Our lovely hostess drove us to the airport after breakfast which we ate outdoors, trying to ignore the smell and the haze caused by at least one bonfire.
Sadly, I think the ubiquitous rubbish-burning fires of Malaysia will be amongst our longest-lasting memories.
Two flights and a taxi ride later, we arrived at our next Singaporean apartment, in the heart of the city. As we passed by some now familiar landmarks, there was a sense of ‘coming home’. Even though this has never been home. Maybe it’s just more ‘comfortable’ than Malaysia. A strange sensation, nonetheless. No Morality Police here.
I went for a walk but what I didn’t tell Liesel was where I was really going, in case my plan went wrong.
On my return, Liesel did ask “Who are you? And what have you done with my husband?” Yes, I’d been to a barbershop, had a trim and a shave. I’d retained the face fungus for a few days longer than usual to help combat sunburn to the south of the face while on the island.
It was a delight being able to cross the roads safely. Yes, I’ll have a whinge about the pedestrain crossing lights taking too long to change and then not giving people enough time to cross the road. But at least, there are pedestrian crossings here.
For the first time in over a week, we were able to wash our clothes. The shirts could stand up on their own after several days wear and tear, but we managed to origami them into the washing machine.
It’s funny how history repeats itself. Last time we arrived in Singapore, one of our first ports of call was the Apple Store, where Jyoti purchased a brand new iPhone. We had to go there this time too: Liesel’s USB-Lightning cable is no longer working reliably and there’s a definite kink in it. The new cable works very well.
We spent much of the day walking around shops, streets, malls, keeping to the shade where possible, making use of shops’ airconditioning especially where it spills out onto the streets. Liesel’s research led us to a place called Wild Honey where we ate well and appreciated the Troggs’ philosophy printed on the napkins.
Yes, it looks like bacon and they even call it ‘bacon’, but it’s very thin slices of aubergine and is, to me, much nicer than actual pig’s bum!
The AC is great but it does mean that every time we go back outside, our glasses mist up. Interestingly, we’ve not seen anyone else suffering this fate, so maybe there’s a local anti-misting coating you can buy for spectacles.
We still enjoy looking at the architecture here, a nice mix of old and new. Many buildings have these French doors on the first floor, some white, like these, and some very colourful ones.
As I slowly dragged myself up from the depths and weirdness of cheese-induced dreams, I thought the airconditioner in the bedroom was too loud and about to explode. But no, the noise was from outside: torrential rain. We had planned to go out for lunch, not least because this place gets cleaned twice a week and today was one of those days. The cleaner knocked on the door and we asked her to wait for another ten minutes, while we made ourselves presentable.
We walked to Fifth Dimension, an Indian-Chinese fusion restaurant, back in Little India, where we’d been with Jyoti a few weeks ago.
On the way there, we saw a peacock (above) and a cow riding a bicycle. Hah, that grabbed your attention, didn’t it!
The meal was great, all three members of staff were very friendly, tending to all our needs, mainly because we were the only customers.
We wandered slowly back by many Indian shops, food, clothes, all looking very neat and tidy – unlike the alleyways that run behind the shops, definitely not for the squeamish. There were a couple of cows sitting up on the roof of the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple.
On our way to the National Library, we were pleased to read that Banana is now back home, but poor old Milky is still missing. I think more people should provide updates on their ‘missing pets’ notices.
It would be nice to give this happy Buddha a new home, but we’d never fit him and his earlobes into our bags.
Again, we stayed in the shade as much as possible, and this sort of decoration makes it doubly worthwhile.
In the Design Centre, Liesel declined my challenge of a game of ping-pong on the hexagonal table, so I think that means I win by default.
In the Library, we found a couple of books to read out loud for our grandchildren, but it was much harder to find a quiet spot in which to do so.
The children were having a wonderfully noisy time in their play area while over in a separate room, it was Tamil story time with singing and dancing!
There’s an exhibition of photographs depicting Old Singapore. In one picture, there’s a cow pulling an ice cream wagon.
One thing I think we missed in Malaysia because it was just so hard to wander around was seeing strange and unusual works of art. There’s all sorts of strange things here in Singapore, though. Big balloon dogs. Stainless steel birds in the Carlton Hotel, a home from home. A big, 5-metre tall naked red man. A cyclist made from PVC pipes (not straws) giving the appearance of motion. More birds.
After visiting yet another shopping mall (there’s a lot to choose from), we walked back via Fort Canning Park. That was a shock to the system.
Singapore is flat, mainly. But in the park, on a hill, we walked up scores of steps. We were hoping to see the sea, but there are just too many trees and tall buildings in the way. At the top of the hill, there is not only a fort but also a lighthouse. I wondered if it can still be seen from mariners out at sea? No, it can’t. It was closed in 1958 and a much brighter light placed on top of the tall Fullerton Building, now a hotel.
After walking around and through the park, we set off home. There’s a long, long stairway to climb, but that’s OK, we’re in no hurry. What we didn’t realise until we got there, though, was that these steps belonged to an exclusive and very posh community of ex-pats. We followed some in-mates in when they opened the gate to the compound and proceeded to follow the steps, in a generally upwards direction.
A couple of the paths were dead-ends, just leading to individual houses or apartments. The people playing in the pools took no notice of us as we nonchalantly ambled by, so presumably the panic we felt, at the possibility of not being able to find a way out, didn’t show.
We went inside one of the buildings, and the sign by the lift indicated a car park a few floors below. I suspect we wouldn’t have been able to operate the lift without a special keycard, so we walked down the fire escape stairs until we found the car park. Yes, I’m sure we feature on plenty of CCTV security footage but we just wanted to get out and get home!
As suspected, we were able to walk up the ramp to exit the car park and we didn’t even have to duck under the barrier: the gap was big enough to walk by and back onto the road. The security guy in his little hut was totally oblivious, didn’t even realise we were there. And, best of all, we’d come out just over the road from our own apartment. Phew, I think we got away with it! Security at that place isn’t that hot. On foot, you need a keycard to open the gates. In a car, you have to use a card or at least get the guard to lift the barrier. But if you want to get in illegitimately, just walk past the exit barrier to the car park, walk down the ramp, then climb the fire escape stairs. Not that I’m advocating anything illegal, but there really is a big hole in their security arrangements.
Again, we had a simple supper and didn’t venture out after dark.