Up way too late last night up way too early this morning. No use in fighting it though tomorrow is going to be another journey and I can catch up with some zzz’s on the train. Singapore is here for only a limited time so I better go and explore it some more. The day feels hot and humid when I get outside. It’s somewhere in the 30’s for sure and with the blazing sun waiting at the lights to cross I notice the locals all wait in any shade that’s available. There is plenty of time to cross the street.
The first order of the day is breakfast and coffee. This is something that is not included with the hotel. No matter this neighborhood offers plenty to choose from so I choose the familiar an egg McMuffin. It’s mostly for the convenience as better coffee is found nearby. Old habits die hard and I find that seeking out coffee is a task all onto itself. It kind of structures the day and allows me access to communication. It’s not just the coffee but the convenience of getting what I need. I had to research how to get to Kuala Lumpur again to familiarize myself with the process. I’m getting a train there and it would be good to know what time it leaves et cetera.
Having formulated my exit strategy from Singapore it was time to see Singapore itself. The beads of sweat expectorating from my body told me what I knew already, walking wasn’t going to cut it today. I found the main depot for those Sightseeing buses found in London and decided to try it out. It’s my first time on one of those types of tours. I picked the route that was going to pass by the Botanical Garden and was soon whizzing through the city trying to take it all in. There were only a few people up top braving the heat. This configuration changed as we progressed on our journey.
Singapore is not a very old city or country for that matter. It is not particularly large either. What it is though is an expensive city with rules that make it expensive to live in. For example import duty on cars can be as much as 100%! And you have to buy permission to drive it for 10 years. These licenses are limited in number and are sold at market rates so there is a bidding war for them. Furthermore there are congestion charges for driving certain routes at certain times. Singapore pioneered electronic tolls and their use has blossomed from just the center of the city to almost the entire city or country as it is one and the same.
One thing is for sure there are a lot of shopping malls here. One of the main economic forces operating here is tourism. I think one could easily spend a
week or more exploring all that is on offer here. They have theme parks, shows, museums, golf, and more to explore and experience. I kept a tourist map which is filled with many such activities. As the bus entered the garden I left the bus. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go and explore it but seeing it I knew I had to.
The Botanical Gardens were started in the 1800’s and contain a remnant of the original tropical rainforest that stood here before development. It is one of two such preserves, found within city limits, in the world. The other city is Rio Di Janeiro in Brazil. The gardens were used to study the fauna and develop techniques for farming crops normally found in other parts of the world. One of the first successes was the farming of rubber trees. In time the gardens became important in the preservation of numerous other species of which I’ve seen an example. It is a tree that according to the sign is the only known specimen on the planet.
The other major development was the development of hybridization techniques who’s main example are orchids. Singapore is one of the worlds greatest producer and exporter of orchids. Sure enough I spent an hour in these gardens photographing the many examples found within. There are some strange ones in there but all are quite pretty.
There are numerous specimens of trees
And plants from all over the world. Some are strange and some are familiar the ginger exhibit was particularly insightful. Didn’t know that there were so many species of ginger and that the shape of its flowers were so curious. I saw a couple having their wedding photos taken by a photographer. It is actually quite the place for that. It has everything from waterfalls to interesting gardens where their outfits could stand out against the foliage. I kept seeing them from time to time as I explored and they moved to a new location. The assistant kept them dry by patting their foreheads of sweat. I’m kind of glad it’s not just me feeling the heat the locals feel it too.
Finding my way back to the hop on point was facilitated by remembering which gate I came from. Initially I went in the wrong direction but my spider sense kept telling me that something’s not right. By this time I heard thunder ruling somewhere and wondered if torrential rain was going to start coming down. The skies were cloudy now but the heat remained.
The ride back took us on Orchard Road which is now the most expensive street in Singapore. It is also home to numerous embassies. Unsurprisingly there is a thriving medical tourism industry in Singapore. “Many well heeled [insert country here] come to Singapore for cosmetic surgery.” Before I knew it I was close to my hotel. I decided earlier that I should pack before continuing on with my day just to get it out of the way. My stuff was scattered in a pile and it had to be organized before it could fit in my bag.
The fine art of packing is becoming well articulated. Starting off with an initial scheme it has since evolved and continues to do so. I won’t know until the final zip that everything fit better than before. I even called the agent in India. He asked why I didn’t call him earlier and I said I tried and that they did upgrade my room but the point is that I shouldn’t have to complain I paid enough to have it all sorted. He said to call in fifteen days and he will arrange a refund with his boss who’s away. I smell a delay tactic but I will follow through. I put it in my calendar to remind myself.
The geek in me wanted to check out this mall specializing in electronics. With all the pictures I’ve been taking I need a new SD card. The Funan Digitalife Mall has six stories of electronics stores. It is famous for it conglomeration of shops. It is the place to go for any kind of digital equipment. On my way in a sushi place caught my attention and I decided to get something to eat before undertaking such a monumental place. I looked around on the first floor and ended up talking to one of the sales ladies at the little shop. I was inquiring about the prices of SD cards. After converting the cost mentally in my mind it comes out a bit cheaper than in the UK. We got to talking and she checked out my camera and liked the lens I was using. She said that I should have a UV filter on it to protect the lens from scratches and debris. This has been a problem as I tend to leave the lens cap off when walking around and the lens does get dirty. She said that as I continue to wipe the lens the coating gets rubbed off. I tend to believe what she was telling me. The lens I have was kind of expensive but the results of shooting with it I’m happy with. I had a long debate internally about buying it. She also showed me something that I could have used today another polarizing filter that eliminates the sheen from surfaces. From the demonstration she gave me inside the store I was sold. We ended up talking about photography and I showed her some of the pictures I took yesterday and the method I used to create the timelapse. She showed me another little thing that I searched for an external trigger that eliminates shaking when taking long exposure shots. We ended up tallying everything up and she gave me a discount on everything without me even asking. She said to present the receipt to get the tax returned and I told her that I’m taking the train. She threw in another SD card since I won’t be getting the tax back. I was pleasantly surprised. I spent a long time in that shop and didn’t explore any more of the mall. Looking up it looked quite daunting.
I walked to a coffee shop and along the way exchanged some Singaporean currency for Malaysian currency. I will need it for the trip tomorrow in order to buy my ticket to Kuala Lumpur. I sat at the coffee shop periodically checking out people that caught my attention. I got back to my room and now I’m just finalizing this post and preparing for tomorrow. I’m sitting outside enjoying a cold one and I hear a fire alarm ringing out. Strange I think to myself. Soon enough people start pouring out from the hotel. I inquire in time about what is going on and the concierge informs me that someone was smoking on their room. The people looked disgruntled as they filed back into their rooms. At least it wasn’t a real fire.