10 Apr - 14 Apr 2009 Singapore

City Centre
Catholic Centre Building
Clean double room, with air-con, for SGD 70.- or US$ 47.- per night.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Waterloo Hostel in Singapore, which we would recommend, and for directions:


Taking a stroll along historical Waterloo Street from Fort Canning Park to the Rochor Centre, the street where we set up camp right in the centre of Singapore, and pilgrimaging in our neighbourhood from one temple to another: (i) the Hindi Sri Krishnan Temple, (ii) the Christian Church of St. Peter and Paul, (iii) the Jewish Maghain Aboth Synagogue, (iv) the Malabar Muslim Jama-Ath Mosque and (v) the Chinese Kwang Im Thong Hut Cho Temple - all situated within only a few steps from our hotel.

Exploring clean and well organised central Singapore, a fine and garden city and the world's only shopping mall with a seat in the United Nations, by means of FunVee’s Double Decker Open Top bus +6567383338 (hop-on-hop-off ticket: SGD 15.- or US$ 10.- per person, valid for 24 hours), thus getting an overview (i) of the colonial district with Raffles’ landing site, located north of the Singapore River, (ii) of  the central business district (highlight: the surreal “Homage to Newton” sculpture by Salvador Dali in the atrium of UOB Plaza) and Chinatown, both south of the Singapore River, (iii) of Little India, (iv) of Kampong Glam (the Muslim centre of Singapore) and (v) of Orchard Road (Singapore’s premier shopping district and the irresistible magnet of the island’s consumerist economy).

Doing extensive walking tours centred around Singapore’s oldest buildings, such as the charming 1835 CE Armenian Church, as well as around her newest ones, such as the ultra-modern Singapore Management University, thus discovering the rich cultural history of (i) the colonial district (with City Hall and Supreme CourtSt. Andrew’s CathedralVictoria Theatre and Concert Hall, The Padang [the colonial cricket pitch] and the Old Parliament House [built in 1827 CE]), (ii) Little India, focused around Serangoon Road (with the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, dedicated to bloodthirsty Kali, the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, and the Taoist Leong San See Temple, dedicated to Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy) and (iii) sanitised and gentrified Chinatown, the original site where Teochew, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka and Hainanese immigrants lived and worked (with the elaborate Than Hock Keng Temple [translated as Temple of Heavenly Bliss], built in 1839 CE without the use of a single nail and dedicated to the Goddess of Seafarers, Ma Zu, and where we enjoyed a great performance of lion dance and dragon dance) with nowadays many beautifully restored clanhouses, opium dens and pre-war shophouses-turned-bars/pubs/boutiques - Saint Jack would be turning in his grave.

Discovering the region’s art, religion and culture - from the Islamic world to the glories of China - in the fascinating (i) Asian Civilisations Museum (“Where Asian cultures come alive!’), enjoying tremendously the temporary exhibition of ink paintings (in a style reminiscent of the impressionist painters of the early 1900s) by Wu Guanzhong from mainland China in the (ii) Singapore Art Museum (housed in a restored 19th century CE mission school), and being blinded by the shiny brass of the old fire engines in (iii) Singapore’s Civil Defence Museum, housed in the city’s Central Fire Station, a lovingly restored heritage building.

Cruising (for SGD 27.- per person) on the MV “Cheng Ho” (a replica of a Chinese junk of the Ming Dynasty and named after the renowned Chinese Admiral who commandeered the imperial fleet of more than 300 ships in the early 15th century CE and sailed across the Indian Ocean, spreading China’s influence to India, the Middle East and Africa) between many large vessels, lying at anchor, from the South Pier to Sentosa Island and Kusu Island (visiting the Tua Pek Kong Temple) and enjoying an entirely different view of Singapore - one from out at sea.

Boarding the Singapore Flyer (for SGD 23.- per person for senior citizens), a gigantic observation wheel with air-con capsules which weigh 16 t each, rising 165 m above the city and enjoying great views of the skyline of Singapore, of the busy anchorage behind the marina barrage, of the futuristic Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay - with its durian-shaped twin glass domes, of Marina Bay and the ongoing land reclamation and of the brand-new Formula 1 racing track right below us ... and wondering whether this symbolic landmark wheel is supposed to permanently and subconsciously remind the workaholic hamsters of the nanny state in their treadmills to keep on moving, aiyah!

Taking the Singapore-Johore Express bus for SGD 2.40 or US$ 1.60 per person from Queen Street Bus Terminal via the Singaporean checkpoint and the Malaysian checkpoint (looking again into naturally smiling faces and being issued with another 90-day visit pass for a “social visit” to Malaysia on arrival, free of charge) to Johor Bahru’s Larkin Bus Terminal and thereafter the local bus A1 for MYR 3.50 or US$ 1.- to the modern Sultan Ismail Airport and flying eventually with Firefly (“Your Community Airline”) in an ATR 72 from Johor Bahru back to Kuala Lumpur's Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport at Subang for all inclusive MYR 35.- or US$ 10.- per person, one way.
“Kuala Lumpur had a certain something… There was a sense of freedom perhaps, of anarchy even, that Singapore so sorely lacked. Perhaps it was the lack of deference to authority, the physical space, the ability to take a step back and enjoy a moment of quiet that lent Kuala Lumpur its atmosphere. Singaporeans were always adding to the list of reasons each one kept to hand, in case they met a Malaysian, of why it was so much better on the island than the peninsula. They ranged from law and order to cleanliness, from clean government to good schools, and always ended on the strength of the Singaporean economy. But in the end, the Malaysian would nod as if to agree to the points made - and then shrug to indicate that they probably wouldn’t trade passports, not really. And if pressed for a reason they would fall back on that old chestnut which somehow seemed to capture everything that was wrong about Singapore - but your government bans chewing gum. The nanny state and the police state all rolled into one.”

Click below for more blog posts about our big-city trips

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2009 Map Konni & Matt

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