TRAVELOGUE  »  A Thirteen Hour Whirlwind in Singapore

Singapore is the most expensive place in Southeast Asia. Plain and simple. Food is nearly at US prices, as is transportation, goods, services and hotels. Not wanting to pay nearly $50 a night for a hotel we arranged to couchsurf with Daniel: an expat from the Netherlands who had a sweet three bedroom apartment with AC and a pool that was paid for by work.

Singapore hand washing sign
In case you didn’t know how to wash your hands, this sign in Singapore will let you know

After spending nearly four hours trying to figure out where he lived and how to get there, we arrived to more bad news: Daniel’s boss was coming into town the next morning. Since he didn’t want the company knowing that work was paying for random travelers to have a place to crash he had no choice but to ask us to leave early the next morning.

This was especially annoying as I was now completely convinced that I had Swine Flu and didn’t want to do anything the next day. I had a raging fever that was only kept down with cold and flu meds, no appetite and a nasty case of the chills.

Two orangutans in the Singapore Zoo
Carrie looks at two orangutans in the Singapore Zoo

Still wanting to avoid the expensive hotel, we found Jocelyn: another couchsurfer at the last minute who could host us early that morning. The only catch: we had to get there before she went to work at 9am and couldn’t return until she did at 10pm.

We didn’t actually learn this until we got there thinking that I would just lay in bed dying all day. I guess her roommate is not being comfortable with the idea of couchsurfing. So, with self diagnosed Swine Flu I had no choice but to be on the go for 13 hours. Good thing I had those cold and flu meds!

Our marathon day began at the Singapore Zoo, which is justifiably referred to as one of the nicest zoos in the world. The habitats were all very well kept, the animals seemed happy and the layout was great. We spent around six hours wandering around, seeing shows and feedings, waiting out thunderstorms and taking frequent rests when I needed them.

Local buses in Singapore
Local buses in Singapore

Later in the day we headed to downtown Singapore and wandered around Little India, which was far better than the one in Kuala Lumpur. Filled with our favorite smells and sounds, we really felt like we were back on the subcontinent and had a blast wandering around. From there we wandered through the Arab Quarter and over to the 10km strip of malls that Singapore is famous for. Literally, its just malls for miles and miles. How they all stay in business I will never know.

We finally returned to Jocelyn’s apartment at 10:30pm, nearly 14 hours after we had left in the morning. My pills had gotten me through the day, but I quickly passed out when my head hit the couch pillow. In reality, we could have spent half a day the next day wandering through the streets of Singapore, but we were not excited about being homeless for another 14 hours during the day so we decided that we had seen enough. We woke up early, headed to the bus station and began our return trip to the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia.