Today we had planned to give Singapore a good spanking and see how many of its attractions we could work our way round in one day. First one being on our doorstep – Chinatown in daytime and a visit to (yet another?) Temple of the Tooth Relic and a museum about Chinatown – the latter of which was shut so not a very good start or so we thought.
The Temple of the Tooth Relic proved to be a very good find though as they were having a special ‘birthday’ service for ‘everyone’ in order to celebrate it being one week after Chinese New Year – Happy Birthday Everyone!
It was quite special and a lady explained it all to Liz who was quite taken aback by her kindness and the ceremony itself so had to fight back the tears whilst they all read books back to front and upside down as they do. The temple itself had far more gold and treasures than I like to see in a religious building but like all religions I suppose Buddhism suffers the lure of hard cash like all the rest. Another nice lady chatting to a Buddhist monk got Liz involved in the conversation and explained to her more about Buddhism which she has taken quite a shine to – not the only shine I believe is required if she goes the full hog and gives her bonce up for one of those close cut haircuts!
From the temple it was onwards to the Singapore Flyer the walk was long but quite good as we took in the river which had some nice statues decorating it giving us time for a bit of ad-lib posing – not sure if this is actually a contradiction of terms.
At the end of the river we saw the Merlion, an invention of the Singapore Tourist Board I think, but everyone was there taking photos of that and the marina behind. We soon reached the Flyer and like all of these things there was a lot of hype – it is the biggest in the world but the best thing about it for me was the lack of a queue and we were soon on it looking down at Singapore and all it has to offer. Liz was a bit more nervous than me but neither of us was helped by a little girl who seemed to be amusing herself by making my wife scream every time she bounced off one of the glass walls. From the vantage point we were directly above the Formula One grandstand but more amazing to me were the amount of container ships there were awaiting to get into Singapore – absolutely outstanding, as far as the eye could see boats upon boats all laden down with goods.
This was a great place to take in the city’s architecture – I have been to a few cities and for me this is the actual first that seems to give you an insight of what cities in the future should all aspire to – if you get the chance get there, but no messing it up now!
After all this excitement we decided it was time to eat and we were treated to some very good and cheap food in the food court under the flyer – well done Singapore.
One of the many things we had spotted whilst being up in the air was the Gardens by the Bay and I had this down as a ‘thing to do’ – the Skywalk was high so it must be good and the walk was short so it must be cheap also the gardens looked very good themselves, a brilliant combination so off we went. The Gardens were well manicured and we spent a fair bit of time having a look around before heading for the lifts and going up to the Skywalk. The Skywalk was not to Liz’s liking either being so high and the walkways being a tad see-through but it was a short jaunt so not too long before we were heading back on the lift down an all round good experience.
Next a cultural diversion was the order of the day and a visit to Singapore’s National Museum. To be fair the whole thing was not too bad but the thing which got me and Liz gripped – for some unknown reason – was an old 1930’s film about Singapore showing all aspects of life and it was really interesting. Someone had simply taken a movie camera onto the street and filmed people going about their daily lives – the rich and the poor – no mean feet in those days.
For our last jaunt and last meal of the day we had decided to listen to the Lonely Planet’s advice for an eatery and try a restaurant in Little India that the LP said cooked the best Mutton Biriyani in town. When we got there, just our luck the Mutton Biryani was finished for the day – bloody Lonely Planet, so we decided to try its neighbour on the three item menu, the Chicken Biryani. This turned out to be a real delight and it was very cheap too so we ended the day with a win win situation before turning our direction homewards back to Chinatown.
Our room at the digs was a bit novel in itself in that the room space was under the bed which was set above – all very space-age but a very nice bed!