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Paul & Tracey's Travels
8th Feb 2011 - Penang, Malaysia & Singapore
Leaving on a jet plane (to Singapore)

Goodbye to Penang

Today we are leaving Penang Island (Pilau Pinang or Bitter Nut Island) to fly south to Singapore. First there was just enough time before our transfer to the airport at 12.30 pm, to have a dip in the pool. We had another chatty car driver to take us on the hour long drive to the airport, so learned a few more bits about the island. We have often heard people talking in Malay and then switching mid sentence to English - the driver explained that Malay is the first language, then English and often people will then have a third language (their mother tongue). He said that nowadays it is useful to know chinese for getting jobs. We passed the Penang Bridge which links the Island of Penang with the Mainland (some of which is also part of Penang) - this bridge is 13.5 km long and is the 5th largest bridge in the world. A second bridge is being built, and when finished it will be over 20 km long and the 2nd longest. We saw this new bridge under construction as our plane took off from the airport.

Arrival in Singapore

The flight to Singapore was about an hour and 20 minutes. We were quickly through customs and met our car and driver in the arrival hall for the 20 minute transfer to our city centre hotel (Ibis). Singapore is a city state just north of the equator with a population of about 4.5 million - the state is getting bigger as more land is reclaimed. As we drove along the main dual carriageway heading West into the city from the airport along the coast (East Coast Parkway), first impressions were that everything was very clean. We passed the Marina Bay area and saw the amazing Marina Bay Sands hotel, as well as driving over the pit stop and start/finish line area of the Formula One course, part of which is a street circuit. Our driver explained that despite going through the city streets, there is nowhere where you could see the race without paying !

Train to Marina Bay

We arrived at the hotel at about 5pm - the weather is very sultry - about 30C but grey clouds, and at about 7.30pm we had a very heavy rain storm which was over in about 10 minutes. When we went out at 8pm the ground was already drying out. We decided to walk 5 minutes round the corner to the nearest MRT (Metro) station (Bugis) to travel to the Marina Bay area to eat and possibly see some Chinese New Year inspired free entertainment. We purchased a pre paid E-Card that can be used to swipe at turnstiles on the buses and trains to pay your fare. The stations are immaculately clean and the signposting is very good, and we managed to find our way quite easily to the required platform, and to change from the East West MRT to the Circle Line in order to get off at Esplanade which is a stop down at the Marina Bay area of the city. This area has been entirely re-developed with lots of eating places, shopping malls, hotels and entertainment areas.

Hotels and Formula One

There are two weeks of various activities to celebrate Chinese New Year and as we emerged from the network of air conditioned underground walkways linking the tube, the malls and the Esplanade theatre, we immediately saw a stage hosting some Chinese dance which we stopped for a while to watch. After stopping for some Thai food, we walked along the Marina Promenade where you get fantastic views across the water of the tall buildings in the city centre, the Fullerton Hotel, and the massive new Marina Bay Sands Hotel all lit up. This has 2,500 rooms and a rooftop swimming pool at 200m. The floating harbour is a performance area which at present is given over to free entertainment and displays. This sits on the water right next to part of the Singapore Formula 1 circuit and the stands erected here are permanent, used for both the motor race and other events throughout the year. Tonight a Chinese male singer was singing his heart out, but I have no idea of his name. Also just by the F1 Circuit is the Chinese Flyer (just like the London Eye) which is the World's largest Giant Observation Wheel. 

We decided to walk back to the hotel to see a bit more of the city. By now it was gone 11pm and the traffic was very light – the main streets are 3 or 4 lanes wide and looked very empty at that time of night. The walk took us about 20 minutes, with a couple of wrong turns, and on the way we passed Raffles Hotel, and then stopped at a 24 hour supermarket to get some food and drink supplies. Tomorrow we intend to head to the far north of Singapore, not far from the Malaysian border, where we will try and find the road/house that Tracey lived at when she was a small child.

Next: Return to a childhood home and awesome views of Singapore
Previous: Kok Lek Si Temple and a scary bus ride

Diary Photos

Marina Bay Sands Hotel Singapore

Penang Bridge, Penang, Malaysia

Chinese Temple on Waterloo St with our hotel behind, Singapore

View from our Hotel, Bencoolen Street, Singapore

Spotlessly clean Singapore MRT train

Chinese Dance at the Marina Bay Esplanade, Singapore

Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore

Marina Bay, Singapore

Part of the Singapore F1 track at Marina Bay

Tracey with the coin representing her Chinese New Year sign - the rabbit

Singapore F1 stand and track, Marina Bay

Marina Bay, Singapore

Raffles Hotel, Singapore

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