I’ve always been a ‘do things once’ kind of girl, but this is my second time around at spending a short stopover in Singapore, with my Husband and Daughter. This is her first time with awareness of being here. I’m interested to see the difference in our views.
For our first night we stay in one of the newer hotels – although the room is extremely large, it’s impersonal, but clean. When our one night is up we are on the hunt for a place to stay for the next three.
This time the Asian difference doesn’t overwhelm like it previously did on our travels, although in Singapore there is the mix of west and east, making things a little easier and you can choose what quarter to stay in – in one way you need never know that you are anywhere other than a western country but then you would miss out on the old world charm and eclectic difference, that stepping away from Bugis Street and into little India provides.
We found The Madras Hotel online – still slightly over our budget but unless we could find a tiny bed and breakfast, everything was.
“I don’t like Little India, I don’t like being stared at.” Chloe informed me. No change there I thought, it was the same before when she was younger, and yes they stared blatantly, obviously and without reticence.
“What about the vibrancy and the colour?” I ask.
“I prefer Thailand.” Her steadfast reply.
“I like Little India – bustling, full of colour with great food,” My Husband interjected.
This too was what I enjoyed, but also the architecture of the buildings, the faded, chipped colours of wooden slated blinds that had once seen glory days, had my mind bringing to life a different time – my mouth watered at the delectable, delicious and fresh produce on show, my eyes scoured the table finding unsullied chillies piled high. So different to the last time, when, what I remembered most was the stifling heat absorbing my very breath and making me feel claustrophobic.
This time we were travelling on the local buses, slinging ourselves around the city with cheap ease. Eyeing the locals with much fascination as they go about their daily lives, journeying to the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel purveying the city skyline, as lightning dances overhead – our eyes scavenging the night sky, as with permission we observe and envy its guests enjoying and floating in its clear blue infinity pool coolness.
“Do you get to swim in the pool?” I ask the Guide showing us round.
“Only when rubbish needs clearing out.” His reply.
“What do you think of it?” I ask.
“Its great.” His response.
“What do you do on your nights off?” I ask interested in this early twenties, raven haired, young man’s life.
“My friends and I go clubbing.”
“So no difference to the UK then,” I respond and wonder what the cultural differences are like once you scrape below the surface.
My thinking tells me that I too would enjoy just one moment spent leaning on the ledge looking out at all below me. Yet I feel uncomfortable standing there watching, a glimpse of a different world right before my eyes, and I wonder what the guests think about being viewed like monkeys in a zoo.
Time to go – our Guide gestures our return to the viewing platform and away from this relaxed and inviting space and I think, just for a moment that maybe sometimes doing things twice is no bad thing.