The smallest nation in Southeast Asia – Singapore
As I had studied with quite a few singaporians, at the Technische Universität München, we had to stop by Singapore. It was one of those things that we planned pretty early, as our outbound flight for Australia left from Singapore.
After a few days of relaxation in Redang all the stress that had vanished in our tropical paradise came back twofold as we had a complete bus nightmare trying to get from KL to Singapore. There is a bus station in Chinatown that at first sight looks pretty organized and so on, IT’S NOT! We spent almost four hours waiting at different bus stops for a bus that never came. As Eli was sick that day it was truly a pain that the people there couldn’t tell us where or when our booked bus was leaving. If you’re doing the same route then you have two options, don’t go near the bus station in Chinatown, or if you simply have to.. book a bus ride with one of the bigger companies like Transnational. It’s like they were trying to get rid of us, as we got new tickets twice to two different bus companies.. it was all very, very confusing.. BUT we did make it to Singapore, although a little frustrated… 🙂
Driving through the border between Malaysia and Singapore was the weirdest thing. The border between Malaysia and Singapore is well marked, but there issn’t really any stretch of open land or anything. Understandable though since the only thing Singapore really doesn’t have enough of is land. Driving from Malaysia we passed through the Malaysian customs and nothing changed, it was just like driving through a street in a middle of a city. The only thing that changed was that there were suddenly barbed wire on all sides, and after driving over a river we were suddenly in Singapore. It just didn’t feel like a proper country to country crossing, but I guess it’s like that with all city states. Especially the ones that are as populated as Singapore.
Although a giant compared to the European city states like the Vatican City, San Marino and Andorra, Singapore is still miniscule compared to the other countries in Southeast Asia. If you’ve only heard of Singapore before and can’t really place it on the historic or geographical map then I’ll explain it quickly. After the WW2 what is now Malaysia and the city of Singapore were joined under the new country of Malaysia. After only two years the singaporians seemed to have had enough of the malayans and decided to break free. The city state of Singapore was born!
As we got off the bus we took the first taxi we could find to Tresor Tavern, a hostel that Karler and Anfrid were already staying at. It’s damn pricy compared to the accomodations we’ve had in the rest of Southeast Asia, but the hostel was awesome. Proper linen, nice and cool rooms with included wifi. Loved it! It was new, clean and had welcoming staff, so it’s well recommended! As it was late and we were tired after a horrible day of transport we went straight to bed…
The next day we did some sightseeing with Karl Kristian and Anfrid and even met up with Anders. Anfrid and Anders were both part of a schooltrip from my university back in Norway. My class did a similar trip two years ago only we did Japan and Thailand instead. They were on their last day, but we managed to squeeze some sightseeing and foodcourt testing into it.
I called Steve the next day and agreed that we would meet up on the day after for dinner with the rest of the group from Munich. As Eli wasn’t feeling very well I spent that day and the next updating the blog, and uploading a backup of our pictures to flickr. Veronica and me also had a small excursion to the Mustafa shopping centre where the entire first floor was just medicines.. it was huge! Ended up with some traditional Chinese folk medicine that was supposed to cure Eli’s cough, along with the ability to cure pretty much any disease on the planet. And it even tasted good!
As Steve knew Singapore a bit better than we did, he met up with us at the hostel with his girlfriend and took us to meet the others. Our plan for the night was a proper Singaporian Steamboat. I had seen posters for Steamboats at other restaurants, but just thought that a lot of the restaurants had the same weird name.. It turns out that a steamboat is the Chinese version of a Fondue with a twist. It’s based around the tables in the restaurant which have a barbeque in the middle and two large pots of soup on boilers on each side. These pots are split into two, where there is a different soup in each of the them. The point is that you get food from two large buffet style tables and cook or barbeque it yourself at the table.
There are two different tables to get food from, one for the barbeque and one for the soups. They are huge! And they contain everything you can imagine that’s eatable.. Squid, lamb, pig, beef, fish, vegetables, dim sum and so on. It was awesome! One of the best dining experiences I’ve had on the entire trip. And having such great company made it even better. We had a very enjoyable night out and they insisted on paying for us which was so nice of them! Thank you!
After the meal we took a stroll through some marketstyle shopping centre before we split up. As they were all finishing up their semester in Uni we were more than happy that they had the time to go out with us one night. Steve had a bit more time so he was nice enough to join us for some sightseeing on the following day. We agreed on meeting up downtown went back to the hostel.
Sightseeing with a local is definently better than sightseeing alone. On the day that we did sightseeing by ourself I didn’t really get a feel for the city, or how it was built up. Going around with a guide was such an upgrade. We started off with seeing the concert hall which is shaped like the rambutan. If you haven’t had a rambutan, then make sure you prepare yourself for the smell the first time.. We had it the day before and it smells strong! I read a description in a travel guide book about Thailand that it could be compared to eating your favourite fruit while sitting on the toilet.. It wasn’t so bad really, but I think it’s an aquired taste. The complex structure of shopping malls underneath the ground made it possible for us to walk underground from the trainstation and all the way to the concert hall. Not bad!
The next stop was the harbour where the first thing we saw was the Singapore Flyer, the worlds biggest ferrywheel. We also had a look at the view from the harbour where they are building a massive entertainement complex, which seems to be on hold due to the economic recession. So it was pretty much just a huge building site. What really interested us was the Singapore Flyer! There was a student discount which made it only 10 singaporian dollars to take a trip, so we just had to go. Luckily there was barely any people there so we ended up getting our own capsule! It’s originally made for 25 people so there was plenty of space.
The ride itself is not really adrenaline filled as it takes 30 minutes to complete the round, but it’s all about the views. It’s an amazing way to see the city and if you bring your student card it’s cheap as well!
It was now time to try out more of the Singaporian cuisine as Steve took us to an indoor foodcourt. He took charge and we ended up with 5 different plates of food. Loved it! Our biggest challenge was the Singaporian dessert. It was… different 🙂 Still don’t really understand why anybody would put beans and corn into a dessert?? It’s hard to explain, but hopefully the pictures will show what I mean. Singaporian food is awesome! The dessert is probably an aquired taste 🙂
We only had a few days in Singapore so there was plenty of things we didn’t have time to do, but then again that means that we have plenty of reasons to come back! Like we had with Hiza in Kuala Lumpur, it was good to have someone to show us around in Singapore. Thanks again!