Day 207 to 210 – (29th Mar – 1st Apr) Singapore

15 04 2011

Singapore is essentially an island, cut off from mainland Malaysia by the Strait of Johor. What once was a sparsely populated undesirable swampland is now one of the wealthiest countries in the world; doing this with a mere population of 4.8million. Comprising 75% percent Chinese, 14% percent Malay and 9% percent Indian, Singapore has a multicultural society on a par with London and is now home to a couple of old work colleagues, Adam and Jeff. As well as dinner, drinks and a swim, I also got a chance to see the trading office on the 17th floor of the UOB bank building. I must confess I had mixed feelings about the prospect of going back to that job.

Jen and I are not normally city folk, but we’re not sure what it is about Singapore, but we love it. Possibly its cleanliness; Singapore is impeccably clean, feels completely safe and is very modern whilst still maintaining it’s old colonial past – in places. Furthermore, as night falls, the second face of the city comes to light. It’s with elegant lighting that the city sets the mood for al a carte dining, drinks or strolls.

It has to be said with English as the official language, a great public transport system and friendly locals always happy to help a lost tourist, all this makes navigating the dense busy city very easy. We spent a lot of time walking the streets visiting various street markets and Hawker markets. This however proved to be hot and sticky work in the humid Singapore air, so we switched to an open top sightseeing bus.

Sitting on the open top bus, I kind of felt I was in a real life Sim City computer game -with shiny modern skyscrapers all around, and what can only be described as elevator music being played on the tour bus between informative announcements. We made the river cruise twice, once in the day and then again at night. The very unique night safari at Singapore Zoo was fun until the circus like show entitled ‘animals of the night’.

Undoubtedly the highlight of Singapore was spending time 150m above the city looking out over Singapore and its skyline whilst swimming in an absolutely stunning rooftop infinity pool. The pool was sat atop the world’s most expensive hotel complex, somehow costing $6bn US to build, but this isn’t the astonishing part. It is rumoured to break even within 4 years of operation. I can only guess this has something to do with the huge casino we later visited. This was both of our first visits to a proper casino. I left a couple of hours later with the same view I had upon entering – a horrible place and couldn’t understand its appeal. Jen on the other hand had doubled her money…

After a final dip in that pool, we made a mad dash to the airport and onto Bali, Indonesia to pick up the backpacker trail once more.

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