I’ve been there for two weeks. There are definitely two dominant impressions you get right at the start. The city is very clean and it’s bloody humid. I mean bloody humid. It’s like metropolis-wide sauna. Thanks to the ocean there is no pollution in the air, something that’s killing me in Belgrade, every time I need to get out or use public transport.
One thing that also astonished me is that every building is air-conditioned to something like 18 degrees. It’s a miracle that you don’t get sick-cold every two days here - it’s 32 Celsius outside and as soon as you step in somewhere it’s 18-20. Do that several times a day (and you almost always have to) and things can get really nasty. Locals does not seem to mind this, but for me and other people from my company (both UK and Serbia) it was hard. Most people brought sweaters to work, because the working rooms are cooled to below 20 while server rooms are even lower, to something like 12-14. Chilling….
I was in the Rendezvous Hotel, which placed me in walking distance to a wide variety of interesting stuff. Orchard Road - the main shopping area is 1 min away. Lots of other malls are located near-by. 15-20mins away is the small bay with dozens of small restaurants offering what looks to me a very similar menus. Don’t get me wrong - there are hundred or more different meals with Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese etc flavors. To me they are not that much different - the most interesting stuff I found was the yummy combination of sweet and sour tastes. And the waiters in those restaurants are intercepting you while you walk, almost dragging you into their premises, showing menus with pictures in your face. Do not go there if you not in the good mood, you might punch someone. Believe me, they are worse than street salesmen.
I also ate far more fruits here than at home - for S$3-4 you can buy the plate with variety of different fruits, already cleaned and sliced. No hassle, pure joy.
This is Singapore - you can see how much is being built
One of my favourite meals from Kopitiam
Another funny thing: here, you have taxi queues, with dozens of people waiting for a cab ride. Something entirely out of space if you are from Belgrade where you have nothing similar, only bunch of people waiting for public transportation. :) Here, taxi seems like a regular public transport - I half expected to see a monthly taxi ticket desk. Cab is far from expensive here, but it’s unusual in any case. Also, do not even think to look for a cab after 10pm by waving on the streets. None of them stops - better look for a taxi stand, most easily found near the hotels. Or dial a cab - each vehicle has the number written on it. Just don’t wave to a cab with SMRT written on it; smrt in Serbian means death. :)
But whatever you do, in 10pm you will have a hard time to catch the ride. It’s quicker to use bus or MRT than taxi, but then you have to know which routes go where.
MRT = Mass Rapid Transit. Very clean, very efficient.
Every large metropolis is filled with shopping centers and Singapore is prime example of that. Centers are located one next to each other, in the underground passages, inside of large hotels - everywhere. One thing is striking - prices are not shown anywhere. You have to call the clerk and he will come with portable calculator and tell you the price. As soon as you see this happening, never accept first offer. Express your interest but don’t buy and you will hear the price drop. Ask for similar stuff and then say that previous thing is better, but… Another price drop. Start to leave and in more cases than not he will pull you for the sleeve telling you even lower price. I had several cases of dropping price from 25 to 18, 14 or even 12.
Personally, I hate such things. I don’t like to play price games. It only means that the damn thing is overpriced in the beginning and I’m only wasting time.
Funan - IT mall
Plaza Singapura mall
Shopping malls. Raffles City is really beautiful
When I go through the shops, I never buy anything in stores with annoying clerks calling you like you are their best friend. This is best witnessed in SimLim Square, where you can buy cheap cameras, computer parts and other IT stuff. Let me browse the shop myself, don’t follow me like hound dog. If I need you, I’ll call you. Example: a friend and I were looking for some camera bags and tripods and in one store they had really cool, inexpensive tripods. But the assistant was so obnoxious that we practically ran from there. In another store with kids stuff, two of us moved around for like 30 minutes. No one asked us anything - the cashier lady patiently waited. In the end, I bought the beautiful wooden praying mantis, even though I had no intention of buying anything - I was just keeping company to a friend who was actually looking for the present to his nephew.
Orchard Road - the place to shop
In the evenings, the heat and humidity worsen, but the city lights and nice arrangement of plants and trees shine in all its beauty. If you have a good camera with wide angle lenses, bring your tripod and make astonishing photos. Good places to shoot are around the Marina Bay. From Esplanade side you can shoot at Fullerton Hotel and many high towers around it, while from the Fullerton side you can shoot the Esplanade itself with another set of sparkling towers.
Singapore is a great place for night photography
In the end, this is one of the “nice to visit but I wouldn’t live there” places. The weather is really unbearable here and I did not slide not one 1% to getting used to it. Every time I went outside I melted. Other than that, it’s a really nice city, especially if you like oriental food and can enjoy the differences in them.
There are plenty of things to see, one of which is Sentosa Island, which I’ll cover in another post.
I posted way more photos on Flickr, so check them out there.