After six weeks in India and three weeks in Malaysia, the contrast of Singapore was truly amazing in terms of culture, architecture, cuisine and prices!
Singapore marks the end of the second phase of our trip. Phase 1 was India and Phase 2, Malaysia and Singapore. Phase 3 will take us to Nepal and Tibet, so watch out for futures blogs!
We left Tioman at 9.00 AM and it took nearly six hours to reach our hotel in Singapore. There were two boats and two cars, plus a lengthy queue on the causeway coming into Singapore by road. We eventually checked into our hotel, located right in the heart of the shopping area in Orchard Road. We started our retail therapy in one of the huge malls, the “Paragon Center”. This was a very interesting introduction to shopping in Singapore, as there was nothing that we could possibly want to buy there; it was all top designers labels at top-end prices but we did have a light lunch there and bought some sun cream! We continued looking for bargains but without any success. Singapore is the wrong country for bargain hunters!
The following day, it was time to visit the hairdresser and get a hair crop – actually it was pretty good and surprisingly inexpensive. Soon the tropical rains arrived and the heavens truly opened up. We stood outside, under shelter and did some interesting people watching. We thought that we had seen some bizarre behavior on our travels, but this story must take the cake – we saw several women taking their shoes off to walk out into the street, during a tropical storm; they had very nice shoes so they were wrapped carefully in plastic bags and waded through the huge puddles bare footed – however, they did put their umbrellas up! But what about their feet?
In the evening, we went out for dinner to a local restaurant and the waitress asked us where we were from; we told her, so she then asked us our age, and we answered. She thought that the answer was funny, and she then asked Alf if he was still active? As he did not know to which activity she was referring, he answered “yes”! But being a bit concerned as her next question, we decided it was time to leave! We had eaten a very nice meal by then, even if it was curried!
The next morning, we visited the Botanical Gardens, which for us was the number one feature in Singapore. Open this link for some stunning photos. It was very beautiful and interesting, especially the National Orchid Garden that has a permanent showcase and the largest display of orchids in the world. There is a VIP Orchid Garden, featuring Orchid hybrids, named after state dignitaries like, Nelson Mandela, Prince William, Andrea Bocelli, Margaret Thatcher and many more. There is a Ginger garden with thousands of species of plants related to ginger. Also there’s a healing garden, that houses some four hundred varieties of medicinal plants that are traditionally used in Southeast Asia. We liked the fragrant gardens and the amazing colorful foliage. But there was too much for us to see, as we had to leave for the airport at 11.30 AM. We were flying to Kathmandu in the afternoon, changing planes in Kuala Lumpur.
On our way to the airport, we drove past the famous Raffles Hotel and admired the architecture of this wonderful British Colonial building.
We were leaving Singapore and on our way to the next part of our adventure, Nepal and a hike in the Himalayas! Watch out for our next blog from Kathmandu…