This office was busy, full of tourists who like me were probably unaware of these regulations, and just before I got passed over to customs, I noticed out the window that Sadie was being marched over too. It was only then I remembered she had 5 x 50g packets of tobacco that Jane had brought over from the UK, oh well we would both be going to see the customs staff!
After about a 10-minute wait, we both got taken round together to another office escorted by a member of security and the paperwork with the cigarettes and tobacco. We then got spoken to by the customs officer who explained why we were there, what we have done wrong and what could happen. As we hadn’t declared them, we were technically smuggling these goods into the country and could face a huge fine, thankfully he took pity on us and decided to give us a warning. Great we thought, we would still have time to catch our bus… except he now had a load of paperwork to fill in and as time ticked by and I asked if this would take long, he advised about another 30 minutes and our bus wouldn’t wait. They must be used to this on a regular basis, however it didn’t help us as we realised our bus would be gone, I asked to go to the toilet and had to be escorted there by one of their staff, talk about being treated like a criminal… ok so maybe we were technically smugglers!
With all the paperwork done, and him even telling Sadie she could have been fined over $1000, all that was left to do was to watch the guy destroy all our tobacco and then sign some forms and we were free to go… guess it could have been worse than loosing £30 worth of tobacco, oh and the £15 taxi fare it cost us to get to the hotel!
But we decided to walk for starters, heading to Little India. As we got closer, we noticed a lot of the roads closed off and police etc all about. Then we noticed huge crowds of people lining the streets, and on asking someone, it turned out there was a huge celebration going on near a famous 19th Century Hindu temple. We couldn’t get near enough to see what was going on, and after a random Indian man gave us a bottle of water each, we decided to retreat to a nearby mall to cool off a bit.
After struggling through the crowd, we got to the mall and went for a walk round. What caught our eye was a massive aerial playground, with nets, ball pools, slides and other fun things which was all suspended from the void between the mall floors. It looked like great fun, but sadly it was for kids!
We took a walk through the streets of Little India but the temple I wanted to see was closed, so we then found the nearest station to our next destination. The cheapest way to travel is on the MRT using a travel card, similar system to the Oyster in London so we got our cards and off we went on the short journey to Chinatown. I must say that the transport system in Singapore is amazing, the trains are fast, regular, clean and the stations although soulless are practical and plentiful and it’s easy to get pretty much anywhere in the city quick. They are expanding it all the time and it seems that the government are willing to spend to improve things all over, take note UK.
This involved a walk down to the bay, through the huge multi-level mall which even had a river with boats running through it, then through the Marina Bay Sands hotel (one of the world’s top hotels) and then into the gardens at the other side. We made our way into the Supertree Grove just in time to find a spot, lie on the ground looking up at the trees. It soon burst into audio/visual spectacular for around 15 minutes the trees sparkled and the surround area lit up to the music. We were both very impressed, and after watching it all, we headed back to the hotel, stopping at a street food market for some dinner, realising we had been out and on the go for over 12 hours.
For the afternoon, we had planned to spend most of it back at the Gardens In The Bay, and so we headed back there to visit the Cloud Forest and Flower Domes. These are both huge greenhouses, first we went into the Cloud Forest and spent around 90 minutes in there exploring all 6 levels, but left a bit disappointed at the ‘Mist Show’, however the rest of it was fantastic.
Next, we went into the Flower Dome, Sadie was looking forward to this as they had a ‘Tulipmania’ exhibition on, which is her favourite flower. I wasn’t that bothered about this one, however it was still a pretty good way to waste an hour or so, before we headed back to Boat Quay for happy hour drinks. After that, it was back over to Marina Bay Sands for their show, ‘Spectra’ which is a water/light show at the esplanade in front of the hotel. This was a 15-min display which was again impressive and free to watch too.
With both of us now wanting to walk too much today, we decided to spend the late afternoon going to the cinema. After checking the listings, there was an Imax screen right near where we were that was showing the new Spielberg movie ‘Ready Player One’. I booked us tickets online and after going for a quick pint, we headed to the cinema. The film was better than I expected, and after that it was a quick visit to the Muslim quarter, where we did plan to eat but with both of us not feeling hungry, it was decided to head back to the hotel and pick up our laundry. There was a laundrette nearby, so after walking there and getting it all washed and dried, we picked a restaurant right next to our hotel to eat at on our last night in Singapore. And we weren’t disappointed as we got some fried chicken and sausage paratha, both delicious and cheap.