I had to be up early! Not my strong point, especially as my sleep pattern could currently be described as paisley, if Picasso had had a hand in it! You get the picture?!
But I had to force myself as today was the day of the Bike Tour around the city. It started at 9 am, I had already decided to get a taxi, using the Grab app that Rich had recommended I download. All I had to do was put my destination in and it came up with the time it would take to pick me up, the drivers name, car reg and make, even a photo of the driver – fab! I had to order it while I had WiFi though, in the apartment, on the 14th floor, then leg it down and out to the front of the complex in the two to three minutes it was going to take him to get there! Of course this would the day other people decided to get on the elevator🙄 I made it down there – so glad I was in trainers😃
I jumped in the taxi and off we went. I had a lovely conversation with the guy, his English was amazing, in fact everyone’s English was. We talked about Christmas and that he loved how the western Christmas looked, with the trees, snow and the whole coziness of it, turns out he’d watched a lot of films! He was actually Chinese, spoke mandarin, his family was in Singapore and he went back to China occasionally. I actually quite enjoy starting conversations with people, can find out a lot. He eventually asked me if I’d got the address right so I showed him my booking voucher with all the details (screenshot while I had WiFi). He didn’t seem to know where it was – great🙄
We got to the address and he went round the back of the building and came back between two buildings, he decided to drop me off here pointing into one of the buildings where there was a security guy. I paid him, thanked him and got out. I asked the security guy if he knew where the place was I was looking for, showing him the address, he didn’t know🙄he pointed me in the direction of another guy (notice a theme here, all men with no idea!😂) who then pointed me back outside to the other building next door. I went down the road to the front, the only door I could see was down some steps. I was kind of looking for people on bikes! There was a Starbucks on the corner (imagine that) of the other building so I went in and asked them. They pointed me back to the other building and down the steps. I was late at this point, it was about 9.10, it started at 9!! I thanked them and went back, down the steps into a very quiet basement area. Nothing appeared to be open except a cafe on the corner, it was empty but there was a guy behind the counter. I went in and asked him, showing him the address. I was in the right building – progress! – he actually came out with me and walked around all of the units (all closed) looking for the one I wanted for me!! How nice was that!! He found it too!! But it was closed, no lights on, nobody in. He suggested that I call the number (I hate ringing people, don’t asks me why I just do, I’m fine once I’m talking though), I thanked him and rang the number.
It was the guide who answered, Rene, I said I was outside his shop and he immediately said ‘is that Angela?!’ He didn’t give me much chance to ask or explain anything, he just said that he would come back and get me, he’d already started the tour!!!
Omg how embarrassing!! It only took him a few minutes, he came in at speed down the ramp into the building, knees sticking out on a small wheel bike, red tabard and helmet. He opened his shop up and rushed in to get my bike and helmet, I’d given my height and weight (reluctantly) when I booked it so they could match me to a bike. He barely gave me chance to get my helmet on and fastened before he was off!! At speed!! Holy cow what had I let myself in for!! He rode beside me briefly to explain the gears (thankfully as Brenda my bike only has 7 – nice and simple) and then when I was behind him he explained any hand signals he would give. We were on and off the pavement, crossing roads without pausing and dodging pedestrians!! He’d left 6 other people to come back and get me, we found them where he’d left them, at Speakers Corner, he introduced me to them and I apologised profusely for being late (one lady asked if I’d had a nice lie in🙄 her card was marked😂). He then explained to them where I’d come from, the other side of the island and that I’d just misjudged it, which I couldn’t disagree with, but I added that I’d got lost too! They were all together as a group, friends and family, from Australia, Sydney and Darwin. Their hotel was literally round the corner and they’d arrived the night
before, were there for a week before going on to Thailand.
After the introductions were over Rene began his spiel and oh boy did he know his Island. Speakers Corner where we were standing was a fenced garden where you could go and say anything you wanted, mainly about the government, without fear of recriminations. It appears you can’t say what you like elsewhere. He explained there were cameras everywhere and pointed quite a few out. Singapore is a very safe place to be, due to all the cameras, he said if a crime is committed the chances of finding the culprit are very high.
It soon became apparent that this was going to be a tour of Singapore but learning things you wouldn’t normally learn on something like the bus tour (even assuming you get on the right bus🤣), going down the back streets, except they didn’t feel like back streets.
He pointed out a hotel that was covered in greenery, with trees on the main balcony, we cycled through China Town, which was slowly beginning to open. We stopped a few times, he talked about religion, all places of worship were dotted all over, everyone rubbed shoulders with everyone, regardless of belief. He showed us the apartment blocks that were ‘social housing’, there were no homeless, if you wanted something you had to work for it. The blocks were well kept, with green areas around and parks, one place even had a running track connecting a couple of the blocks and gardens part way up.
There was no graffiti anywhere. Chewing gum is not allowed. Eating and drinking in the metro is illegal, consequently everywhere was clean and tidy – a city but not a city. He asked if anyone had used the metro, I said I had – he seemed quite impressed (surely my reputation hadn’t preceded me!!😂). They were building 20 more stations to connect more of the city. There were three universities that were connected underground across the city. Cars are incredibly expensive, I mean Incredibly expensive, Richard had already told me a mini would cost around $180,000 about £90,000!! So if you saw someone in a Mercedes or Porsche you knew they had serious money.
Oh my goodness I could go on!! He was an absolute font of knowledge and snippets of information and although he obviously had to be careful what he said it became apparent that it wasn’t all perfect, what country is, but if we all took a little something from everyone the world would be a better place.
He took us for something to eat in a local cafe/restaurant/food place. He got us to sit down and he went and ordered a couple of plates of local food, dumplings with a dipping sauce, some kind of coconut sweet blobs (😂) which I wasn’t keen on – the dumplings were delicious! And anther coconut concoction wrapped like a spring roll but in a green wrap, I tried it, it was very sweet so I only managed half – but I tried it!! Most unlike me!! I also had my first ever iced tea!! Delicious!!
After a comfort break and a little chat we were back on our way again. The others in the group were going to be doing the afternoon part of the tour where they would focus mainly on the local cuisine, he kept telling them where they were going to go and told them not to fill up at lunchtime. I was kind of glad I wasn’t on the afternoon part, I’m not that big into food – I eat to live, I don’t live to eat.
We cycled for a little bit more, ending up along the river (which is in fact a kind of reservoir, it has a dam) which was being cleaned. He treated us all to an ice cream on our last stop before making our way back to the bike shop.
After returning the bikes I said goodbye to them all and he left them and offered to walk me out of the building – probably best, no doubt I’d have got lost!!
I said thank you and goodbye and made my way back to the metro. I was shattered, I just focused on getting back to the apartment and I was just going to chill for the rest of the day and maybe have a swim.
I was really glad I’d done it. I can’t recommend it enough, a perfect way to see the nooks and crannies of a city and gain a little insight into the workings of it along the way.
Plus – you don’t get lost with a guide!!😂
I wonder what I’m doing tomorrow-who knows!!🤔😆