I woke up very late on my second day in Singapore, having not slept a wink in the crowded dormitory full of noisy people. Because of this, I didn’t get a chance to meet and introduce myself to some nice fellow travelers. The only other people left in the hostel looked particularly unfriendly, so I set off on my own.
I started retracing my route from the night before, hoping to see some of the sights in colour rather than black and white. Although the route we took the previous night took a few hours, I took nearly all day. My sense of direction is still pretty undeveloped, and took short cut after short cut in the wrong direction. I do hope this improves as the days goes on.
One one of my many wrong turns, I ended up in the old Chinese district of Singapore. Among the countless food stalls issuing bizarre and complimentary odours, I found one particular stall crowded with people. Here I had my first taste of sugar cane juice. Crushing the green stalks through a vicious looking contraption of teeth and gears, a yellowish pulp emerges from the cane. Mixed with ice and water, it made an excellent cure for the dehydrated state I was in from hours walking in the wrong direction.
Despite this, I still felt a little defeated, having not really seen as much of Singapore as I might have. I seemed to have spent most of my time wondering around the financial district – a vast expanse of steel and glass. Although stunning in their own rights, each building gradually lost its charm as it became lost in the forest of other buildings.
I stopped for lunch here, in a building a hundred times shorter and a million times less expensive. It seems strange, but even here in this incredibly wealthy area, the same sorts of restaurant, serving the same cheap food as the rest of the city, exist. As I ate, to one side of me were some executive business types, to the other some construction workers working on the buildings the executives would one day inhabit.
By 5 o’ clock, I still had a few hours of light left, so decided to cross town to the Botanic Gardens. In the 35 degree heat, the cooling effects of the lush vegetation and large lake were a relief. Observing the exotic wildlife – black swans gliding, baby ducklings playing, giant wasps buzzing – helped calm my busy and slightly frustrating day in the more urban parts of the city.
The light was now fading, and with my lack of sleep from the previous night fatiguing me, I returned back to the hostel for some R&R. Other hostelers were watching Jaws on the television, which was slightly off-putting as I had been planning on going diving in the next couple of days.
Tomorrow, I would be heading for Malaysia in general, and Malaka specifically – so went to bed quite early to get up early to catch the coach there. Unfortunately, sharks kept infesting my dreams, and so this wasn’t to happen. What happens next? You’ll have to wait till tomorrow for the dramatic conclusion of this story.