I dropped off my bags in the room and armed my self with serveal city maps, the Stopover vouchers and S$115.
Allson Hotel room
I decided to start with Little India, the sites, smells and tastes of its namesake, and headed north. The city came to life over the course of a few blocks. Shops began to open, buses were now full and emptied capacity loads on street corners. I crossed the canel into Little India and was immediately hit with the smells of burning incensce drifting from the tiny shop-ettes. Compared with the CBD, this was dirty. Piles of rubbish hugged alleys, odours drifted up from fermenting puddles, shop exteriors were covered in decades of built up grim and smog which looked like a frozen black waterfall on a now grey wall. It was great, a distinct "lived in" look which reminded me of all the student accommodation I have had.
I wandered up Serangoon Road, zigging in and out of the many sidestreets. Bustop advertising models were slowly being replaced by Indian faces. Faded old Bollywood posters lined 2nd story walls. Curry and eateries were everywhere. Old leather men smiled toothlessly as they sipped on their soups and brothes in outdoor eateries. After several blocks near the end stood Mustafa, a 24 hour, 6 storey department store and supermaket in one. It had everything and anything in atleast 10 different brandnames all crammed in. I left to find food.
"Pigs Intestine soup" scream one advertisment. "1 frog soup", "2 frog soup" and just incase you need more frog in your bowl, they even offered "3 frog soup".
Finally I settled on some Mutton curry with naan. It was very satisfing and tasty for a bargin of S$3.
I wandered back towards the CBD and past through a park market filled with men selling odds and sods. Shoes sat next to PC motherboards, apples kept pink hats company. A textile alleyway filled with coloured silks beckoned me over, and as I past through it I crossed the Victoria Street Wholesale center and finally into Little Arab with a large golden Mosque sticking out from behind the trees. I continued down to the famous Rafflers Hotel and into the giant Suntec City Mall with 4 large towers ontop of a sparling shopping arcade.
Skyline in Singapore
My vouchers included unlimited use of a city loop bus and by now my feet needed the rest. I grabbed a coke, found the bustop and waited. There were a large number of Police and camoflarge soldiers on the street corners. Something was going down. I thought about asking them but a voice called behind me, "if your waiting for the SAI Hopon it doesnt stop here." Apparently my new dutch friend had been waiting and just discover that the streets had been blocked off. There was a state funeral for an ex-minister and we would have to try the next stop. Together, we wandered down the North Bridge street and noticed the crowd outside Parliment house. We stopped to watch the procession and show our respects.
Eventually, we got the bus and headed for Singapore river where we went on a boat tour. A recored voice, a lost Steve Irwine twin, enthusiasticly told us about "the amazing bridge where dreams became reality" and "the hotel which is not only great to say but fantasic to look at"
Boats used for the tour
Back on the bus and we were out at the orchard gardens. We walked around the parklands and stopped to appreciate a band practising for a wedding. A mist filled enclosure contained orchards of every shape and shade. Another area was aircondition with a waterfall, high walkway and rocky walls, carnivorious Pitcher plants hugging its face.
I had to return to the hotel. I was hot and sweaty and needed to change. Vulcan Logic Teaching #472 - If you are going to do research on a country and watch the weather conditions for a month, for god sake follow the advise. For some reason, it never occured to me that it would be as hot and humid as it was. My arms were now tender, red and tight. My nose was doing its best Rudolf inpersonation. Why wasnt I immune to Sunburn, I get exposed to enough radition from computer monitors, dont I?
I caught a cab out to the Night Sufari Zoo that night. It was a good 25 minute trip but only cost S$15. Kerosen laterns flicked up and down the pathways and frog and bird calls filled the air. It was 8pm and cooler down to only high 20s (uugh!). I opted not to pay extra for for the train and wandered through the park on foot. The animal enclosures were small but generous, strategically placed spotlights allowed view of the animals while they foraged and play. Inidan alligators, lepeords, giant flying squirals, porcupines were all active and up close. An enclosure contained bats and after scanning the walls, I was still unable to find them. Then I looked up and one hung 40cm above my head. I could have reached out and touch it. I could have run away screaming. I nearly did both. At 10pm I watched the show where Barn owls fly amounst the crowd, a giant python was pulled out from the crowd and otters placed cans and bottles into the correct recycle bins.
By 11pm I was exhausted having been awake for almost 40 hours and walking around for most of the day. The taxi driver gave out advise on things to do tomorrow, China Town, an electrical center, the island playground. He also warned me not to be out in Little India after 12pm. Apparently, men dressed as women wander the streets and are bad. Im not sure wether hes implying Little India was over-run with a Tranvesite Crime gang or wether the local "escort services" were not up to scratch. Either way, I wasnt to find out, I was falling asleep anyway.