Sunday, March 12, 2006


March 11th, 2006:

What a difference. Singapore and Thailand, though neighbors on a map, are like different worlds. I departed from the simplicity of Koh Samui airport, with its coconut-tree-lined open-air waiting area and its lack of walls anywhere (there was just thatch roofs on wooden supports, which gave a nice natural look to the place), and arrived in Singapore airport where the ATM machine talked to me (it even knew my name, though it pronounced it as {ion} instead of {owe-en}, but its the thought that counts) and the taxi drivers had wireless bluetooth headsets attached to one of their ears.
The drive into the city was literally an eyes-wide, jaw-dropping experience We came over the hill between the airport and the BCD (Business Central District, the heart of most cities) and suddenly all you could see were skyscrapers sparkling and glowing in the night. Even the first shop that we saw (Carrefuore, can't remember the exact spelling of it) appeared to have more floors than the tallest building in Ireland. I was sharing the taxi-minibus with two Germans and the taxi driver was grinning back at us as we ooooh'd and aaaaah'd at the sights every couple of seconds :)

I'm staying at the Holiday Inn Atrium, Singapore, and it is the most incredible hotel I have ever seen(!) It is 27 floors tall and it has no central core. Standing in the lobby, you can look straight up through the hollow center through the glass roof to the night sky. Its a nice design and ensures that every room has a view as they are all arranged between the hollow core and the exterior of the building. I don't know how child friendly it would be though: outside each door is a narrow walkway around the hollow core and there is a low wall to help stop people and things accidentally falling down a long way down to the lobby below: that low-wall only comes up to my waist and its definitely sweaty-palms time when holding the hand rail on that low-wall and looking down at the itty-bitty people way, way down below.

Quick tip, also, if you end up travelling a similar route as I have: buy everything you can in Thailand and aim to buy as little as possible in Singapore. Its mentally hard buying things that cost near normal European prices after the amazing value for money in Thailand. For example, laundry cost 0.84 cent Euro in Thailand total to get someone to wash and dry your clothes; in Singapore, wash and dry self-service costs 8.50 Euro... urgh the pain..!