On my penultimate day, I took the opportunity to explore what was on my doorstep, Chinatown. China mostly consisted of narrow lines of streets, along which were dotted hundreds of tourist shops. Despite the obvious tourist centric nature of the area, there was still a definite traditional vibe to the place.
Indeed, many of the people here were locals, lots of whom could be found in one of the many wet markets in the area. In this photo, you can see stalls filled with a vast array of seafood including eels and live frogs (ok, maybe pondfood then).
In the heart of China town was this wonderfully ornate temple. After leaving my shoes and socks outside, I was able to have a look around inside the temple walls. As I walked around, many locals were in the process of worshiping.
My next stop was Kampong Glam, a small neighbourhood to the East of the city centre. The place consisted of a wonderful mix of Asian and Middle Eastern cultures, with many shops specialising in batik and carpets. I had an amazing meal in an Egyptian restaurant here that included a larger portion of humus (I do love a bit of humus!).
I enjoyed venturing down some of the lovely deserted side streets.
Here is an awesome piece of graffiti art I came across.
Being so distracted by both Chinatown and Kampong Glam, I nearly forgot about my main plan for the day, which was to take a trip to a small island just off the Eastern coast of Singapore. It took me a while to get there too, since I had to take a long MRT (underground) journey followed by an even longer bus ride just to get close to the ferry terminal. Indeed, it wasn’t until around 6pm that I actually got onto the boat. Given the modern looking ferry terminal (complete with airport style baggage scanners), the boats were quite basic. Once twelve people were onboard, the captain collected £1.25 from everyone and we were off …
Here is a video of the boat trip.
And here is a picture of the island of Pulau Ubin.
Once there, I rented a bike so that I could easily visit much of the island before it got dark.
Going to Pulau Ubin was an amazing experience. It was like stepping back in time. None of the homes had any mains electricity, so throughout the island you could hear the constant hum of the electricity generators. Going off-road, I came across isolated houses. Since there was often no one else around, it was easy to imagine that you were lost on a tropical island (like Lost!)
I loved this beautiful house, located amongst a clearing in the forest.
The Merlion, with the head of a lion and the tail of a fish (a bit like a rather dangerous mermaid) is the mascot of Singapore. This is the original statue located at Merlion park and the one that you will see on all the postcards.
On my final day, before catching my flight back to the UK, I went to the Botanic Gardens. A bit like a cross between a traditional botanic garden and a park, the Botanic Gardens in Singapore was a great place to relax, as anyone could just come and go as they pleased. Once inside, I spent a while just lying on the grass, giving my poor feet a rest from all the walking of the past week.
Here is an interesting plant, identified by my mum as a banana plant.
The day that I flew home was Singaporean National Day, probably the most celebrated day on the calendar. Here are people gathering to watch a big screen that is showing the parade.