Today after breakfast on the 38th floor of the Mandarin Orchard hotel we went for a walk, seeking out the old parts of Singapore, and the garden by the bay. We had a long day to kill. Our flight to Australia was due to take off at 12:45am, so we planned on eating enough to tide us over in the lounge at the airport, then sleep our way home.
A brochure we found offered a river cruise on a bum boat – it seemed a good deal to me. The feet were starting to get rebellious, and the damp heat doesn’t encourage activity. Map in hand, we strolled up Orchard Road, (ducking into buildings now and then for a cool-down) then around to the river. Old buildings are still there if you look for them. So are the new towers of the financial district, around Raffles and Stamford, and some very interesting modern architecture.
Anyway, almost by accident we found Clarke Quay, an old part of Singapore hanging on. Eateries lined the street, awning-covered platforms with tables and chairs on the river bank, the kitchens in the ramshackle buildings over the road. Spruikers stopped us at every establishment, showing us their fresh seafood in fish
tanks, ready to be picked and killed. But the prices were too high for us for a lunchtime nibble. Besides, I’m a bit squeamish about that sort of thing. Yes, I know it’s daft.
We ended up at an Indian place offering a curry, rice, Naan, and a couple of condiments and a drink for $10. Sounded good to us. We ordered water to drink, buttered chicken and lamb tikka masala. The meal was delicious – not too spicy and very filling. We never did go on the boat trip. We needed cash and we didn’t have any, so we strolled on to find an ATM. We ended up near a new development by the bay, and decided to find a train to get us to the garden, and certainly back to the hotel. Unlike the London tube, the Singapore train network is not intuitive. We were looking for Stamford station and must have gone up and down escalators a dozen times, passing hundreds of shops. Eventually we ended up at Raffles station. It seemed we were just a couple of stops from the garden. One station on this line, then change to another line for one more stop.
The gardens are beautiful and they have their own website here, and there’s a Youtube video of the light show here. I wish my feet were up to the task of doing them justice but they weren’t. So we took the train back to the nearest station to the hotel and made our weary way back to the foyer to await our airport shuttle.
It was a long night before we finally settled on the plane. This was a smaller, older aircraft so the seats didn’t lie completely flat. It took me a while to get to sleep, despite being dog-tired. But eventually a nice little flight attendant woke me to offer me breakfast. The plane wasn’t full, and we sped through customs and immigration. Our best guess at where we’d left our car in the long term carpark turned out to be right, and we headed for home.