Monday, August 21, 2017

Singapore Day 1 - Part The First

We arrived in Singapore after a helluva long but actually enjoyable flight. United economy was spacious enough that it was no bother and it had a ton of in-flight movies and TV shows available for view. The food was typical airline fare and it was weird to fly along, fall asleep, wake up and then realize there was still 8 hours to go.

In Singapore we then cleared customs and immigration and got our passports stamped, and then went to a money changer and got some Singapore dollars. The Singapore dollar is about 71 cents US so we did well on the exchange.

Interestingly, not only are the bills different colors, but each one is sized differently and are thus really easy to tell apart. They're also the high-tech polymer type complete with transparent areas and holograms.

Then we took an Uber to the place where we would stay the next ten days. Uber as it turns ut is extremely popular in Singapore and the city-state is one of Uber's most popular locations.

We found the condo that we had rented through AirBnB and it was quite perfect it was centrally located on Bencoolen street - right by a mall, an MTA station, bus stops and a Hawker center. With two bedrooms, two baths a kitchen and a washer/dryer which was important as were were already sweating in the heat and humidity. The washer would be used many a time during our stay. We unpacked and then headed out to get a lunch at the local Hawker center.

What's a Hawker Center? Well it used to be that various vendors would sell food on the streets from carts, but the government there considered it rather less than organized or sanitary so they built Hawker Centers - buildings stuffed to the gills with vendors side by side selling tons of tasty and varied dishes.

The Hawker center was also our introduction to the Asian concept of personal space - Americans like 3-6 feet, Asians are happy with 3-6 millimeters. Talk about crowded. We watched what the locals did and queued up at a likely food stall, pointed to what we wanted, paid for it and then grabbed an open table in the center to eat.

This was our first meal in Singapore:

Pretty tasty and only costing S$4.00, and quite filling. We were to try lots of other dishes at the Hawker center throughout the trip and I soon found a favorite. The Hawker centers offer a large variety of prepared food at very cheap prices.

Then we headed off to purchase the Singapore Pass.

The pass is a pretty neat item that you buy that gets you access to numerous attractions and can also skip the standard ticket lines, but it has multiple confusing conditions and takes awhile to figure out all its permutations and limitations - in short if you use it right you can save a lot of money on some fun attractions, but if not you'll lose quite a bit, especially as it expires within 5 days so it can be a whirlwind rotation among the various cool places in Singapore.

The Singapore Pass location was right beside just one such attraction, and we went right to it.

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