Singapore Jan 21016

Singapore is an island that had a British trading post on it, then became a British possession. It gained independentce and Lee Kuan Yew was elected Prime Minister.

The island is famous for it’s multiculturalism, and most people speak several languages, so they can communicate with their friends. Pupils in school are taught in English, which makes talking to the locals and getting around very easy.

Singapore has been rated as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, and over 80% of the population have faith and trust their government.

It also has a very high execution of criminals rate relative to the size of it’s population, which could be why it feels so safe here.

About 10% of the land has been set aside for parks and plantings, something started by Lee Kuan Yew, which has made this such a beautiful urban area.

Chinese New Year is in a few days time, so there are decorations, and monkey figures everywhere.

The climate is tropical rainforest, and does not vary that much throughout the year. There is a wet season, but humidity is all ways about 75%, and the temperature between 22-35C.

Our taxi driver told us that it is very safe here, no typhoons, no earthquakes, droughts or floods!

Because of it’s dependence  on eternal trade, Singapore is considerd a baramoter of the worlds economic health, especially Asia’s. Talking to our taxi drivers, a good indication of how a country is doing, they say that they are finding times har. Because of the Chinese driving up the cost of houses, and other immigrants coming in and taking jobs, they are struggling to survive. And no Uber is here as well.

In spite of that, Singapore has the worlds highest percentage of millionaires, and some of the most expensive property in the world.

Singapore has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world, and the 4th higest lif expectancy. It has a less than 10% obesity level. People walk a lot, and use public transport, rather than buy cars, which are very expensive.

Coming through the airport the first thing I noticed was the huge bowls of orchids, my favourite flowers, everywhere.

Waiting for the taxi the heat and humidity engulfed us, 31C and 65% humidity, and this is not the worst month! It was like stepping into a greenhouse in the middle of summer, and we were quickly soaked in sweat.

The drive from the airport to the hotel was  beautiful, like driving through a botanical garden; tall trees, shrubs and flowers, parks and greenery everywhere.

I always thought Cairns was the greenest city I had seen, but Singapore wins hands down, someone has worked really hard to make this a fabulous city. I often feel desperate to get into the countryside to escape the oppression of concrete and bricks. I didn’t feel that here at all.

The other thing we noticed was how clean it is, no rubbish, and no graffiti. There are huge fines for dropping litter, not flushing the toilet after you have used it, and chewing gum.

Although some people might think it is taking things a bit far to pass laws like that, if it gives you such a clean environment, I would support it. I know when we first came to New Zealand we were surprised to see the lack of graffiti that plagued the UK, but that has since changed. It is one o the first signs of urban decay.

The entrance of the Carlton Hotel was very impressive, a huge crystal flower chandelier was suspended from the ceiling, a wall is plants.

Everyone was very friendly and helpful, and our room was spacious with a view over the pool.

After a nap and swim we decided to walk down to China Town for dinner. We walked through a road of old shop houses, that gace a glimpse into how Singapore looked seventy years ago.

We had to slow our pace, as even  at six o’clock  the air is oppressive.

We heard a drum being played and found the source-and ornate Buddhist temple.

A saffron robed monk was standing at a window, framed by several roof lines, drumming. Why had I left my camera behind?!

I wanted to eat at the food court, the smells were enticing, some of the queues quite long, showing a quick turnover of ingredients.

 After my problems in Mexico I am being extra cautious! But at least we don’t have to worry about the water or ice here, it is some of the cleanest in the world.

Dave was not so sure about this food, he has had a stomach problem the last  few days, and didn’t want to make it any worse.

We backtracked to a Japanese restaurant that looks clean, and actually cooks our salmon and bean shoots in teriyaki sauce, at our table. It is delicious.

Next morning, after breakfast, we drove to the famous Singapore Zoo.

The zoo is in a shady, park setting, the animals kept in their enclosure by moats, rather than cages.

Most seem happy, except the tiger and polar bear who were alone in their areas , and exhibiting repetitive behaviour, indicating they were unhappy.

We spent a long time watching the baboons with their bright red bottoms. There were several tiny babies, only a few days old, clinging to their mothers. I saw a male come over, pick up a baby, sniff along the length of it’s back, and put it down again.

Dave wanted to see the orang-utans, but they seemed a bit listless, just lying a round and not doing much. It could have been the fact they were wearing fur coats in this heat, or lack of stimulation, they didn’t have any toys to play with.

By ten o’clock we were exhausted, so we caught a cab back to the hotel, had lunch and slept for two hours!

Later we went out to Clarke Quay which has a lively buzz with restaurants, bars, and cafes beside the river.

Choosing a Thai restaurant we sat down and sipped a cocktail, watching the world go by.

Dave’s stomach is still not good, so we will get him to a doctor tomorrow.

Thursday14th January

Dave saw a doctor this morning, cost with drugs $170.

We spent a quiet morning wandering around the market, buying fruit for lunch. I tried the Jackfruit, which is nice tasting, but smells a bit like sweaty armpits, though not as strong as Durian. Durian is so bad that hotels wont allow it in the rooms, and you cant take it on public transport. Dave complains when I bring it home, but it has a delicious sweet vanilla custard taste.

There is a food market opposite the hotel where we buy fruit each day.

I bought some pples, and they were the best apples I have ever tasted, sweet, juicy,and crisp.Even better than our 'Jazz'

Dave said his stomach had settled down with the drugs, so we decided to brave the mass transport system, like a London subway.

The station was clean and well signed, and everyone was helpful. We got on the train, but there were very few seats, just for the old, pregnant and infirm.

We got out at our station expecting to see old shops and houses and a ‘hipster area’, only to find it was all residential and a further taxi ride was required.

Feeling hot and hungry, we returned back to our original station and looked for lunch.

There was a small shopping mall with little restaurants dotted around.  We chose a Chinese one where you could point to what you wanted. It came to $5 each and was delicious!

We chatted to our neighbours who wanted to hear about Australia, and practise their English. They had some suggestions for places for us to visit, and were very helpful. Everyone we have talked to has been very friendly and helpful, and most of them speak good  English.

Last evening we went up to the 29th floor of the hotel and had dinner out on the deck, looking at the city lights ,under the light of the moon. Very romantic.