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Michael’s Travel Diary

Monday, 06 Mar 2006

Location: Singapore, Singapore

MapAlright, I've been in Singapore for 2 nights now and fly out tonight... I better check that the time is right!

I'm staying at a place called the Betel Box Hostel, which ain't too bad. As far as hostels go the facilities are great, the only thing that is lacking is the location. It is about 20 minutes from the city by bus, which in the Singapore humidity is a bit of a dog. Just wish someone would have told me it a $6, 5 minute cab ride to the city before last night... would have been handy to know earlier.

My first night in Singapore (I got to the hostel at around 6pm) I headed to the city, despite being in extreme need of sleep. Grabbed a bite to eat (Turkey Double Cheese Deluxe from Burger King! Trying the local fare...) started wandering towards Raffles. I went into the Raffles Shopping Complex, and it was huge (at least so I thought!). All the stores were still open at 9pm on a Sunday... and packed.

I walked across the street to Raffles, and wandered through the outdoor conservatory bar area. Then I wandered upstairs and into the Long Bar. Being in the Long Bar, I had to have the mandatory Singapore Sling, and that was my first taste of the Singapore drinking scene - $19.80 Singapore, or about $18 Aussie... ouch. To rub salt into the wound, they don't even make them 'fresh' but mass produce and pour it out of a jug. Anyway the place was overrun with 60 year old tourists, kind of a been there, done that thing.

Then I continued my walk to the Bay Area and saw the 'highlights' of Singapore, which all apparently look better at night: There "opera house", called the Theatres on the Bay, the Merlion and Boat Quay. Boat Quay was pretty crap and quiet (mind you it was 10pm on a Sunday night, everyone must have been out shopping)!

Caught a bus back to the hostel, fell asleep on the bus and managed to somehow find my way back to the hostel. Slept a really good sleep, given I'd had one hour sleep in 44 hours, I think I needed it!

Woke up Tuesday and headed to Orchard Road shopping district. Okay that was rediculous. Just HUGE shopping centres on either side of the road, that have the same shops in it as the one opposite it, and either side f it. I saw three Harvey Normans in the space of 10 minutes, I didn't even know where to find three back home... But the one I wandered around the longest was incredible. Shops by the likes of: Tiffany's, Fendi, Prada, Armani, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Rolex etc. etc. etc. Guys, NEVER let a girlfriend/wife take your credit card to Singapore, it could be a disaster.

Then I headed to Sentosa, Singapores "Island Resort"... crap. It cost to get on the island, and then everything cost money from there. I did pay to go to Fort Siloso though which was one of the Brittish Fort's in the 2nd World War when they were trying to defend Singapore from the Japanese. Very interesting story, and actually a lot of good info.

Then I headed to the beach to have a look. I went to the bar for a drink, and got a Scooner of Carlsberg for a mere $9. That was the last drink there. So deciding that the island was pretty crap, I headed back to the city and had dinner at a Hawker centre: Prawn Noodles and a mug of Sugar Cane Juice, all for just $3... now we'e talking, can't afford to drink, but eating like a king!

Get back to the hostel and meet a guy named Jack from Geelong... now he works in Shepparton, drinks Bundy, and likes to sing bogan pub songs including Shannon Noll's "What About Me"... good ole country boy.

So we get some advice from the staff at the hostel to the nighlife of Singapore, and were told, whatever you do:
Look for the Adam's Apple
Big Hands and Feet
If all you do is talk to the girl (or ladyboy ), never pay anything.

Needless to say we were wondering what we were getting ourselves into, but headed off none the less. First stop was a local pub called 57 Chevy... true American pub with Chevy pictures and models on the wall and American Rock sung by Singapore locals! Classic stuff. We started there cos the beer was cheap ($5 each... scooner size) and then headed to an irish pub Muddy Malone's. We didn't want to go there, and said been to one Irish, been to em all, but the guy from the hostel assured us this one was different.

Well, it was, but for one reason only, a round of two pints cost $28... We did get to meet a yank that was a golf caddie who player had won the Jakarta Open on the Sunday. Interesting bloke, looked like Dolf Lundgren and must have been 6'6".

Anyway, next stop was the one we were worried about. We headed to Orchard Towers... Didn't get in the front door, and we were dragged off by an Indian Woman with the offer of a free beer in the Gold Dust Lounge. We demanded to know if there were any strings attached... she assured us there weren't. So we have our tap beer, which admittedly tasted like it had been recycled and left... in Singapore a free beer is a free beer... and it's $10 still in your pocket, often more.

Jack and I cross the tunnel into the other tower and immediately were are confronted by the enormity of the situation. We had just arrived at what the locals call "Four Floors of Whores". The place is full of bars and nightclubs, and these "girls" outnumber the guys 5-1 in every club... incredible.

Seriously you have no idea. Looking around I spot the safety of a Downunder Bar and put my head down and start heading that way, getting propositioned half a dozen times in the 30 second walk to the pub. Jack on the other hand decided that conversation was the way to go, and was set upon like prey for a pack of wolves... Somehow he managed to drag himself away and we get into the pub, Jack yelling rather trimphantly Aussie Aussie Aussie to the sole reply of Oi Oi Oi.... apparently there weren't many Aussies in the pub!

The pub was small, playing Aussie classics including all the Chisel and Jimmy Barnes back catalogue. The pub only had a couple 'girls' 'working' there, so it was easy enough to keep out of trouble and have a beer. But beer leads to the need to go to the toilet... and of course, there is just one toilet in the entire building, and you have to leave the safety of the pub. Now, let me tell you, the guys on Gladiator had it easy in their 'gauntlet'. This was tough. 'Girls' grabbing your arms, saying 'where you from?' and 'want to talk?' The first part wasn't too hard, but when a 'girl' with size 11 feet and hands bigger than mine grab you, it's harder to shake em! There must be some unspoken rule that prevents them from following you into the toilet, cos they just let go of you when your about 5 feet away from the door....

So the Down Under pub calls last drinks and I run the gauntlet again and head to the toilet. I meet a yank pilot who convinces me to come to "Paradise Bar" which was a different scene altogether... Small bar with a catwalk in the middle, where the girls in not much just wander up and down, do a bit of a pole dance and then look at you and say "You Like?" to which you reply "Yeah?" and they say "Buy me a drink?" and you say "No Thanks" and they walk off.... That is unles you a yank pilot who must have too much money and is buying everyone drinks...

After a couple drinks there, I'm worried that my shout at $15 a corona is coming up soon, so head out the back door of the place and head downstairs to Bongo Bar. More of the same, except this place had a band. Now can you imagine being in a band and playing to a crowd that is made up of blokes and working girls and that is all... well they must be used to it.... they kept a straight face the whole time. At this stage i decide that water is the best option as it is free and there's only so much $10+ beer you can drink, as well as the fact that I'd lost Jack somewhere along the way and figure it'd be better to keep my wits about me out on my own. "Apparently" he was sitting at the opposite side of the same bar as me, but I thought I'd searched the place out pretty well, and figured he'd left... Anyway, called it a night after the 100th girl climbed up next to me and said "Buy me a drink?", and cabbed back to the hostel. Why would you say yes when you can't afford to buy yourself a drink! But the clinker is that they reckon prostitution is 'regulated' in Singapore.... tell me how you're going to regulate that?

So that sums up my Singapore experience. I fly out to Dubai tonight for a night (2 full days) and then on to Egypt. Hope you found my Singapore stories semi interesting, I tried to keep it interesting, as Singapore in general is pretty sterile and boring (well, Fo Flos O Ho's can't be that sterile I guess).

Till next, keep having fun...