Archives for posts with tag: Chinatown

Today I managed to get to see much more of the city, taking in Chinatown, the Harbour Front Centre and the Singapore River as part of an evening on the town. 

Chinatown left an impression. It’s a large district of the town, with a diverse food market in the centre. The sights and smells make it a must see. Talking of smells, I got to whiff the delightful odours of the Durian Fruit today (they make pancakes from it). It’s pretty overwhelming. The fruit is not permitted aboard local trains and busses because of its pungency. We also passed by the Sri Mariamman temple – an amazing building in the centre of Chinatown. Close by is the Buddha Tooth Relic, which contains pretty much what it says on the tin.

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Speaking of trains, the Singapore MRT (Mass Rail Transit) system is pretty amazing. Hyper-clean, efficient and railed off by screens to avoid anyone getting too close to the tracks. There are signs on the floor telling people where to stand when alighting the train. The toll gates instantaneously calculate your fare based on the distance travelled – it’s completely cashless and based on a card top-up process. It’s also one big public service announcement, with signs telling people the fines for bringing food and drink onto the trains, or asking people to give up their seat for people in need. 

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It must be one of the only cities in the world where you don’t see people begging. Maybe I was in the wrong places, but I didn’t come across any vagrancy at all – not even packs of teenagers parading their boredom and weltschmertz for all to see. Everyone seems polite, well dressed and civic minded, even the kids. Added to that I saw no stray cats or dogs. Even mosquitos are a rarity in a country that’s only a few miles from the equator.

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We went to the Harbour Front shopping centre for the evening. Across the strait was Sentosa Island, a theme-park / leisure area for the city. It’s connected by cable car and sky-train monorail. The shops are already bedecked with Christmas decorations. I have to say it’s an incongruous and strange sight when the temperature outside is a muggy 30 degrees. From our vantage point in the Queen and Mangosteen pub, we were treated to a wonderful lightning show – no sounds, just regular darts of electricity illuminating the sky.

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It was also the first time I was able to appreciate the Singaporean accent. To my untrained ear, it sounds a little like the Mauritian accent – a mixture of English and other regional accents. 

Finally, we ended up in a bar on Boat Quay just across the river from the Asian Civilisations Museum. We were all quite tired then, so we quickly made our move back to the hotel – the conclusion of our last night in Singapore.

I spent yesterday out of the office, exploring one of the most beautiful and delightful cities on the planet. San Francisco is twinned with Cork, and there are some similarities: the proximity to the ocean, the steep hills, the relaxed lifestyle and ambience. Both are cities for living in as opposed to just working in. Of course, San Francisco is so much more: the weather is superb, the complexity, size and diversity of the place is orders of magnitude greater and then in the distance is this enormous feat of engineering- the Golden Gate Bridge. (Actually there are other suspension bridges linking San Fran to the other side of the Bay, but they don’t get a look in). 

Just click on any of these photos for a bigger picture.

San Francisco morning

First on our itinerary was Chinatown. As you walk down through this sizeable district, you quickly begin to forget that you are in the same country as strip malls and banal chain restaurants. It’s a whole world in miniature.  

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Then on to Broadway, the Italian district and in the distance the Transamerica Pyramid. We visited a museum of the Beatnik culture, where I picked up “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac.  

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From here we headed up past the twists of Lambert St and looked out east over the city. The Coit tower is one of San Fran’s famous landmarks. 

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Then on down to Fisherman’s Wharf to look at the Golden Gate for the first time. There’s Alcatraz in the distance. 

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After a nice relaxing meal we visited Pier 39 to do some sea lion watching and to make a visit to Rodney Lough’s photo gallery. After seeing some of the photos I am seriously considering hanging up my camera in shame. This guy is good.

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Then out bicycle trip to the Golden Gate. Cripes. Where do you begin? So many photo opportunities, so little time! If you ever get a chance to visit San Fran, take a bike ride to the Bridge. You won’t regret it and it’s really good value for money.

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Another photo..

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And just one more, taken as the mist was invading the Bay from the Pacific Ocean.

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