Singapore – city of modernity and contrasts

Mein Schiff Southeast Asia cruise: Day 2 – 20 km walk – 17:45 all aboard – 19:00 cast off

italic lines as always from Daniel –

Today we took the subway, called MRT, into the city. Singapore shines, as expected, with a very well developed and organized local transport – unfortunately, electronic means of payment are still little accepted. From the cruise terminal, where yesterday another ship had moored next to our TUI cruiser, it is about 500 meters to the station.

Just like yesterday, the crew and Singaporean officials never tire of first scanning our boarding passes, then examining our passports, and finally checking our meager luggage for the day. Fruit from the ship (and vice versa) is mercilessly sorted out each time and may not be brought along.

Arriving at the MRT station, however, we were first disappointed by this “progressive” city.

Riding the subway in Singapore: Cash is essential, unless you buy (with cash) a plastic card for 5 Singapore dollars (S$) deposit plus S$ 7 credit, which is directly on the card. This credit can not be divided among several people, everyone needs his own card, which can then be recharged with a credit card. The part is then also valid on the bus.

Conveniently, there is an ATM directly in the station at the port, we did not have to search.

One-way tickets, which are bought in the subway station, are not valid in the bus for the onward journey. There, appropriately, the corresponding fare must be paid in cash, there is no change. In general, it is advisable to quickly get a lot of change, because even vending machines (tickets, drinks, other odds and ends) usually give change only rarely and if, then very little.

We would have expected otherwise and were prepared, a credit card or even our cell phone for contactless payment would be fully sufficient, except for a few street vendors perhaps. Instead, with a minimum of S$100 that needed to be withdrawn, we now have pockets full of change. Probably we find on the last day – of our trip we stop another time in Singapore – still one or the other nice souvenir (I’m sure), at the other stops except for Bangkok possibly we will collect but also plenty of foreign exchange.

I had rummaged times and from the last Vietnam vacation actually still found a few bills, which I have of course to spend them in Ho Chi Minh City, I knew nothing about it so far – goes certainly for decoration, jewelry or clothes on it. However, the stately 11,000 dong turn out to be just a few euro cents… whether I get for it at all what when we moor there in a few days? – Maybe it is enough for more..

Overall, Singapore is very clean, as very high fines on things like buying / chewing / importing gum or smoking cigarettes in subways – for from 1,000 Singapore dollars you’re in – stand. The city of the lion has more than all other cities that I have visited so far, also deserves the designation “urban jungle”: Everywhere green, medians on the street, planted sidewalks, even on the pedestrian bridges – or the streets in the city – and on building facades you can find plants, and everything is very well-kept. Even construction fences are embellished with floral motifs to lift the otherwise unsightly look

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We had several stops on our own schedule for today. The botanical garden is a highlight and admission is free, definitely worth seeing, one of the best botanical gardens we have visited. Only for the part with the orchids it is S$ 5 per head (from 60 years the entrance fee is a slim S$ 1). Great well-kept green areas and plants, which in our country grow partly only in greenhouses, can be found here of course under the open sky. Surprising was the rainforest part, through which a stilt path led. The high trees keep the heat away from the ground very well and there it is a few degrees cooler, which is very pleasant.

Our ideal route for the day: We took the subway from the Botanic Garden to Little India. The Hindu temples and mosques in the neighborhood prove how closely different religions live door to door here.

At this point, the route would have included a detour to Haji Lane, the hipster street, but we will certainly come back to this on our last day.

However, we were already a little flattened by the climate and the time change of +8 hours, so our next stop was downtown. There we saw the “classics” of sightseeing like the Singapore Flyer. A ride all the way around takes a good half hour and you get into the cab during the ride – the Ferris wheel doesn’t stop for that. Of course, we also had a perfect view of the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel. If you want to admire the skyline from there while having a drink, you can do that for a scant S$40. However, the dream of swimming in the infinity pool can only be fulfilled if you also rent a room from S$ 330 there.

Later, other guests gave us the tip that a half-hour trip on one of the boats on the Singapore River would also be worthwhile. I guess we will try that on the last day as well.

We skipped both and walked to Chinatown, where preparations for Chinese New Year are in full swing. I suspect it will soon be the Year of the Pig, so many cute (and not so cute) little piglets were to be found on every corner. The market and food mile are right by the Chinatown subway station, you can’t miss it. There it is, how one imagines an Asian market possibly, if one has never seen one. All kinds of foreign things to buy, which you can try here and there (if you dare), a lot of kitsch and souvenirs in the midst of hectic hustle and bustle – in my opinion, 90 percent are junk items that are offered more or less exclusively for tourists. I like something like that very much, even if I think that it is much cleaner here than elsewhere – is just Singapore. For that you should dare here all the more to try something (for you) unmentionable. In most cases, I have not regretted it, but was thrilled and positively surprised how delicious Asian cuisine can taste in the original.

After that, we walked back to the ship and so we also took care of Daniel’s step goal that day. At least that’s how he sold it to me at that moment, wanting to walk the extra 2 kilometers instead of taking the nicely air-conditioned subway. At dinner I realized that we had walked a total of 20.1 kilometers. So much for the walking goal… We definitely deserved the cocktails – so we did everything right, I just need it more than they do. Off to bed!

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