The day after the half marathon in Jakarta we flew out of Indonesia and headed to Singapore. We’d heard great things about this city, my mum & dad had stopped here for 3 days on their way to meet us in New Zealand. We arrived and swept through the hi-tech airport then we easily caught a bus to the Geylang district where we had booked a hostel.
When we got to Geylang I thought about what a different experience my parents would have had, our hostel was situated in the middle of the red light area, ladies of the night were plying their trade on the hostel door step. When we walked into the hostel the noise from the street below couldn’t be heard and the room was spacious and cheap so we settled in to unpack. It was now around 10pm, so after unpacking, we went to get some food at a street cafe a few doors up from the hostel. It was interesting to watch business deals being struck as we ate, it was a pretty colourful atmosphere and we didn’t feel at all intimidated but after food we were both tired especially Paul after the recent half marathon so we headed back to the hostel to sleep.
The next day we went to visit all the sights we’d heard so much about. We visited Raffles hotel, world-famous for Singapore Slings but at 32 dollars a drink we decided to pass on that rite of Singaporean passage. The Marina area is where most things appear to happen, the Singapore Flyer which my parents had been on stood grandly in the bay. T he Marina hotel which is made up of 3 tower blocks linked together at the top with a huge roof top terrace in the shape of a boat – a colossal feat of engineering. We saw the White Lion spewing water and then moved on to Orchard Road to mooch around the many modern shopping malls, 6 star hotels and lots more.
Singapore is a clean city, the city has a palpable feeling of wealth mixed with a healthy touch of snobbery, smartly dressed people hurry alongside expensive designer shops. It was fascinating to walk around this product of Asian economic success and it seemed a million miles away from the constant cuts culture that evolved in the UK and Europe. Singapore was expensive but we managed to find some free activities to keep us occupied. One of the best free attractions was the light and laser show in the Marina Bay. The show is about the evolution of life, images are projected onto water which is sprayed up into the air and set to music, it was interesting to watch and well put together, particularly impressive given the backdrop of city sky scrapers with lights glistening against the night sky. After another full day of walking around we headed back to the hostel for some sleep.
At the hostel we got into bed and switched off the lights, Paul has an ongoing problem with me breathing heavily when I sleep, so when he first heard a noise he automatically assumed it was me. I confirmed it wasn’t me and told him to go to sleep. The noise started up again a few minutes later, it was a rustling sound and Paul got out of bed as he thought a plastic bag might have got in the way of the air conditioning stream. By this time we were both extremely tired and irritable I told him to turn the light on and as the room became illuminated he screamed like a girl and jumped on the bed, he’d seen a mouse which had run under a cupboard door which was the mouse’s passage to the outside drain pipe. Paul had been eating some seaweed crackers before getting into bed and he made the mistake of leaving the open packet on the table adjacent to the bed. On closer inspection we could see that half the contents had been nibbled at and that explained the rustling sound!
I left Paul standing on the bed whilst I had to go and investigate further. I tried to block up the crack under the door where the mouse had run using anything I could get my hands on, towels, clothes and rucksacks helped to build a impenetrable barrier. After half an hour with the lights on and just waiting and listening to see if we could hear any more scratching, we hoped my handy work had blocked the hole up and so we tried to sleep. Within 15 minutes of the lights being off we felt something move at the bottom of the bed, running across the thin sheet that we had over our feet, the mouse was back and tamer than we had hoped and imagined – we had to get out of the hostel.
Paul went to see the receptionist and complained. The manager wasn’t surprised, he knew all about the problem, there had even been a newspaper article about the issue which had been published 3 days earlier. The hostel manager had a clean copy that he produced to show to Paul. The problem, we read, was getting worse in Geylang and the perpetrators weren’t mice they were Norwegian Rats!!!! We were offered a tray of glue as a trap but the hostel manager didn’t think it would work, “the rats were very clever” he told us. So at 3am we were sat in the hostel bedroom, Paul was using the laptop to look for somewhere else to sleep as a tray of glue sat idly by his feet. The rest of the night was horrendous and we struggled to sleep at all. The next morning, we managed to get a refund on our remaining night and we moved to a better hotel.
The next day we managed another day of sight seeing. We visited the botanical gardens and had to find shelter in a hawker centre to get out of the rain, Asian food courts are never bad places to shelter from the rain and we enjoyed curry, rotis and lassi. In the afternoon and evening we had a final walk around the city before going back to the hotel. We had a train to catch at 8.30am to take us to our next country Malaysia. We were looking forward to travelling by rail, another new experience travelling by train for 8 hours with our next stop being Kuala Lumpur.