Monday, May 31, 2010

Singapore: Cleanliness, Calm and Class

I love Singapore! There's not much more I can say. Until recently I'd never really thought about flying across, but my cricket team decided that it would be a good idea for a tour. I was mega excited as I've been feeling really good in the nets and playing on a proper cricket ground for the first time in about 3 years made me feel like a kid impatiently awaiting Christmas! However, last weekend I sprained my ankle playing football. It was pretty innocuous. I was trying to keep the ball in play, tripped over the ball, and before I knew it 3 weeks of sporting activities were kicked to the curb. I have to admit having been a little depressed over the last week. I've tried to hide it, but it's getting harder. The doctor said I can't run for 6 weeks and it feels like a prison sentence. I know he's right as it's given way 5 times in the last week and I can feel it's incredibly week at the moment, but staying away from sport is killing me. Last week I was supposed to be playing cricket in Singapore, this week I was supposed to be playing football in Cambodia and the week after running a half marathon in Phuket. Now I get to play on my wii, watch the world cup on tv and little else. Fun

Anyways, Singapore. I'd been told about it by several of my students. You see, Singapore is a popular destination for the Vietnamese as it's close, clean, has great shopping and they don't require a visa to visit. They all talked it up and they were right to. Coming from Vietnam to Singapore is quite the shock! They are worlds apart. And before anyone says anything, I'm not trying to talk Vietnam down, I just want to talk about how great Singapore is!

Coming off the plane, the airport is impressive with countless moving walkways, modern furnishing and curtious staff. I was even more impressed with the efficiency of the immigration officials. They (thoroughly) checked the disembarkation cards of all the passengers with assured authority and professionalism which made me feel like I was reentering the real world. Exiting the airport, the taxi director/coordinator or whatever his job title is showed us to our ride (it was 01:20 after all) and after a pleasant conversation with the cabi we arrived at our hotel. Quite the difference from where I'm blogging from now!

The next day Hanh and I walked to the Skytrain. For those not clued up on the jargon, the Skytrain is a predominately overground underground (subway for the Americans). It's unbelievable. The carts are spacious and clean. Passengers wait for those alighting to step off before coming on and there's no graffiti or litter like you find in other parts of the world. Best of all, the trains run frequently, stop at the major points of the city and the interchanges (that I stopped at) didn't require a hike to get to your connection. The skytrain was almost like a tourist attraction in itself. Unfortunately I couldn't play one of my favourite games 'subway surfing' because of my ankle, but I still had fun!

Our destination, as you probably know, was the main shopping district. I think it's called Orchid Road/Street or something like that. We got off subway and walked through a park to the main prescient. It was rather nice to walk in the centre of the city without fearing being mowed down by motorbikes or being harassed by street vendors. Anyway, upon entering the shopping arcade (how English am I?!) I was impressed by the sheer size of the place. Furthermore, it was filled of shops I actually wanted to go into! Ok, the prices may be a little on the high side (baring in mind I'm a cheapskate and I currently reside in VN) but the quality and range of products was pretty impressive. Needless to say I headed straight to Starbucks and McDonalds for a few home comforts I can't get in Vietnam but I feel I should be forgiven for caving in.

After a pretty uneventful window shopping trip, we went to the cricket ground where I watched the might UCC playing and I was craving to play. However, common sense prevailed so I got smashed watching them instead. I'm not sure how I got roped into a 10 over umpiring stint but the bottle of Heineken in my hand made it little less painful (both the umpiring and the pain in my legend). The game, in all honesty, was a little one sided and I can't help but feel my teammates 5:30am bender the night before might have been partly responsible for it. Not to mention the fact they got put into bat and got the worst of the heat too! However, Malone deserves an honourable mention for a stella performance with both bat and ball.


After cricket was wrapped up, a few of us headed into one of the main party districts in town. Clarke Quay. I really liked this place. Loads of good restaurants (from the outside anyway), a ton of bars and, my personal favourite, a fountain at it's heart. It is a bustling place with a fantastic vibe and atmosphere, something that HCMC, in my opinion, is sorely lacking. We found a bar called 'The Lost Kingdom' where a cover band played 80s and 90s classics which was pleasant enough. Unfortunately the beers were a touch on the extortionate side but you can't have it all! We ended up going home relatively early (2am) as everyone was shot after a day in the sun but Singapore has left nothing but a good after taste in my mouth and I can't wait to come back. I will upload some pictures soon as my camera cable broke last week and I haven't replaced it yet. I'll also write about my favourite part of Singapore tomorrow....can you guess what that is? Answers on a postcard please!

4 comments:

  1. I am glad that you have such high opinion on Singapore. Did you try the food there- Chicken rice, Fried Hokkien noodle, etc?
    I'll look out for your second post and pictures :)

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  2. Unfortunately I didn't eat any Singaporean food when we were there. I have to admit to eating mainly fast food because when don't have McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts or Burger King in Vietnam!

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  3. Okay, so now I have to go. I have a friend who lives there and he's been after me to come visit for about 8 or 9 months now. ^_^

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  4. Singapore is great! Such a clean and efficient country compared to VN. I'm not sure how good a long visit would be, but 4-5 days would be a decent period, others may disagree though!!

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