Time to head to Singapore and what a transformation this place is undergoing. My plan here was to have a relaxing week just catching up with people and I’m pleased to say I’ve achieved that. I mean after the next few weeks it’s a full on 8+ month slog so why not ? Gone are the dorms and guest houses, I’ve been staying in Rachel & Mark’s luxury condo. Oh yes, a week of well deserved ex pat living will ensue. It’s taxi’s all the way for me (about the only thing here that’s cheap). I think Singapore is now more expensive than Hong Kong. Property prices have doubled in the last 2 years. Restaurants are shooting up all of the place and with a lack of landmarks to go by I have absolutely no idea where the hell I am. Well, I’m staying near Holland Village and my week here was so I could catch up with my former Hong Kong flat mate Rachel, Mark and the boys, Connor and Callam. Unfortunately, being the international property moguls that they are, Rachel was busy clearing up kangaroo pooh in their new homestead in Western Australia that had just completed. After a very efficient taxi ride to their place, I picked up a key from a neighbour and managed to figure our their incredibly complex TV system so I could catch up on a bit of rugby. I’m shattered from Borneo. I went down to the supermarket. Oh to buy….. brown bread, marmite and bacon – I have missed you ! I bought a few other bits for dinner and cooked the first meal at home in nearly 3 months. Mark was flying in at 10pm from Australia so we caught up and then it was an early night for me.
It’s now quite overcast, I did have the thought that I’d top up the tan by the pool this week but it’s not happening. That evening I met up with Kenny, Mick, Clive & Sharon for dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Clarke Quay. It was great to see some of the old Hong Kong gang again. I know Kenny from the UK but he’s been here 8 years, Mick is in security (he could be of use later on in the trip) and Clive & Sharon have just relocated from the UK, and are loving it here. I can see why. In fact I’ve noticed that you tend to get an older level of ex pat here than Hong Kong. It’s a calmer environment but you can still have mad nights if you want them. This place is definitely growing on me.
The following day I met up with Sharon for lunch in Holland village and met her youngest Holly (very cute and potentially very cheeky, takes after her Dad) and then in the evening I decided to go to the Night Safari at the zoo. It’s actually been done really well and they are even breeding some of the rare animals. There’s a night creatures show which involves wolves, otters (who can recycle), bear cats, owls and a huge reticulated python. This was hidden in a box under one of the audiences seats, much crowd screaming ensued as they brought the python through the audience. They ended up sitting next to me. As a now converted lover of snakes I just sat there calmly chatting to the handlers. They then pulled a guy out of the audience and put the snake around his neck. He could barely carry it and wasn’t the most comfortable of particpants – but it was all good fun. I then took the electric tram which crawls quietly around the park so you can watch the animals with as little interruption for them as possible. You can get off half way and walk around the trails. You actually walk in to the bat enclosure and they are just there hanging in front of you no barriers at all. It’s great. Mark was home when I got back so we had a couple of glasses of wine and a chat.
The following evening after yet another relaxing day (Mark had kindly set up the computer so I could do a blog catch up) I went out to meet Mandy. “She was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I met her ” (in Hong Kong, “that much is true”). We went down to Boat Quay and had a couple of Martinis. As it was a Friday night it was pretty busy and all of the alfresco restaurants are trying to get you to come and eat in them. We then headed back to Clarke Quay. The Chinese mid autumn festival had just started so water was lined with junks and some great tacky decorations. Obviously a photo opportunity. At Clarke Quay we headed to a bar and were just about to order when my friend Gerry showed up. Wow, what a coincidence I thought. No, the schemers had done that deliberately. Unfortunately Sharon was poorly so her and Clive couldn’t make it. But you know Gerry, we did get you back….. Some wonderful wine later a mad Brit came in and insisted on buying us a shot. That was really kind of him but he really did seem a bit insane so we made our excuses and headed out for some food. On the way, there was a reverse bungy jump which some people were strapped in to and were about to be released so we stopped to watch. Before I know it, (I blame Mandy) we are in the queue. I’ve never done any form of bungy before, and Gerry suddenly went very quiet. He suggested that rather than go with us (it sat 3 people) he’d take photos. Finally, our turn came so Mandy and I were strapped in. With not very long to go Gerry suddenly jumped in to the middle seat. The camera was in the hands of a local and off we shot in to the air. What a feeling !! I think the reverse version must be easier though as you haven’t got to look down. When we got off Gerry confessed that if he hadn’t done it , it would be on the blog so he had to join us – very brave !! I’m liking the new found power of the blog. Stomachs settled we headed for some local food and then it was time to say goodbye, the shot had kicked in. I’d set my alarm for 3am but I’m happy to say I slept through and missed the dismal English rugby display. Damn, they replayed it in the morning.
Saturday, again relaxing and out for dinner with Mark to the hawker place in Newton. There are hawker centres all over Singapore. You could in theory just go to one and eat at a different stall every night. It’s great. After some crab and squid we went back to watch the rugby. It finally finished at 5am – how am I going to cope in New Zealand ? On Sunday I went for lunch in Dempsey road with Sarah, Luke and the children (Jack and Eve). I hadn’t seen them since 2002 in London (they are old Hong Kong neighbours). Again lovely to catch up and it’s great to see what your children turn out like. In Jack & Eve’s case incredibly sweet and chatty. More rugby to see in the evening.
Today. I’m finishing this and then it’s time to fly to Australia. It’s been lovely to see everyone here, and thanks sooooo much to Rachel and Mark for letting stay, and to Annabelle their helper for making me all that coffee. I hope to visit again one day.
So on my 3 month travelling anniversary, it’s adios Asia (as you can see my South American Spanish is coming along nicely) and off to stay with friends in Oz. This time tomorrow I’ll be in Sydney, well life could be worse !! Oh, but first the sun has come out so I may just get an hour by the pool after all………….
Transport count :
Plane = 10, Bus = 26, Train =2, Boat = 10, Sunglasses = 5, Mosquito Repellant = 8