Saturday, November 30, 2013


 Singapore was our first stop on a three-week visit to Malaysia.
We arrived around midnight after 20+ hours of travelling from Vancouver. Local taxis charge a premium after midnight, but since other transit from the airport has ceased by then, it's the only option to get from the airport to the city. The ride took about 45 minutes, by which time we were desperate for some space to stretch out and sleep.
Our hotel, the Albert Court, checked us in efficiently and, as we'd requested, gave us a room on the courtyard side. We've stayed there before, as it's clean and well-run. One side faces a busy street, but the courtyard side is quiet and has a pleasant view over red-tiled roofs.

 It's not cheap, but reasonably-priced for Singapore, which is an expensive city. My only regret was that they'd sealed the windows shut since our last visit. I much prefer natural air to canned, even if it is 35┬║C outside.

We stayed in one of the rooms with tall arched windows just to the left of the external elevator.
The colonial-era courtyard below is lined with beautiful blue-grey Bismarckia palms.

There are several restaurants in this courtyard, but they are quite expensive and seem to cater primarily to white tourists. Since the hotel is right on the edge of Little India, it's easy to find places preferred by the locals a couple of blocks away.
We discovered Mubarak restaurant on our first morning and ate breakfast at one of its sidewalk tables.

Roti (Indian pancakes) are cooked to order on a hotplate,

and served on colourful plastic plates, accompanied by two spicy dipping sauces, one sweet and one sour.

It was so good we returned for the next day's breakfast as well.
For dinner we strolled the surrounding streets, looking for a popular place and managed to get the last table here, where we were the only white faces until a group of Germans wandered in some time later.

The food was excellent.

Since we were in Singapore during Diwali
(aka Deepavali), the Hindu festival of light,
many of the streets were decorated
for the occasion,

 ... and the stores were full of colourful clothes.

We had only the one day to look around before setting off for our primary destination, Malaysia. Singapore was a greener city than I remembered, with more gardens incorporated into new developments such as the Marina Bay Sands complex, built with Las Vegas money. From the walkway of the spectacular building

... this is a view of the inside...

...and this is the landscaping outside.

Among the real plants were several space-age looking objects, each housing plants from a different climatic zone and linked by a footbridge.

Even the walkway over a 6-lane road had its share of vegetation,

... complete with wildlife.

Crossing this walkway led us to the Museum of Natural History and Science, where the stark white walls and hard surfaces were softened by a vast pond of flowering waterlilies.

The incorporation of greenery everywhere in the city was impressive, although some of the architecture was not so successful.

We spent the rest of the day strolling the streets and visiting the National Art Museum. The latter was a disappointment as most rooms were closed for set-up of the Singapore Biennale which we were just going to miss.
The following morning we checked out, caught a bus across the causeway that links Singapore with the mainland of Malaysia, and arrived at the railway station in Johor Bahru, a small, ugly city looking back across the water at its wealthy neighbour.

No comments:

Post a Comment