Singapore has the largest concentration of selfie sticks on earth. I’m not sure whether that is true or not, but it certainly felt true when we arrived at the Merlion statue only to discover we were the only people in Singapore sans selfie stick. We visited Singapore twice on our trip, at the beginning and end of our Asian leg. It’s Myles first time in Singapore, so we manage to cover a lot of the major sights, such as the Singapore flyer, gardens by the bay and Marina Bay Sands.
Our first stint in Singapore is when the Mayweather Pacquiao fight is on. We find a nearby bar that is broadcasting the fight, and head there an or so hour before the fight. We had assumed that this would be early enough to find an alright seat and get a drink, but we are greeted by hundreds of people standing in the streets. Presumably as some kind of social service, the bar has tvs mounted outside ensuring that these hundreds of people can all watch the fight. There’s absolutely no way that the bar can make money from this, you can’t drink on the street in Singapore and they’re not selling anything anyway.
With a fair number of Filipino domestic workers in Singapore, the crowd is very much on the side of Pacquiao. Mayweather was booed heavily when he first appeared on screen, though the loudest boo was reserved for the appearance of Justin Bieber (I’m not sure why Singapore hates Justin Bieber as much as Floyd Mayweather – sure he is kind of a douche but he has never beaten his wife. He doesn’t even have a wife!!). Not long after we arrive, so to do the police. They set up some barriers which finally allow the traffic to pass the growing crowd. It feels like Pacquiao is winning as we watch, but as it is announced that he loses the crowd politely disperses.
Like many of our trips, we end up on a food quest. Singapore noodles are delicious, so why not have some while we are here. We search high and low for them before turning to google where we learn that Singapore noodles are actually from Hong Kong. We had not thought to eat them when we were in Hong Kong some years ago.
The real food quest however is reserved for a trip well out of the normal tourist areas to a hawker market that reputedly has the world’s best laksa. We used to live within spitting distance of the Dickson Noodle House, so have some experience with good laksa and decide to make the trek. It was hard to find, and in fact we had almost given up when we noticed it. The laksa soup is heated on charcoal, which many people think is the secret. The bowls arent big, but they are only $2. The soup has more delicate flavours than we are used to, and the only meat is cockles or pippies, which gives it quite a different taste. The small bowl is perfect size, you don’t get that bloated feeling from polishing off a giant laksa. I would have definitely gone for a second, but we decide to get some more cheap Singaporean food, including a generous serving of roast duck for $3.50.
We were staying near Boat Quay so decide we should eat there one night before we go. We walk by the restaurants along the water, and a tout offers us a free drink and 30% off, so we go to that one. Prices were tourist trap high, and when the bill comes they havent given us the free drink or taken the 30% off. Incredibly, they have even tried to charge us 50c each for KFC style refresher towels and $2 for the peanut sauce that came with the decidedly average satay sticks. After a lot of back and forth, they take off the drink each, the napkins and the sauce, and take 30% off most things but claim that it isn’t 30% off seafood as that was already discounted. We eventually come to some kind of agreement and pay the bill and get out of there, deciding that if we can make just one future customer not go there at least it will be a slight moral victory. For those looking for somewhere not to go, it was called Forum Singapore.
On our last night in Asia we decide to finish off our sightseeing by having the obligatory Singapore sling at Raffles hotel. Tick. Unfortunately they were $26 each. Of course they charge through the nose because a Singapore Sling at Raffles is such a touristy thing to do. However, even the other drinks were off the show expensive. A 345ml strongbow was $18.
Most cities are like this of course, charging more in tourist areas and less once you get off the beaten track. However I don’t know the disparity is anywhere as large as in Singapore. The fact that a bowl of the worlds best laksa cost the same as a tiny bowl of satay sauce was a neat illustration.