A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Rebecca Heller

Singapore's obsession with shopping centres

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Singapore is well known for its many many shopping centres. They are honestly everywhere, and every single one is huge. I wouldn't be surprised if every retailer from all over the world has a store there.

I'm curious to know whether they all make a profit. It was interesting speaking to my friend; as we got to Orchard Road, she mentioned how she hadn't been there in ages. She doesn't need to because they've recently built a few malls much closer to where she lives and she no longer has any reason to travel across Singapore when she fancies popping to the shops.

The malls partly cater for tourists from neighbouring countries who come to Singapore to find brands they can't get near their home towns. Though I wonder how much longer this will go on since brands are increasingly expanding into surrounding territories.

Without shopping tourism, will these malls survive? Sure, young Singaporeans have more disposable income that in the past, but it's not a given that this will last (cynical, I know) and then what?

I'm intrigued. I would assume someone has done the economic forecasting to show that there will be a return on investment to building all these malls, but I can't shake the feeling that the whole scenario is a little fragile.

I wouldn't have guessed that I'd leave Singapore with an interest in their economy but I did, so I for one will be watching this space.

Posted by Rebecca Heller 15:34 Archived in Singapore Tagged shopping friends economy Comments (0)

Singapore: the last hurrah (for now!)

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I hadn't done any homework on Singapore, I'd been too distracted elsewhere on my trip. I was also lucky because I have two friends living in Singapore and I was going to see them both.

My trip started off well when I checked into my hostel and I found out that I'd been upgraded to a 'premium' bed.

I had a pod bed. An actual pod bed. There was a wall that went to half the length of the bed and a dark blind that blocked out all the light. Inside the pod I had a telly, which had a ton of films and tv shows to choose from. It might sound a little claustrophobic but it was roomie. I had space to roll over in the night and not hit the walls and I could sit up easily with no danger of hitting my head on the ceiling. Even someone of a normal height would have been ok.

As you may imagine, the hostel lacked some of the atmosphere I'd experienced in other hostels, but this was the best bed I've ever seen and after the flight from Melbourne, just what I wanted.

The next morning, I visited the Sri Mariamman temple in China Town before meeting up with my new Argentinian friend Carolina. We visited the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple before hopping on a train to Dhoby Ghaut station. From there we walked all the way back to the Gardens by the Bay, through the old colonial district, visiting St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore's Parliament, the Asian Civilisations Museum and the Esplanade.

By this point my foot was hurting a fair amount, but I was excited for the Gardens by the Bay. We went straight for the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. I have to thank Carolina for encouraging the silly photos. I don't love having my photo taken, or asking others to take them, but I had a lot of fun!

By the time we got outside again it was already dark, and the gardens were beautifully illuminated. With some many colours and lights that brighten and dim, it was often hard to know where to look. It wasn't the same beauty as the natural wonders I saw in Chile for example, but striking none the less.

The next day, I finally got to see my friend who moved to Singapore a while ago. In classic Maltby style, she was only in the country for about 12 of the same hours as me and even though she had plenty of things to do, she did make time to see me. We went to her favourite cafe, and then back to her flat so she could make up green body paint for her trip to the Hong Kong rugby 7s. As you do. She was kind enough to let me stay in her flat, even though none of her flat mates would be there, so I had the place to myself.

That night and the next day I got to see my friend Jun. We know each other from AIESEC Leeds where we worked together and now she's the president of AIESEC Singapore! It was so cool to see her after nearly 3 years. We spent a couple of hours in the Art Science museum, which was excellent. I'm almost certain our favourite parts were aimed at children, I especially loved the colouring in and scanning your picture onto an interactive screen. Colouring is good for mindfulness right? We had a drink from the Marina Bay Sans hotel bar, with a slightly foggy but still impressive view.

I loved seeing my friends again. I hope to return to Singapore one day to visit them again, perhaps en route to somewhere else (Bali anyone...?!).

Posted by Rebecca Heller 09:02 Archived in Singapore Tagged art skylines friends Comments (0)

Having a laugh: the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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I've never been to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but I just happened to be in Melbourne in time for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

So I got myself a couple of tickets, one for 5 at 5, a $5 gig with 5 acts at 5pm. I saw 5 actual Aussie acts which was hilarious, and then moved swiftly on to my next show a selection of 3 Brits in a gig named British Invasion.

Now I don't wish to boast, but I did fabulously. I spent $25, saw 10 acts (including MCs) and spent the evening just laughing and having a great time. Why wouldn't you? If I lived in Melbourne, I'd be at at least one show every week, probably more!

Now I really must get myself to Edinburgh one of these years.

Posted by Rebecca Heller 02:44 Archived in Australia Tagged shows comedy Comments (0)

Surfing (injury) in Byron Bay

The last stop of my East Coast adventure was the beautiful Byron Bay. It's pretty touristy, but like so many places I visited, it's easy to see why.

I had pre-booked a surf class for my first day so I spent my morning chilling on the beach, before heading to the bus stop to be picked up.

I was met by the mojo surf bus, already full of what turned out to be a group of Danish teenagers all on the same trip, most of whom had had a class the previous day. So whilst they were revising all they'd learnt the day before, I had a quick lesson with one other newbie.

On my first attempt here, I actually managed to stand. Yes! I got so excited that I was actually surfing that I did not jump off my surf board early enough and landed in extremely shallow water. I felt a pretty sharp pain in my left ankle, waited for a moment, wiggled it about and deemed myself fit enough to carry on.

I spent the next hour or so in the water, trying to correct with my repeatedly off balance surf technique. I did manage to stand a fair amount and by the end I was feeling so good about it all I decided I would probably book another session whilst I was in Byron Bay.

By that evening, my ankle was feeling a little tender, but not bad enough not to go out. I wandered about town, went for dinner and some drinks with new friends. Sadly after a few hours I was limping quite a bit so I sensibly decided to return back to my top bunk bed in the hostel.

Unsurprisingly, I didn't sleep well as my ankle was throbbing somewhat, and by morning I was unable to put any weight on my now very swollen ankle. The hostel owner kindly drove me to A and E so I could get a scan to check it wasn't too seriously damaged. The scans didn't show up anything more than sprain, which was great news really; the doctor strapped my ankle and sent me on my way.

Now of all the injuries I could have got this was pretty manageable, and of all the places, Byron Bay was pretty great. There are plenty of activities in Byron but actually, it's perfectly acceptable to sunbathe on a lush beach, sip a fresh lemonade and have the occasional dip when the sun just gets too much.

I also got to see Melina, my roommate from my tour in Peru, who lives near Byron Bay. It's pretty cool that I managed to see so many of my Aussie friends met whilst travelling in South America, and I'd love to think I'll see them again soon elsewhere in the world!

Posted by Rebecca Heller 02:25 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches surfing injury Comments (0)

The Whitsundays and Fraser Island

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View Australian adventure! on Rebecca Heller's travel map.

The next couple of parts of my trip were on organised tours. I had been informed that I simply couldn't miss either the Whitsundays or Fraser Island.

For my Whitsundays trip I booked with Wings. A sociable boat with a knowledgable crew, without the clipper boat's intense party atmosphere. There's not a whole lot of space on these boats so it's fairly important to find one that is likely to attract your kind of people. I think I got mine right.

This trip consisted of a lot of sunbathing on deck, plenty of snorkel spots, and a visit to the paradise like Whitehaven beach. Throw in great company and some cheeky evening ciders, and you have the recipe for a good old time. I felt like I was living a glamorous lifestyle, without any of the actual glamour on our boat of course.

I knew I was on the right boat when we met another group's crew member who asked if we were having a good time and swiftly told us we couldn't be having that much fun if no one had had sex in the jacuzzi yet. Wrong crowd buddy.

Anyway, I'd say the Whitsundays are a must-see, providing you're not prone to sea sickness. It's beautiful, unspoilt and relaxed.

My next leg of the journey was to Rainbow Beach ahead of my Fraser Island tour. Rainbow Beach is a small and somewhat charmless town that really is a stop off for Fraser Island tours.

I stayed at Dingo's hostel where the rooms and reception area were nice, but I was seriously unimpressed with the kitchen. Not only was it small, but severely under-equipped for the number of guests, and a lack of washing up liquid (combined with lazy backpackers) meant what little they had was truly disgusting.

I was therefore quite excited to head off on my Fraser Island tag along tour. These consist of groups of jeeps, one of which has a tour guide, the others are driven by participants.

Fraser Island is a huge sand island with natural lakes, rock pools and such like, but not a lot else. The beaches are roads and subject to the same, if not stricter, road laws as everywhere else. This meant that some party animals missed out on driving opportunities, especially over the Easter Weekend, following some intense partying each night!

There are genuinely beautiful parts of Fraser Island, Lake Mackenzie for example, and it's an unspoiled spot, despite the number of visitors. The Dingo tours are big on their partying so this was my first and only real experience with goon (cheap, rubbish wine in a bag!). I had great people in my car, our Fraser Family as we liked to call ourselves, and I think that really added to the trip. As with so many things, it was as fun as the people I spent time with, so really very fun!

Posted by Rebecca Heller 02:21 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches islands snorkelling beach sailing tour Comments (0)

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