Sleepless in Singapore… Day 1

80 days travelling and this is the most sleep deprived we’ve felt to date.

13th December 2018

After a week relaxing and soaking up the sun in the Maldives, we were looking forward to getting back into the swing of things with our whistle stop visit to Singapore. When we had originally been planning our trip we hadn’t realised how much there was that we wanted to do there, so had figured 48 hours would be more than enough time – it’s a notoriously expensive city after all, not exactly a budget friendly location. In the end, we could have easily spent another couple of days there, but 48 hours was probably more than enough for our purse strings (and my poor feet).

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We soon worked out that with a 4 hour flight and Singapore being 3 hours ahead of the Maldives, we’d essentially be touching down in what would feel like the middle of the night – our flight didn’t leave the Maldives until 10pm. We were travelling with budget friendly airlines Scoot, which left us little room for comfort or space. Luckily, the seat next to my wife was unoccupied (yet again…) so this gave us a bit more room to try and get some sleep. My wife insists we should invest in good neck pillows every time she sees them in the airport and I must admit this time I did think she had a point.

A few restless hours later and we were in the bright lights of Singapore. We had barely slept a wink, but we knew we had to power through today in order to complete our hectic itinerary of sightseeing. Blinking wearily and stifling a yawn or two, we managed to drag ourselves onto the metro system which was pristine and very easy to navigate. We got ourselves 48 hour tourist passes which allowed us to jump on any bus and metro throughout the city, which turned out to be really useful and very easy to use – a recurring theme for all things in Singapore.

Traditional houses along Kong Sen Road
Traditional houses along Kong Sen Road

Once we arrived at our hostel in Chinatown, we went for a quick breakfast at one of the many quirky little cafes nearby, called Plain Vanilla. They served up a delicious granola bowl and fruit platter complete with a highly essential cup of coffee – we could have easily been in a trendy part of London. With such little time to spare, we jumped on our first bus to Kong Sen Road to take a look at some of the traditional houses in the area. The half an hour journey took us right out into the suburbs and we were eventually greeted by a small row of about 20 brightly coloured and intricately decorated houses tucked away down an unassuming side street. It was lovely to wander around them and of course take a few obligatory photos at the same time. We didn’t hang around for long though, as there wasn’t much else to do in the surrounding residential area.

Our next stop for the day was Orchard Road, Singapore’s answer to Oxford Street in London. We hopped back on a local bus and enjoyed taking in the sights from the front of the top deck as we whizzed through the streets, with surprisingly little traffic to contend with. We had grand plans of picking up a variety of items on Orchard Road, but once we arrived we realised we were pretty out of our depth. Endless shopping centres lined either side of the road, with crowds of people swarming eagerly to get in the last of their Christmas shopping. We hastily ducked into the first shopping centre we saw, which was at least 7 floors high but complete with two essentials – M&S and Nando’s. We ventured into M&S eagerly, clocking the food section at the front of the shop. After a couple of minutes nosing around we realised the prices were completely off the scale – we couldn’t even justify some Percy Pigs at nearly 5 dollars per bag. Beating a hasty retreat with our hands empty, we decided to have lunch in one of our other familiar haunts back home – Nando’s.

One of many beautiful orchid species
One of many beautiful orchid species

After filling up on chicken, we decided to head to the Botanical Gardens nearby. Entering the gardens is completely free of charge (one of the few budget friendly places in Singapore) and they are beautifully maintained, with a variety of different areas to relax, eat and walk. We decided to make our way through the middle of the park to the private orchid gardens. We paid 5 dollars each to enter and are so glad we did – this was one of our highlights of the trip. The garden houses the biggest collection of orchids in Asia and we loved walking through them, taking endless photos. The pictures themselves probably do it more justice (or not) than I can put in words. It was funny to think that we almost didn’t go in because it had started to rain slightly.

Inside Singapore’s Orchard Garden
Inside Singapore’s Orchard Garden

After our walk through the gardens, we quickly realised we were rapidly reaching the end of our energy reserves for the day. We decided to go back to the hostel to relax for an hour or so, before heading out to one of the famous Hawker centres for dinner. These eateries are very popular in Singapore and consist of lots of street food vendors where you can pick up a yummy meal for a reasonable price. One of the most highly recommended ones in Singapore was in the centre of Chinatown, just a couple of streets away from us. We perked up once we reached the famous food street and smelt various offerings sizzling away for hungry customers. After a quick whip around the stalls, we decided to start with some traditional satay skewers followed by crispy roast duck. The food was cooked right in front of us and tasted delicious, for a brief moment we forgot how tired we both were.

The nearby Hawker centre in Chinatown
The nearby Hawker centre in Chinatown

Full to the brim, we decided to get an early night to catch up on our missed sleep and put us in the best position possible for an even busier day tomorrow.

Until next time.

P.S. Our plans for a good nights sleep were ruined when some girls we were sharing our room with came back to our bedroom late at night and continuously woke us up. Oh, the joys of staying in a hostel.

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