And by “We’re going back”, I meant we are going back to Singapore for a last hurrah, a transit flight from Bangkok to Singapore which would leave us with around 12 hours in the city before the last long haul flight from Singapore to London.
After a 6am departure from the hotel, and subsequent flight, we would arrive in Singapore Changi airport at around 1pm – a surprisingly tasty meal of Char Siu pork and rice with a brownie was served on the plane.
Upon leaving the airport we’d grab a taxi straight into heavy singaporean traffic, our destination was the National Botanical Gardens, a huge expanse of a park on the outskirts of the city covering 183 acres and including multiple sub-parks inside. Our main focus was on the Orchid Garden inside, we arrived and headed more or less straight for it, time was ticking after all.
The heat hadn’t gotten any more bearable during our time in Thailand, with beautiful blue skies like a parting farewell gift from the country – we would have appreciated it more if we weren’t all wearing long trousers in preparation for the flights – I seemed to be suffering the worst, my dark purple shirt clinging to my chest and back thanks to my camera strap. Eventually we reached the Orchid gardens after jumping from shade to shade for cover, a large sign with an impressive collection of orchids surrounding it. The entry cost was a modest SGD $5 (around £2.40), well worth it for the massive array of orchids we would find inside, a long twisting path surrounded by small clumps of various breeds of the bright and colourful flower. There were multiple zones featured inside the orchid garden, with some kinds preferring cooler or more humid zones, there was also a section dedicated to the breeds of orchid which have been named after famous world figures – the orchid named in memoriam of princess diana was particularly beautiful.
After enjoying the orchids, it was time for lunch, a taxi ride back to Bhugis Junction would provide us with our last food court of the holiday, I opted to try the pepper lunch brand which had been present in so many of the courts, a sort of cook-your-own dish served on a hot plate with raw veg and thin slices of meat. I also took the opportunity to get mugged by the frozen yogurt stand, who were conducting a ‘pour what you want, then pay by weight’ scheme – myself, ever the bad judge of weight would rapidly clock up $5 worth of frogurt in no time – it was good though.
At some point during the day, myself and my brother had become aware of a strange phenomenon happening on our legs, a cluster of small pimples on the skin which would later get diagnosed (by mother using the ipad no less) as a staphylococcal skin disease caused by S.Aureus, my brother in particular was kind of panicking about it, whilst I was fairly calm at the time (less so now, after discovering what it actually is as I type this post up in the airport at midnight). We sought a little advice from the local pharmacist and ended up buying some iodine like liquid to tide us over until we got back home.
To take our mind off our impending leg amputations, we headed down into the basement arcade we discovered last time we visited. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it has seen some upgrades since then, looking larger than I remembered it, a full LAN centre in the back mixed with a hall of old style cabinet games, and then all of the new and hilariously loud music games in another separate hall on the side – all of my favorites were present, along with some new ones that I had never seen before. I spent a few dollars on taito’s new groove coaster arcade game, an addictive tap along gameplay mixed with fantastic art style and fun music (attack on titan theme anyone?), me and the bro also played some bishibashi before stopping to marvel at the many people waving their arms wildly while playing maimai (aka. washing machine game).
After finishing up our credits, we’d walk over to Little india (after finding it first), a small collection of roads not too far from Bhugis, the area is so named because it resembles (unsurprisingly) India – full of indians and stalls blaring loud indian music, and featuring badly maintained cars and trucks. it was shocking just how accurate the description was, closing your eyes and simply listening and most surprising of all – smelling, you might certainly be fooled into thinking you had been taken to some faraway dusty market – a far cry from the spotless and borderline futuristic city I was in just 1 hour earlier.
I didn’t really understand why they had to set up SO many gold shops, or why incense was being burned on the side of the road next to a shop selling what would appear to be a kebab skewer of flowers… but it was certainly an interesting experience, and likely the closest i’ll come to visiting the real deal (at least for a while).
Sort of ran out of ideas after Little India, but we still needed food – I suggested heading back to Vivocity for a bit, a mall with restaurants and an outdoor garden and bay which would be lit up by this time. Arriving at the mall, we would only be greeted by the floor of people returning from Sentosa island, and the smell of food being prepared by the various food stands and diners littering the basement level of the mall where the rail system joins, a few snacks were had, then we moved on to dinner – a fairly fancy looking chinese restaurant that apparently serves it’s milk tea in a flask with some liquid nitrogen in the middle.
After dinner, a few photographs of the bay outside and then it was on the MRT to start heading back to the airport – our flight would be delayed until 1:40am, and i’m typing this up before we head into the gate. It’s been a fantastic holiday, filled with many ups but a few downs as well (mostly me catching literally all of the diseases I could get my hands and legs on).