The night safari’s cheap (ha ha) meal consisted of fish and chips for me and a chicken burger with literally 3 chips for David. I had 2 pieces of fish and heaps of chips so gave him a lot of mine. David’s first beer cost $12 and the next, identical, was $13!!! I guess he didn’t smile the right way at the second bar man.
Eventually the gates opened and the massive queue that had been gathering while we ate started to dissipate. We decided we were now game to go through as well and found the ever-present corral lines, back and forth, back and forth, this time for the tram. We went to join it only to be told by an attendant that there was a fee and we needed tickets, so that was another $10 on top of the entry fee, it really did never end!
Once seated, we were very grateful to have decided to take the tram. It didn’t set going until darkness was almost fully descended and the guide showed us a lot of dangerous animals as we went around and we both decided that we were too scared to walk the footpaths in case one got out. It was pitch black along the roadways and we just could not imagine walking and wondering who you were going to come face to face with. Or step on! Other people were walking but maybe they eat more carrots than us.
The commentary in the tram was interesting and the girl had a beautiful way of speaking which we enjoyed as much as what she had to say. We saw lots of varied animals, some different than we’d seen in the day zoo even. David took some video but I didn’t have any luck with the still camera as we were not allowed flash – not that we were close enough for a flash to help anyway.
Once we reached the end of the tram ride there was a ‘Creatures of the Night’ show but the queue for this was massive and there was still 45 minutes until it started. We were not going to queue only to find the show was full. The other show was a tribal village show which was to start in about 2 minutes so we made enquiries as to where that was held. It was back next to where we’d eaten but they’d sealed off the eating area to prevent anyone sitting comfortably to watch the show! Instead of that, everyone was standing around the half of the compound that they could get to.
This show was excellent and the half a dozen men and 2 ladies demonstrated fire twirling/eating and blow pipe use. The men were tanned, slim, muscular and very scantily clad so there was plenty of ogling and drooling from the audience – and not only by me! Their fire skills were excellent and the most impressive was where they took turns blowing so that they had a ball of fire suspended in front of them, each breathing whatever–that–stuff- is onto the fire in turn to keep it going.
After this we had a half-hearted look around some of their numerous gift and souvenir shops but nothing screamed ‘buy me, buy me’ and we decided to call it a day so that we would not be caught in a mad squeeze for the last bus. We successfully navigated the bus, the train, and all the escalators up and down, followed by the walk back to hotel. Ten o’clock at night and the trains and buses were all chokka block full. Amazing! And along the bus route in the dark we could see eateries by the hundred, all with plenty of people in attendance and we began to wonder if these apartments came equipped with kitchens!
Once safely home we enjoyed a nice cuppa or beer in our room and watched some more golf until 11pm when we called it a day.
SATURDAY 17th July
We were seated for breakfast at a large, round table outside as the inside was full. It was drizzling, but we chose seats next to the window, well under the shelter of the wide eaves and looking out at the view. After a while we were joined by a group consisting of 3 generations of Asian females. We smiled a greeting and they looked straight through us so it then became rather uncomfortable with nowhere to look except through the hostiles to the view as David and I were seated next to each other. We tried a couple of times to be social but they just did not want to know. Even if they couldn’t speak English it still doesn’t hurt to smile and we couldn’t wait to finish our breakfast and escape.
Today we had decided to go to Little India so borrowed a hotel umbrella from the valets once more and set off down Clemencau Avenue. David didn’t want to share the umbrella so I had it all to myself. A couple of times I had the feeling I’d hit him with it as we walked along but there was no sign as I glanced at him so I said nothing to start with. Then I said “I wasn’t sure if I’ve been hitting you with the umbrella?” and he said “No, no, that’s fine, you’ve hit me so often I’ve got nice hard calluses so you can do it again if you like!” Idiot!
We walked through Istana Park, through the underpass and to the right on Orchard Road meaning to turn left onto Selegie but somehow missed the street sign and turned 2 streets later instead, thinking there would still be things of interest here. Nope – not really, so we took a left and went along Middle Road and back to Selegie without further ado and into the edges of Little India.
There were some major road works happening and we stood, mystified, at what was going on. Before long a friendly Indian man came and spoke to us and explained that the workmen were covering the river over – with wood panels at this stage – and would be laying a new road over the top of these so that they could dig up the original road. David says it was something to do with the MRT, though I missed that part. And eventually, maybe 4 years down the track they ‘may move the road back again’. The guy was fascinated that we were Aussies and asked us a few questions and we compared notes on weather, population, number of taxis per capita and a few other things as he now walked along beside us for a way. We eventually bade our farewells and continued to look in the shops along the way.
The pathways were once again not only narrow but laden with shop wares as well – often down to single file in only one direction and with even more random steps along the way. I suddenly noticed a shop that sold silk by the metre so we went in as I wanted to buy some for a belly dancing veil. We looked at quite a range but I chose some nice blue silk and asked for 2.5 metres and then we warded off his attempts to sell us more. He had a particular desire to sell me a thicker, off-white silk to make a jacket with! There were some really beautiful saris in there as well but we kept eyes front for fear he would try to sell me some of those as well.
Further down the road I made the mistake of allowing one other shop-keeper to engage me in conversation and she was intent on selling me a table cloth. I didn’t like to tell her we don’t have a table but managed to turn her attention to some bangles that I had liked the look of (and as an added bonus they were back out at the entrance to the shop rather than the cavernous depths where she’d lured me to see the table cloths hehehe). After much ado in choosing colours and discussing wrist sizes for small children of the non-Indian persuasion we came away with gifts we were happy with and slowly, as we walked along further, the rain cleared.
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We’d been told to look out for Mastafa Shopping Centre, proudly known as the shopping centre that was open 24/7. We found one entrance and there was a guard at the door with a stack of bags around him and said to each other “Surely you don’t have to leave your bag at the door?” We walked across a road to another entrance and there was a guard here also – this one smiled and was approachable so we asked him. I was allowed my handbag – or we wouldn’t have gone in!!! David had to have his small calico bag sealed tightly shut with a plastic bag tie and in we went.
It was a large supermarket! Rows and rows of cotton buds, shampoos, soaps… and absolutely packed with people and trolleys. We were a bit confused but found some stairs thinking this would get us out of this shop and into the shopping centre but upstairs was exactly the same. Well, we’d moved on to food stuffs but it was still a supermarket! I had someone behind me pushing a trolley into my legs so reached my arm around to hold the umbrella protectively across my rear end and that, thankfully, gave sufficient clues to the offender to cease and desist.
We noticed some loos so headed in that direction and I can tell you that I came out with big eyes! The first trap was a small step down as you crossed the threshold. Then there were 2 cubicles and one held just a hole in the floor with 2 foot plates, one either side, a la Francais of old. The other, I’m pleased to report, had a ‘real toilet’, but the whole room was really small and dirty. The tap needed leaning on constantly to get any water out of it so you could only wash one hand at a time and there was no soap. I managed to lean one elbow on the tap and bend my forearm in half so that I could use both hands under the water LOL After that we exited stage left from the building as fast as our legs would carry us!
We chose a different route out, Jalan Besir, which contained the strangest collection of shops including a tiny tyre workshop which absolutely stunk, and a few hardware shops which looked really small to those of us accustomed to Bunnings! David said that the air inside tyres can often smell bad so we forgive the poor things and I felt sorry for them working there! We turned onto Weld Street which became Arab Street, again passing along narrow footpaths full to bursting point with hundreds of large crates full of dried prawns and other mysteries until we came to another shopping centre and went in there for a look. This one seemed to be aimed at Muslim clientele and the dress shops sold the full head-to-toe garments, some of them beautifully decorated. There was nowhere we fancied eating or drinking – in fact it was probably the smallest centre we’d seen and only had one or two options and those were of the ‘pie or dried-up sandwich’ type so we kept walking.
We quickly reached the Malay quarter which again seemed to have many Muslim people walking around and we got the impression we were a little out of place. The footpath was decidedly worse for produce spilling out from shops, making it difficult to navigate, and the number of random steps and slopes in it increased. We really did feel as if we were in the back of nowhere and continued on around the edge streets to head for Raffles Hotel. Suddenly, the footpath was boarded off for building and we had to walk in the road for quite some distance.
Finally we were back in the parts that were dressed up for tourists but still didn’t fancy any of the eateries so kept on walking and at last here was Raffles Hotel – on Beach Road. As it indeed used to be when Raffles was built but now, due to land reclamation, it’s another 500 metres to the beach!
I was just about to take a photo of David standing in front of the hotel when a
passerby asked if we’d like him to get a picture of both of us so we said ‘yes please!’. David whispered “That’s the last we’ll see of our camera!” Naughty boy! The kind man took 2 photos and returned the camera LOL. But he had not aimed as centrally to the hotel as I would have done, thereby getting the name in, so for the end result we could have been standing anywhere! I decided to take another photo when we came back out but, to jump ahead, we went out the back way so have no picture saying we’re at the Raffles at all.
We went to the valet who looked a bit confused, and I asked if it was alright to look around. He looked us up and down, and I can understand why, this was the scruffiest we dressed for the whole holiday, and waved to his right saying we had to go down the garden path to the back ROFL Yet more designer-named shops were there! How many of each must there be in Singapore?
In the courtyard was a bar with menus so at last we decided to have lunch. It was
about 2pm I believe by now and we had walked quite a long way so we were pretty hungry! David ordered a paella which arrived with a crab claw stuck in the top for decoration and I ordered a chicken curry which arrived looking a lot like a sandwich assortment which the girl hastily removed once I told her and my curry arrived fairly quickly. There had been nothing vegetarian and appealing on the menu but the meal was very nice when it did come out. It had skin and bones which normally would turn my stomach but it was very tender and I picked most of the meat out easily and left the rest. I even had pappadums – yummmmm!
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