First day in Singapore


DSC_0872We had a pretty good day today touring on our own, even though it was a gloomy and drizzling day. Didn’t start out great, however, as we were given four different instructions on where to find the nearby hop on/hop off tour bus stop. We were pointed literally in opposite directions.

Finally, I just decided to use regular taxis, as I thought they might cost the same as the tour bus. And actually, given the location of our fleabit hotel, I was more than right. Taxi to and return from our destination today was less than half of what the bus ticket would have been. And the taxis here have been very friendly, as I once again am able to use this resource for information. Can’t do that in Thailand.

Singapore is know to be one of the three most expensive cities, if not the most expensive – and we are getting  a first-hand experience with that. As we pay for things, I’m trying to do a currency comparison to the Thai baht for Non. She is shocked.

DSC_0757

Breakfast

For example, she bought a large bottle of water today for about 10 times the cost in Hua Hin. I’ve told her not to worry, that I’ve taken this into account and to just enjoy herself. I won’t need the money until I’m 85 and doubt if I’ll make it that far.

Since Non loves flowers and plants, I thought we should start out with the Gardens by the Bay. She had a field day with me taking pictures of her in front of all the beautiful and very strange plants from all over the world. This is a pretty amazing collection and wonderfully displayed.

It does cost a bit – $28 Singapore dollars per person ($22US). If we were residents, I could have entered for $8SGD and Non for $12. The fee gave us entry into two different buildings.

Gardens by the Bay – Part 1

I was immediately reminded about complaints you see from time to time among the expat community in Thailand complaining that Thais get better rates on attractions and other things. Giving residents (taxpayers) lower rates for sights and sounds in their own country is practiced all over the world. But some expats get their panties in a wad when it happens to them.

The Gardens are extremely well done and laid out. If you wanted to read all the signage, you could spend most of a day here. We were just browsing and taking photos, but we still spent 2-3 hours walking around.

Gardens by the Bay – Part 2

There plants from all over the world here. They even had a kind of interactive exhibit focused on the environment and climate change. Very well done and informative. Even some information about mass extinctions.

Gardens by the Bay – Part 3

When we finished it was time for lunch. We had sort of a breakfast at the mall across the street from the hotel – a cheese egg omelette (baked) and toast, with some salad greens on the side. The coffee cost $3.80SGD, or about US$2.70. Didn’t matter – I planned to splurge for lunch, and the restaurant I chose was next door to the Gardens.

Gardens by the Bay – Part 4

We were going to the ship at the top of the Marina Bay Sands 3-tower hotel, the Spago restaurant on the 57th floor. From here, we could see the city. It was a spectacular view.

Non said she wasn’t hungry but that was after she saw the prices. I didn’t care as I knew what I was getting into. We ordered light; rather, I ordered because Non could not read the menu. Now she gets a taste when we go to a thai restaurant that only has menus in Thai.

A well-presented prawn salad with three large prawns, a huge side of french fries and a German beer came to SGD$91, or about US$60. We were now fortified for the Marina Bay Sands casino, something Non also has never experienced.

As they confiscate your cameras and bags before you enter, there are no pictures. In fact, the security was very tight, with passport inspection more than once. One difference I did see versus Las Vegas casinos was the slot machines were playing games I’ve never seen. There were also some obviously Chinese table games I didn’t bother with.

There also were no Blackjack tables for $10 bets. Only $25 and above. The $100 minimum tables were the most populated, mostly with looked to be Chinese (they love their gambling).

We started out on a slot machine, randomly picked, that I think was betting in dimes or quarters. Didn’t matter; we were here for the experience, not to win or lose a lot of money. I put a $10 bill in and managed to build it a bit and then let Non try. She almost immediately hit a big jackpot – $180. Our lunch and gambling were now covered.

I wanted her to experince the roulette wheel, as well, but couldn’t find any. So we tried a slot macine roulette game and lost $10. By this point, Non is enjoying herself and wanting to gamble more. After looking in vain for a $10 blackjack table, we cashed in and looked for something else. After losing a bit on more slots, I figured it was time to go – and then we passed by the roulette tables.

I was tempted but said no. Non wasn’t ready to quit, however, so I bought $50 in chips and played standing up, convinced we wouldn’t be there for long. I managed to win and lose on smalle bets but when I had some better money and my original $50, I put the $50 away and bet until I lost the rest. I tried but I couldn’t get her to place any bets on the table. At first, she was too shy to even go to the cashier to turn in our tickets, but she finally did and enjoyed the new experience. And we left, tired but a pretty good day.

And then back to the crappy hotel, which our taxi driver in the morning said was best known for its 2-3 hour customers. And here I sit on the bed (the only place with any room in the room) bidding time until dinner.

Tomorrow, we will ride the skyway tram over to Sentosa Island, which has a lot of tourist activities that should keep us entertained. Again, taxi to and from will be about half of what one tour bus ticket costs.

 

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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