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This is the first batch of photos I plan to share on this blog from our recent trip to Singapore.  After much deliberation, I've managed to select 42 out of the 350 pictures I shot — they aren't necessarily the best that I took but they do represent the essence of our week-long visit.  I hope you enjoy them...

Our Tiger Airways jet (an Airbus A320-200, for those interested) after landing at Changi International's new Budget Terminal.  The terminal is bare-bones but with extremely low landing and docking fees it allows the airlines using it to offer lower airfares to the public.  There's a free shuttle bus that takes you to the fancy Terminals 1 and 2.

After checking into our hotel (the Oxford on Queen Street), Tim and I set off walking to explore our neighborhood.  It was chock-a-block with interesting churches, both a Buddhist and Hindu temple, several worthwhile museums (including the highly-regarded Singapore Art Museum), and loads of fancy shopping malls.  About a 10-minute walk north we discovered the sprawling Bugis Market area which reminded me somewhat of Bangkok's Chatuchak Weekend Market with all sorts of inexpensive stuff to buy.  Most of the shop/stall owners seemed to be Chinese.

Singapore is a very expensive city to dine out (or buy much of anything, for that matter).  However, food bargains can be found in hawker stalls which are large groupings of small Chinese kitchens surrounded by tables.  You sit at a table, taking note of it's number, and wait for a drink seller to come by.  After you've got your drinks, you go and order from whichever kitchen looks the most appealing to you (they all looked pretty dingy to me!), telling the cook your table number so they can deliver your food when it's ready.  It was fairly chaotic, hot, and smelly but seemed to be Tim's best bet for finding something she wanted to eat (the only Thai restaurants in the areas we frequented were of the upscale/expensive variety and weren't up to Tim's standards in terms of spiciness or variety).  Here, Tim is enjoying a bowl of noodles; she prowling around looking for hotter chilies to add to the soup.

Our first task on Tuesday was to visit the Royal Thai Embassy, located at the top of Orchard Street — Singapore's MAIN shopping area with numerous hypermalls lining the road.  The embassy only takes visa applications from 9:15 until noon; you put in your application and leave your passport on the first day and then pick it up after two on the following day.

One of the more fun ways to get around Singapore is via a Chinese-style rickshaw.  They are fairly numerous and not very expensive (about S$10 for a 30-minute ride).  The owners decorate them with often outlandish paint schemes (notice the Batman rickshaw).  During our visit, it always looked like it was about to rain so we never rode in one of these...

We did, however, decide to take a bumboat trip down the Singapore River.  These traditional boats take passengers up and down the river; most opt for a 30- or 45-minute roundtrip cruise for S$12-15.  We had arrived at the head of the river through a tunnel under the Esplanade Theatres (a building that looks like a giant durian to me) and numerous touts approached us offering just such a cruise.  However, Tim was hungry and we spotted a Thai restaurant on the waterfront.  While eating, I happened to read a bit in my travel guide about river taxis.  After lunch, I went to the ticket booth the touts were hanging out at and asked how much a river taxi down to Clark Quay would be; it was S$5 for the two of us and we travelled on the same boat as the passengers who paid the cruise price.  Since Clark Quay is near the turnaround point, we only missed the recorded commentary about the far side of the river on the return trip.  A good travel tip, I suppose...

A view towards Boat Quay; formerly in disrepair, the old Chinese shophouses have been wonderfully restored into some really nice restaurants and nightspots.  The different heights of these buildings are indicative of the wealth of the original owners — the taller the shophouse, the more well-to-do the family.

A visit to Singapore isn't complete without a vist to Royal Selengor, the famous pewter manufacturer.  You can take a tour of the factory and even take a class on how to create beautiful objects from pewter.  We opted for a stroll through the huge retail area, jaws dropping at some of the prices.  Needless to say, we didn't make any pewter purchases (although there was a tiny medallion for just S$5 at one of the counters).

There's plenty of public art on display throughout the city.  Here, Tim poses amidst three of them.

Although Singapore has plenty of very impressive modern architecture I much more enjoyed the old colonial buildings, most of which are painted in striking pastel colors.

I'd completely forgotten it was Halloween until we came across this apparition on Clarke Quay.

Something else Singapore has an abundance of are fines.  The most famous are the "no spitting" and "no durians" signs and there are plenty of "no smoking" ones as well.  Just a few years ago, you also got fined for chewing gum (it was as illegal to sell as much as it was for discarding it) but at least that restriction has been lifted.  In all the markets, you can buy t-shirts with the saying "Singapore is a Fine City", surrounded by the various "do not" logos.

Well, I think that's enough photos for one blog entry (it's not really the bandwidth I'm concerned with but the writing of captions).  I'll post a few more tomorrow or the next day.