Singapore and Southern Malaysia, Feb. 17 / Mar. 22, 2012

Michael J. Ferguson

Journal Index


1  Introduction
2  Montreal to Singapore, Fri. Feb. 17 to Sun. Feb. 19
3  Singapore, Mon. Feb 20 / Tues Feb. 21
4  Singapore, Wed. Feb. 22
5  Upper Thomson Flyover to Pulau Ubin, Thurs. Feb. 23
6  Pulau Ubin, Fri. Feb. 24 and Sat. Feb. 25
7  Pulau Ubin to Tanjung Kapal Beach Resort, Sun. Feb. 26
8  Tanjung Kapal Beach Resort to beyond Sungai Rengit, Mon. Feb. 27
9  Back to Sungai Rengit, Tues. Feb. 28
10  Sungai Rengit, Wed. Feb, 28 and Thurs. Mar. 1
11  Sungai Rengit to Singapore, Fri. Mar 2
12  Singapore for the duration, Sat. Mar 3 to Thurs. Mar. 22
    12.1  Cycling in Singapore
    12.2  The Marina Bay
    12.3  Chinatown
        12.3.1  Buddha Tooth Temple
        12.3.2  Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple
        12.3.3  Amitabha Buddhist Centre
        12.3.4  Kuan Im Tng Temple
    12.4  Little India
        12.4.1  Hoon Sian Keng Temple
        12.4.2  Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
        12.4.3  Sri Vadapathira Kaliammam Temple
        12.4.4  Leung San Buddhist Temple
        12.4.5  Sakaya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
        12.4.6  Malabar Mosque
        12.4.7  Khadijah Mosque
        12.4.8  Sultan Mosque
        12.4.9  Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple
    12.5  Orchard Road
    12.6  Hawker Food Centres
        12.6.1  Geyling Serai Shopping Centre
    12.7  Singapore's Green Spaces
        12.7.1  The National Orchid Garden
        12.7.2  Sungei Buloh Wetlands
        12.7.3  MacRitchie Reservoir
        12.7.4  Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
        12.7.5  Labrador Park and Nature Reserve
        12.7.6  Fort Canning Park
        12.7.7  The Coastal Parks
    12.8  Nostalgic Singapore
        12.8.1  The Raffles Hotel
        12.8.2  St. Andrew's Anglican Cathedral
        12.8.3  Peranakan Terrace Houses
        12.8.4  Kampong Lorong Buangkok
13  Singapore to Montreal, Thurs. Mar. 22 to Fri. Mar. 23

1  Introduction

This is my winter trip for 2012. I had intended to go to Kuala Lumpur but the airport is 75km out side the city and I couldn't find out enough about it. Singapore is more compact so that became the choice. Getting off Singapore island with a bicycle and trailer is a little difficult. After some research, I decided to take a ferry from Changi Point to Pengerang in southern Johor. I shall see how it works.

2  Montreal to Singapore, Fri. Feb. 17 to Sun. Feb. 19

Although the layover in Doha was 6 hours going and 8 hours coming back, Qatar Airways got me into Singapore at 1:30pm, rather than near midnight for Cathay Pacific. Both Qatar flights were quite nice, and I witnessed a religious seating problem at Doha. An orthodox Islamic woman refused to sit in the middle seat beside me and the woman in the aisle seat. and insisted that the flight attendant make an arrangement. The attendant tried to get the woman in the aisle to move to the middle seat but she refused because she had purposely chosen the aisle. It was nice that she refused because it left an empty seat in the middle.

We arrived on time and it was nice that our normal baggage carousel and the oversize gate were right beside each other. My trailer came on the normal carousel and my bicycle on the oversize. Singapore says you have to declare medicines, and have permit. I decided to ignore it for my hypertension pills, and went through fending off a question as to whether my bicycle was diving equipment. Bicycles are OK.

I put my bicycle together with an attentive audience. Qatar managed to bend my front chain ring but I was able to straighten it enough so that I was able ride. I rode out of Changi Airport and seemed to be forced to go a short distance on an expressway. Later I discovered that Changi Airport is impossible to access legally on a bicycle since its only access is via expressways and bicycles are not allowed on them. It is the only one so far that I have found, anywhere in the world, that is bicycle inaccessible. I finally found the Fernloft East Hostel, with some help on the final closure. My GPS coordinates had it down a side street. I do wish that Lonely Planet would include GPS coordinates for their places.

3  Singapore, Mon. Feb 20 / Tues Feb. 21

I spent these two days looking, with no success, for a gas canister for my camp stove. One place, that supposedly had it, was out of stock, and a second place was closed for building renovation. Tomorrow I will try to buy a new stove that uses the puncture type canisters.

4  Singapore, Wed. Feb. 22

I left the Fernloft Hostel, intending to find the Hock Gift shop that apparently, according to their website, had the puncture type stove and canister. I found the store, but much to my dismay, the stove was out of stock. I had intended to continue to Pulau Ubin where I was going to camp, but it was early afternoon when I started towards it and it was clear that I was not going to make it. I saw a nice wooded area that I thought I could use, but it had a rather disconcerting sign that convinced me I should not camp there.

These signs are all over Singapore. You get the feeling the island is a huge military base. However, I did find an isolated unprotected, place under the Upper Thomson expressway flyover, and after getting some food for supper, set up my tent.

5  Upper Thomson Flyover to Pulau Ubin, Thurs. Feb. 23

After an unsuccessful search for Adventure World, another place that might have had a stove, I arrived at the Changi Point Ferry for the Pulau Ubin island. There was no one around, so I had no choice but to hire an entire bumboat. Normally the boats wait for 12 passengers but that clearly was not going to happen on a Thursday evening. It is only $30sg ($24usd) so it was not that outrageous. After some questions, I found Jelutong campsite and set up my tent under a small shelter. The place was almost empty.

6  Pulau Ubin, Fri. Feb. 24 and Sat. Feb. 25

Pulau Ubin is supposed to a throwback to Singapore of the 60s. It does have the charm of tiny roads and houses/stores on stilts.

However, it is hard to believe that the major commerce of the 60s was bicycle rentals.

Thursday was empty, but Friday evening and Saturday were totally jammed. One distressing thing about the island is all of the water comes from contaminated wells and the campground does not have any showers. However the new Celestial Ubin Beach Resort sells a day pass and has cold showers available. It is inconvenient but better than nothing.

7  Pulau Ubin to Tanjung Kapal Beach Resort, Sun. Feb. 26

After a noisy night where I was surrounded by two groups of about 25 teenagers, I broke camp and took the ferry to the Changi Point Ferry Terminal. This is also the same place as the ferry to Pengerang in Malaysia so it was rather easy to make the connection. Since I did not have any Malaysian currency, I needed to find the ATM, that I had previously waypointed on my GPS, in Sungai Rengit. I was not going to make it by evening, and even if I did, I had no obvious place to stay. Then I saw a sign to Tanjung Kapal Beach Resort which also said it had campsites. I also decided to rent a room if the campsites were not available. When I arrived the entire resort was surrounded by massive reconstruction, and the restaurant seemed to be deserted.

Several families were there with their children. I learned a little later from the construction manager that the entire resort had been rented by the construction company so there was no place to stay at all. One of the daytime guards seemed to indicate that I could stay, but the definitive word came from the construction manager, who let me put up my tent by the bathrooms, and introduced me to the construction security team. My constraint was that I had to be out by 8:00am the following morning.

8  Tanjung Kapal Beach Resort to beyond Sungai Rengit, Mon. Feb. 27

After a free breakfast in the restaurant that doubled as the construction canteen, I was on my way in slight drizzle, towards Sungai Rengit. Suddenly a tree by the small road I was on started bouncing. It was full of macaque monkeys, who were more than a little reticent to show themselves. I was using my waterproof camera rather than my big Olympus, because I didn't think the Olympus would be safe in the rain, so I had trouble getting any good pictures.

I found the ATM just where it should have been, and now was able to buy food and stuff. Later I found a pleasant place a just outside of town and set up for the night.

9  Back to Sungai Rengit, Tues. Feb. 28

After a few km in 107F (42C) it appeared to me that I would not have the energy or spirit to get to the interesting places in Johor, so I turned around to go back to Sungai Rengit. The iced tea there is quite refreshing and I had have been having it quite often. There do not seem to be any bicycle friendly hotels in town so I settled for one that had pleasant modern rooms, and an almost impossibly small secure place for my bicycle and trailer. The prices here are only about 1/6 that of Singapore. The secure place is so inconvenient that I didn't touch anything while I was in town.

10  Sungai Rengit, Wed. Feb, 28 and Thurs. Mar. 1

This town is famous for its seafood, as the stainless steel crab shows.

It has a collection of small markets and restaurants, but does not have too many other redeeming features.

11  Sungai Rengit to Singapore, Fri. Mar 2

After some time I extricated, and repacked, my bicycle and trailer from the exceedingly tiny back hallway and was on my way to the ferry. There are several mosques, and some nice houses, interspersed amongst the normal rural poverty.

I arrived at about 9:30am and discovered that there was only one other person wanting to go to Singapore. Like Pulau Ubin, the boats require 12 passengers to go. However, some bargaining takes place and the dispatcher asked us if we were willing to pay 100Rg for the boat. This was about 4 times the regular rate, rather than 12, so we agreed, and were on our way, in two different boats. After about an hour, I was back, and had to carry the bicycle and trailer across the decks of two other boats because that was as close as the captain could get to the customs dock. Singapore customs was very thorough on this entry. I had to take every bag out of the trailer to be x-rayed. There was no one else around, so it was only me and the two customs officials that were inconvenienced as I refilled the trailer.

After some lunch, and a torrential rainstorm, I arrived at the Goldkist Beach Resort in the East Coast Park. I had just intended to stay a few days, but it is painful to ride around looking for a place that can conveniently accommodate my bicycle and trailer so I decided to stay here for the entire time.

12  Singapore for the duration, Sat. Mar 3 to Thurs. Mar. 22

12.1  Cycling in Singapore

I spent my three weeks just riding around different neighbourhoods, usually not knowing where I was, but confident that my GPS would get me back to my room. The GPS is does such things well, but for strategic planning, you need a bigger picture. For that, I bought a map.

Singapore is a very bicycle unfriendly city. The roads are very crowded, and the drivers are rather aggressive. They seem to believe that bicyclists shouldn't be on any road. It is quite common to have a car, bus, or truck, whiz by you with only a two to three feet clearance, and occasionally only a foot. In other places I have been, two to three feet is occasional, but here it is the usual. The busses are worst because they have their own bus lanes and tend to push you up to the curb. Bus shelters and bus bays are very common. So is the habit of bus drivers honking, and then cutting in right in front of you to pick up passengers. I had several car drivers force me to brake quickly as the cut in front to turn down a side street.

In fact, the streets and roads are so unfriendly that most Singaporeans tend to ride their bicycles on the sidewalk. Even when the sidewalks are not too crowded, the ubiquitous bus shelters cause problems. In most cases there is a narrow lane behind them, but many times you are forced to get off and walk your bicycle through the maze of people. I talked about the bicycling difficulties in Singapore to a Singaporean bicyclist and he commented ``Singapore drivers are quite rude.''

As long as you are not in a hurry, Singapore has many opportunities for recreational bicycling. There are several coastal parks, with families and children learning how to ride. In addition, an extensive Park Connector Network connects the coastal parks and internal regional parks. They are less crowded than the coastal parks but usually don't go anywhere that is useful for a tourist.

Singapore also has other difficulties for the bicycle tourist. There is no such thing as Bicycle Friendly Lodging. In addition, budget accommodation, such as Backpacker Hotels are usually crammed into second floor locations and have no place to store your bicycle, or place that is so small that it takes heroic efforts to put it in or get it out. Tiny single rooms, where they exist, are usually windowless, and cost at least $50/night. After an internet search while I was in Sungai Rengit, I was able to find a room at the Goldkist Beach Resort in East Coast Park for about $100/night. This is, apparently, less than 60% of the walkin rate. My room is large, with an outside ground-level door, and a tile floor. There is plenty of room to leave my trailer inside and bring my bicycle in at night.

Added to all these difficulties is Singapore's incredibly hot and humid climate. Early morning, just after sunrise, it is a reasonably pleasant 77F but within a few hours is in the mid eighties and by afternoon in the mid to high nineties. The addition of the high humidity does make riding rather uncomfortable and energy sapping. There also are torrential downpours in thunderstorms, but I must admit, that it was very comforting to be inside my room and not in my tent when they passed through.

Even with all the bicycling problems, a bicycle is still the best way to get around Singapore. Bicycle parking may be difficult, but auto parking is incredibly worse. I was just starting to get used to the conditions as I was about to go home.

12.2  The Marina Bay

Probably the most striking piece of architecture in Singapore is the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. I first saw it while riding along the Esplanade Bridge where I first saw this Flying Boat and the flutes shell of the Science Museum.

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel is on the north shore of Marina Bay, which since the 2008 completion of the Marine Barrage (Dam) is a fresh water reservoir. I discovered later that you could ride along the Tanjong Rhu Promenade - no cars allowed - on the east bank of the reservoir through Bay East Garden by the Bay. From this side you can see the Bay South Garden on the other side, with its Cooled Rain Forest and Flower Domes. This entire area is still under construction and not yet accessible to anyone other than the hard hats who work there.

A little bit further down the promenade where the domes are now in front of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

AS you continue down towards the Barrage the Singapore Flyer stands out. It is huge, and rather expensive, but might appeal to some people, although I never saw it turning.

From the centre of the Barrage, you can see the entire northern shore, except that hidden behind the Flyer.

That hidden section is delimited by the Esplanade Bridge at the mouth of the Singapore River. This northern bank is the Marina Centre with the now tiny Fullerton Hotel just across from the spouting Singapore Lion

Nearby is a collection of performing arts buildings including Esplanade Concert Hall.

12.3  Chinatown

It is hard to believe that a city and country that is 74% Chinese would have a Chinatown, but Singapore does. It marks the historical beginning of the Chinese occupation of the island. Most of the area is dedicated to the Chinese skill that dominates Asia ... retailing.

It was strange that this would also be a place for a school excursion.

There are, of course, the temples in Chinatown. Most are Buddhist, but one is Hindu, perhaps a testament to the Chinese moving out to the suburbs.

12.3.1  Buddha Tooth Temple

The most famous is the Buddha Tooth Temple. I was first not allowed to go in because I was wearing a hat. That was easily fixable, but a few minutes later, it was announced that my bicycle shorts were also not allowed. I made do with pictures from the outside and the doorways.

12.3.2  Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple

The Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple appeared to be totally locked down.

12.3.3  Amitabha Buddhist Centre

The Amitabha Buddhist Centre is the spiritual and teaching heart of the Tibetan community in Singapore. It is, as might be expected outside of Chinatown.

12.3.4  Kuan Im Tng Temple

The Kuan Im Tng Temple is one of the many small temples tucked away on back streets.

12.4  Little India

One interesting thing about Singapore is that virtually all the manual labour is done by Indians. Little India is, or was, the cultural heart of Singapore's Indians with temples, restaurants, and small shops.

12.4.1  Hoon Sian Keng Temple

12.4.2  Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple

12.4.3  Sri Vadapathira Kaliammam Temple

12.4.4  Leung San Buddhist Temple

12.4.5  Sakaya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple

There are many other temples and mosques spread around the city.

12.4.6  Malabar Mosque

12.4.7  Khadijah Mosque

12.4.8  Sultan Mosque

The most impressive mosque, is appropriately called the Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam.

12.4.9  Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple

The Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple, one of the most important Hindu temples, is not in Little India, but rather much to the east.

There were many plaques in and around the temple indicating how to live an honourable life.

There was also a large wall mural asking to help in further development of the temple.

12.5  Orchard Road

This is Singapore's fashion and brand name shopping street with huge, high rise, shopping centres.

The Ion Centre is a glass covered emporium worthy of Frank Gehry. In my opinion it's main charm was that it had incredibly comfortable padded couches where you could rest and admire the stores. Seats and benches, except in bus shelters, are very rare in Singapore.

Not all stores on Orchard are huge. I was able to replace my sunglasses, at about one-third the normal price at a small 3 for 10$ store at the beginning of the shopping area.

12.6  Hawker Food Centres

Singapore no longer has any street food, at least on the street. The hawkers have given up their food carts on the street and been moved to inside stalls in Food Centres. These centres are everywhere and serve the Singaporeans as a meeting place, and even a place to conduct business. In the Maxwell Food Centre, I shared a table with a women selling a life insurance policy to a stall employee.

The first one I visited was Lau Pa Sat in the Central Business District, during lunch time. It was almost impossible to find a seat, or even space to put your feet on the ground. On another day, I came just before lunch, and it was almost deserted. Lau Pa Sat is inside a building shipped, complete, from Glasgow.

The Lavender Street Centre, well outside of Chinatown, looks a little more local.

Lonely Planet claims the best food is where the lines are longest. I usually just wandered around looking at what they had on display.

My major problem was to find something that was small enough for me to finish. Even the normal small meals like this one would be difficult and it was almost impossible to tell a priori if the meal was going to be even this small.

12.6.1  Geyling Serai Shopping Centre

A number of the Hawker Food Centres are associated with larger shopping complexes. Classy shopping centres have Food Courts with independent concessions and private seating. The Geyling Serai Shopping Centre, which I had passed many times riding some other place finally became a destination. The architecture reminded me of something out of Honolulu. It has a Hawker Centre with communal seating on its second floor.

This was a true local shopping centre, rather than the large emporiums on Orchard Road. The first floor was dedicated to produce and meats,

and the second floor had half its area filled with clothing stalls,

and in the other half were the hawker stalls.

12.7  Singapore's Green Spaces

Contrary to much belief, Singapore has a large portion of its area devoted to green space. Most of it is dedicated to capturing water, but this area become multi-use in order to keep peace with the population.

12.7.1  The National Orchid Garden

There are several Botanic Gardens in Singapore, but the main one is just beyond the end of Orchard Road and has the incredible Orchid Garden. As with most places in Singapore, there was no place to lock bicycles by the Tanglin Gate where I entered so I found an inconvenient shrub and locked it there. Just inside this entrance was a grove of plumerias. They are, in fact, quite fragrantly common all over.

Even before you found the Orchid Garden, you were overwhelmed by a very large garden of Singapore's national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquin.

This garden has the world's largest collection of orchids and covers many hectares (acres). It even has a Mist House for those that the 100% humidity is not enough, and a Coolhouse generously air conditioned for high mountain orchids.

Apparently Heliconias are also orchids, and here were some I had never seen before.

and a more common type.

Although most had signs, many strange ones did not.

Then I started to find some names.

The Mist House

Apparently these orchids are so rare, and plentiful, that I couldn't find any names.

The Coolhouse

The Coolhouse was air-conditioned to simulate a mountain habitat. The orchids may have been content, but the people were absolutely ecstatic about the relief from the outside oppressive heat.

The Golden Shower was showed me the way out of the Orchid Garden.

12.7.2  Sungei Buloh Wetlands

Along with green areas such as parks and the Botanic Gardens there are managed wildlife preserves. The Sungei Buloh Wetlands is one of these, especially for migrating birds. Unfortunately for me the migrating birds have left and are on their way back north. The most common birds I saw were egrets with a few herons mixed into the flocks.

There was some other wildlife though.

and a couple of interesting plants.

Today was the longest ride on this trip, but it was mercifully overcast and only in the low 80s. The ride, though was far from pleasant. Along with the normal pushy busses, I had to contend with numerous heavy construction trucks from what felt like a continuous construction project.

12.7.3  MacRitchie Reservoir

Singapore uses a lot of water and meets this need by setting aside approximately two-thirds of the island as a water catchment area. The MacRitchie Reservoir was their first reservoir. It has become a recreation centre for kayaks and small paddle boats and the surrounding area a Nature Preserve. The Nature Preserve has a major 11km Nature Trail and a number of shorter ones. I started up the Nature Trail but soon discovered that my shoes allowed each pebble, embedded in the clay, to puncture my feet. It was not too pleasant.

About 700m up this trail there was a junction for what appeared to be a side trail that led down to the reservoir. This was the Petai Trail and had the advantage of being a boardwalk. My feet were relieved. In addition, it ran by the water and was much more interesting than the Nature Trail.

I had hoped that it would go all the way around reservoir, but after a few km, it rejoined the Nature Trail so I decided to turn around and go back. Trails, like roads, are different in each direction so I was not disappointed. Although the trees were common, there were only a few flowers or other interesting plants

I got back at about noon and had some lunch in their surprisingly reasonably priced restaurant.

12.7.4  Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

I arrived at about 10:30am after missing breakfast at the Adam Road Food Centre because it was closed for cleaning. This appears to be the cleaning season, but with the other food centres I knew in advance.

The path to the summit is paved and starts out with a long steep grade. This grade is listed on the map as easy, and after seeing some of the other trails, unpaved and going very steeply down cliffs, I understood why. The summit path was a little disappointing, with no wildlife, but there were some tall trees, and a couple of mushrooms.

The summit, which is the highest naturally occurring point in Singapore is surrounded by forest, inhibiting all views, and consisted of a rock marker, a hut, and over 100 school children, from several different groups

On the way down, I took the Jungle Fall Path up to the Jungle Path Hut where the path started to go precipitously down. I had hoped to see some wildlife off the main path, bur to no avail. There was, though, a tiny opening over the cliff to the city.

I had just about despaired of seeing any monkeys when, about 500m beyond the Jungle Fall Path entrance I ran across about a dozen macaques on the road, in the woods, and in the trees. There were adults, juveniles, and several tiny babies. They were all very energetic, climbing up and down and jumping from tree to tree. These were unafraid if humans, unlike the ones I saw in Malaysia.

I had seen my monkeys.

12.7.5  Labrador Park and Nature Reserve

This park is west of central Singapore central district and is another of the coastal parks. It's main difference is that it also has some WW2 relics, and is adjacent to Keppel Harbour, Singapore's first deep water harbour at the mouth of the west branch of the Singapore River.

To get there, my GPS routed me over the high ridges near Mt Faber Park and under the Henderson Waves Trail Bridge. After struggling up the hill to there, I had no inclination to climb up the stairs to the bridge.

The most impressive wild life I saw in Labrador Park was huge spider with a body almost two inches long, perched in the middle of its web, waiting.

Rainforest covered the nature reserve, and I discovered that the spiky orchid I saw in the National Orchid Garden could have two live flowers.

I consulted my map and found a flat. coastal route back into the centre of town.

12.7.6  Fort Canning Park

The hill in Fort Canning Park is the historic centre of Singapoura, the City of Lions, so named by an early Malay ruler who had his capital there, inspired by seeing a lion, a good omen. Compared to the rest of the island, it was easily fortifiable, and most importantly, had a natural spring so water was abundant. It had been abandoned, and considered sacred by the native Malays when Sir Stamford Raffles arrived, but that did not deter him from building his house there, and making it the seat of government.

When I arrived early in the morning, the upper part of the hill was deserted, but within a half hour, it was over run with five or six school groups, each with their own brightly coloured shirts.

The spring feeds the reservoir, overlooked by the Cox Terrace, which like a lot of Singapore is a Protected Pace.

The Keramat is the Malay sacred burial ground of an unknown ruler. The Centre Piece allows pigeons, but not people.

Raffles was also a naturalist and planted Singapore's first botanical garden here.

His house, which overlooks the city, is small and pleasant, and most certainly restored into probably better condition than when he lived there.

12.7.7  The Coastal Parks

Singapore has a number of coastal parks that have recreational bicycling, camping, children's playgrounds, and in the largest, the East Coast Park, several food centres. For me, the major disappointment about these parks was the camping. Lonely Planet promotes camping in Singapore, but fails to point out that it is no longer possible for the visitor, except on Pulau Ubin. Now you need a permit and must be a Singapore resident to get it. Given the chaos that I saw in the East Coast Park, it is hard to tell how well it is enforced. The result of the permit system is that camping is a family, clan, or group affair.

Early morning is a time for exercise or Tai Chi.

All day is for bicycle riding and there are many places to get them.

The East Coast Park at least four food complexes, the East Coast Seafood Centre is filled with high class, expensive restaurants and the East Coast lagoon Food Centre is a true Hawker centre.

There is much opportunity for recreation including Ski 360 where you water ski by getting pulled around the lagoon on the end of a cable rather than a boat. Everyone was using a Water Board rather than Water Skis and some of them were very good.

Some were not so successful going over that jump.

Others couldn't get started on their board and chose to belly ski.

12.8  Nostalgic Singapore

Parts of Singapore bring back memories, for many different people, of times lost, and maybe times that never were.

12.8.1  The Raffles Hotel

You can't visit Singapore without visiting the Raffles Hotel. I had much trouble finding it because it was not a POI (Point Of Interest) on my GPS map, and my guidebook did not include that map. I finally found it by its address, 1 Beach Street, but even that was fraught with a problem because Beach Street starts one block before the numbers.

I finally did find it, but, as expected, I was only allowed to look inside the lobby, because of their strict dress code.

I was directed by the doorman to go through their courtyards to the arcade in the back.

On the second floor of the arcade I found the famous Long Bar, which is apparently kept alive by tourists.

I sat at the bar and asked the price of the equally famous Singapore Sling. When I was told it was $30, I told the bartender it was too much for me and was about to leave. I didn't leave then, because a very kind Brit, now living in Thailand, immediately told the bartender that he would pay. I was touched by his kindness, but I think that I still prefer the Hawaiian Mai Tai.

12.8.2  St. Andrew's Anglican Cathedral

That the cathedral occupies a large open space in the centre of Singapore is a testament to the English influence on the city. I was there on a Sunday, with services inside and a wedding photo shoot by the front door. It was a little bizarre.

12.8.3  Peranakan Terrace Houses

When the Chinese, first invaded the island, it was all men since the women were not allowed to travel. These men married native Malays and the Peranakan population and culture was born. Along with distinctive food came some distinctive urban architecture. Some of this is seen on Koon Seng Road and Joo Chiat Place just north of the East Coast Park.

12.8.4  Kampong Lorong Buangkok

This is, apparently, the last kampong or village of old Singapore that remains on the island. The dirt track that existed when Lonely Planet went to press has been replaced by paved road, and there were a sufficiently large number of cars to indicate that access to outside services was relatively easy. I arrived at about 8:00am on a Monday morning and the village was totally quiet.

13  Singapore to Montreal, Thurs. Mar. 22 to Fri. Mar. 23

The return trip is even longer than going to Singapore because the layover in Doha is eight hours rather than six. Since it is impossible to legally ride to the airport, I took advantage of the fact that I was staying at a hotel rather than camping and let my hosts order a cab early in the morning. I was about to see what it was like to spend the day at Changi, which has been voted the world's best airport.

Unfortunately, the most interesting parts of Terminal 3 are only accessible after you check in. Since my flight was at 9:00pm, I was outside for most of the day. The first flight to Doha was totally at night so my window seat was not too useful. The next flight from Doha to Montréal was during the day, but my window seat was right in the middle of the wing so I saw nothing. However, it was a pleasant and long flight and we arrived a little early in Montréal. However, it was still too late to ride home so I took a taxi. It was nice to be back, but the trip was definitely worthwhile.

File translated from TEX by TTH, version 3.02.
On 25 Mar 2012, 03:56.