It has been a long time compared to the history of the world (or not) since we have been in Singapore. The last time we spent a few days here was in 2006. Narda looked fourteen years younger then – not sure about me, all the photos we have are with Narda in them.
For example: We have a photo of Narda standing in front of a subway stop in 2006. We have a photo of Narda standing in front of a subway stop in 2020. What is somewhat amazing is that I have only one photo from each year of Narda in front of a subway stop in Singapore. As synchronicity would have it, and what else is there in life? Both times Narda was in front of the ‘Harbour Front #6’ line.
Being older (every day) we thought we would break up our journey to The Netherlands which is where we are headed for the next three months by stopping in Singapore a couple of days. Eight-hour daytime flight from Adelaide and another 14 and half making the run north to Amsterdam a long time in our world. We have done these long flights dozens of times from Australia. We did the seventeen-hour flight Sydney to Houston several months ago but we have now decided for the sake of getting old, to break up trips.
The flight was OK, average, what one would expect, we got to Changi airport three pm, got the 3 Day tripper pass in terminal two, Daily: 8am – 9pm and headed out. The 3 Day tripper pass was 20 Singapore thingies ($22 USD) plus a ten $ for deposit which we got back at the end. It gives unlimited train (subway) and buses everywhere. A real bargain, especially as we like to take random bus rides.
We booked two nights into the pricey Orchard Hotel on Orchard Road. Our room smelt smokey as if the person before had been a smoker or just smelly. Narda was quick-as-a-flash back to check-in, and they changed our room, saying it was an upgrade. Not sure, as they looked quite the same but there was no smoky smell so that could have been the upgrade. Also, there was a good view of the streets and neighbourhood seven floors down and the yucky previous room faced another building much taller, giving no view.
We texted our mate, Ryan (Ryan Simo Simonet) that we were stopping in Singapore. We taught with Ryan in China, he and I were both tech people with me in the upper school and Ryan fielding the middle school. As Narda would later say, Ryan made Singapore come alive for us. As I mentioned above, we live in a world of synchronicity and as fate or whatever would have it, Ryan texted back that he was performing at the Hard Rock Café which just happened to be a block from our hotel on Orchard Road, or as know-it-all-google says: and that we really should pop over. The fact that it all started past our bedtime of nine pm didn’t matter when there are a few hours time difference anyway. It would be midnight in our world. It is always midnight in our world so it didn’t matter.
We had dinner with Ryan then stayed and watched his whole gig. He has his own band, Cronkite Satellite, https://www.cronkitesatellite.com/ which has been a one-man show for a long time. In my brush with fame, I helped make a film clip of one of his songs back in the day when I was teaching film at Dalian International School. On this night at the Hard Rock Café, Ryan played drums backing up a couple (Firefly Search Party – https://soundcloud.com/firefly-search-party) who were good. We got back to our hotel around midnight. I thought when we got old, we were going to take it easy.
So as not to repeat Narda’s notes I will glue her thoughts in here and continue with my raving after.
January 21 Singapore
Just about to leave our 3rd hotel. Here is breaking-the-trip-into-manageable-pieces taken to a ridiculous extreme. We stayed at the Soho Hotel in Adelaide because we had already picked up our Dutch guests/exchangers, then a second hotel (Atura) at the airport because we thought a 10.30am flight was very very early, and now 2 nights in The Orchard Hotel in Singapore to rest after an 8 hour flight. Blimey!
Singapore, the great dictatorship. I was always a little leery of this ‘sterile, perfect’ city. But no longer. We met a friend from Dalian days, Ryan. A lively, fun to be around guy, who worked with both of us back in the day in different ways. For me he had great ideas/skills in electronic music, and for Terrell another total computer nerd. Ryan has made Singapore come alive for us.
He invited us to his gig, playing drums with a great pair of musos at the Hard Rock café, right around the corner from our hotel. Starting at 9pm, we reluctantly promised to show up for a bit, and finished up staying for the whole thing. Great music, and fun. Maybe we’re not as old as we thought.
I told a guy with whom we shared a table in Little India (a cool area in Singapore) that we love India and where in India was he from? Turns out he is born in Singapore, has family in Sri Lanka. I felt a little foolish. These residents of Singapore are not Indians, they just look like them.
A ship on top of three skyscrapers! Only in Singapore, where one guy is in charge and lots of people have money. It’s expensive; I paid $18 S (about 13 USD for beer; Stu I did not smuggle any beer in my handbag!………for those wondering ‘what the’… I might have tried that once, but I don’t remember it that well). Well in defense of the Hard Rock Café, they did provide live music…pretty good actually.
We took a bus (Bus #106 from Orchard Road) and finished up here. On local advice, we managed to get right into the hotel which occupied this strange building and got a decent look without spending a cent!
The 7 Eleven Bar; you just buy your beer from their fridge at their price and enjoy it here! Very civilized.
Of course, Singapore has the largest indoor water fall in the world. This was at Changi Airport, terminal 3 at the Jewel Shopping, where we also had a pretty nice meal.
Clip is at https://youtu.be/lo2zMm3iSaA
We rarely ever sleep on flights, but because we had a middle seat free, and a little pill, we slept about 6 hours. I woke to find myself 40,000 feet from Brendan. The Golden Temple in Amritsar (India) was lit up and very visible. But by the time I had located my camera (sometimes known as a phone), we were flying across the border right over Lahore. How cool is that! (See the brightly lit, heavily patrolled border.)
Back to me.
In Australia we get two cups of coffee for the price of one at McDonalds. The only reason we go there outside of when the grandchildren are with us and we are unfortunate enough to come across one and they plead starvation and we empty our savings account getting them happy for their meals. In Victoria they give seniors free coffee, period. Which we make use of when we are dragging our caravan about. Anyway, to shorten the story, Narda asked for two seniors coffee, which drew a blank, so she added that the second senior’s coffee is free; ‘it is in Australia’. They didn’t come to the party. Incidentally, Narda tried this on at several McDonalds in the USA last May to July. I suppose if one can afford to galivant around the planet they can afford two coffees. It’s the principle of it all. Nevertheless, we left, graciously, and went to Little India; Coffee at Komala Vilas on 12-14 Buffalo road, where a good cuppa is about one Singapore dollar, instead of the 4 others charge. They have a good webpage over @ http://komalavilas.com.sg And of course the fact they opened their doors in 1947 – the year of my birth makes it even more groovy. BTW – they have hijacked groovy, our word for beyond good in the 1960s to make a computer programming language. Apache Groovy is a Java-syntax-compatible object-oriented programming language for the Java platform. It is both a static and dynamic language with features similar to those of Python, Ruby, and Smalltalk.
Speaking of gracious endowment… Narda was tired from our walking about and wanted to sit down without buying anything at some trendy looking outside excuse for a pub, so she did. A lady gave her a menu and Narda set it down saying she wasn’t going to order anything, that she just wanted a rest. The waitress said it was for customers only so Narda gave her the menu instructing her that she could give the menu to a customer. The waitress was a bit rude. Narda said that she just needed a five-minute rest. The woman walked off looking at her watch as she stomped toward some ‘real customers’.
Singapore has been a futuristic city for a long time. But are the people happy? Apparently not, from our sources. There is a good current article online at; Is Singapore’s ‘perfect’ economy coming apart? Once hailed as a model of progress, poverty and nativist resentment are on the rise. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Cover-Story/Is-Singapore-s-perfect-economy-coming-apart We were told that the people need to work so much and so hard to have anything that there is a general sense of depression. Apartments are expensive; having a car starts with a ten-thousand-dollar license fee. But from our eyes looking around, Singapore is so clean and safe. Perhaps for our age it is good to visit, there are cameras with facial recognition everywhere, we feel safe. It is quite the change from being in Pakistan and Sri Lanka a couple of months ago. There is no trash on the ground, chewing gum is legal since 2004, though the selling of it and importing it is illegal. No graffiti, though I personally like graffiti. It is all so new. Or the parts we saw. Everyone stays in line;
From our hotel on Orchard Road we took the #106 bus as a random bus ride. It was double decker with no one in the front row up on top. Unfortunately, it was raining so we didn’t get many photos. The bus drove right to the door of the Marina Bay Hotel with the shape of a boat going across three buildings. We spent the rest of the day there.
Of course, we went to the 57th floor to view the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool. There is a bar/restaurant there and we walked out onto it, informing people, after getting in the midst of the place and me taking photos, that we were not eating or drinking, just having a sticky-beak. They politely suggested we could be on our way in whatever body-language people use to suggest such concepts.
Looking over the edge of infinity pool. At over $650 USD per night we didn’t get a room for a few nights here. Perhaps next time we will stay here and do our aqua Zumba classes in the midst of their bloody ridiculous infinity pool, which we do back in Adelaide for an hour three mornings every week, to 1950s sound tracks with disco drum beats in the background.
Children’s play area at Marina Bay Shopping Centre Singapore
There is a lot to see in this area. Museum of the future – which we didn’t want to pay $28 to see, looked interesting. There was a ‘frozen’ display where children were yelling and running to – we gave that a miss. There are many high-end shops as one would see in any expensive area but looking at the waterfront and the architecture is worth the journey. Apparently, someone spent $8 billion (I believe that is USD) on Marina Bay Sands which makes it the most expensive stand-alone integrated resort property ever built. Further useless information is that it is owned by the Las Vegas Sands corporation. Hey, Singapore, eat your heart out; our hometown, Adelaide, South Australia has this heading… ‘The recent announcement that the New Royal Adelaide Hospital has been named the world’s third most expensive building…’ and of course Adelaide has the second most expensive building in Australia (the Myer Centre). We just can not be out done.
[The top 10 most expensive buildings in the world: One World Trade Centre, New York City – $3.9 billion (2014) Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest – $3 billion (1988) Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide – $2.1 billion (2016) The Palazzo, Las Vegas – $1.9 billion (2007). As of Mar 25, 2015] Though as resorts go Singapore has us beat – but just wait, I am sure Adelaide will come up with something.
In our effort to downsize economically, we found a nice, though basic, hotel in Little India that we will stay in for a couple of days at the end of our journey this time around (The Netherlands for three-months). So, we will get to see Ryan and his wife and the wonders we missed of Singapore again in mid-April.
or as the 2006 Narda would say, ‘happy New Years’
Our next writing will be from the Netherlands where we are 20th January to mid-April.
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