After six days in Cape Town, we headed to the airport and boarded Singapore Airlines flight #962, direct to Singapore. The eleven hour flight was the longest of our trip, but fortunately the plane was quite comfortable (though not an A380 as we had hoped). In addition to getting a “sleep kit”, on-demand movies, and surprisingly good food (I cleaned my plate), we had our first chance to try Singapore’s famous cocktail, the Singapore Sling, a concoction of liquor and fruit juice that tastes like a sweet alcoholic fruit punch. Given all of the good food and entertainment choices, plus less than optimal time zone changes, we didn’t actually sleep at all on the flight, so we arrived in Singapore in a bit of a daze.
Singapore is modern, very clean, and very safe. We didn’t see any graffiti, garbage, or gum on the streets. While small in size, it has 3.3 million residents, living mostly in collections of white concrete apartment buildings, surrounded by generous tropical greenery. After an hour on the train, we got to our hostel, located in what appeared to be a very typical Singapore flat in one of the buildings I just described. Rather than staying in a fancy hotel, we got to experience the real Singapore.
We dropped off our bags and caught the same train in the reverse direction, this time half an hour back into town. We got off at Orchard Road, a long busy street lined with shopping malls on either side — yes, not just stores, but entire shopping malls. The amount of shopping available to us was overwhelming, but did not lead us to make any purchases. When we got to the end of the street, we visited the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel, where the previously mentioned Singapore Sling was invented, ate lunch at a pan-Asian noodle joint in the ground floor of one of the shopping malls, and then hopped on a tour bus for a whirlwind tour of the city. At the end, we stopped at yet another shopping mall, this time viewing the “Fountain of Wealth”, which is supposed to be one of the worlds largest fountains, but was only running at a trickle (perhaps because of the financial crisis?).
Finally, we took a train back to the hostel and ate dinner at a place around the corner that the owner of our hostel had recommended. An open-air food court occupied much of the ground floor of the apartment building next to ours, and had a variety of Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian stalls to choose from. Unlike the restaurants downtown, this place was completely untoursity, and we felt we were likely the only non-Singaporeans there. The food was delicious, giving us plenty of energy for the next day, when we caught a 7am cab back to the airport to take a flight down to Bali.