Oh, the area is fine -- and after all it is no more than 5 blocks away from the comforts of the modern world if it is lacking in certain amenities, but that sort of hostel is the type that backpackers talk about in hushed tones and call "the Hostel from Hell" when they are relating their adventures.
Sorry for the slight delay in continuing but I have been having upload issued. You know how backwards some of these underdeveloped countries can be.
After my soup, I paid my respects to the local Chinese altar and took the MRT again.
It was a straight shot from the Lille India station to Chinatown.
And so here we are. Kind of funny calling anywhere Chinatown here because the ethnic population of Singapore is 76.2% Chinese, followed by 15.0% Malays and 7.4% Indians. It is the second densest country of the world after Monaco, and should Monaco even count? The population is also 3.3% "other" -- mostly people of European ethnicity.
Get your highly overpriced figurines and posters.
On the corner of this street in the heart of Chinatown is one of the biggest Hindu temples in the country. Go figure.
Finally, finally I'm getting to sit down and go slowly and happily through this amazing look at a place I can't quite believe. I have to echo Gabriele in saying that it's not somewhere I ever cared to go. But now I really understand the appeal and would love to visit Singapore. For one thing, you've showed something that gets left out elsewhere, i.e., the enduring exotic character of the place despite of and coexisting with all the modernity. As far as modernity, you have seen me happily goggling at high-rise ultra-modern buildings, so Singapore pings on two important points for me.
Apart from the informational aspects, your pictures are killer -- all those wonderful angles captures so artistically!
As I think Bjd pointed out, the city seems so much less crowded and busy than I'd imagined it, although certainly very alive. All the food, fancy and everyday, is tempting. A Michelin-starred ramen restaurant -- who'd a thunk it?! Having never been to an Asia city, I'd be tempted to continuously snack at all the food stands in order to try as many things as possible.
Your remark about Singapore having a "Chinatown" even though it's more than 70% ethnically Chinese was interesting. Do you suppose it came about long ago, and there were far fewer Chinese there then?
Oh ~ your "kitchen whisks" are actually head massagers. I know this because itinerant vendors sell them here in the main square. They'll come up to you from behind and use the damned things on your head -- things that have been on someone elses head and hair.
Is it actually possible to fly from Paris straight on to Singapore? That had to have been a long trip! How many days would you recommend for a first visit and should it be combined with a jaunt to someplace else in that part of the world?
Thanks to everybody for their comments, but there is so much more that I just have to keep plodding along.
Some of you might have noticed on another thread that I was quite annoyed with myself when my camera said that my memory card was full after two photos. I was at the Bugis Market. Here are the two photos.
The hotel was only about 500 metres away, so I went back there to change my equipment. But I didn't go back to Bugis that night -- I decided to take some pictures of the colonial heritage.
When the various churches of Singapore are not Roman Catholic or C of E, they are generally Methodist. I have not looked into why.
The skyline is always full of startling contrasts. The round building is the Stamford Swissôtel (formerly Westin). When it was built in 1986, it was the world's tallest hotel. It held that title until 1997 when a hotel in Bangkok was even taller. I am sure that Dubai now must hold the title. Three people have fallen off their balcony (or jumped?) and died since the hotel was built. Frankly, I think that it is privilege that one purchases when paying for such a hotel. If places like this decided to put in protective grills like the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building, they would totally lose all of their charm.
The National Gallery of Singapore. If I am not mistaken, this used to be the Supreme Court building. I should have gone there. It is the largest museum in Singapore. Next time, I promise.
Note the people on the top level -- there is clearly a very chic restaurant there.
The colonial area has massive empty lawns which I hope will remain that way.
There is no way to ignore the Marina Bay Sands when you are in this part of town.
This is still part of the National Gallery.
All of these old buildings have been restored spectacularly.
I think of this place as the "rich people's club." Old yacht club? Masters of the world club? All of the signs around it scream "members only."
Just beyond the lawns is the financial district. That's why I imagine the huge world banks lobbying to get hold of this open space to build new towers.
Old bridges cross the Singapore River, but now they are more decorative than useful.
Here it is again, the beloved former GPO. I went looking for a post office this week, and the internet informed me that there are a grand total of 3 post offices in Singapore now. Obsolete!
I used to go through these doors to buy the most beautiful stamps. I must have sent 100 or more postcards and letters here.
I don't know why I held my camera crooked in so many of these photos. I had not drunk anything (yet).
There are the bars that I walked past when I arrived in Singapore. I'm sure there are even more customers than when I passed by at the beginning of Happy Hour.
Here are a few little excerpts of the free nightly light show in the gardens. Sorry about the jerky camera work and not even knowing what to look at, but I can assure you that this is a bit overwhelming the first time you see it in person.
I was hot and sweaty by now (it is always at least 30° in daylight and the temperature dips to 25° in the middle of the night). I took refuge for a few minutes in the lobby of the Ibis.
After drying out, I wandered out of the back door.
I had a quick dinner at this disappointing place (but cool) before returning to my hotel around the corner.
New morning, new destination. I really got tired of all of these local churches, though.
I wanted to go to an ordinary housing estate with no tourists and nothing special of interest. I chose Telok Blangah because it was an easy destination as well as somewhere I have never been. The housing estates are the most important part of Singapore and yet they are not mentioned much to outsiders. 82% of the population of Singapore lives in these government owned housing estates (down from a high of 87% in 1988-1990). The reason that the percentage has become lower is because Singaporeans are becoming more affluent and can afford to move to higher end private porjects (remember the "King of Kovan"?). There is an excellent Wikipedia article entitled 'Public Housing in Singapore' which is very enlightening if anybody is interested. I have had the privilege of being invited to some of the apartments in the estates, and I found the design brilliant. For example, in the older buildings, the lifts only served half of the floors on intermediate landings, which saved lots of money. In a typical 20-storey building, the lifts went to ten levels (2-4-6-8 etc.). If you lived on the 17th floor, you took the lift to 18 and walked down half a flight. When you wanted to go out, you walked down half a flight to 16 to the lift. Of course in modern times, I'm sure that the lifts now go to all levels or else there are ramps for the disabled, because Singapore seems to me to be the best equipped country in disabled facilities that I have ever seen.
Anyway, one reason that Telok Blangah intrigued me is that it was the site of the 2nd largest demolition of private homes in Singapore, keeping in mind that in many cases these 'private homes' were disgraceful hovels and needed to be eliminated. The Singaporean friend whose wedding I attended lived in a private home in which I stayed once or twice, and it was very nice, so I was a bit worried about whether it still existed in 2017. So I checked out the street on Google Street View and it is still there, so that's nice to know. Even though living in a private house is probably more and more a major privilege in Singapore, it is good that some of these ordinary homes still exist. It was the house of my friend's parents. His father worked for Michelin, which was clearly a good job. I contacted my friend recently and learned that his father is actually still alive. My friend and his wife emigrated to Vancouver almost 30 years ago, and his father is there too now, in a home with dementia. End of digression, escept that the more I remember about my times in Singapore, it appears that I must have been there at least 20 times rather than the dozen or so times I imagined.
There is an expressway over which one must pass to reach the housing estate. Elevators and escalators are provided to make this easy.
Each housing estate is designed like a little independent village (which it probably replaced).
It of course had its own little covered market, blissfully without crowds or tourists apart from one intruder.
The ground level of these communal towers is always an 'empty' space to prevent flooding in violent rain (always a consideration in this part of the world) but also to provide a place to get out of rain and provide a meeting place for the residents and a safe area for the children to play.
There are the usual hangouts for the oldies to discuss matters and redesign the world.
Crossing back to the MRT station, I saw this man who appeared to be in charge of a speed radar device over the expressway.
And back in the MRT station (have you noticed how important the air conditioned MRT is when it is too hot to walk far?).
Yay, more Singapore and more variety. More people in this installment for sure. I'm glad you went to the housing project, something I wouldn't have thought would be so interesting. I imagine there are people in their teens and twenties for whom that kind of neighborhood is all they know. It actually looks rather pleasant, what with the local market and the open air gathering places. I am surprised at your not mentioning the mailboxes.
Do you know if emigration to places such as Vancouver is/was common and if your friends went because of a job offer or because they wanted to better their quality of life?
1. There was a feeling of anxiety in Singapore that either Malaysia or Indonesia might decide to take over Singapore. While the country has an army, it is well aware that it could only hold out for a week at best if one of those hugely populated countries were to decide that this rich little diamond would enhance them. They already had the example of Indonesia invading and annexing Portuguese Timor in 1975, and of course China was on the verge of taking back Hong Kong and Macau...
2. Like young people in any country, they aspired to more freedom than Singapore allowed. Things have changed a lot over the years, but even I hit a censorship wall the other day on the internet. It wasn't important to me as an extremely temporary visitor, but imagine how a young local adult would feel.
I am so happy looking at your photos Kerouac! Most eateries look like there is lots of place for more and as evening falls it's jungle I'm sure. I am hoping like hell you are going to Sentosa.
You might agree with me when advising Bixa to visit - I always say go over Xmas and New Year. The city is more splendid than you can imagine. Our friends who have a Jewellery store in Orchard Road also recommend this time as it is the coolest temps. in Singapore.
So, I went to where the cable cars cross the harbour to Sentosa island. Since Singaporeans feel that there is not enough going on in their city state, Sentosa has been developed as a leisure resort. When I went there 30 years ago, most people went there just to have a picnic on the beach or take the little train that made a circle of the island. Times have changed, because now there is a butterfly park, dolphin and bird shows, an old fort, a holographic K-pop show, Madame Tussaud's, zip lines, a laser-water-flame fountain show, a pirate ship, an aquarium, a viewing tower, the "southernmost point of continental Asia," Universal Studios Singapore, 21 hotels and a casino -- and that is not even the complete list.
What was I thinking? It was late morning Saturday and the moment I saw the queue to buy tickets for the cable car, I knew I was not going.
However, the international ferry terminal is there, too, so I looked to see for future reference where you can go and how often. Notably, there are ferries to Batam, Indonesia about every 30 minutes. It is a city of about 1,200,000 people only 45 minutes away, and if I am not mistaken it offers a bit of sleaze that is lacking in Singapore. And of course a lot of Indonesians like to come to Singapore for a day reverse exoticism.
There's Sentosa across the way.
So I went back to the hotel for a well deserved shower and nap. As the day ended, I was out again to see the nighttime transformation of the Arab St. area.
Passed all of the usual places on my street.
The shopping malls become taxi hell on weekends because they are so cheap and nobody wants to walk with all of their packages. Yes, the taxis are all metered with no tipping and not even leaving the small change.