Monday, June 24, 2013

Welcome to Singapore

This morning was spent just traveling around the local area using public transportation and on foot. We finally left the Singapore airport around 3:30am after getting through immigration and customs and figuring out how get from terminal 1 to terminal 3 at the airport. Not trivial at that time of day due to things being shut down. These multi-colored building caught my eye as we were walking around town. You may notice that it is very hazy as there is a lot of smog from burning in Sumatra. Breathing the air is a real hazard.

The first stop was Arab Street where there were a lot of small shops under the residences. It was in the mid-90's all day long and well into the evening. The humidity was also pretty high all day.
Motorcycles and scooters are everywhere here in Singapore though I could probably count on one hand the bikes over 500cc. Here is bike parking in front of the mosque.
A better view of the Sultan Mosque.
The streets are a lot wider here but much more crowded. The vehicles are generally larger. You still see the micro-vans and trucks but you also see large, 5-ton delivery trucks and large tour buses navigating the city streets. We caught a double-decker city bus after we reached the end of Arab Street (the actual name of the street) and rode it to the Esplanade.
This is the financial district from the front window of the double-decker bus. It was fun being able to ride above the traffic and since we were in the very front of the bus, it is about 8' in front of the center of the front wheels which made going around corners interesting.
This striking building is the Marina Bay Sands. It is a hotel and casino and has what looks like a huge boat moored on top. The top has a park and a huge infinity pool on the left end. I'm told that you need to be a hotel guest to visit the park. It should be a great view.

This is the merlion, with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. And is the mascot and "national personification of Singapore". I must admit ignorance as I had not heard of this before today. There was quite a crowd around the statue and this picture is taken from across the harbor at the Esplanade, a grandstand and concert shell that hosts many free concerts.

Just one of many old motorcycles with utility sidecars. There have been a number with food carts attached. You may notice that the sidecar is on the opposite side from U.S. models as they drive on the opposite side of the street here as well. I'd think that I would have a really hard time getting used to that as even as a pedestrian, I find myself looking the wrong direction before crossing.

We walked through several shopping malls on our way back to my sister's apartment and what was obvious is that the primary pastime must be shopping and eating.

Just one of many flowers in the area. Overall, you can tell that you aren't in Japan anymore. Gone are the polite greetings and clean streets. The interior of the cabs look like cabs anywhere in the U.S. There is no conformity. Our introduction last night was on the shuttle bus at the airport. The bus pulled right behind another bus and most people got out except for us and another older couple from Nebraska. We were expecting the bus to go on to the next terminal. The bus driver turned to us and gruffly said "Get out. Next bus".  Welcome to Singapore...


  1. Good pics Richard....too bad about having to be a guest before one can tour the top of that casino building.

    See any URALs? :)


    1. Quite a few sidecar rigs though they are all utilitarian and nothing as large and powerful as a Ural.

    2. as "large and powerful as a Ural"....sarcasm? :)

    3. Me, sarcastic!?

      All of the sidecar rigs I saw were based on 200-500cc old Japanese bikes or scooters. 750cc would be huge around here.

  2. Richard:

    I don't envy you being in that humid heat. I would imagine riders don't wear much gear, just like in most hot climates.

    I've never been anywhere where they drive on the "wrong side" either.

    People probably just shop to get into air conditioning, not so much buying as staying cool

    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. Helmets may be required as everyone is wearing one. The rest of the gear, not so much.

      Air conditioning, that could be the reason though the shops must still sell something to stay in business.

  3. Japan is so uniform compared to Singapore. Arab Street looks like an English High Street ( with Asian flourishes) with old fashioned English license plates on the cars. Yet the modern financiall high rises are emblematic of the new century's power shifts. I really need to take an interest in traveling the Pacific Basin.

    1. Definitely right about the difference in uniformity. And the shopping malls here are huge compared to Japan. Also, I haven't seen so many high end cars before, not just all of the German luxury cars but Italian exotics driving in traffic...

  4. That is quite the grand hotel with the ship on top. My guess is only the rich elite get to stay there - or can afford it anyway.

    Did you feel like you were flying in the chair of a sidecar when going around the corners on that double decker bus?

    1. I hear that a a lot of businessmen stay there courtesy of their companies. There are a lot of photos online of the view from the infinity pool.

      The view from the front of the bus was great. I hear that it is a great way to see the city. Tour bus, $40 or city bus, $1.50.

  5. Decadent architecture, I'm not one for heights hence you would never see me there ;-)