Friday, October 30, 2009

More sightseeing in Singapore

Our second full day in Singapore was again spent running around on the MRT and seeing the usual touristy places downtown. First stop was China Town for a Thai lunch at one of the hawker places. Food was good but prices were not the ultra-cheap that some of our friends have talked about. A simple lunch for 2 with one beer and one iced tea was $25 SGD. The food court at Vivo City had food for the same prices and it looked and smelled just as good if not better. China Town was good for the local atmosphere but I am afraid the hawker food stands (at least in China Town) are overrated.

Back to the MRT to continue sightseeing. We managed to change from the NE line to the NS line on the subway and reach the intended destination of the City Hall station. But as we were walking outside Bill informed me that he was not the slightest bit interested in visiting the famous Raffles Hotel and having a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar -- the home of this world-renowned drink. Bill said he has never tasted a Singapore Sling and had no interest in trying one now. Well, duh; couldn't he have said something about this before we got off the subway?

On to Plan B. Next on the itinerary was to visit the Asian Civilisations Museum. Yeah, I know that civilization is spelled wrong; but that is how the Brits and locals spell it. The Asian Civilisations Museum has 3 locations. We wanted to visit the Asian Civilisations Museum II which is located at #1 Empress Place on the northern side of the Singapore River. It wasn't that far of a walk; so rather than going back underground and riding the subway to the next (closer) exit, we decided to hoof it. Without a street map. And not knowing exactly where we were or where we going. But we found it. We also found the Old Parliament House, the new Parliament building, the Supreme Court and a really pretty stark white church on St. Andrews Road, which one must assume is St. Andrews Church.

The Asian Civilisations Museum should be the starting point for any Singapore visitor interested in Asian history. Their exhibits rank first class. The oldest artifacts we saw were dated 1700 B.C.E. There was a special gallery exhibit from China that was spectacular. There were no explanations in English for the exhibit from China but everything was still interesting to me. There was also a special exhibit from the Phillippines called "Land of the Morning" that was really interesting. Would have loved to take photos of some of the Phillippines exhibit but photography was not allowed. Did you know that there was a common Austronesian language spoken all the way up into the Phillippines more than 7000 years ago? I find that astounding. The culture in this part of the world is so much older than we were taught in school 5 decades ago. Oh, and BTW, since Bill and I are each over the age of 60 the museum charged us a discounted admission price of only $4 SGD each. In Australia the senior discounts only applied to Australian citizens; but here in Singapore we old folks are granted discount admission prices. The one and only good thing about being old.

By the time we finished touring the museum we were both exhausted for some reason. Have no idea why we both were so tired, but there you are. We walked back to Raffles City to pick up the MRT at the same place where we had exited earlier and re-traced our routes back to Harbourfront Center and Vivo City. We found the larger and less expensive supermarket located down on the B2 level of the mall and learned they will deliver to the marina if we purchase more than $200 worth of groceries (not including beer or wine). Sounds like a plan to us. But I honestly don't feel that we need to do such a major provisioning right now since we will be leaving in 6 weeks for the trip home for Christmas. I enjoyed a cappuccino milkshake in the mall. A milkshake here in no way resembles a milkshake in the states. It does not contain ice cream. It is lots of ice cubes whirled in a blender with some clear flavored syrup and protein powder. Then they added a dipper of coffee flavored balls that are chewy like gummy bears, and it is served with a wide straw. You suck up the coffee flavored gummy bears along with they icy slush. I didn't care for it at first. Chewing those gummy coffee balls was strange. But I was addicted to this silly type drink by the time I finished it. Want another one or two before we leave S'pore. This icy drink is very refreshing in this hot, humid climate.

Saturday we made arrangements with friends to meet them at the MRT station in Little India. We stood there for 1 1/2 hours and they never showed up. Found out later that we missed them by 10 minutes. They are staying way out at Raffles Marina and had missed their first bus and were over an hour late getting started on their trip into the city. I am so glad we chose One° 15 Marina. It is so convenient for getting into the central business district or to anywhere serviced by the MRT subway. Our EZ Link cards are also good for travel on buses but we haven't yet needed to use a bus except to get in and out of the marina/Sentosa Island and that is not part of the MRT system.

We walked through the Little India section for a very short distance and decided to try one of the food stands for lunch. Bill had nasi ayam (Indonesian chicken and rice dish) and I had chicken briyami (an Indian dish). Both were good and cost only $3-$4 each. I think you could find any kind of food you might desire at those food stands in the Tekkah Markets, all very reasonably priced. Everything looked delicious. We bought a few produce items in the market. Unfortunately the meat market adjoins the produce market and the smells of the meat were overwhelming so neither of us wanted to linger in the market area. The tiny eggplants the size of plums looked interesting, although I did not even recognize many of the vegetables. We were not interested in seeing any of the temples or the mosque so that was enough of Little India for us.

Back on the subway, changed lines and got on the most crowded traincar seen in S'pore so far. Soon we were at the infamous Orchard Road shopping district. This was one busy place!

The subway egress is below the multi-level ION Orchard shopping complex. The shops are fairly high-end; the type stores we shopped in back during our working years. Zegna, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel, etc., all had individual stores and all appeared to have shopping customers. We made our way up to the street level and sat on a bench beneath some trees and people-watched for awhile. ION Orchard blended into one after another of big buildings of more retail stores. The next impressive "mall" was the Ngee Ann City where there were even more high-dollar retail stores. Must be a lot of money in this town. This is a very vibrant section of the city and business looked to be thriving.

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