The view from our hotel window paints a fairly accurate picture of Singapore: everything goes up. You could take pretty much the same photo looking out from all four sides of the hotel, or anywhere else we've been so far. People say the city is clean and clinical, and that's true. Even late at night there are people sweeping the streets, picking up any litter that's fallen. It seems excessive but it does make a big difference. The underpasses in London resemble public toilets on occasions; not so Singapore. We walked through one last night that displayed local kids' work and had projectors mounted on the wall. Passers-by were respectful and interested in the artwork. Nice touch. The biggest difference between Singaporeans and Londoners was the noise. On the Tube, it's all heads down and silence glances, whereas the MTR here is alive with chatter.
There was a marquee set up on the roadside for the largest jade buddha in the world, a new 'attraction' for Singapore. All very sedate inside, except for the pumping beats of LMFAO 'Party Rock Anthem' booming through the speakers.
Pictured with me on the right is one of the waiters at our hotel, a terrific character. I was wearing my Spurs shirt for the first meal we had in the restaurant and before he'd even taken our drinks order, he'd declared himself an Arsenal fan and labelled me as 'the enemy'. The banter kept flowing. He reminded me "you haven't won the FA Cup since 1991, and Gary Lineker was playing back then". It didn't help that Spurs were held to a 1-1 draw by Wolves that night (Saturday afternoon in the UK), giving him fresh ammo for Sunday breakfast time. I referred him to the Premier League table, although I'm not sure he appreciated my reference to Arsenal playing Europa League football in 2012/13. The local Sunday paper dedicated a page-and-a-half to English football, including a semi-comprehensive review of Saturday's games, which finished around 1am local time. Talk about tight deadlines...
Here is a bit of a Singapore phenomenon. The Marina Bay Sands hotel, designed by an Aussie, features three tower blocks with a ship-shaped 'sky park' perched on the top. I've never seen anything like it and it was made even more spectacular by this laser show which lit up the bay. Worth Googling. As we watched, a family walked past with the small child in the pushchair playing on an iPhone. Pretty standard practice in the country where everyone (no, really) is permanently glued to their camera or phone.
Our camera, like most, has a timer function which we call upon when we want a decent pic of the both of us and there are no passers-by on hand to do the honours. This one (right), in the Botanic Gardens, was taken balanced on top of a bin. You'd never know.
Plenty of people recommended a visit to Singapore Zoo and I needed little persuasion. Two bus rides out of the city centre, and we were roaming about in the blazing sunshine, greeted by an excellent array of birds and animals. All the old favourites were there; lions, tigers, elephants, rhinos, but I absolutely loved watching the chimpanzees and orangutans. I share several characteristics with Karl Pilkington, one being that I could stand and watch those little fellas all day long. They posed for photos, fought, relieved themselves on each other and produced some impressive one-handed catches when the keepers lobbed fruit and veg in their general direction. Dorset truly is blessed to house Monkey World.
A highlight of the day was meeting two Australian families, also at the zoo under the care of our hapless tour guide, whose responsibilities included pointing us in the way of the tram for the 'night safari' before settling down in the cafe area and waiting for our return. One couple hailed from Tasmania (or 'Tazzie' if we're to fit in with the locals) and the other, with two young daughters, have been travelling around Australia for a few years. It was good to spend the day with visitors who shared our sense of humour, especially as they imparted some words of wisdom ahead of our year Down Under. Who knows, our paths may cross again.