Far East

Discussions regarding holidays in the Far East.
Singapore
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Things we did in Singapore
We like to explore on our own but decided on two organised trips due to our lack of time. ( we had actually booked 5 days in Singapore but due to a change of flight days to Koh Samui we had to lose a day). Our first trip was a City Tour. You drive through the Colonial heart of Singapore and then go to the Thian Hock Keng Temple which is one of the oldest temples in Singapore. Next you are taken to Mount Faber for a view of the harbour. This is also where you get a cable car over to Sentosa Island. We had been planning to go there but decided we didn't have enough time. We were also taken to the Orchid Garden and the obligatory visit to a local handicraft centre. We finished off with a quick stop in Little India. During our tour we learned quite a bit about the way of life there. The expression "lazy mothers" was used a lot. A "lazy mother" is someone who stays at home to look after her children. You don't get many of them there! Low cost housing in blocks are provided complete with their own free creche and pre and after school clubs. If you don't work you don't get any money.
China town
We went on more than one visit to ChinaTown. Having been to Bangkok and to Hong Kong, China town in Singapore initially appears more "sterile". Singapore has redeveloped huge areas of its city without thought to preservation to begin with. Wide areas of the original China Town were demolished before someone decided this was a bad idea. They then started to restore some areas but this has resulted in the almost too perfect buildings you see today. However the people are still the same and the bargains are there. A good place to visit when there is the Chinatown heritage Centre. It has loads of interesting exhibits, including a replica of the street as it was.
On our first walk into China Town we came across a square where men were spreading out blankets and and laying out what looked like junk. Turns our that they were selling the possessions of a relative who had just died. This is some sort of tradition. We also came across the street which used to have the "death houses." It was seen as passing bad luck on to your relatives if you died in your own home. So people, when they became ill dragged themselves along to the death houses. - these had funeral parlours attached for convenience!
Little India
We just had a wonder around, soaking up the atmosphere. I love to go to the local food markets and watch what is going on around. The market to go to in Little India is the Tekka Centre. If you go, trying going up the stairs to the stalls there. They have loads of antique shops( which seemed to have mainly junk in them) and also sari shops and brassware.

Raffles
Of course! I DO have my photo of me at the bar drinking a Singapore Sling!

Singapore zoological gardens
A wonderful place! If we have to have zoos then all of them should be like this. That was our second organised trip.

Changi Museum
This was very moving. The cruelty experienced by the prisoners and their individual stories are heartbreaking. Also they have a replica of the chapel( the real one is now in Australia!?) where there are notes pinned up from survivors who have made the pilgrimage back.

Battle Box
These are the bunkers used to head the military operations. This is fascinating as each new room in the bunker tells you things as they happened hour by hour on the night before surrender. They make use of audio and video effects and the most amazingly life like moving figures of the main people. The story with all its blunders and lack of readiness resulting in mass exterminations of many of the local Chinese population makes me wonder why the Singaporeans don't hate Brits.
  • Edited by Fiona 2004-09-06 20:27:10
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Eating and drinking in Singapore
Clarke and Boat Quays are the best places to go in the evening. Best because there is quite a variety. During the day we ate at a variety of places from hawker stall to food markets in the shopping malls and I even had my bowl of noodles in Chinatown. We tried some of the specialities such as kaya toast in the morning and hainanese chicken rice at lunch. For dinner we had chilli crab - this was actually on the east coast at the famous Seafood Centre. I have no idea why I was not "clarted" by the time I'd eaten it. A great taste and a great experience but once is probably enough!
Another famous place to go is the Satay Club which happened to be 2 minutes walk from our hotel. This is actually a street of hawker stalls specialising, funnily enough, in satay! We had loads of sticks of prawns, beef and chicken and a plate of nasi goreng. With a couple of drinks this came to £15. If you intend to eat where the locals eat always take a packet of tissues. There are no napkins and eating can be messy!
We ate at open air restautants along Boat Quay as well. My favourite dish there was beef rendang. I have made this a couple of time since.
One of the bars we went to was Harrys Bar. Nick Leeson was one of their regulars. A great place with a fabulous jazz band.
Close to Raffles is the CHIJMES complex. This is based in the former Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus ( hence its name) There are bars and places to eat surrounded by, and in, lawns, courtyards and the forecourt. There are also waterfalls and fountains.

We had a great time in Singapore and will return sometime - maybe even next year. It is best used as a stopover or a twin centre as you can see most things within 5 or 6 days. We had less time and did not get to see and do everything we would have wanted to do. However it does leave something for the next visit!
  • Edited by Fiona 2004-09-06 20:29:58
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:loHi Fiona,
Thanks for the report,i have been looking forward to reading it for ages.We go to Singapore next march for 4 nights .before Borneo and Tioman island.
Like you we have also been to Bangkok[believe you also stayed in the marriott],and KL,[not yet got to hong kong ]
We are still deciding where to stay,did you happen to see the swissotel merchant court,it is by the river,and this is our fav so far.[Don't know where the new otani is situated in comparason???].
Is singapore alot more expensive than KL. ???
are there cheap shoe shops like in KL???.
Thanks suel:
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Hi Suzi (or is it Sue?)
Definitely go to the Swissotel! It is as beautiful as it is in the photos! It was just opposite ours and we would go there if we went back( as New Otani seems to be changing hands). The pool area looks spectacular but, if you are like us, you won't have time to use it!
Singapore is actually cheaper than I had thought it would be. For instance our hotel restaurant offered some really cheap prices and food was high quality. We only had lunch there though. As you know, hotel prices can be expensive even in the cheapest places ( Bangkok for instance- and yes we did stay at the Marriott!). Prices for eating were cheap. Drink prices were on par with the Uk but obviously in some places such as Harrys Bar and any other "in " places they are more expensive. ( £6+ for 2 drinks) The MRT is cheap and so are taxis. No tipping is expected anywhere. We had a couple of occasions where we were called back by a taxi driver to tell us we had given him too much!!
I haven't been to KL so can't compare prices.
There are def. cheap shoe shops. We only had one morning in Orchard Road and it was just as well as the other half was having a heart attack with the amount I managed to buy. I came home with 5 pairs of shoes( or was it 6!??!) and 3 bags and a purse. Several of these were real designer for a change. Prices were about 40% cheaper than at home.We did go during the Great Singapore Sale though.

I do prefer Bangkok to Singapore but I still loved Singapore and will return. We are hoping to go to Bali next summer so Singapore is an obvious stopoever.
Any other questions I will happy to try to answer.
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Fiona ,I enjoyed reading your report on your Singapore holiday.It brought back many happy memories of the holiday we had there back in 1988.I dont agree you can see the place in 4-5 days.We were there for 2 whole weeks and still never saw everything.My husbands friends son worked out there and they took us to places we would never have seen otherwise.One of these was an evening to a Malayian village on the north of the island where we had a wonderful meal for about £10.00(for 6 of us!).It was only on our way out of this resturant in the darkness we realised it was in a "red light district".Everyone was very friendly and they asked us all to return!.We stayed in the Amara hotel in China town which was then brand new.It was amongst chinese shop houses and temples which probably have been demolished now.It was on Tanyong Pagar road.I even met a young Chinese man in a material shop(I bought a whole suitcase of fabric home)who recognised our accent to our village as his fiancee was a doctor at our local hospital!.I would love to go back but dont think I could stand the long flight.We flew with Air Canada via Zurich and Bombay and Sue Pollard was on our flight.Oh happy days!
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Hi Jay
I'm sure you could spend longer and just not rush about as much as we did. We also spend no time just relaxing by our pool. However we had Koh Samui for the relax bit!
When they demolished the Chinese shop houses they did replace them with "replicas" of an ideal shop house!
Singapore does have an obsession with things being neat and tidy and clean. The older generation would not recognise the river front now. What was also sad was that we are among the last to visit Changi museum. They are demolishing it and rebuilding it- just not in Changi! Many people will remember Bugis Street. It was demolished and now I think it is an MRT station and a collection of restaurants etc with not a transvetite in sight!
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Hi Fiona,
It's sue!!!, Thanks for your reply,we shall book the swissotel soon !!!.
Glad to hear that food prices are very reasonable.
We hope to eat along by the river,and i have also been looking at having a meal,or going for a trip up river on a chinese junk.
You will have to visit KL one day.we have been twice,and really love the place, so many cheap shoe shops,you would have a great time.
We also looked at Bali for next year, but we really fell in love with Borneo,so are doing something we have never done before ,and are going back to the same hotel and resort.
I think Bali will be 2006!!!!!,
I just love planning and researching our hols!!!
Sue :lol:
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Hi Sue

We have been to Singapore 4 times and will be going again this Xmas. We have also been to Kuala Lumpar, Langkawi, Bangkok and Krabi. Last year we visited Thailand and thought we would have a break from Singapore, we missed it and cannot wait to get back again this year. We have visited most ot the tourist attractions and many other areas and have never got bored with it. We stayed at the Sheraton Towers in Scotts Road, this is walking distance to Orchard Road but not to busy and right next door to the MRT, their is a fantastic hawker stall opposite.

We have eaten everywhere, from Raffles to Hawker stalls on the beach and the quality is all very good. We have taken our daughter since she was 6 and have always found enough to occupy her. We always travel to the Far East at Xmas and the weather in Singapore can be very wet, it was better in Langkawi and Thailand at this time of year.

Another good trip was Singapore to Kuala Lumpar by Train this took 6 hours each way, we travelled first class in reclining seats and it was very cheap. We stayed 5 nights in KL and then returned by train, a fantastic experience because you see so much more.

I have a wealth of knowledge on Singapore so please ask any questions.
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Hi Everyone

We are thinking on visitng Singapore for 10 or 7 nights this December, with a stopover in Dubai.

Just wondering if anyone has and tips on what to do and where to stay in Singapore. Also I am a bit worried about what the weather will be like there for December. As i know its Mansoon season. Will there be heavy rain all the time? Whats it gona be like?
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I was there last July and going for a few days on the way to Bali this summer. It is a great place. Not sure if I would spend 10 days there though. Here is a link for my trip report
http://www.holidaytruths.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=11047&highlight=singapore
Any questions just ask!
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Have around £250 for 5 nights in Singapore for 2 people.

Can anyone suggest a nice hotel for this price? Pref with a pool and breckfast inculded.
Thanks!
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We stayed at the Carlton - well located with a swimming pool, no breakfast, but Raffles is next door and you can get a Continental breakfast for about £3! Rooms were about £50 a night.
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My partner and I are planning on having a short break in Singapore as part of our holiday next year. At this stage, we are only just planning the holiday, so I'm sure we'll both have loads more questions as we progress with our plans.

Please can someone tell me if it is a cheap or an expensive place to go? Once we've booked our accommodation (probably room-only), will we need to take a lot of extra cash for eating out, shopping, buying gifts, etc?

Will I be able to pick up some tailor-made suits, and things like that? If so, is this going to be expensive?

What about gadgets / technology? Is Singapore as advanced as Japan with this kind of thing - latest cameras, mobile phones, games consoles, etc?

Many thanks.
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We found Singapore very reasonable for food and drink prices- even within our hotel, which is unusual. There are expensive places- we went to Harrys Bar and the drinks were expensive but then it is the "in" place!
Never looked at electricals but I did buy designer shoes and bags etc and they were about 40% cheaper than UK. If you go in July you will catch the Great Sale which Singapore has and the bargains and very much genuine!!
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Thanks Fiona.

I've just been looking through the rest of this section - your reports are great and very useful! Thanks again.
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thanks!
Have you seen this site?
If you register with them they will send regular updates.
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That site looks very useful. I'm not going to register to receive updates (I receive too much junk mail already), but I'll keep having a look on there.

Can you tell me anything about the Singapore Sling? I gather it's a cocktail, but from what I've heard it's pretty famous...
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well it definitely tastes nice! And you have to go to the Long Bar at Raffles for one!
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It is a pity that so many people think that Singapore is just a stopover. We have been four times and the visits range from 7 days to 10 days on each occasion. We still feel that there remain things we need to see or do.
Most hotels, bars, etc will mix you a Singapore Sling but so that you can say you have done it, you should go to the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel, as Fiona says. This is where the cocktail was invented. Perhaps after afternoon tea?
Don't buy anything remotely electronic before you go as you will get it cheaper, and it will be the more up-to-date version, in Singapore. There are loads of electronic shops. Good for mobile phones and cameras as well.
Your money will go further if you eat at the food centres, like Newton Circus. No problems with hygiene.
My husband always has half a dozen shirts made while we are there. They are not very cheap, but a handmade shirt for the same price as ready-made from M&S? They say the best way to travel to Singapore is with an empty suitcase and an empty credit card!
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