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Colin and Sue’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 05 Apr 2007

Location: Singapore

MapSingapore - well we've been before and weren't that keen - all very clean and sanitised. Also it's a great place to shop but we're not fans of shopping and we didn't do too well on the food front last time despite its reputation as a food mecca. Anyway, we thought we'd try to approach with open minds. We got off to a bad start - the shuttle bus from the airport was "full" and the shuttle guys tried to persuade us that a taxi would be a much better option (we met another couple later who were told exactly the same thing) so suspect a conspiracy with the taxi drivers. Anyway, we got the train into Singapore and the station was just near our hotel so all worked out fine.

We stayed in the Albert Court Hotel, rather nice and more luxurious for us than usual, on the outskirts of Little India. Last time Little India reminded us of the Stratford Road in Sparkbrook in Birmingham so was a bit disappointing but we found the backstreets this time which were much nicer. We were also braver - going to the hawker stalls for breakfast - banana pratas (much like parathas or pancakes at home) cooked on a griddle before our eyes. Our bravery did not extend to the cold curry gravy accompaniment!

Shopping was also more successful although the number of shopping malls in Singapore is still truly astonishing. The first thing we bought was an umbrella whereupon the rain stopped for the rest of our time in Singapore so that worked. We were staying just near Sim Lim Square - six floors of cameras, computers and all things electronic - and bought some mini speakers for the iPod - very cheap so we don't have to worry about them getting lost or battered in our backpacks. And then shopping heaven - we stumbled across Marks and Spencers outlet where one of us bought a new bra (you all wanted to know that!) in English sizing without feeling huge compared to all the petite women here. As they say in Pulp Fiction (a good film with a great soundtrack), it's the little things that make the difference when you're abroad (in Pulp Fiction a reference to food and burgers in Belgium as I recall) so it was quite odd having the bra removed from its box and wrapped in tissue paper. Then we were lured into the mini food hall where we drooled over hot cross buns and Easter eggs but settled for cookies and Scottish shortbread.

We also managed quite a lot of sightseeing - walks by the waterfront where a massive theatre complex has sprung up (above yet more malls) - a bit reminiscent of Selfridges in Birmingham but more spiky - described here as being like two durians - not helpful if you don't know what they look like (round spiky fruits). We also did our share of temples (Hindu, Buddhist and Chinese) and mosques in Little India and Chinatown. We went for culture too at the Asian Civilisations Museum where we had an excellent guided tour - the museum is choc full of stuff from all over Asia - all beautifully displayed. At half time in the visit we took tea in comfy wicker armchairs on the verandah at the museum restaurant overlooking the river - very colonial and reviving.

One of the highlights had to be a return trip to the Night Safari or Night Zoo set up to see nocturnal animals. We liked it last time and it was good again although this time we only saw the tail of our previous favourite animal - the binturong or bear cat or Malay civet. This time the leopards and the giant flying squirrels were the best - the squirrels were like huge cuddly toys suddenly launching themselves into space.

And the food - well we did better than last time but still haven't discovered foodie heaven. Maybe we will in Kuala Lumpur.