We discovered this morning what “rainy season” means. We’d gone out in search of breakfast, and were heading back to the hostel, where we were meeting Derreada. As we were going into the MRT station, otakuu commented on the clouds gathering overhead. When travelled the two stops back to Little India, and when we came up the stairs from the station, the world was hidden behind a curtain of incredibly heavy rain (think someone pouring a bucket of water over your head). We waited in the station entrance until it eased off to merely torential, and ran from sheltered shop-front to sheltered shop-front, but were still soaked to the skin by the time we reached the hostel. Good thing it’s so warm!
Derreada arrived, similarly wet despite having the sense to use an umbrella (the rain was falling so hard that it was splashing back up from the road, so umbrellas are really only useful for keeping your head dry – the rest of you gets soaked anyway), and we headed out to explore the city.
First stop was a shop selling umbrellas
Next we visited Sim Lim Square, the huge electronics market, where I was able to find a tri-band phone that will work in America, for a fraction of the price I’d been quoted in NZ. Not that the prices are that much cheaper here, but the range is so much greater, so I was able to find something very basic that just does calling and text, instead of all the bells and whistles that Vodafone was trying to insist I needed.
Shopping done, we headed out into the rain again, to the Arab Quarter, where Derreada found us a great little Egyptian restaurant with a $10 buffet, and we were joined by Meexia. We settled in for a leisurely lunch, and a most enjoyable chat, until the rain finally stopped and we could head back out to explore some more.
The various Quarters in Singapore are incredible in their variety. As I said in my last post, Little India is like being transported to that continent. Going the two MRT stops from there to Orchard Road this morning was like travelling half way around the world – suddenly we were in the West (but a much cleaner version of the West!). And then going into the Arab Quarter was something different again – if it wasn’t for the rain, we could have been in the souks of Syria. I didn’t take many photos, not for lack of subjects, but because I was so busy looking at everything that I kept forgetting to take photos. I think it will take a few days too before my brain can process all the sights and sounds (and smells!) into some sort of sensible impression of this city. And we haven’t even visited Chinatown yet!
Derreada and Meexia also took us to see the National Library. Fantastic place, but what struck me most were the huge number of people sitting around reading – so many that there weren’t enough seats or desks, and many were just sitting on the floor between the shelves. And what really amazed me was when Derreada told me many of them were high school students, studying. Studying? In a library? On a Saturday? I can’t remember when I last saw any high school students in Christchurch public library!
It was a great afternoon, and Derreada and Meexia were great guides, despite neither of them actually being Singaporian (Derreada is a complicated mix of English, Canadian, Chinese and Guyanan, and Meexia is an Indonesian Australian). And I think we’ve almost convinced them they need a holiday in NZ next year
We haven’t managed yet to get hold of the other Singapore bookcrossers to find out if we’re having another meetup tonight (which is why we’re in an internet cafe now, to check our emails in case anyone’s been in touch). If there’s no meetup, then I think we’ll be heading over to Chinatown to explore yet another side of Singapore’s multi-culture.