Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Bumpy on the Bay of Bengal

HELLO! I'm in Singapore!

We landed on Sunday after a long but passable flight, in which the lady next to me kept knocking my reading light button. This, no doubt to the amusement and/or annoyance of everyone around created a one man disco in seat 46D. Our flight took us over Holland, Germany, Poland, Russia, Iran, India, the Andaman Islands, Thailand and Malaysia before arriving in the city at around 5pm local time.

As we were queueing for customs, a man with a silly hat watched over us. We decided, however, that informing him of our opinion of said garment would have been foolish, as would laughing childishly have been. since he was also carrying a semi automatic machine gun. We then noticed a warning on the back of our customs documents. It read:

"WARNING: Death for Drug Traffickers Under Singapore Law"

This is not a country to mess about in. Indeed, I had read beforehand of some of the strict laws. Littering carries a fine of $1,000. Chewing Gum is illegal. Thus, when presented with a bowl of sweets at customs, we were slightly apprehensive. Was it legal to take one? Was this a test to check who knew the law and who didn't? No, it was just a friendly gesture to welcome you to a remarkable city. My sweet was blackcurrant flavour.

Our taxi sped off into the unknown streets towards our accommodation, the Metro-Y Youth Lodge in Geylang, entertaining us with local radio. It was perhaps foolish to expect Malaysian or Asian music upon arrival, but we were, after all, in a Singapore taxi, in Singapore itself, being driven by a Singaporean. Thus it came as some surprise to be listening to 'Today's Best Mix' which was, at this very occasion, the Bee Gees.

Settled in to our accommodation, we took the MRT train into town to a station called Bugis, a shopping centre of epic proportions. After eating some chicken rice, we headed into the streets. The very warm streets. The humidity is so high that your clothes really do stick to you instantly and you could reasonably expect that, if Singapore law did not keep the streets so manicured and tidy (and trust me, they are), the city would be swamped by jungle in a matter of minutes. Almost instantly Jeannette's hair began to frizz and we were both lost for words.

We found the Raffles hotel but did not enter then returned to the air conditioned haven of Bugis. Day one had been a long, tiring experience but here we were, in Singapore!

I've run out of internet time. Stay tuned for reports of the city itself, and a trip to paradise...

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