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July 6 – July 14: Singapore – the land of malls

After spending a day or two worrying that our flights would be cancelled given volcanic ash clouds spewing hazardous mist into the air around Indonesia (?!?!), Joel and I were fortunate enough to make it to Singapore. Glad we made it out!

My flight got me into Singapore a bit earlier than Joel’s on July 8th. Boy was I excited to finally feel some wonderful AC! And, was definitely delighted by how easy Singapore’s public transportation is (go MRT!).

Stefan, a friend of mine from CA, had arrived at our hostel even earlier than I had. I dropped off my stuff and he and I began adventuring.

We stopped to grab Pho, checked out a crazy costume store, rode the Singapore flyer, explored Marina Bay Sands at night, and walked through no fewer than five malls (we would quickly learn that the malls are endless in Singapore! Although coming from Bali, we weren’t complaining about the endless AC and diversity of good food options).

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Next day we (now including Joel who got in late the night before) headed off to the Civic District to catch a free walking tour. Someone (*coff* Stef *coff*) slept in a little late so we missed the tour, but we ended up back near Marina Bay Sands so we decided to walk the mall with Joel:

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Joel and I also split two desserts for breakfast, one with a heavy durian topping. I gave durian my best shot, but I just prefer fruits that don’t smell like spoiled garbage:

Durian

We then decided to check out the Deep Sea exhibit at the Arts and Science Museum (that big flower looking structure near the Marina Bay Sands mall). Seriously, natural science is the best and deep sea fish are just amazing. The exhibit had tons of the ACTUAL fish. Maybe not distinctly Singaporean, but c’mon! how cool!

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Next we walked to the Gardens by the Bay and explored the free gardens. We even rode to the top of these huge tree / light structures built throughout the gardens. Apparently one has a bar at its top, but we didn’t end up checking that out. We also found a nice gentleman to take our picture, although (at least for me) the wind kind of ruined it:

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From there we walked to Bugis street, maybe my favorite area of Singapore we explored. More malls, but some quirky alleyways and really close to the Middle-Eastern section of town.

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We grabbed dinner with Gabby, a new friend from our hostel. At dinner I think I ingested something that would lead to Sydney vs food poisoning round 2 (but not until later). We ended the night with store-bought whisky and drinking games out on our hostel balcony.

The next day I started to feel sick. Managed to squeeze in Little India, one bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen, and Magic Mike (worse than expected) before needing to totally bail on the day and go home, in utter misery, to our hostel. My goose was cooked for the rest of the day (I don’t wish food poisoning on my greatest enemy!)

Felt better the next day, so we all headed back to the Arts and Science Museum to check out a Dreamworks Animation Exhibit there Gabby told us good things about. On the way we saw a ton of soldiers running drills / exercises in preparations for Singapore’s 50 years of independence celebration coming in early August:

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Joel and Stef seemed totally enamored with the Dreamworks exhibit. I was feeling it until I realized about halfway through that literally zero Dreamworks Animation movies have a strong female lead. NONE. Once that unsavory realization smacked me in the face, I was pretty cranky about the exhibit. Glad Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron got a shout out though:

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Afterwards we headed to Chinatown, maybe my second favorite neighborhood in the city, and grabbed some food at Maxwell Food Centre (a really cheap and well-known food court in Chinatown). We tried some “famous” chicken and rice, fried sweet potato dumplings, and a vegetable roll (reminiscent of Indonesia’s gado gado).

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After, we explored Chinatown’s open markets, where we saw the amazing dance performance posted below (I dare you not to smile while watching this!)

Next we went to a rooftop screening of five short documentaries related to Singapore via the Discovery Channel. The films were okay, but what was really awesome was seeing more of the 50 year celebration military practices from the rooftop (fighter jets and fireworks included!)

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After we found a very cool speakeasy (password: tell a joke — CLUTCH!) called Study near Chinatown. The drinks, like most of Singapore, were pricy, but very good. Lucky for us Americans, Singaporean night life starts a bit later so at about 10p we were one of the first parties in the bar and got to nab a table.

Study

My drink was awesome, but (like much of the crazy street food I had that day) likely too much for my stomach. Cue more food poisoning woes. Was up all night and only (finally) went to sleep at around 8a … so I slept nearly the entire next day … womp womp.

Woke up in time for dinner. We headed off to Clark Quay to meet a friend of Joel’s. Another very cool area.

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The next day I decided to wake up early and head out on my own. Took the Circle Line MRT all the way to HarbourFront to get a look at the expensive Sentosa island. Then took the MRT back to the Singapore Botanic gardens where I spent my morning walking and reading (and seeing wild lizards that I hope were not wild komodo dragons considering how dangerous komodos are!):

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It started to rain pretty heavily so I exited towards Orchard Road (“A Great Street”) where, supposedly, all the most epic shopping in Singapore happens (to be honest I could not believe I had not yet seen the “shopping part” of Singapore yet given how many malls we walked through). Most of the malls I walked around in were actually like 3-5 stories deep UNDER the street which was admittedly pretty cool. I ended up in a Japanese mall and grabbed some more ramen and hire (which, to my embarrassment, my waitress had to teach me how to properly eat). Hey! I was doing great with the ramen!

Ramen

Stopped back at the hostel for a quick nap then headed off to meet a friend for drinks back in the Orchard Road area (shrimp & Chinese wine marinated chicken wings included).

Today we return to Bali where I will need to actually start writing again. Singapore + food poisoning has stalled both my exercise and daily writing. Taking breaks is good I think, but I am ready for the break to be over. Will definitely miss Singapore though!

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