Arriving in Singapore in the wee hours of the morning, we were amazed that the airport was buzzing like a shopping mall in the afternoon. This turned out to be Singapore in general. Regardless, we quickly passed through customs and grabbed a quick cab ride to a hostel for a good 6 hours of sleep. We then woke up early the next morning and grabbed a bus downtown to see if we could get an early check in at our real hotel, the Conrad. Thanks to Dave for hooking us up through excess travel points. They were very nice to us there, letting us check in early and giving us this happy surprise.
My general anticipation of Singapore was based on my fantasy of a place where nobody chews gum, and therefor doesn't spit it on the sidewalk. That was indeed the case, but also was the reality that Singapore is just one large shopping mall. Maneuvering the city was a little more difficult than expected, encountering many long blocks and streets with no crosswalks, forcing you to find an underground tunnel or mall-accessed gerbil tube.
Staying on Temasek circle, just north of the downtown core and Marina Bay, nearby there were some precarious pedestrian routes or even total lack thereof.
The Botanical Gardens was our first real exploration. The bus ride there showed us that the retail malls went on forever. But once we arrived at the expansive gardens, we wandered down meandering paths and took in the beautiful nature.
After the gardens we plunged back into commercial overload and trekked downtown to the Marina Bay Sands casino hotel complex. After taking 23 minutes to cross Bayfront Avenue, we finally got to the tower for our trip to the top, which ended up being a pretty speculator view to reward our journey.
That night we went to Little India for some good sit-on-the-floor dining, and saw the only other Americans we would see all trip. Even though the food was all Indian, the clientele was pretty white. But that would only be contrasted by the main streets of Little India. It was packed with people and the ethnic Indian to non-Indian ratio was 50-1, and out of the Indians, the male to female ratio was 50-1, and out of the males, the mustache to non-mustache ratio was 50-1. We did find an Australian bar where the white servers were wearing booty shorts but that was all.
But away from the small streets of the cultural niches, the city was not easy to navigate. Being used to the regular small block grid of NYC, I guess we were a little caught off guard. Walking to Little India and back we hit some barriers. Here's an example of what that Shel Silverstein book was about:
We encountered this at night (I came back the next day to see if it was real or if we were just idiots). Thanks to my ability to carry my wife piggyback on command, we made it back to the hotel. It also involved crossing a 4 lane highway with no light.
My solo jog to Arab Street the next morning showed another authentic ethnic neighborhood with nice visuals.
After a day and a half and becoming fully adapted to Southeast Asia time, we departed on Monday afternoon for Penang, Malaysia.