Singapore is one hell of a city.
It is the cleanest, most efficient, quietest, politest city that I’ve ever been. After the madness of China it has been a revelation.
I’ve found it as quiet compared to Hong Kong, as Hong Kong itself is to China. But this doesn’t really do the place justice. I’m not really sure what would. I can only relate my first experience of the city to that of Beijing by way of comparison.
In Beijing, it took an hour for me to progress though customs, collect my bags and meet my ride. My ride then drove like a madman through insane traffic, delivering me to a hotel which had somehow forgotten I was coming.
In Singapore, I got off the plane, walked through customs, grabbed my luggage, bought a local SIM – which the people at the counter set-up for me and boarded a shuttle bus which was to take me directly to my accommodation with 15 minutes of getting off the plane. The traffic wasn’t what you’d call light, but it flowed smoothly without a single horn to be heard. This despite disruption to the roads caused by the previous days Grand Prix.
I arrived at my hostel in great time, and was pleasantly surprised by the area surrounding it. There were lots of little bars – in the Spanish sense, rather than the British, with people sat outside enjoying a drink and food.
I checked in with no issues at all, and that is when the dream ended.
My hostel had excellent ratings on the hostel booking service that I use. Their website had photographs of the rooms that looked a very pleasant place to stay. It was described as a boutique hostel, with high ceiling loft style rooms, decorated using art provided by newcomers as an opportunity for them to display their work. Guests were also invited to join together on the rooftop garden bar for a drink and to hang out. All in all it sounded like just the sort of place that I would love to stay at.
The room before me bore quite literally zero resemblance to the slick inviting rooms of the website. Instead of a styled loft, I was met with a prison cell. No windows, four white walls, zero decoration. A bunk-bed which upon inspection had bed slats made out of old pallets, spaced with orange twine. The floor was bare concrete, which as I later discovered had metal tubes imbedded which appeared to have been cut off with an angel grinder or similar, but not quite ground down enough to prevent my foot from getting cut on an edge. It wasn’t even particularly clean. One of the toilet floors was flooded the entire five days I was there, and showed no sign of having been mopped up during that time.
I’ve stayed in some dumps in my time, and in all honesty this was perfectly liveable. It was just that I felt completely cheated by the hostel, and that annoyed my greatly. If they had only been honest about what they offered, and priced accordingly – instead of at the top of of the Singapore hostels – then I wouldn’t complain. I’d more than likely not have stayed there, because it wasn’t what I was looking for, but at least anyone staying there would be aware of what they were getting.
You may have already seen the two photos that I posted, as well as the Audioboo update about the ‘garden’. Suffice to say, I was annoyed by the entire experience. As I was leaving I met an Aussie who was sitting outside with his bag. I stopped and chatted with him, hoping that we could split a cab to the airport. Unfortunately he was just arriving rather than leaving. He told me that this would be the fifth time he stayed there, and that when he first stayed it was very good. But now it really has gone downhill and he’s only staying there as he gets work locally and it is the closest place. He told me that he had been dreading coming back, and he just wants to get his job done and get out of there.
But, I was not in Singapore to stay in my room all day and thankfully Singapore has much to offer in the way of entertainment.