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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Singapore | Not for a Backpacker's Budget

We boarded our bus that would take us to Hanoi so that we could catch our flight to Singapore. However, we almost made a huge mistake. We had checked out of the hostel, but at check-in the hostels require you leave them your passports as insurance, and we had forgotten to get ours back from the girl at the desk. Just as we were getting ready to board the bus, the girl ran up to us at the bus stop and handed another couple and our passports to us. A lucky escape from disaster...

Sleeping in the Airport

Our travel went well after that and we arrived in Singapore around 1:30 a.m. However, it was the first bus ride where we stopped for a bus cleaning while we sat inside waiting. We hadn't booked a place as we were planning on sleeping at the airport that night, but when we arrived and got our bags we thought it might be worth it still to get a place for the night. However, by that time all the trains and buses to the cities had stopped running, so we went back to our original plan of sleeping in the airport. We searched out for the "perfect spot" within the terminal and found a location in a corner on the floor in front of a stairwell that wasn't used and settled in there for the night. Although mattresses in Asia are hard, the cement-tile floor was the hardest one yet. Some how we still managed to get some shut eye and awoke the next morning not from our alarm clocks, but the loudspeaker announcing to keep all baggage with you at all times.

Little India & Thaipusan Festival

We grabbed the MRT into the middle of the city and arrived at the hostel we had booked that morning. We couldn't check-in yet so we walked to the nearby Little India district and explored. Alex found an Indian Food House and got some wraps with chicken, curried potato and rice for his breakfast.

As we were exploring Little India we found out there was a celebration starting that night called Thaipusan. This is a thanksgiving celebration for the Hindu to one of their gods. They take a journey from one sacred place to another, bearing either jugs on top of their heads or some of the men will pierce themselves with metal rods in order to bear some of these elaborate headdresses. Over the next couple of days we would hear the drumming going on in the temple near our hostel and see many of the Indians taking the walk along a specific route in the city. Because there was a festival going on, there were men in stalls making these flowered leis for the people to wear. It was interesting to be there and watch them prepare for this very spiritual and festive time for them.

Grocery List Price Comparison

Later in the morning we went to one of the nearby malls to cool down because the temperatures were soaring, along with the humidity.

While we were inside we did our standard grocery shopping comparison from one country to another. As we looked at some of the prices for the groceries and from our experience on paying for the MRT into the city we were starting to realize what an EXPENSIVE city Singapore was. For example, a 6 pack of beer was S $12, 24 pack was $46, a half gallon of milk was S $4.99 and a package of shredded cheese was S $5.00 (S=Singapore Dollar, which is 1.35 = 1.00 USD). Then each time we got on the subway for a ride, it cost both of us about S $3-4, even though it wasn't very far to go on the line.

Singapore's Chinatown

The rest of the day wasn't too eventful as we checked into our hostel and took a nap to catch up from the hard-floor-airport-sleeping the previous night. After the nap, I started to not feel well, so we didn't go and do much exploring. But she started to feel a bit better that evening so we went out to Chinatown, which was nicely decorated for the upcoming Chinese New Year.

We explored the markets and looked for a place to eat where we could order some of the foods we had back in China. We found a few of the dishes and ordered them; however, we were a little disappointed it wasn't like the authentic Chinese dishes we had back in Shijiazhuang, and neither were the prices! Our meal with 5 different dishes that would

normally cost around $8, cost us S $20+ here!

Clarke and Boat Quay and Esplanade Hotel

The next morning was pretty low key because I was still not feeling well. However, I started feeling a little better after lunch and we ventured out to explore more of Singapore. We headed down to Clarke and Boat Quay, the Esplanade (upscale hotel) and the Civic area of the city. However, it seemed that we kept running into the same problem - there was not much that we could do in order to keep to our $60 per day budget. As we were walking around we saw signs for a fireworks show and free entertainment that night around Clarke Quay, so we decided "free" is always good.

We came back that evening for a walk along Orchard Street and the Boat Quay area (after eating peanut butter sandwiches and leftover Chinese from the night before back at the hostel in order to save our money). We decided to just suck-it-up and get a drink along the riverfront. Some of the places were selling beers for S $12 per glass, but we were able to find one place with a Happy Hour special of S $7.50 per glass. I wasn't going to order anything but as they were being seated, the girl kept asking her what she would like so she decided on a diet coke. However, that turned out to be a bigger rip-off than the beer. As it was just a small glass, mostly with ice, for S $6!! We decided that this would not be a city that we could live in and that the people who do live here must be getting paid buckets, as almost all the riverside cafes were full of patrons!

The free fireworks and the Chinese stilt performers were good, but we were a little glad that we would be leaving the next morning for Malaysia.

Singapore was nice, modern, convenient, efficient and clean, but we were tired of feeling restricted on what we could do because "things cost too much."

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