Welcome back to a series of posts on mum’s visit that has suddenly become a lot longer and more time consuming than I could have possibly imagined. I know I’m in very real danger of writing way too many posts on our week so I’m going to try my best to reign it in and actually fit more than one day into each blog, but I can’t make any promises.
So anyway, we’ve wenged our way through Gardens by the Bay and Monday, and have finally struggled into Tuesday. This was the day of Pulau Ubin, a place which mentally scarred me on my last visit thanks to a poorly timed public holiday and the single worst queuing experience of my life (and if you really want to relieve it, you can!). So thank god mum and I decided to visit on a normal Tuesday because, compared to the last time, getting there and away again was an absolute dream. No queuing, barely any waiting, no crazy locals trying to cycle into me every 5 seconds. I did, unfortunately, have to get back on a bike, although it did get pushed up a fair few hills, but I’d say that I enjoyed it as much as I can enjoy any sort of strenuous physical activity. The last time I visited Ubin the number of people on the island had definitely scared off all the wildlife, and we only managed to see a terrified monkey up a tree. On my second visit, however, we hit the wild animal jackpot. I nearly ran over a monkey at one point, and we wasted some time watching them scurrying about in the trees. The animal highlight, however, was the pack of wild boars that we came across at the Chek Jawa Wetlands. The mangrove swamp and ocean boardwalk are bicycle free zones and, as we made our way up from the beach to our bikes, sad that we hadn’t really seen any fishes or creatures, we were distracted by an awful lot of rustling and some baby boars running past. This was enough to cause some frenzied excitement, but rounding the corner we were met with a whole family of boars just minding their own business, having dust baths and rummaging through people’s plastic bags. It was a pretty exciting 10 minutes, even though I kept turning around to see bloody great boars just standing behind me, which is not a relaxing experience, I can tell you. It was almost as surprising as when we were sat on the deck outside our hotel room in Bintan, minding our own business and waiting for the rain to stop, when an absolutely huge monitor lizard suddenly ran up to us, looked lost and confused, and disappeared into the bushes, never to be seen again. Now that is a shock, I can tell you!
Post-Ubin we made our way down to the Quays in search of a riverboat tour. I’ve done the Singapore River Cruise in the daytime before, but we decided it would be cool to do it at night and see the city all lit up. It’s safe to say that mum got just a little bit overexcited and took about 300 photos of the Singapore skyline at night, which is impressive, don’t get me wrong, but maybe not that good. The cruise is pretty good and provides a lot of history about the area and the development of Singapore, but I’m not sure mum was paying much attention! We did, however, discover that she wasn’t going nuts when she said to me ‘I don’t remember the Merlion being there’ as it turns out it was moved from its original position on the Singapore river to Marina Bay about 10 years ago. It’s always nice to find out you’re not losing your marbles.
Wednesday came and brought with it a walking tour of Little India and a trip to Chinatown. I’ve written before about my tour of Bugis, which was fun and really interesting, and we were hoping that the Little India tour (run by the same company) would be similar. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but there’s not an awful lot of history in Little India itself, and a lot of it has been, or is in the process of being, redeveloped, which is a crying shame. It’s just a little underwhelming to be honest. The tour took us around the back streets, to the Sri Veeramakaliamman temple, the oldest hindu temple in Singapore, and into Tekka Centre, one of the most famous of the Singaporean wet markets. Don’t get me wrong, there were some very interesting bits, but I don’t actually remember a lot of what our tour guide told us, which probably says a lot. We finished off the day with another splash of culture, and a trip to Chinatown, and then had dinner in a carpark, which is something I need to talk about.
When we set out on Wednesday night we didn’t intend to eat dinner in a carpark. But, then again, I’m not sure anyone who’s ever eaten in a car park actually means to do it. Before I get to the carpark I need to go back a little, and explain how we ended up there. I won’t be seeing mum over my birthday, so we decided while she was here we’d go out for a nice dinner as an early celebration. A Singaporean delicacy is chilli crab, something I’d never got around to eating, and this seemed as good a celebration meal as any. According to the oracle that is the internet, the best place to eat chilli crab is No Signboard Seafood in Geylang, and so, on Wednesday night, that’s where we headed. Apart from nearly getting lost thanks to my very shoddy directional skills we found it successfully, and mum even got a taste of Singapore’s red light district on the way. Despite being a glorified hawker the restaurant is pretty impressive from outside, lit up like a christmas tree with LED lights it’s fairly hard to miss, and the oriental-esque decor and bustling atmosphere make the place very inviting. However… despite the fact that it was a normal Wednesday night the restaurant was pretty busy, and we were a bit worried we’ get turned away, or have to wait for ages to get a table. Luckily (or, maybe, unluckily) for us, it’s actually bigger than it looks, thanks to the fact that there’s a short row of tables in the carpark at the back. This is where we ended up. In the carpark, where we got to watch people wash up and cars being valet parked. Or at least mum did. I, on the other hand, had a lovely view of a blindingly green wall which went very well with the bright yellow plastic chairs we were sat on. Now, don’t get me wrong, the chilli crab was delicious (if messy and quite challenging to eat), but we didn’t exactly get the nice, atmospheric meal we were expecting. Still, at least it’s now become a good story to tell!
Leah Out X