Singapore Sling

I close my eyes and breathe in the thick, sweet air. It sticks to me like syrup and weighs heavily on my skin. A truck blares its horn and as I turn my head to have a look, I step over the open drain and a pungent sour odour creeps it way up my nostrils. Sweet and sour.  The comparison comes way too easily. We have been in Singapore a few days now and while the smells and heat remind me that I’m in south east Asia, the distinct lack of chaos is reminiscent of somewhere else entirely. We walk through the empty corridors of the MRT station and down the still sparkling escalators to the platforms. But for the train announcements and bustle of people, the station is relatively quiet. There are no buskers or beggars down here. The walls are free of graffiti and the floor glistens. It is so clean that we could almost be inside one of the many hives of shopping centres lining Orchard Road. We actually probably are. As we await for our train to arrive we don’t need to worry about where the carriage doors will open as the lined markings on the platform point us precisely where to go. Everything here is so well-ordered and it is strangely enticing. Getting around Singapore has been far too easy with the MRT allowing us to fast track it to our destinations, escaping the heat as we do so. We might be backpacking once again, but it is backpacking unlike anything we have done before and time to explore is at a premium. My husband has now swapped his day pack for a larger heavier pack, complete with a 9 kg toddler who still requires two naps a day back at the hostel. My daughter’s eyes have glazed over and her long fringe, now coated in a mixture of sweat and sunscreen, is holding like gel to the side of her face.  For the past few days she has quietly kept watch from inside her backpack, smiling down on cue at the many people who point and stare as she passes. Although she has been doing very well, she is still struggling to acclimatise to the tropical heat and is now desperate for a nap. We are heading back to the hostel where we will grab a few hours respite before heading back out for dinner. Our new travelling routine now sees our day broken up into thirds, with each third beginning with food and ending with a nap. To be honest, it feels somewhat like we have a large elastic band around our middles connecting us to the hostel. Each day we attempt to push the elastic a little bit further, to explore somewhere new, but just as we escape the confines of where we’re staying, the elastic holds tight and pulls us back like a sling-shot. Our very own Singapore Sling. Despite this, we have still managed to see some of the city; Haji Lane, Orchard Road, the aquarium on Sentosa Island, Gardens by the Bay and Singapore Zoo. Although our sight seeing has been reduced to small snippets, it has helped us to prioritise what we actually do want to see whilst also allowing us all to catch up on some well needed sleep. Maybe the  Singapore Sling isn’t so bad after all. Singapore Information Hostel: Hangout@Mt Emily Hostel http://www.hangouthotels.com This Mt Emily hostel was located in close walking distance to Little India, Bras Basah and Dhoby Ghaut MRT station. The hostel offers private double rooms with ensuites and has breakfast included in the price. Children and infants are welcome at the hostel and during our stay the majority of guests we saw appeared to be family groups. Although the facilities were basic, it was clean and free wi-fi was available in all the rooms. Getting Around MRT- we purchased an EZ-link card at the MRT station. It cost $12 and included $7 worth of credit. Rides around the city averaged around $1 each way (charged on distance). The EZ Link card can be used on trains and buses. Things to do Sentosa Island – Wanting to visit S.E.A Aquarium, we purchased a Sentosa Day Fun Pass for three attractions, which at $39* was  only $1  more than the entry fee to the aquarium and allowed us to see three attractions (aquarium, Madame Tussaud’s and the Butterfly Park). *prices for 2015 have changed and the day pass is now approximately $44, but still works out good value for these attractions.  1  4 Singapore Zoo – the zoo is located a good distance from the centre of town. We caught the MRT to Woodlands and from there caught a bus to the zoo. However, it took us approximately an hour to travel to the zoo. Coming home, for $6 we hopped on an express bus, which got us back in around 20 minutes. Whilst there is some shelter at the zoo, it is a good idea to be prepared with rain jackets for the tropical downpours as shelters are limited and quickly become overcrowded. You can also hire strollers at the zoo, allowing young children to sleep (if you are lucky) whilst you are on the go.  5 Gardens by the Bay – the two conservatories (the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome) make for a nice cool, escape from the Singapore heat. Reasonably priced food can also be found at Satays by the Bay, hawker stalls that are located just beyond the Children’s wet play area (Children’s Garden).  1 (1)  3 (1) Shopping – shopping malls are aplenty in Singapore, with many of them found along Orchard Road. However, just remember that many of the malls, including grocery stores, don’t open until around 10 am. If you are in need for grocery items outside of these times, there are plenty of 7-Eleven’s available.

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