My thoughts on being in Singapore are that climatically it's similar to Bali, being 1 degree from the equator and has the same evening downpours we get in Bali. It looks like like a very clean, organised place without the crazy aspect of driving I’ve become accustomed to in Bali.
Arriving at Changgi airport I was through immigration and customs in about 10 minutes and changed money. The lady at the bank sold me a $10 phone card and I moved on to my next task of contacting the agent ( 007 ) recommended by Arjuna immigration consultants in Bali, who was going to hurry my paperwork through. Arriving on a Tuesday with Qantas flights leaving for Bali on Wednesday and Saturdays, I had to make sure I got things taken care of straight away. The usual time for a business visa to get processed is 2-3 days and I was already going to be getting downtown after midday.
Anyway 007’s cell phone was working and he gave me directions. He’s located in the City Bay View Hotel near the National Museum on Orchard Rd and operates a money changer / newspaper stand inside the hotel (just the kind of person I want to hand my passport to).
The bus from Changgi took about 50 minutes and had a tv on board. Singapore is in love with technology and I talk more about this later.
DOWNLOAD OUR TRAVEL GUIDES
Meeting up with 007 his appearance indicated he was a religious Muslim, complete with flowing robe, circular headgear and goatee. Looking through my passport he spotted that it was issued at the embassy in Washington DC….oh no, he’s going burn it!
He was cool and totally good vibes. I certainly did not want to spend the rest of the week (and my money) in Singapore waiting so the $50 Singapore dollars were worth it on this occassion. He told I could pick up the passport at 6.30pm. Interesting little sideline. His location is a 5 minute walk from the embassy but he told me his friend works there and can guarantee when a visa will be issued. I told him upfront that unless I could fly out Wednesday night I didn’t need him but he was totally reassuring.
I strolled off to find a guest house. The YMCA has a fancy looking 4 storey building that isn’t cheap and locals told me there were other options close by for under $30 Singapore. I checked out 2 and took the latter, a place called Hawaii Guest House run by Chinese people. Bargaining with Chinese people is way different from bargaining with Balinese. In my experience the Balinese are more easy going and game for a laugh, they will try it on by asking a newcomer several times the price on occassion, but cave in and agree on something when they realise you know what’s up. The Chinese I have encountered in Hong Kong ( I lived there for a year ) and here in Singapore are on a much faster timeline and do not like haggling. I asked the price of the room and it was $28, I looked at it and offered $20 which was greated with some minor shouting from the older woman and ‘No’s’ from the man. Offering $25 she waved me away and seemed to be cussing at me in Chinese….basically ‘give me the money or f**k off’. I wasn’t going to mess around and could see these folks were happy to let me walk off so paid the $28. In return I got a single bed in a tiny room, with wash basin and AC.
I liked the location of the place, just a 4 minutes walk from 007 and wasn’t too unhappy. This place has about 70+ rooms and there were a ton of Kiwis, Aussies and Euro’s there. Budget accomodation in Singapore is a bit hard to find. Around the corner from Hawaii at the corner of Middle Rd and Bencoolen St I sat at a Chinese food court and got a SGN$4 plate of fish, greens and rice…very good!