| Part 4: Singapore |
Regin, Singapore. This hotel is a budget hotel (rooms in the 75-100 SGD
range), in the Kallang (Geylang) area. This is supposedly the red light
district of Singapore, but I don't notice any sex shops or prostitutes
the street. Probably whatever goes on here is quite discreet (not
like the corresponding area in Amsterdam).
rooms of the Regin
hotel are relatively basic and small. Furniture includes a cupboard,
fridge, TV, phone. Bathroom with hot shower. No breakfast, no Internet
in the room, but good wireless Internet connection in the lobby. The
Kallang MRT station is 5 minutes away by walking.
I hear later
that there is a new hotel in Singapore (Value hotel), which should be
quite good value).
Weather: overcast, both in Kuching
and Singapore. No rain in Singapore. Quite hot.
morning wake up at 6:30am. By 7:15am I have checked out and am in the
hotel van to the airport. After check-in at the Airasia counter brief
breakfast at the Starbucks while checking the emails. The Airasia
flight takes off at 8:45am sharp - I'm impressed.
We land ahead in Singapore of time at 9:45am
at 10:10). I proceed through immigration, retrieve my luggage, get some
cash at the ATM, jump into a taxi and before 11am have checked in at
the Regin hotel.
Brief chit-chat with the taxi
driver on the way from the airport to the hotel. There is apparently a
value" hotel (or something similar), recently built, offering very good
value rooms in the 60-100 SGD price range.
prepaid SIM cards. Singtel recommended if you only want to use the card
for phone calls for a few days. SIM cards are sold in 7-11 convenience
The Maxis SIM card BTW allows roaming in
phone calls are expensive (RM 2.50 to call Malaysia, who knows how much
to receive calls when roaming with the Maxis card in Singapore).
where the hotel lies, is partly a red light district (a "chicken area"
as Shirley would call it, since in Chinese a prostitute is called
"chicken"). Not a big deal actually, but you are quite out of town.
Calculate 7 minutes to walk to the
MRT station, perhaps another 5 minutes to catch the next train, 10-15
minutes to arrive to destination. Totals 20-30 minutes "door to door"
to get into town.
After checking in I walk to the
A trip into town costs 1.50 SGD, a day pass costs 8 SGD. The day pass
is valid on the day you buy it and expires at midnight. Children pay if
they are taller than 90cm. I take the MRT to Chinatown.
is beautiful and very colourful. The old colonial style architecture is
very well preserved here, or has been restaurated. Very characteristic
buildings, lots of life on the streets. Lots of shops,
restaurants, food stalls. A typical German city is half-dead on
Sundays, but here is Singapore there is lots of life on the streets.
have to walk to several 7-11 stores before I find one which sells SIM
cards, because they are all out of stock. Registration with a passport
required. I buy two Singtel SIM cards for 8 SGD each, with 10 SGD of
airtime on each card.
After that I have some quick
food in a
KFC restaurant, then explore a bit the area. Beautiful architecture, a
mix of old and new, colonial era buildings and modern buildings.
1:40pm I start getting back to the hotel, arriving there at 2:20pm.
Shirley has already arrived and is having lunch somewhere. I wait for
her in the hotel. After about 20 minutes she arrives with the small
one. Family reunion scene, chit-chat.
Rest of the
day spent with the family of Shirley. We go into town at 5pm, then have
a dinner in a food court at 7pm.
Hotel Regin, Singapore.
Weather: blue sky in the morning until
9-10am, then overcast the whole day. No rain.
get up around 9am but by the time everybody in this big group is ready
and set for leaving it's after 11am. Actually the parents of Shirley
have gone out for breakfast and we are waiting for them.
case at 11:15am we leave the hotel and walk to the nearby Kailang metro
station. There we take the metro and with a change in the Outram park
station we arrive in the Harbourfront MRT station at 12pm noon.
we lose quite some time trying to find out how to get to Sentosa. First
we try to catch a bus, but this is full, so we go back
to Harbourfront, then buy some food because it is already
Finally at 12:40pm are about to take the monorail to Sentosa.
Shortly before 1pm we are in the Resort World station. What an
achievement, it has taken over one hour and a half to get here.
discussion about what to do next because the tickets to the Universal
sold out. Some funny guy popping up offering tickets for a 50%
surcharge. Perhaps he bought them early morning in large numbers and
that is why the tickets to the Universal Studios are sold out.
"adults" (parents of Shirley, uncle, aunt, two sisters) go to the
casino (where they will lose a lot of money), while Shirley, me and the
kids go to the Underwater world.
To get there we
need to get
back on the monorail, get to Siloso beach, and from there get the Blue
Line bus to Siloso point. It's 2pm when we finally are at the
Underwater world. Getting to this place has taken us almost three
Overall getting around in
quite time consuming, because you can't walk and have to take buses
and/or the monorail. The attractions are spread over a large area.
aquarium of the Underwater world (ticket: 22.90 SGD adults, 14.90 SGD
children) is nice, but unimpressive - in fact the aquarium near KLCC is
better (and that aquarium we saw in Dubai was orders of magnitude
better). What are cool are the sealion and dolphin shows with trained
After the shows at 4pm we get out of the
world and get out of Sentosa. It takes some time, because we only are
back in the Harbourfront MRT station at 4:30pm. There we have some
lunch/dinner in the food court area.
something pm the
other members of the group join us. Nobody won money, they all lost
money in the casino.
We then get back to
Shirley and the others will meet the other uncle and have a common
family dinner, while I take the MRT to the Esplanade, where I spend the
evening taking pictures of the area.
Hotel Regin, Singapore.
overcast sky with blue patches in the early morning. The sky opens up
at 9am, then mostly sunny until the afternoon. In the afternoon gradual
cloud buildup, then overcast. No rain.
get up at 6:45am
and leave the hotel at 7:15am. The idea would be to shoot some photos
with the early morning sun, since in the afternoon the sky is mostly
overcast here. However there is very little sun in the early morning,
because clouds are blocking the sun.
I walk through
district around 8am. Huge crowds of people rushing to the job. Then I
take the MRT to Chinatown and am there until 11am. Beautiful, charming,
colourful area with colonial era buildings. I take tons of photos. The
sun finally comes out around 9am.
A bit after 11am
the MRT back to the hotel. Shirley and the others are now almost ready
and leave the hotel before 12pm heading to the zoo. I take a shower,
check my emails and book a flight for tomorrow to KL.
shortly before 1pm I leave the hotel and try to join the others in the
zoo. Getting to the zoo involves making it by MRT until the Ang Mo Kio
station, then taking bus #138. I'm in the MRT station shortly after
1:30pm and must have just missed the last bus, because I have to wait
almost half an hour for the next one, which leaves shortly before 2pm.
2:30pm I reach the zoo. Again it took a long time - over one and a half
hours - to reach an attraction in Singapore.
A taxi would have been faster, but probably quite expensive.
Singapore zoo is an open zoo, meaning that (most) animals are not
behind cages, but in areas mimicking their natural surroundings. You
walk along suspended paths and bridges through the zoo. In the kangaroo
area you actually walk along the kangaroos. Quite a good number of
animals (even polar bears...). Not that exciting for me because I have
already seen so many zoos, but the kids like it.
food in the restaurant area of the zoo around 6pm, then together with
the others we get to Jurong east by bus and MRT. There there is a
Chinese food court where the others have a common dinner. We are back
in the hotel quite late.
in the MRT while we are on the way back to the hotel, there is a
message on the loudspeaker, where a female voice asks to report
suspicious people. I point the finger on Shirley, she points a finger
on me making a funny face, finally we both point our fingers on
Natasha. Our two years old definitely looks suspicious, she
be a terrorist affiliated with Al Qaida. What a stupid request, to
"report suspicious people". Somehing like this only happens in
of Sara in KL
(in Singapore): cloudy in the early morning, then the sky opens up and
it gets blue and sunny with some clouds. The usual clouds
buildup in the afternoon does not occur, probably because there is some
wind which blows away the humidity which would otherwise go up and form
the clouds. Just around 5pm the sun disappears behind the clouds. Quite
hot, no rain.
We manage to check out
of the hotel at
11am. Shirley and the others head to the Harbourfront MRT station, from
where their bus to Malaysia is leaving at 2pm. I instead will spend the
day shooting some photos of Singapore because this is a beautiful sunny
day and will fly to KL in the evening at 9:20pm.
the MRT to the Arab Street area, exiting in the Bugis station at
11:40am. I spend the next hours walking through the Arab street and
India areas. There are several mosques and many beautiful colonial
heritage buildings. Especially Kandahar street is very nice, lined by
beautiful shophouses. Very photogenic.
At 2pm I
into the Sim Lim square mall (electronics and photo gear) and buy a new
eyecap for my camera, to replace the old which broke.
take the MRT to City Hall, then slowly walk to the Singapore Flyer
panoramic wheel. This lies in the newly developed Marina Bay area, of
if not all is built on land reclaimed from the sea. Lots
of construction still ongoing, I guess it will take another 1-2 years
until all construction is completed.
of Singapore did not exist when I last visited in 2003. Here
is the newly built Singapore casino, this new hotel built on three
towers connected on the top and other buildings which have yet to be
The Singapore Flyer panoramic wheel is
(adults pay 30 SGD) and consists of airconditioned gondolas, which
slowly. The ticket allows you to do one rotation, which takes
half an hour to complete. Cool view of Singapore from the gondolas.
4:25pm when I get out of the Panoramic wheel. I walk to this
built hotel with the three towers, crossing the cool designer bridge
with the DNA strand pattern. Kind of a olympic games sports park look.
At 5pm I get back to the hotel by MRT, arriving 5:30pm.
I check my emails and book an Airasia flight for tomorrow evening to
Kuala Terengganu. Will try to get to Pulau Kapas, and if there is no
accomodation, will go to either Redang, Perhentian or somewhere else.
quarter past six I go to the Marina area for some sunset shots of the
Singapore skyline. Some other people with cameras and tripods are also
there, all waiting for the sunset. Today is a good day, because the sky
is only partly covered with clouds.
sharp I take my
things and rush to the nearest taxi stand. By taxi I first go to the
hotel, pick up my bags, then get to the airport, arriving at 8:15pm.
Good timing, by 8:20pm I am at the Airasia check-in counter, one hour
before the planned departure.
delayed by half an hour and only lands shortly before 11pm. At 11:30pm
I'm in a taxi to the flat of Sara, where I'll spend the night.