Singapore stopover

Posted by Colleen Blaine on 13 March 2011

Singapore is a sterile city: antiseptic and unabiding, and runs like a well-oiled unbreakable system.  Everyone goes about their business happy or not, everything in place, sky-scrapers look down – insignificant me.

I wander out of the city centre station, map in hand and route carefully planned out, only to become completely disorientated and crawl back underground like a mole popping up in the wrong molehill.  The labyrinth of underground malls extends in the opposite direction so I just follow my nose and see whether I can find the right street.  Following my nose however just leads me directly to an abundantly stocked Hershey Chocolate store.  I can barely contain myself when as if by some uncontrollable suction I find myself standing in front of a wall of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – of all shapes and sizes. Gulp, my one nemesis in chocolate.  For a split second I realise it is a saving grace that one cannot get these in South Africa.

Armed with chocolate coated peanut butter I once more emerge and leisurely try to orientate myself when it becomes obvious that one just needs to use the towering skyline as a guide.  They all ascend into the sky like Jack’s beanstalk.  I amble along Raffles Boulevard and down Esplanade Drive in order to make my way to the Marina Promenade. I stand awestruck by the sheer magnanimity of the buildings of downtown Singapore, most notably the Marina Bay Sands hotel.  I remember watching a documentary on the building of the hotel and how they raised the largest swimming pool in the world up on the roof of three separate fifty-seven storey towers. In real-life however it is truly formidable. I cross the Helix Bridge – which is a world first in architectural design and bridge engineering – and gaze across Marina Bay and down at the floating soccer pitch and stadium, the city still shimmering in the aftermath of New Year’s Eve.

Dusk settles in as I travel up 57 floors in a high speed elevator to see if I can get to the Sands SykPark to marvel at the 150 meter pool and 12,400 square meters of space. Unfortunately I can’t get by security who found it obvious that I am not a five-star hotel guest and I am told to go back to ground level to buy a ticket for 20 Singapore dollars (R 140). I decline and go to the indoor viewing window on the 53rd floor only to feel as though the stars are below me rather than in the sky.  The skyline of Singapore at night is quite extraordinary – a city of cities.

As usual my grumbling stomach reminds me it is well past dinner time so I travel back down to earth and the sounds of Makansutra Gluttony Bay draw me in.  I am faced with the widest range of seafood dishes and variety of shellfish from various food stalls. Pictures and shouts make me feel overwhelmed so I start at one end and crawl along gazing at the cuisine descriptions to try and make a choice. Crab, crayfish, lobster, clams as I drool moving from menu to menu.  Shark fin and abalone plates discourage me and I eventually settle for prawns and a tiger beer and savor it, my back to the city breeze coming off the bay.

Time has flown by and I am so full I can’t imagine walking any further so I take a taxi ride through “Little India” and realise where all the people in Singapore are.  Noisy, crowded, shouting, smelly, singing and selling. I search for cheap electronics and am horribly disappointed; Singapore is no longer for gadget shopping.

My time is up and I catch the taxi back to the airport and regret it $54 later.  Singapore airport is a staggering, four leveled amusement centre of shopping, fun parks, gyms, showers and movies.  I settle for a free leg and foot massage machine, some wireless and a comfy armchair.  In eight and a half hours I will be in Australia, hope I make it through quarantine.  G’day Mate!

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