Friday, April 16, 2010

A long walk to freedom

I’m finally back after a trip to Singapore to get my Permanent residence status finalised. 

We flew with one of the low-budget airlines, called Tiger airways.  They’re so ridiculously cheap because they don’t waste money maintaining their aircraft.  They fly on only one engine and deflate their tyres to reduce weight.

Just kidding!  But you pay the price for these cheap flights – in comfort.  The seats are so small and close together that only the Smurf family would fit in there.  I am not a big person, but I couldn’t get my legs to fit in between my seat and the one in front of me.

Tiger airways on the runway The kids passed out in their seats

As we took off around 10pm, I tried to get some sleep, but I only managed to pass out from the pain about 30 minutes before we landed.

We landed just before 4am in the morning.  I was amazed at how busy the airport still was, and that even the money changers were still open at that time.  We got hold of a taxi and he eventually found our lovely little hostel after I corrected him a few times.  As if I knew my way around Singapore?

Or Sauna-pour, as I like to call it.

The place is extremely humid, and just looking at something else move makes you sweat like a pig.  Really.

Most public areas like buses, trains, stations, and shopping malls are air-conditioned.  But once you’re out in mother nature it all turns evil.  You actually go indoors to get fresh air into your lungs.

We stayed in Sauna-pour for ten wet days.  Not wet from the rain, but from sweat.  We walked a lot, with the three kids in tow, and had lots of fun though.

We visited Universal Studios on Sentosa island – this really is a must-see if you ever visit Singapore.  We saw live action shows, interactive donkey shows and lots of other fun stuff. 

Streescene at Universal Shrek in 4D

Waterworld action show

Waterworld action show

I had to make the most of this holiday, as I was spending a lot of money on airfares anyway.  But the budget was tight, and we got hold of some really cheap accommodation.

It turned out that this meant a backpacker’s hostel with a “family room” that looks more like a prison cell.  The website makes it look really shiny and clean, but it’s not exactly the Hilton.  At least we had an aircon in the room, which probably saved our lives - but the wife and I always disagreed about exactly how cold this thing should be.

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We shared bathroom with tons of other people, and I had a few midnight encounters that ended in me screaming at people to shut up because it’s after 01h00 in the morning.

 The bathroom just across the hall from our lovely little room the stairway with some pink flamingoes...

the green stairway up to the 3rd floor

It’s located in an area called Little India – they call it that, because it feels like you’re in India.  Creepy little alleys and weird smells all over the place.  Smells of drains not functioning quite effectively, as well as smells of all kinds of food that are quite foreign to my nostrils.  And the smell of incense. 

A Muslim screamed us awake early in the mornings, and the Buddhists were burning incense at all hours.  The Church of the True Light next door also did their part on Sunday.

IMG_6199The little shops in this area sold food that reminded me of some of the stuff I saw in Africa.  Many of the shops sell exactly the same items as the shop next door. 

There are many small shops that sell little golden Buddhas for some reason, and they keep on burning incense and leaving all sorts of magic potions outside their doors.

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It feels like you’re in the middle of one giant hippie colony.

The people are all very friendly, and always very considerate and helpful.  This part of their culture is really unique in a way.  Nowhere did I ever feel threatened or in any danger, even though this was obviously not the best neighbourhood in the city.

IMG_6793 IMG_6779 IMG_6781 IMG_6782A few blocks away, you walk into massive shopping malls with clean shiny floors and lovely air-conditioning. 

IMG_6214We visited the Singapore zoo, which provided a whole day of entertainment and fun.  The lovely water playground inside the zoo took up a lot of our time, as the kids were splashing around for more than 2 hours while I was sipping at cold Coke and wishing I also brought my swimming shorts along.

IMG_6526 Sentosa island is a lovely area with great beaches, although you get the feeling that everything is synthetic and fake.  Even the little islands are man-made.  There is, however, great entertainment and fun stuff to do in this area.

manmade islandsThe merlion - a massive structure View from the Skytower IMG_6710 IMG_6658

This sign was a bit of a bummer – why wouldn’t you allow a bbq at the beach?

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This is a fun place to be – the nightlife is never-ending.  Coming from Perth where everything shuts down at 6pm, it was quite astounding to see even the small street-markets open at ten pm – not to mention the big supermarkets that are open till eleven.  The streets seemed busier at night than during the day.

People live in tiny pigeonholes in the sky, and they don’t go home after work because there’s no reason to cram yourself into a 3x2m area.

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This lifestyle is not for me.  Give me Dullsville anytime – I love the open spaces, I love the laid-back lifestyle.  No worries mate, let’s throw somethin on the barbie...

1 comment:

Boer said...

Ek het Singapoer baie geniet, al het ke nooit by Sentosa uitgekom nie. Maar ek moet saamstem, dit is 'm sauna en ek dink nie ek sal daar kan woon nie.