Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Not the best start to my South East Asian experience

Wednesday 24th November 2010

MP3 track of the day: It's Hot in the city - Billy Idol

Weather: Hot, humid, thunder storms, lots of rain, little sun, cloudy … basically everything except snow!

I only slept in until 10:30am, however I had a long shower and didn't leave the hostel until around 12pm (I woke up feeling alright, which meant that the chicken burger I had yesterday must have been okay). My first stop was to find a post office – to post home my last Japanese souvenir and guidebook – and then I needed to grab some lunch. I asked at reception for the closest post office and best place to eat; luckily for me they were both in the same complex, about a five minute walk from here.

The weather was very hot, however it didn't feel as hot as Fiji. The skies were full of clouds and I was cursing my decision to put on my sticky suncream (I haven't put suncream on since Fiji). I found the post office easily however finding something to eat was a little more difficult. Reading my guidebook on the plane yesterday, it recommended finding places where they cooked the food in front of you instead of it being left on trays all day. Unfortunately every stall I found had food on trays and worst still, there seemed to be no noodles, only rice. I therefore headed out of this complex and found another that was full of people; a food court, being full of people, is always a good sign. I looked at all the stores and I still couldn't find anywhere that freshly cooked noodles, so I opted for one of the noodle stalls and had a mix of items from the trays in front of me or $4.00 (£2.00). I sat down on the tables in front of the store and was slightly impressed by myself when I noticed that was the only one using chopsticks.

First of all I picked up a piece of meat however, even before it went in my mouth, the sauce around the outside was stone cold. I therefore decided to leave all the meat and just eat the noodles, which were also cold. So far my culinary experiences of South East Asia hasn't been that good. After this I went into a shop and bought a packet of biscuits and a big bottle of water.

It was now tipping it down and I had no coat (and even if I did I wouldn't wear it as it was so hot) and so, being in the center of the main downtown shopping area I found an umbrella stand that sold exactly the type of umbrella I was looking for (more on shopping items that I need later in post). It was black, it folded up to about eight inches in height, it had a UV protective layer and best of all, it didn't make me look camp. It cost $10 and so I got it, allowing me to continue looking around Singapore without getting soaked.

I made my way past the Raffles Hotel and a big church until I reached the 'Fort Canning Park'. It was hear, on this very hill, that the British army spent their final hours fighting before surrendering to the Japanese on the 15th February 1942. Within the hill are a series of tunnels and military command rooms that the British nicked-named 'The Battle Box'. This complex, after being closed for forty years, has been brought back to that fateful day in February 1942 with dummies, sound and visual demonstrations of what happened that day. For me this was a must do and so I went in to purchase an entry ticket. I was asked by the cashier if I wanted an admission ticket for $5 or to go on a tour for $8. I don't like tours as I like to ponder at my own speed and so I went for the cheaper ticket.

A little Asian man showed me into the tunnels which started with the sound of an artillery bombardment and the sound of a British 'Tommy' telling me to get inside and take cover. The tunnels were pretty good, but apart from one room, there was very little audio or film explanation. It was then that I found out that when the lady said a tour she actually meant an audio guide. I was a little annoyed at this as I would have spent an extra $3 for that … still I had a good look around and read a bit of the information present. Another good thing about these tunnels was that they were pretty cool and for that reason alone I didn't want to leave.

Back on the surface the rain had stopped, however I could hear violent thunder in the skies and so I decided to head back to my hostel, via the river front. Along the river front I saw the 'Raffles' statue, the old supreme court building (where the British accepted the Japanese surrender of Singapore after the atom bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima) and part of the F1 Singapore track. The rain started to fall very heavily and so I made my way back to my hostel.

On my way back I felt a little down as the day hadn't really gone as planned; I had my second rubbish meal in two days, I didn't get an audio guide to the main attraction that I wanted to see within Singapore and the weather had been pretty bad (actually I think it's more to do with the fact I'm still a little tired). The only thing that had gone well was the purchase of the umbrella (The first umbrella that I've ever bought), but again that felt a little 'un-structually sound' so I'm not sure how long it will last. I thought that I had left my luck in Japan and thoughts of home, Japan and New Zealand came flooding back however I know that I just have to give the place a bit of time.

Once back at my hostel I extended my stay for another two nights and I sat down and chatted to other travelers feeling better straight away. The plan for tomorrow is to head into the main city center where I hope to see the famous sea lions. I would also like to head into China town and see some of the shrines there. Outside of the city is the Changi Prison, which is still a working prison, however it was here that the defeated British, and the civilians of Singapore, were kept after the fall of Singapore in 1942 (there's a small museum).

I have some shopping to do within South East Asia. My Dad wants a polo shirt with the Raffles Hotel on (probably better go to the Raffles hotel for that then!) and I also need to protect myself against the sun a bit better. First of all I need a hat; I've been toying with the idea of a Mexican hat, as that would give me the most protection … however I think I might look a little out of place. To be more in place I thought about an old Chinese style 'cone' shaped hat … however I think that only works for the Chinese. Nope I reckon a cream colored, British style hat, to really enhance my 'Britishness' with my socks and sandals (my feet rub against the sandal without the sock).

I wanted an umbrella that would protect me against the rain and that I could use to shield me against the sun. It has to be small as I don't want to carry too much stuff around with me. This I have got, however I'm not sure how long it will last.

I need to get some more camera memory cards and memory sticks (there is a huge discount electronic store nearby so I may have a look tomorrow) and another pair of shorts as I only have one pair. Finally, due to me now getting rid of five guidebooks, I would like to purchase a reading book. I'm thinking a book about the Vietnam war as, it's relevant to this part of the world, and I don't know much about it.

Things that I have noticed about Singapore; firstly they drive on the left and secondly they use the same 'three-pin' power plug as we go at home.

However for now I need to get some tea … oh goodie!

Toodle Pip!

No comments:

Post a Comment