21 Oct 2009
Well done me. I managed not to remember a note pad. Sigh. But this did mean I bought one at Singapore airport. This wouldn’t ordinarily be bothered with but this is a special one. The front cover is a serene photo of footprints in a snowy landscape with the words
“CHALLENGE – Do not follow where the path may lead. Go where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Then on each page is a sort of water mark (not actually, just a cheap bit of very light grey writing) which states
“Destined to win”
With this notepad I can hardly go wrong this whole trip! Woot.
Anyway back to the trip.
I was off to the airport via a coach from Leicester city centre and I was planning to get a cab to the coach station. Well 40 mins before my coach was due off I phoned up the taxi cab and was told they had an hour wait at best. Eek. This was at about 4am. Must be mighty busy or maybe they only had the one guy on. So off I trot on foot dragging a large case and lugging a full day pack. Luckily I bumped into a cab on the way who gave me a lift. Not a great start.
All my flights to Aus and back were on Singapore Airlines. I’d happily recommend them. Decent space, nice service, good entertainment system etc. Very good. The food was top notch too. I brought back a menu with me so I could remember the food offered. How about this for a dinner menu (in economy no less):
Appetiser: Thai Papaya salad with shrimps
Mains: Beef fillet with port wine sauce, roasted assorted vegetables and potato, or
Indian style butter chicken with jalfereizi [sic] vegetable and basmati rice, or
Char Siew pork with steamed rice and leafy greens.
Cheese: Cheese and crackers.
Dessert: Chocolate delight.
Not bad at all.
The flight to Singapore lasted nearly 13 hours though which is a bugger of a long time in anyone’s book. The A380 is quite large too – good for cutting down turbulence and loads of space to move about.
My prep worked though. The iPod gave me plenty of entertainment (and with a seat back USB port available, it didn’t run out of juice no matter how many vids watched or games played), the sound cancelling headphones were well worth it too; I was surprised they worked as well as they did to be honest – most impressed.
On the seat back thingy I finally got to see Monsters vs Aliens which I annoyingly missed down the cinema. And as we were nearing our destination I sat back and watched Kooza too. This may be stating the obvious but some of those performers are awfy good. The wheel of death folk were spectacular, they even had me gasping at one or two points. Stunning stuff.
Regarding the seat back entertainment wotsit. I had a huge bullock of a man sitting next to me and he looked quite dim. At one point he was fiddling with the handset and looking dumbly at his screen. Which was blank. He kept looking at the screen and then at the handset and then at the screen again. All with a blank look on his face. Now the “on” button wasn’t on the handset it was on the bottom of the screen. I helpfully, I thought, leaned over and jabbed his on button for him. He looked very confused and then annoyed and then confused again.
Turns out that his screen was on but the LCD screen didn’t allow me to see it from my viewing angle! Luckily he didn’t get annoyed when we figured out what was going on. Well done me again. Sigh.
Once landed (in an excellent airport – it has about 9 gardens, one of which is a butterfly garden!) I was going to meet up with a couchsurfer who was landing from Kuala Lumpur at roughly the same time. I had 24 hours in Singapore so I though seeing it with a fellow traveller would be a good way to spend the day. He had said he knew Singapore a bit so could show me around. Well we met up, got the train into town and then he had to sod off. Nice.
So I wandered a bit and then went to the zoo.
Now just about the only thing I really knew about Singapore was that it is somewhat clammy. Ross Noble went on and on about this somewhat in his show from there. (I agree with him that the Merlion is a bit rubbish too) When I landed I was in the air conditioned airport and then the air conditioned train. The first I noticed of this clamminess was when the train doors opened at over-ground stops and the air rushing in made it feel like the moment you enter a sauna. Hot and damp. Lovely mix.
But it wasn’t sunny. The photos I got show it as quite gloomy. Strange atmos really.
The zoo was right good tho. Saw a few animals including a saki monkey, some shagging baboons, a couple of pygmy hippos and more. Slightly depressing white tiger exhibit sadly. One of them was just pacing left and right – poor thing probably had too much energy to be cooped up in that size compound. Oh yes they had polar bears too. In Singapore! Talk about wrong habitat.
Next to the zoo was the “Night Safari” which was all about the nocturnal animals. This had a nice, if overly worthy, show about the night timers.
Oh yes there was a woman there at the zoo who was the exact image of Ginormica from Monsters vs Aliens. Only she had black rather than white hair.
By this time I was getting more than a little tired. At one point I fell asleep in the zoo’s cafe. I also managed to fall asleep on the bus from the zoo to the train station.
I got back the airport with a few hours to go before check in so availed myself of the facilities there. And they’re fantastic. Sadly the transit hotel was full but there was something called the transit lounge. This offered showers and short term beds for a low price. A bed! I’d had about 4 hours sleep in the preceding 2 days. So I had me a 3 hour snooze (could have done with much more) and a lovely shower thus making the onward journey much nicer for whomever got to sit next to me on the plane.
Singapore was an interesting stop with far more to see than I managed. Possibly worth a return visit one day. Maybe I’d lump in a Malaysia visit too.
Photos from Singapore (not that I’m best happy with them tbh) here.