Why must winter INSIST on coming around every year? Temperatures below 10 degrees are simply unacceptable - so when the travel bug bites and entices you to visit the warm embrace of sunny Singapore, albeit for a short four days, you can count on seeing my frozen ass firmly wedged into an airplane seat. This trip sees me jetting off for Singapore’s shopping hotspot, the infamous Orchard Road.
WHERE I STAYED - CONCORDE HOTEL, 100 ORCHARD ROAD. The Concorde Hotel has an ideal location right in the heart of Singapore's designer shopping district. The only "negative" was the double bed I booked looked awfully like two single beds pushed together. Not the first time this has happened so I'm wondering if this is just a usual occurrence? I was a little anxious about this being only my second solo trip, but I needn't have worried too much. The concierge were great, explaining that the power points were universal. (Okay, confession time. I pulled the power cord form the dvd player out of the socket to see the end, then it wouldn't go back in! *awkwardly walks away from it*). The doorman offered advice about the cable cars as I waited for the taxi and the lady behind the ticket counter drew all the necessary lines and circles on the map to prevent me getting lost... and let's face it, if anyone can find themselves lost, it's me.
WHAT I DID - When I was through sniggering to myself and gleefully rubbing my hands together envisioning everyone back home shivering whilst I was blissfully parading around in a balmy 28 degrees, I explored the infamous Orchard Road, in Orchard. Do NOT come here thinking you are going to stock up on bargains and run the risk of zip-popping your luggage. At it's cheapest, most items are on par with back home and at worst, the high end fashion boutiques prices were collar-tugging to say the least. You will be SPOILT for cuisines and I found myself wandering around in circles trying to decide what I wanted to eat the most. A lot of the food courts will be based on the top or basement levels. The other major thing I did was catch a cable car. We began at Mount Faber peak, which already boasted an impressive view, a brief central stop at Harbour Front Station before continuing to the end point on Santosa Island. A brilliant experience, slowly floating through the sky with a birds eye view over Universal Studios and Adventure Cove Waterpark at the end. Forget hover cars, this is how we need to be transported in the future!
MUST EAT - Ideally, you would want to head to a Hawkers Market to sample mouth watering Singaporean cuisine, but if you're time poor like me just head over to Basement 1 of Tang Plaza Department Store where you will find Tang's Market - a series of stalls which aim to produce food as traditionally as possible. The Fried Kway Teow, a noodle dish, was so, so good - and so were my side dish of Satay Sticks. You are also not allowed to leave Singapore without tasting one of its national dishes, the well-known Hainanese Chicken Rice. I managed to even grab an Avocado Shake which may put off many Western visitors. You'll have to keep in mind here, in many Asian and Latin countries such as Brazil, the avocado is treated and served as you would any other fruit. If you're adventurous, give it a go. You'll find a really creamy, sweet texture that apparently is really good for the skin. Because Singapore is so accessible to the various countries around it, you are guaranteed to find authentic dishes from China, Malaysia and India for instance. I was disappointed I was too full to try them all.
THE VERDICT - Singapore appears to be a great gateway to Asia for anyone looking to visit it's neighbouring countries in the future. In comparison to the difficulty of understanding and being understood in Japan, the convenience of English speakers is a major plus. I quizically found myself making a lot of eye contact with people along Orchard Road, but I'm going to attribute that to the fact I was the only Asian looking man with full facial hair. Thank goodness flights to Singapore are so cheap, because there is plenty left to explore here on trip two!