Sunday, May 16, 2010

Singapore, April 2-4, 2010

April 2-4, 2010

The heat and humidity in Singapore were stifling. In addition, there were tremendous downpours -- tropical downpours with incredible thunder. Singapore reminds me of Disneyland, it is very clean and modern, and the flowers all seem to be in bloom. The city is multiracial, and very interesting. The airport in Singapore was like a large shopping center, much like Union Station in DC, only much larger. The plane arrived at midnight, so the stores were closed. However, there was a long line of people waiting to get into a restaurant at the airport.

The first stop in any country is an ATM to get local currency, and then I got a taxi to the hotel. The road was wide with large trees lining the street and forming a canopy over the street. It was beautiful.

The hotel was very luxurious, and I was very pleased that I got a good rate and stayed there -- the Easter special. The shower in the bathroom was incredible -- like a flood of warm water. Each day the buffet breakfast that was included with the stay was extensive and delicious. Also each day, “tea” was served at 3:00 in the afternoon, which consisted of sandwiches, scones, dessert and coffee -- all you could eat and drink; this was also included in the hotel package. I ate only those two meals each day until the last day, when I had lunch at the food court on Orchard Road. In addition, the location of the hotel was really great, within walking distance of the riverfront cafĂ© scene and Chinatown, and only a short taxi ride away from Little India and Orchard Road. I would return to the Fullerton, except that the view from the Mandarin Oriental appeared to be even better.

On the first day, I just wandered about, going for walk along the river. Then I took the river boat ride along the Singapore river, which very pleasant.

On the second day, I took the hop on/hop off bus and saw the city. At first, I had difficulty finding the bus stop, and the concierge at the hotel did not give good directions. Finally, I was sitting at a bus stop waiting, when an elderly man in a taxi came up and offered to take me around on a sightseeing tour of the city for only 15 Singapore dollars. He said that it was a holiday weekend, and all of the taxis were making that offer that day. I accepted, but after a few minutes, realized that he only wanted to take me to stores to purchase items where he got a commission. Once he learned that I was not going to buy anything and didn’t want to stop at those stores, he dropped me off. Fortunately, I was near a bus stop, and boarded the hop on/hop off bus for my tour. I got off the bus in the Muslim section and went for a walk and took photos of the mosque, where a Malay wedding was taking place. Unfortunately, the rain started, and I put my camera into a plastic bag. That was the one day I did not take an umbrella; I didn’t make that mistake again.

The third day, I took the hop on/hop off bus again, and this time I got off in Little India and walked to the next bus stop, taking many photos along the way. Later, I got off again and wandered through Chinatown. I stopped for lunch at a Thai place, and found that I liked the Pad Thai at home better. However, it was good to sit under the overhang of the restaurant until the downpour stopped.

The last day, I took a taxi to Orchard Road. I wanted to go to one or two of the shopping centers on Orchard Road, just to experience them, and I ended up purchasing a blue Addidas golf shirt. I walked along the underground walkway that was air conditioned, and went to a large "food court" with dozens of food outlets; I decided to eat at a Malay restaurant, where I picked out samples of many items; it was wonderful. I decide to walk part of the way back, stopping to take some photos at a small Hindu temple.

On Monday, April 5, I got a taxi to the ship, which seemed extremely small when I first boarded, and that later turned out to be the case throughout the cruise.

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