Paupers in Singapore & Melbourne, Australia!

Feb 07, 2011 | by Neil

We finally arrived in Singapore via our last minute flight from KL. The city is spectacular with huge futuristic sky scrapers and lots of stretches of greenery too. It’s the cleanest place we’ve ever been with not a single scrap of litter to be seen ($1k fine for littering). It’s also a very orderly place where everyone waits for the green man before crossing the road, even if there are no cars to be seen (another fine if you don’t obey the traffic lights). The island itself is all very perfect, as if it’s been designed on Magrathean or something. The shopping area is insane; miles upon miles of huge shopping plazas literally back to back. Four-storey Gucci stores, huge Louis Vuittons -everything here is on an epic scale. Singapore has been the first place where we really felt quite poor, after our hotel room our daily budget couldn’t even stretch to breakfast for one of us, let alone both of us. Coffee ranged from $7 to $15 and we were forced to eat in fast food places as they were often the only places we could afford! During our first full day we went on the Singapore Flyer ‘The worlds largest observation wheel’ - although I’m sure the Millennium Eye looks bigger! The views were amazing and the audio guide explained how the whole city has been designed by Feng Shui experts to be lucky, prosperous and peaceful and you could really see it. It was also Chinese New Year while we were in Singapore, we’ve been living in the hype of it for the past month as it’s a really big event over here. On Chinese New Years Eve we visited Singapore Zoo (thanks for the recommendation Imke!). We loved it, it was probably the best zoo we’ve ever been to. The animal enclosures were much more generous than other zoo’s and very few animals were in cages. We attended the ‘Rainforrest Fights Back’ show and Neil was chosen to get up in front of everyone and dance with tribal dancers which was hilarious! In the evening we went for cocktails at Raffles, the home of the Singapore Sling (thanks for the recommendation Ian!). We had two Singapore Slings each (both with different gins) and enjoyed the live band. The bar was super cool (voted one of the best bars in the world by Forbes magazine), there were big paper fans suspended from the ceiling wafting everyone and each table had a box of shelled peanuts and there were piles of shells on the floor. At midnight we headed to Marina Bay to watch the fireworks which were great. The fireworks went on for about 10 minutes and they were huuuuge!

Singapore is quite a strange place really, maybe because it’s so structured & authoritarian it’s created a seemingly sombre society, everyone seems rather serious. It’s a great place to visit but we just felt that Singapore lacked the personality, energy & vibe of other places such as KL & Bangkok. We’ll come back though, but we’ll make sure that we bring a lot more spending money! We arrived in Melboune, Australia after getting only an hours sleep on the plane (Qantas inflight entertainment kept us a little too entertained!). The clocks also went forward by a few hours which didn’t help so our first day was a bit of a daze as we tried to stay awake. The second day in Melbourne was my birthday! We woke at midday and started the day with a birthday cupcake in bed. We had lunch at a charcuterie restaurant called ‘Cumulus Inc’, it was delicious and we had loads of cured meats, olives, anchovies & cheeses. In the afternoon we went to the ACMI gallery to see a special exhibition on Walt Disney - a biography of Walt & an insight in to the artists & work behind his cartoons. It was really good and we lost track of time and only managed to see half the exhibition before they closed! In the evening Neil took me to another of Melbourne’s top restaurants called ‘Taxi’ where we had Australian & Japanese fusion food - it was absolutely gorgeous and we left feeling rather drunk!

Since we arrived in Melbourne we’ve had to dig our long sleeved clothes out of the bottom of our bags as it’s been absolutely freezing! On Friday we were in a cafe when a storm came out of the blue, within 15 minutes Melbourne received more rain than it would usually for the whole month of February! There was a river running down the main road and the water was shooting out of the drains like fountains! Melbourne is a lovely city, it’s not quite as grand as I remembered it (visited in 2002) but maybe that’s as we’ve just come from Singapore & KL: two mega cities. Melbourne has a NY style grid layout with trams running up the main roads, it’s picturesque with lots of back alleys filled with cafes & restaurants. We’ve been totally shell-shocked at how expensive everything is over here. On our first day we were starving and we searched for over an hour for the cheapest sandwich we could find, finally settling on $15 for two from a backstreet cafe. We’ve had to adjust our lifestyle (with the exception of my birthday) as we simply can’t afford to eat out. Today we bought supplies from a supermarket and stocked our hotel fridge up! It’s a big change from the comparable luxury we’ve been enjoying for the past 4 months in SE Asia.

We’re looking in to our various options at the moment, it seems that campervan hire works out more expensive than we’d anticipated (due to all the extras they add on), so we’re exploring other possibilities such as camping in a tent to save a few bucks! We’re even considering heading over to Indonesia for a few weeks to ease the budget! Whatever happens it should make for an interesting & memorable couple of months. Hope all’s well back at home - let’s keep fingers crossed that the weather perks up for us all! x

P.S - We’ve not had any sun for a couple of weeks now so the tans are fading fast! :-( P.P.S - You can see in one of the photos Neil cut his foot in Singapore running up an escalator the wrong way!

P.P.P.S - We couldn’t get wifi to send this out last night so sending it out today instead!