Okay, so now that I’ve explored Singapore on foot, I can honestly say “I get it!!!”  What a fabulous, clean city; full of culture and beauty; with great food and wonderful people.  But all day I’ve been looking for the f$%^ing Merlion.  You might think that something so big could have easily been spotted, but wait…

After consulting the hotel concierge (yes, I ended up staying at this place, and blowing my Vietnam budget for about three weeks), multiple maps and guide books, I had my list of “must sees” in Singapore, and decided that the best way to see such things was by the kind of bus that tourists “jump on and jump off.”  Let’s just say that was the dumbest idea ever. 

I walked to the nearest hotel where said bus was said to “jump on,” waited about ten minutes with other obvious tourists, only to have the very bus I was looking for COMPLETELY blow by us.  Didn’t even give us a look, honk – nothing.  I went into the hotel to ask that concierge what was up with the Duck and Hippo Bus (don’t laugh) and he said it should stop right where we were waiting.  I said that it hadn’t and he told me that I maybe should flag the next one down.  In twenty minutes.  That was all I had to hear to put on my walking shoes and head towards Chinatown on foot.  I think I stepped on a lizard scurrying across the sidewalk about twenty steps into this journey – hadn’t the heart to look back 😦

It didn’t look that far on the map, but after Chinese tour maps, I was a bit hesitant to take this plunge.  It was directly opposite the nearest subway stop, but I wanted to give it a go.  Next thing I knew, I was in Chinatown.  Huh?  So apparently Singapore, the city, is a heck of a lot smaller than any other Asian city I’ve visited – and it’s very easy to cover on foot.  What a relief!

Chinatown was cool, and it’s Sunday, so it was a kind of leisure/ temple day.  I was out early and got to stroll along Pagoda Street before the hawkers were out; enjoyed the Sri Mariamman Temple with only a few hundred Indian visitors (what an amazing, vibrant temple!); and hit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple before the droves descended.  Thank goodness my last look in the mirror before leaving my hotel reminded me that “temple worthy” attire might be in order. Great sights.

So then I was off on the quest to see Singapore’s great Merlion – that half-mermaid, half-lion thing that’s on every tourist map and guide book on the planet.  I found it on my tourist maps (always need to triangulate!) and headed towards the marina.  I ended up seeing a detour I’d wanted to follow – to the Marina Bay Sands Casino, and it looked like it was on my way, if I went in a kind of loop around the marina.  Not a far walk by any stretch.

When I arrived at the Marina Bay Sands angels started singing in heaven.  Really.  This place was SPECTACTULAR in so many ways, mainly that it had FREE PUBLIC WIFI!!!  Not that I used it much, because before I knew it there it was right in front of me:

The Artist Himself

This Dali exhibit  just started May 14th at the Singapore Art and Science Museum!!!  Are you kidding me!!!  I followed the signs and – there it was – a sculpture of a melting clock, donning the museum entrance!  I was drooling!

I went inside to find ouf that there was also a Van Gogh exhibit of sorts – no original art but kind of an installation – and paid my astronomical entrance fee and was treated to some of the most exquisite Dali sculpture I’ve ever seen.  It was incredible, and what a stumble-upon kind of find!

So, after the extasy of Dali on the water next to the amazing Marina Bay Sands Casino, I continued through the park that just hosted the Youth Olympic Games (shout out to Erin, here!!!) and on to grab some much-needed Pad Thai (I know I’m not in Thailand, but I was hungry).  Still looking for the Merlion and KNOWING that it was supposed to be within my field of vision, I was puzzled.  Headed towards the Fullerton Hotel (I have a photo for you, Kathy!) at the base of which it’s supposed to be, and couldn’t find the thing.  Really?!?  I was getting more and more miffed.

Then I got to the park where the Merlion is supposed to be and saw this little Merlion fountain – maybe eight feet tall.  Certainly that couldn’t be it?!?  I took a photo, took a photo for a family who wanted to be photographed in front of it, and stood nearby, scratching my head.  I saw this big red box that looked like it said “The Merlion Hotel” on it, and walked over, only to find, that the GD Merlion has been temporarily – in the name of art, mind you – made into a hotel room!!!  The OUTRAGE!!! 

The Merlion Hotel

And people were paying and standing in line to get in and take a look at it!!!  I was so bummed.

I got over myself and walked over to St. Andrews Catholic Church (thanks, Ranan – that was cool); then figured out the subway and worked my way back to my hotel.  I was hot and itchy – I remembered the hot from last summer but forgot about how itchy I get in these cities.  When I figured out where the subway stop spat me out and which direction to walk in to make it back to my hotel, I spotted the hotel and remembered that it had a pool!  Maybe being taken for lunch for a hotel room in Singapore wasn’t such a bad thing after all…

What a lovely day of sight-seeing in Singapore.  Tomorrow I’m off to Ho Chi Minh City and will hopefully be able to snazz up this blog entry with some photos as well.

Thanks for reading!