Photos taken: November 2008
After Vietnam we hit Singapore next on our honeymoon cruise aboard Diamond Princess. The humidity wasn’t quite at the level of the country we’d just left but the heat was probably higher; luckily, most places we went were air conditioned or otherwise suitably cooled.
Our excursion in Singapore included a couple of stops at jewellery places but we weren’t in any position to spend at that time. The first place of interest we visited and walked through was Chinatown.
One of the most engaging sights in that area of Singapore was the Hindu temple with its elaborate and brightly-coloured roof.
We didn’t see inside the temple as our main reason for visiting this part of Singapore was to visit the Chinatown Heritage Centre. Inside, we got to explore recreations of the places in which residents lived in the 1950s. It was quite incredible to see how small the places were and to learn how many people lived there along with the conditions in which they spent every day. A very interesting place to visit indeed.
We had a little bit of time after that to wander around some more of Chinatown before meeting our coach to take us to the next stop.
The real reason we picked this excursion over the others offered by Princess Cruises during this trip to Singapore was that this was the only one that included a stop at the famous Raffles Hotel. While there’s a lot to be said for avoiding the obviously tourist things when visiting somewhere it also seems a shame to travel halfway around the world and not visit the thing that place is famous for. Raffles Hotel did not disappoint; it was wonderfully, wonderfully colonial in appearance. At the impressive entrance we got to see a Sikh doorman, Mr Singh.
Not content with simply showing us around the fantastically clean-looking building we were then taken to the Long Bar to have a genuine Singapore Sling in the place in which it was invented. In addition to the drink we were provided with peanuts on the tables; unlike the rest of Singapore where there were harsh penalties for littering we were encouraged to discard the shells on the floor, something that the British tourists in our group found a lot harder to do than the Americans for some reason. Must be upbringing.
The final part of our excursion was a short trip down to the waterfront area to the Royal Selangor pewter store. To be honest we hadn’t much cared for this portion of the trip initially but this turned out to be immense fun. Part of the reason for that was clearly that we’d all been drinking by this point so were quite merry. The main reason, though, was that in addition to a quick demonstration of how pewter was worked we all got to don aprons and make our own bowls. A room full of tipsy tourists smashing pewter discs with hammers added up to lots of laughter and we got to take away our bowls and aprons as souvenirs of the visit too. It was a fantastic end to a fantastic day’s tour and we were the envy of people who’d visited other places back on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship that evening.
Two further things stuck in our heads as we left Singapore. The first was just how amazing it was to see so many container ships queued up ready to arrive. The ships seemed to span the entire horizon as our cruise ship left the country.
The second thing was something I couldn’t take photos of, sadly. That night, as we had Skywalkers night club practically to ourselves once more, we got to look back on the horizon at the disappearing Singapore lit up with huge flashes as a massive thunderstorm covered the area. Listening to music, drinking bourbon and coke, and looking back to a near pitch-black sea and sky flashing and glowing under a tropical storm is one of my most favourite memories of any trip I’ve taken.