Friday, February 3, 2012

Our Arrival in Singapore

We're here! We made it! We arrived Wednesday afternoon at 17:15. Our 12-hour flight with British Airways was very smooth. I managed to sleep a record-breaking eight hours during the flight thanks to my Night Nurse cold medicine. That stuff really knocks you out! For the record, I really did have a cold, so I wasn't taking it just to drug myself.

My first observations upon arrival in Singapore: 

It's very green. There are loads of amazing "houseplants" all over the place. Beautiful orchids abound. At the moment it's not as hot as I had been expecting, because although it's pretty warm at 28°C / 82°F with 96% humidity, it is still bearable. People here have told us that the weather is still pretty cool. It will start getting hot soon. 

Our apartment is out in the "country", as our taxi driver called it, but it's more like the outskirts than the countryside. The apartment is very spacious, especially for London standards. However, it's extremely basic, and it's obvious that the construction company cut all the corners they could to save money. In Singapore new apartment buildings are sprouting like wild mushrooms all the time because of all the money that can be made from extremely high rent prices. 

Positive things about the apartment: No carpet, we have our own bathroom with shower, a friendly roommate from Germany called Tim, and a nice view of Jurong Lake from our window. Negative things: The street below us is very noisy (fortunately we've brought lots of ear plugs), no stove to cook food on, not as clean as I had expected, and there's a noisy parrot/rooster type creature that starts crowing at 6am. 

The view from our balcony

After dropping off our luggage we ventured out to a nearby food court. Fortunately our flatmate Tim explained the food cleanliness grading system beforehand. If the food stall has an "A", it's very clean. "B" is okay, and "C" should be avoided. Legend has it there's a "D" stall out there somewhere, but nobody's ever survived to tell the tale.

The food court near our apartment had "B" and "C" food stalls only, and we got a dodgy vibe from it, so we got out of there and went to the MRT (metro) station which was only a minute's walk down the road. MRT stations are happening places and there's a huge shopping mall at nearly every MRT station except ours! However, at the time we did not know this, and decided to settle on the only food shop at Lakeside MRT called "Munch House". 

Where we bought our first dinner in Singapore

We spent today, Thursday, visiting the lab at NTU (Nanyang Technological University) where Julius will be working, and taking care of admin stuff. Tomorrow we're going downtown and are looking forward to seeing the heart of Singapore.

On our way back from NTU we stopped off for groceries at Boon Lay MRT where there's a massive four story shopping mall. We went to a supermarket called "Fair Price" which must have been meant ironically because we found the prices to be quite high. In fact, they were comparable to what we used to pay for groceries in London. The prices were probably so high because Singapore doesn't produce much food and has to import everything from other countries. For example, a 375g jar of Nutella costs S$4.90 (USD $3.92, £2.50 or 3€). However, one bite from a perfectly ripe and juicy mango made it all worth it.

It's funny how you see a lot of signs for "Western Food" everywhere here, just as one would see signs for "Asian" food in the west. It seems absurd to lump French, Italian, and American food into one category. I guess people from Thailand, China, and Japan probably feel the same way when they see signs for "Asian" food in Europe and the U.S. 

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to your new "country" home. You must be happy with all the houseplants and flowers everywhere. I'm relieved that their scent fill the air. You have a rooster alarm clock....hummm, I had an elephant alarm clock in Paris years ago (good for anecdotes). In comparison, your view looks luxurious! Enjoy your time in Singapore...I'm sure it will become a unique, fulfilling and unexpected opportunity for you! Knowing else could it be!