Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day Two - The Heavens Open

Still on Australian time (2 hours ahead), I woke up at 5.30am and it was as though everyone else in the entire city was still sleeping (they probably were). I snuck around the house and had breakfast, got dressed and managed to get to the gym without waking anyone. After a session of weights, I came on back and the rest of the house was up and getting ready to work. The thing about Singapore is that people generally start work at 8.30am. While it may be the ordinary hour that Australians are required to start work, I know that many people start well before 8.30am. I will enjoy the fact that I can have another hour to myself in the morning (at the gym, i expect) without having to rush to get in there. The trade off is that people in Singapore generally continue to work quite late at night. We shall see how that goes for me.

Speaking of working too much, notwithstanding being on leave at the moment, I was asked to go into work and look at something quickly. So I headed off to the office, but not before I stopped off at my local 7 Eleven, where (despite only being here for 2 days) I have become quite the regular customer. In Singapore, everyone is so friendly, but the indian lady in this particular 7 Eleven seems extraordinarily excited to have a new local in town - an Australian one at that. So, when I arrive to the 7 Eleven to collect a new 1.5L bottle of water (water consumption is integral in this humidity), I get greeted like I have been shopping there for years. This morning, I accidentally gave her a AU$1 coin instead of a S$1 coin and neither of us noticed, until I came back in this afternoon to buy a can of 7UP. She proceeded to tell me how she only realised after I left but "now that I am a regular, [she] knew that I would be back, so she kept it in the drawer for next time." I gave her a freshly minted singapore dollar, and then told her to keep the AU$1 coin for when her daughter goes to Australia next month (she told me that story too when buying bottle #3 yesterday).

I went into work, dispensed some quick legal advice (sounds so simple but it isn't) and then managed to hurry out, excitedly opening up my map for the proper directions to the Singapore Botanical Gardens. The only problem was that while in the lift, Singapore's weather went from steadily overcast to tropical downpour. It was unbelievable, but I had heard that in Singapore, rain happens like this. Scrapping the outdoor-activity-type plans, I decided to throw caution to the wind and walk from the office to the Sim Lim Tower, just another one of Singapore's massive shopping centres (this one though, is specifically for electronics). Umbrella in hand, I walked a good 4km through Singapore, enjoying jumping in puddles, taking photos of rain drops on flowers and just generally soaking up (pardon the pun) the freedom.

On the way, I stopped off at Raffles Hotel, which i understand to be one of the most famous sites of Singapore. Mr. Raffles sure was a popular man because there is a Raffles Hotel, Raffles Street, Raffles Square, Raffles Tower, Raffles MRT Station and just about every other thing named after Mr. Raffles. It is a beautiful hotel, and is home to the famous cocktail, the Singapore Sling. Watch this space, as I hope to get there shortly for a bit of famous cocktail action.

I bravely entered into the world of electronics to find eight floors of shops dealing with cameras, vcrs, tvs, computers, printers and every accessory you can get for anything electronic. Thanks Aunty Joy and Ken for letting me know about this place. It took me about 5 steps into the centre before i was swept away by a friendly indian man who wanted to talk cameras with me. I mentioned that i was interested in getting a Nikon D90 but, like a couple of other camera salesman i have spoken to, i was told not to bother, as my FujiFilm 5600 is just as good from a camera perspective. It is just the lens that needs fixing. Enter Mr. Indian Man and his fantastic sales ability. He ran me through all of the types of lens' and to my surprise, offered to sell me the one i wanted at $90. Why was i surprised? Because a man at a camera shop near one of Singapore's biggest tourist attractions told me yesterday that he could sell it to me for $250. It is amazing how much the price can differ when not in the tourist area! I hummed and ahhhed enough for him to throw in a free camera cleaner kit and a half priced polariser and he had himself a deal. I was very happy, having saved $1200 for the new D90, and then dropped the lens price from $250 to $90. So watch this space for better, clearer and wider images!

I came home in time for my new bed to be delivered. I am now the owner of a ridiculously cheap new queen sized bed which i found on Gumtree Singapore (like the Trading Post in Australia). True to their word, it was brand new, and it is now assembled in my room. The bed will feel softer knowing that I saved myself about $500 on the expected price to pay at Ikea.

So now I am relaxing at home, waiting for Ruth and her friend to fly in. Over the next couple of days, I will be travelling around with Ruth, and then heading up to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and then Melaka on the west coast.

Will report more shortly.


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