decided to can it. This is a very high elevated walkway between two enormous trees and the views across Singapore are amazing. Unfortunately, I had to go down after five minutes when the walkway began to sway in the wind. Now I’ll have to come up with another idea as I planned to use the cable car in one of my books.
On Friday I leave for home. My adventure is over. How do I feel? Relieved that’s for sure. I’ve actually done it!! Sometimes I can’t believe I have. I’ll write my last blog from home, New Zealand.