Exploring the Lion City

Friday 4 May 2001 – Singapore

Woke fairly early and decided to go for a walk to get my bearings. It turns out that I’m staying just across the road from the hotel in which I stayed when I last visited Singapore in 1989 – the Carlton. That establishment is being added to in a very major way – an extension that looks to be the same size as the original.

On that previous occasion I had only stayed in Singapore for a day and hadn’t really had time to get my bearings or discover anything more than Orchard Road. This morning I bravely set out in the opposite direction, and in the oppressive heat, to find the Victoria Concert Hall, home of the SSO and where I’ll be working. I found it, after a few false starts, around a kilometre from the hotel, right by the mouth of the Singapore River.

Singapore across Marina Bay
Singapore across Marina Bay

The hall and adjacent theatre are in the heart of Colonial Singapore, right by the City Hall, Parliament House and across the river from Boat Quay, a popular restaurant strip along the riverbank, and the city’s financial district and attendant skyscrapers. Having found my goal early on, I wandered back along the river to find breakfast and, importantly in the growing heat of the day, an air-conditioned building in which to take refuge. There is no shortage, and I was soon hopping my way from shopping mall to shopping mall, working my way all the way back up Orchard Road.

Around mid-afternoon my feet were aching and I decided to take the advice of the Lonely Planet guide book and experience a reflexology foot massage. It was a revelation and something I would strongly recommend to anyone! After walking miles in the heat, it was just what I needed and when I set out again, I felt as though I was walking on air.

Later in the afternoon I found a café to check my email and called to arrange meetings with prospective landlords/housemates for Saturday. Dinner was again in a local hawker centre – squid this time, cooked with spring onion and ginger, and some more beer. Beer seems to be very expensive here – a 500ml bottle of either local or imported lager costs between $5-6. Which still makes it cheaper than wine – a pretty ordinary bottle of Rosemount for which at home one would not pay more than $10-12 sells here for around $32!

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