Thursday, May 27, 2010

Singapore 2010

Well I was lucky to be sent to Singapore recently for a work training course, I have never been to Singapore (or anywhere is Asia before for that matter) so it was an exciting trip for me.

First things first, the work side. I was on a Competitive Electricity Markets course. 3 days on markets. We had a wide variety of course participants from many backgrounds and nationalities (which made the lunch breaks fun). There were students from Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Malaysia. The difficult thing was the differing levels of knowledge within the group, for me the course was pitched too low for my level of understanding. Not a bad thing though as it consolidated a few things and also made me realise how much I know about electricity.

Ok, work stuff done. Now onto the rest of the trip.

I flew out of Perth on the red eye, leaving at 1.10am and arriving in Singapore at 6.35 am. The good thing is there is no time difference between Perth and Singapore which makes it easier, however the night flight is a KILLER. I slept a couple of hours before I left Perth, and had an hour or so on the flight, but its not enough and Saturday was a tough day for it.

My first impressions of Singapore were largely around the heat and humidity, followed by the beautiful scenery. It was green and lush!

I had to kill around 4 hours before I could check in at my hotel so I went in search of some food... I walked, and walked and walked. I sweated, and sweated and sweated as well. Finally I found a random 7-11 and got a diet coke and litres of water, these provisions made me feel better pretty much straight away. What I didn't know at the time was that Singapore basically sleeps in till about 10am and stays open late.

In my travels I visited Clarke Quay. Clarke Quay is a historic riverside quay, in the past dozens of bumboats (small boats used to ferry supplies to ships) used to moor here. However, this caused high levels of pollution and eventually the cargo services were relocated. After a river clean up Clarke Quay was developed into a commercial and entertainment area. The development retained much of the historical landscape. Currently, there are numerous restaurants and nightclubs, as well as Chinese junks (ancient chinese sailboats) that have been refurbished into pubs and restaurants. This photo shows Clarke quay (the main shot is a night shot).

After Clarke Quay I continued along Boat Quay. This is another historical area in Singapore, it used to be the busiest part of the old port of Singapore. The bank of the river here resembles the belly of a carp, which according to Chinese belief is where wealth and prosperity lay, therefore many shops were built, crowding the area. These shops have been conserved and the area now houses lots of bars, pubs and restaurants.
Some sculptures near Clarke and Boat Quays.

Finally, I made it to Merlion Park (with the new Casino in the background). The Merlion is an imaginary creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, used as a mascot of Singapore. After this I wandered back to my hotel on the other side of the river, taking in the sights but not taking photos as I was tired and fading fast. My new camera lens is great, however, it is really heavy and it just contributed to my overall tiredness.

Finally I was able to check in to the hotel for a nice shower and a rest. Revitalised, I headed off to Chinatown. I really enjoyed it here, I bought a new skirt $12, a wall hanging $20, 4 scarves for $10 and 2 dresses for $40. I also had satay chicken, rice and diet coke for $6.80. After walking for a large part of the day I was feeling pretty shattered so I treated myself to a $20 hour long foot reflexology massage- bliss. The first photo below is of the temple and surrounds and the second photo set contains general chinatown photos.After a long day I was done! Sunday started very early with a short taxi ride to the Botanic Gardens. It was beautiful there, however I really didn't explore the whole garden as it was just so humid. I really loved it and I think that it was one of the most beautiful areas I have been to for a while. Much more beautiful than Perth!My main purpose was to visit the National Orchid Garden, and boy I am glad that I did. It was such a beautiful area (and I must admit to loitering in the cool house - for the Orchids that don't like the heat). Over 1000 species and 2,000 hybrids are now found in the Gardens' collection, with about 600 species and hybrids on display. This is the largest display of tropical orchids in the world.I gave the rest of the gardens a miss as I was getting hot and bothered. From here I made a short trip to Little India, but didn't stay long as I didn't feel very comfortable there at all. Here is the only photo I took there.
After the short detour I was more hot and bothered than before, so I mastered the underground railway (MRT) and went off to Orchard Rd, one of the many shopping areas in Singapore. I was totally overwhelmed. So many shops everywhere. I just don't know how people get around them. I didn't buy anything at all, and decided to head home. On the way back to my hotel I stopped came across the following temple.

Later on Sunday I moved to another hotel, visited ex-colleague Vanessa (recent arrivals in Singapore) and had another foot massage!

Monday was the first day of the course, and after the course I met Vanessa for dinner. Following dinner I went on the Singapore Flyer- a giant observation wheel, at the top it is 165m from the ground. I did take photos from the trip but no tripod and lots of glare meant no good photos.

Following the course on Tuesday I headed off to the Butterfly Farm on Sentosa Island, struggling with my camera lens fogging up in the humidity. I also realised how hard good, clear insect shots are!!!
The butterfly park also had some birds ...On my way back to the hotel I stopped in at Vivocity- Singapore's biggest shopping centre. I really didn't know where to start though so I caught the MRT to Chinatown for dinner (see below) and then home.

After the course on Wednesday I met an ex colleague from the Commission (Anthony and his wife Wei) for dinner. They have lived in Singapore for about a year and Wei is Chinese so we visited real Chinatown not tourist chinatown... and it was an experience as well. I let Wei choose dinner, we had Hainanese chicken (dipped in boiling water twice to cook it), fried rice, vegetables and lime juice. Fantastic. After dinner we had a mango sago dessert.... yummm. It was great hanging out with locals as it gives a different perspective on a city.

All in all I had a great time in Singapore and really would like to take Jason there. I won't miss the humidity or mosquitoes however.

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