Singapore has four official languages, Malay (the national language), English, Mandarin, and Tamil (an Indian dialect). Almost everyone speaks English and most of the signs have an English version.
Singapore is easy to get around on the Metro and the trains come right into the airport, very convenient. My first stop after immigration/customs is at Metro customer service booth at the airport to purchase a reloadable Metro Card for my trips around the city.
My hotel, the Innotel Hotel, is near the Dhoby Ghaut metro station, a central point at one end of Singapore's main shopping street, Orchard Road, and about a 1/2 hour Metro ride from the airport. After checking in, I wander up Orchard Road to see what I can see (and to keep moving so that I stay awake!).
"A kind heart is a fountain of gladness"To get to Orchard Road, I first walk through Istana Park, next to the Dhoby Ghaut station and at the eastern end of Orchard Road. This small park has great gardens, a gallery, and artists painting as I watch through the windows, a beautiful oasis next to the metro station.
Istana Park on Orchard Road
First stop is lunch. After flying 16.5 hours, I need to get a true sample of the local cuisine. Just after the park, I spot an hawker center with stalls, basically an open-air food court, across the street, wander over, and see one of my favorites, duck. I get a plate of duck and rice and a Diet Coke for 5 Singapore dollars ($3.50 US) and eat at a table in front of the stand.
Hawker center, duck and rice plate
Properly fortified, I head up Orchard Road, the main shopping street of Singapore, to see what I can find. And, what I find, in between the frequent passing rain showers, is a lot of great sculpture, Christmas decorations, and, of course, lots of high end shops. I don't enter the shops (I can do that anywhere in the world), but I do scurry back and forth across the street to capture pictures of the artwork. The two largest Christmas trees are on the sidewalk, outside Tiffany and the Paragon Mall (next to Gucci).
Sculpture on Orchard Road
Christmas on Orchard Road
Even though Orchard Road is mostly tall, modern buildings, there is still a touch of old Singapore architecture and life close to the high-end retail area.
Old and new Singapore together
After a few hours of walking, I'm ready to find dinner and wind down my first day in the city. Thinking of the wonderful duck at lunch, I wander back to the hawker center and have another duck plate, duck with noodles, and a large Tiger beer, 6 Singapore dollars for the duck noodle ($4.20 USD) and 9 for the beer ($6.30). Then, back to the hotel and sleep, tomorrow will be my first full day and I have much to see!
Hawker center at night, duck/noodle dinner with a Tiger beer