Saturday, October 03, 2009

Singapore Sling

I flew to Singapore from Jakarta on Thursday evening, the reason being to get a 60 day business visa for Indonesia. Slung out so I can sling back in.

The trip to the airport wasn't the usual jam of traffic all the way, but this time I had to deal with a cab driver who had obviously been working far longer than he should. He was visibly drooping and half way to the airport his eyes started clamming shut. Plus he was belching constantly from his lunch, much of which I could smell too. Didn't know people ate seaweed here (that's what it smelt like).

I killed a few minutes at Starbuck's then checked in. The airport surcharge is now 150,000 rupiah (15 USD), which I think is more than I paid last time. Strange how airport taxes and surcharges seem to be charged twice nowadays - first by the airline, then by the airport. Anyone any idea who's scamming here?

The flight, courtesy Air Asia, was late again - this time by a full hour. But at least the ground staff kept to their routine and didn't bother telling passengers waiting at the gate.

Crushed knees for 90 minutes and then we were in Singapore. Pulled some cash (I still have some) and got my passport fotos for the visa from a foto kiosk in 90 seconds. Much easier than hunting in a shopping mall in Jakarta for a foto shop.

Fast cab ride into Chinatown and my usual hotel, the Royal Peacock. Dump bags, check the internet, fall asleep.

Friday morning I had everything ready for the visa agent, then met with a couple of people during the day.

In the evening I walked the full length of the main road from the bottom end of Chinatown (where the hotel is) to Chijmes, which is a church-turned-restaurant complex, down the road past Raffles Hotel, past the War Memorial and the rest of the strtuctures people were dismantling after the recent Formula One race, through to the Esplanade.

The Esplanade is Singapore's main theater complex, its twin roofs a light studded carapace that looks for all the world like the backs of two gigantic wood lice. I had never been her before I was hunting for some good shots of the roof. That can't be done from close up (you need to be in a higher building) but there is a wonderful walkway around the structures that leads you to the original 'pool' or harbor.

On the outer rim the casino complex is going up (so far it looks weird); this was where the ship we traveled on from Sydney to Genova was moored. With the three main towers of the casino complex going up, the whole pool now looks hemmed in, a tranquil lagoon ideal for water sports (get ready for power racing).

This is the period of the mid-autumn festival, so here there are several free performances of puppets, jugglers and musicians. I hing around one of them waiting for the sun to set, the night to cover the sky with a blue-purple mantle and the lights to blaze from the skyscrapers in the Central Business District - a perfect evening shot of Singapore.

Later I wandered around the Esplanade, then retraced my steps back to the hotel.

Downloaded fotos, showered, checked internet and went out for a drink. Not much into clubbing so was soon back at the hotel seeing if I'd taken any good fotos. Maybe a couple.

Saturday is an obligatory easy day, with many hours in the airport waiting for my flight. I could have wandered around Singapore some more, but the clouds are heavy and I'm not into shopping or stuffing myself with food. So better to do the airport sit-out.

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