Archive for the ‘Singapore’ Category

I’d been looking forward to our 3-day stopover in Singers as a welcome interlude between bouts of budget travel in Malaysia. I’d reasoned that a return to Western indulgences, albeit in an Eastern location, would be a healthy tonic and make me yearn for the bounty in blighty. How wrong I was. After 3 days in Singapore, I am rather bored and hugely apathetic towards the glitzy shopping mall world that imitates the West without showing any interesting quirks of Eastern culture. Bangkok has adopted some Western values but it retains a quintessential Asian veneer; Singers has none of that charm, it is simply a playground for the rich and richer.

However, that’s not to say I’ve not had fun. There are some things we’ve done that I’ve loved, just that most of that has involved exploring the city’s green spaces and nothing to do with the obsessive consumerism. When we arrived, my brother said he thought I’d find living and working here exciting given the prominence of tech industries. Initially I was open to the suggestion but after 3 days I have realised that Singapore has none of the charm of the cities that I like the most, namely London, Barcelona, LA, San Francisco & Bangkok. There is little sense of history or culture on the street, just a huge melting pot of Asian pilgrims thriving in the economic boon. To find traces of the past or points of interest, you have to work hard. By far the most noticeable facet of Singapore life is the pursuit of wealth. From the monotonous bowels of the Marina Bay Sands casino to the ant nest of Vivo City shopping mall, the city teems with consumerism. There is no end of opportunities to spend vast amounts of cash.

Well they asked for it....

Our nod to the high end of city life was a combined trip to the Raffles Hotel to sup the infamous Singapore Sling and an elevator ride to the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel to soak up the views from the Skybar. The Raffles experience was memorable if only for the British colonial history that pours from its walls.; eating your bodyweight in monkey nuts and throwing the discarded shells to the floor was a nice touch of laissez-faire. The Sling was awful though; it tasted like a cheap fruit punch and left me rather underwhelmed. The brief visit to the Marina Bay Sands skybar was worthwhile; the views are good, though not spectacular. The view from the backside is of an enormous building site. However, at £14 for a simple JD & ginger ale, it’s not somewhere we had any interest in hanging around. It’s a shame that they fleece you so blatantly because given a more reasonable price, we would gladly have hung around to sup a few more drinks.

The highlight of the trip was the nature walk from the Henderson Waves through to Hort Park and its hilltop canopy walk, which offers a stunning vista of a WWII battlefield, now a landscaped garden. Though the structural iron arches of the waves could do with cleaning, the design is interesting and the walkway offers wonderful views of the city. What’s even better is that the half-day we spent meandering through forest and gardens was absolutely free. We saw far more flora than fauna but it was a relaxing stroll, though the humidity left us dripping like an ice-lolly in the sun. It was a welcome tonic to the evening spent in the glitzy world of Marina Bay the night before which felt rather soulless.

I feel a bit cheated by Singapore. I wasn’t expecting it to be cheap but I thought it would be more fun. Sitting at a restaurant in China Town and paying S$88 for a distinctly average meal, when you can get fantastic hawker street food for less than S$20, grates a little. Paying £5 for a small glass of gnats wee Tiger beer irks. Paying £35 per night for a basic backpacker hostel is crazy. I know that you can be stung in any city if you don’t know where you’re going but I’ve found the costs here out of kilter with my wallet’s ideals. I’ve been to enough big cities to know what good value is and quite simply, Singapore has not been good value. It has been a mildly amusing diversion but I don’t really see the point of ever coming back here unless in transit. You can’t love everywhere you visit and I’m sure this will help me love Pulau Tioman even more.

love jamer & the bro mo fo