Ancient architechture. Futurisitc nature.
Singapore was the first stop of our two week epic. Looking out the taxi window, heading towards our hotel I had the instant feeling that someone had picked up LA and dropped it into a rainforest...then hired Deliveroo guys on motorbikes to casually zoom past my window and unknowingly tease me with real food after my 11hr stint from Heathrow.
Staying at the Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel on the glossy Orchard Road, and having the best time visiting the futuristic Gardens by the Bay, the viewing deck of the Marina Bay Sands, the Singapore Flyer and interactive art exhibitions of Future World, it was important for me to see the ancient parts of the city too. We jumped onto the immaculate MRT (mass rapid transit) and headed for Chinatown.
We made it, only to realise we had no idea where we were. We quickly hailed a taxi and asked our driver to take us to Singapore’s oldest and best temples.
Upon stepping out of the taxi, adjusting my backpack and camera strap, I turned around to be greeted by the incredible Thian Hock Keng - (Palace of Heavenly Happiness). Built in 1821, the temple of Mazu, a Chinese sea goddess, stood stoically in complete contrast to a clean cut, black saloon parked directly outside. Inside the temple were a of number statues dedicated to various deities, including Mazu and her guardians - two demons who were subdued and converted into her loyal generals. The wandering carer of the temple offered me the opportunity to pray to to the large green statue of the ‘General of Thousand Mile Vision’. Given that I was wearing a pair of prescription Ray Bans, the moment seemed as appropriate as it did epic.
The people of Singapore were some of the nicest and well spoken people i’ve met while travelling. There was one time...we were stood on an empty street looking at Google maps, when I felt a hard slap on the back of my leg. “Why do you have that?” said a short, confused looking lady, squinting, pointing at the bold outlined star tattooed onto my right calf muscle. “Because it’s cool...don't you think it's cool??” I joked back. Nope, not interested... “Who's that?!” She jabbed, pointing at my brother, Pete (who had joined my Dad and Elma in fleeing the scene to watch me squirm from a distance). “What’s his job? What does your Dad do? Your Mother, what about her?? How old are you? Where have you come from??” Shocked by her sudden intensity, I laughed and asked her the same back. “F**k you!” she responded, waved her hand in the air and kicked a rock into the street. She never did tell me if she liked my tattoo.
Singapore was the perfect start to our trip - chilled, good weather, amazing views… “How do you like Singapore?” my Dad asked. “Yeh awesome!” I replied. “Ok good, because Manila is gonna be an eye opener for you!”. That was probably the No1 understatement of the year.