Stalkers want to know my address? It’s Robertson Quay, Singapore, Just off The Equator, The World. And honest: it’s freakin’ awesome. You should come. Totally wouldn’t even mind showing round a stranger, I’m that chuffed. Eventually I will devote a whole post or three to the new locality, Robbo Quay (legitimately the coolest area of Singapore, which I know for a fact having been here 4 days now, so..). But for now shall I just tell you about what happened on my first day then?
I woke up first thing* after a pretty mixed sleep (do not mention the ‘J’ word) and groggily rushed to the apartment’s balcony to check the weather and the view, then I rushed back to my room to get my contacts as I remembered I was as blind as a wall, then back to balcony. And I saw it was Good. Really good in fact. It’s all river and pool and blue sky. And there’s a hum of fun coming from the hipster restaurants and bars below. It could be a Shoreditch Riviera at an intense squint.
*Truth be told it wasn’t first thing – by now it was long gone midday and I realised I’d need to hustle my ass into gear if I wanted to make the most of my only tourist day before work began. So I packed my clutch with everything I’d need: my ‘How to Live Like a Local in Singapore’ book, my reduced notes on said book (I’m a lawyer- I take notes- sozzards), headphones, manaay, lipstick, phone, plasters (my feet blister like a peach), fluids. I forgot sunnies goddammit. Then I set off in the general direction of stuff.
Stuff to begin with was up on Orchard Road which is a shopping mecca like no other. It’s basically Oxford Street squared or Oxford Street in 3D glasses if you don’t know how to square things. Every block that should just be a store, isn’t just a store, it’s a goddam shopping mall again and again and again. I’ve never seen so many Pradas on one street. And every mall is built with living walls and trees jutting out and mosaic glass and things like that. If I had the money I would have spent two weeks on that road and spent roughly the same amount as Donald Trump’s ‘small loan’ from his father back in the 70s.
Instead, I grabbed my Singaporean sim card from the 7-11 – like a local – and jumped on the MRT Southwards – like a local. Everything is SO efficient in Singapore. They have things like air-con and wifi and electricity on their tube network – it’s crazy. Everyone stands on the left though which upset me as I looked so unlocal and like a basic prick, cockily standing all the way over there on the right. Useless.
So I got out on a carefree whim (like the opposite to my uber planned Cambodia trip) at City Hall. Turns out spontaneity is OK – I found myself at the cenotaph which was beautiful and unexpected. Then I navigated across the mental, overly-logical maze that is the road system in Singapore (you can’t just cross the road here you have to walk 20 metres down the road to an official crossing and wait for ever) and Lo! There she blew. Marina Bay, in its striking amazement, hit my eyes in the face. I have been obsessed with Marina Bay Sands Hotel long before I arrived in Singapore. Good grief did it live up. The whole bay is really fantastic though. The water is clean, there are gorgeous boats floating along on little cruises, the windows of the skyscrapers glisten, there’s a waft of brilliant smelling food from every direction and there are happy hours at every bar! Get in. The Marina Bay Hotel just looks brilliant/ridiculous/the-best-thing-ever. How can there be an infinity pool all the way up there?! I can’t wait to climb it and swim in it. Vertigo: shcmirtigo. But the rest of the Singapore skyline is also beautiful. It’s been so underated in everything I’ve read. It’s like a petite, clean and shiny, New York. I wandered along the esplanade snapping here, there and everywhere like the Turner of the iPhone medium. So many restaurants and bars, so not enough time to get to them all.
By the time I got to Raffles Place an evening plan had formed so I rushed back to get changed as boy, oh boy, Singapore: HOT.
Right, so fast forward to the night. We walked towards Raffles once more (by now I had amigos) via Robbie Quay and Clarke Quay. I mean, Clarke Quay is clearly awesome. It’s got everything: the restaurants are all on the water, the bars are pumping, there’s live music everywhere and the Bat-Mobile is in the middle of the square. It’s pretty touristy perhaps but that’s no bad thing coming from a Singa newbie. I already have a long list of places I can’t wait to visit there and I already know I’ll have a right hoot. There is, incidentally, a Hooters.
We arrived at Boat Quay for dinner and I was bamboozled. I was expected more of the super new, preened aesthetic of Clarke Quay and One Fullerton or the hipster chilled vibe of Robertson Quay but Boat Quay is like Koh San Road meets the City of London. It’s all on the water, naturally, but it is also a perfect mash-up of all you love about Bangkok style club streets and all you love of London’s highly gentrified street food scene. The skyscrapers of finance loom not 50 metres away yet there is this hub of tiny sea food places, burger joints, Irish bars – etcetera,etcetera,etcetera.
Our pick was reluctantly based on the boys’ need for cheap beer which frankly annoyed most of the girls – it being International Women’s Day and Ladies’ Night in one of the most frustratingly ironic feminist anti-statements in existence. Yes, girls get free drinks on a Wednesday, no that doesn’t mean we want to sacrifice female suffrage and clean your house up. Factor in the glass ceiling and we will probably come out even.
So I won’t talk about our dining choice as it wasn’t spot-on and I’m not even certain it had a name. But the vibe was great and we all merrily moved on to what is apparently the tallest building in Singapore, with a roof bar on top to boot. At Altitude Ladies’ night meant $10 cocktails and they were flipping delicious, if a bit weak. I drank loads and wasn’t droink. I promise. the main thing though was the view. You could see for miles and miles of sparkling lights. You could even see out to Indonesia and up to Malaysia. What a place.
This city hasn’t broken me in yet. I’m still a newbie trying to find my way in the impossible pursuit of the coolest place to brunch (suggestions welcome). But by gum, so far, so good!
And when I said suggestions welcome, I really really mean it. If you’ve been to Singapore, live in Singapore, seen Singapore on a blog once in 2011, tell me what you know! Where is best to have lunch?! Where shall I go for afternoon tea?! Where can I get Heinz tomato Soup!