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Archive for the ‘Singapore’ Category

For our final day in Singapore we went to the Botanic Gardens.  We saved this ’til the last day as it was something we were really looking forward to and we thought it would be nice to spend time outdoors before another long flight.

Ruth in the Botanic Gardens

Ruth in the Botanic Gardens

Getting to the gardens was easy as the bus went from just over the road from our hostel and got us there in 20 minutes.  Ruth’s knee was a bit tired from all the walking we’d done so far and so when we arrived we sat down by the big lake for a while. 

Botanic Gardens Waterfall

Botanic Gardens Waterfall

I then went off bird and dragonfly watching and left Ruth to rest for a bit.  It was a scorcher of a day as the sun was out for the first time and I ended up with a nice bit of sunburn.

As we walked around the garden we got deafened by these insects that screeched really loudly, I managed to find one to take a picture but I have no idea what it was!  The gardens were quite big and split up into sections for all the different flowers and greenery.  Our favourite parts were the lake, bamboo forests, the waterfall in the ginger garden and the National Orchid Garden.  This had a huge variety of orchids in including the national flower of Singapore.  We enjoyed looking around it but it was even hotter than the rest of the gardens!

After downing lots of water we headed back to Little India to take in the sites before we had to leave for the airport.  It was a great place and so different from the other areas of Singapore.  The streets were busy with tourists and local men (no local women at all) and we walked around looking at all the buildings and temples.  We then headed to the Arab Quarter where the impressive Sultan Mosque is.  Unfortunately we then had to head back to the hostel where we had a quick shower before checking out.  We caught the MRT to the airport, checked into our flight without any problems, grabbed some food and in no time we were boarding.

The flight to Oz went really quick as we both slept for most of it.  It’s early in the morning here in Brisbane and it’s great to be back (and out of the humidty).  Now it’s time to get to our hostel.

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On day three we decided to explore two of the temples in Little India  that were a very short walking distance of each other. The first was the Sri Krishnan Temple which wasn’t even in the guide book but was beautiful. The detail on the building was just amazing. The second was just up the street and was also stunning. People were actively praying in both and there were stalls outside selling incense and flowers that used during the prayers. We didn’t go inside the temples as we wanted to respect their place of worship and didn’t wish to disturb anybody. Next to the temples was a giant Buddha and we observed many locals touching it on their way past. It was nice to see all the religious items and temples being so popular. In the market in front of the temples was a local man selling Singapore ice cream so I felt that I would give it a try, it was very tasty.

On leaving Little India we took a short stroll into Fort Canning Park which is in the Colonial District. It is in this park that England decided to surrender to the Japanese during the second world war and was the head quarters for the military. The park was beautiful and made up of many different areas from the sculpture garden to the herb garden. We chilled out in the park for a while enjoying the breeze and admiring the birds and animals that lived there. The park is well used by the locals and we also observed a wedding taking place. By this time we were getting peckish so we decided to explore China Town and hunt out some yummy food.

Getting off the MRT in China town was surreal. As soon as you step outside you are surrounded by everything Chinese, crossing town was like stepping into another country. The main streets were amazing with local stalls (selling mostly tourist stuff) and lots of hustle and bustle. The architecture changed too and the buildings were colourful and beautiful. The main street used to be full of junkies and prostitutes so it has heaps of character but is quite commercial now.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum

Near to the main area was a courtyard where many old Chinese men were gathered playing Chinese version of chess. There was a fantastic atmosphere here and a big sense of competition. This is also where we found the amazing but new Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum. This temple was built recently but in a traditional way and has practicing monks living inside. It is also a museum so people are encouraged to go inside and have a look. We put on some gowns that they provided to cover us up and took a quick look. It was stunning, full of gold plating, tiny Buddhas and huge paintings. It was an awesome place and must be an inspiring place to worship.

We made our way to a non-touristy hawker centre for tea. The food was brilliant and we had our first encounter with a Chinese elder poor man selling tissues. The people were really friendly and we wanted to stay longer to enjoy the delicious food but we had to rush to get to the Singapore Flyer before it closed.

The Singapore Flyer which is similar to the London Eye but a bit taller. After a rush to get there we managed to get on the last ride which was apparently the beer ride. This meant that as we went round they gave you a free beer. Bonus for Jo who has mine as well as his! It was night time by this point and was lovely to see the lights over the city. The river looked very pretty. We enjoyed the ride which took about 20 mins and were preparing to disembark. The doors opened and they said something which we didn’t hear and then they shut the doors! Apparently we were going round again as a bonus trip. We were quite relieved to get off in the end as we had not planned on staying on it twice and it was very late.

The View from the Singapore Flyer

The View from the Singapore Flyer

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Ruth at the entrance of Singapore Zoo

Ruth at the entrance of Singapore Zoo

Singapore Zoo has a world famous zoo and is the only place we had ever heard of a night safari so we thought we’d take a look. We spent 7 hours looking at the animals. The zoo itself was good, much like Paignton Zoo and seemed to look after the animals. The animals we spent the most time looking at were the big cats in particular the endangered white tigers. They were amazing and treated us to a display of fighting and swimming.

White Tigers at Singapore Zoo

White Tigers at Singapore Zoo

After a short meal break we headed to the Night Safari. We weren’t sure what to expect as we had never been to a night safari before. We took a walking trail first and Jo walked through a large cobweb! Then we took the tour on the tram. It was good to see all the nocturnal animals that would not normally be in the zoo, however, the train went a bit quick and we did not have enough time to view them properly.

We explored the rest of the walking trails afterwards. This was brilliant as we got to see all the interesting animals for as long as we wanted. As the night went on we found that the animals were becoming more alert especially the cats. The leopards were just waking up and starting to play and the tiger treated us to a close up by walking right up to the glass next to us. We loved seeing the cats awake and excitable.

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On our first day we decided to head down to the Singapore river and explore the surrounding Colonial District.  We got the MRT downtown and headed along the river past Boat Quay (a lovely looking stretch of restaurants by the water) and Sir Raffles’ statue where he first landed in Singapore.  It was very hot so we decided a blast of air-conditioning was needed so we went into the Asian Civilisation Museum.  The museum was in a grand old colonial building and told us about the history of Singapore as well as all the different types of Asian people, religions and cultures.  It was absolutely fascinating but a lot to take in.  Whilst we were in their, a huge thunderstorm came over head which we watched from one of the museum’s big windows.

Colonial District Skyline

Colonial District Skyline

After the museum we headed towards the Raffle’s hotel complex.  For lunch we stopped in one of the bakeries there and then we headed to the front of the hotel to take a look and the infamous Long Bar.  The hotel looked very posh and beautiful.  The Sikh doorman was there in his uniform to greet guests as is the tradition.  The Long Bar was very dark and relaxed with many tourists drinking their Singapore Slings.  We decided to do it as well but at just shy of $30 we thought we’d share one!

Singapore Sling

Singapore Sling

The cocktail is very nice but they sell so many of them they mix is all pre-made, I put in more effort in making the cocktails when I worked in Yamba!  It was a nice drink though and each table came  with a big container of nuts the shells of which you apparently throw on the floor as it was covered in them.

Raffles Hotel

Raffles Hotel

We then strolled along the river, taking in the sights and resting in front of the Esplanade theatres.  The theatres are 2 fantastic modern buildings like two halves of an Easter egg placed next to each other with the outside made to look like the eyes of a fly.  Sounds odd I know but it looks great!  We sat here for a while and watched the skyscrapers turn their lights on as dusk came.  Finally we decided to move on and headed over the river for a closer look at the skyscrapers and the Merlion (the strange fountain sculpture on the waterfront that is half mermaid and half lion).  Walking back along the beautiful looking Boat Quay we discovered how touristy it is with touts for each restaurant and even a Manchester United bar!

We quickly got out of there and headed back to an outdoor hawker centre we spotted earlier.  The food was amazing.  We had some lovely chicken, a variety of satays with the best satay sauce I have ever had and then a spicy noodle dish (called Mee Leng or something like that).  To wash all that down I had a Tiger beer and Ruth had a really refreshing cane juice and then a cherryade!

After eating far too much (mostly I did this, Ruth was far more restrained) we caught the MRT back to our hostel and collapsed!

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Our hostel was in the Little India district of Singapore. As we were tired we didn’t want to venture far to eat, so we looked up the local restaurants and wandered to a back street not far away. The street was full of Indian take aways and restaurants however because it was off the main tourist drag it was full of locals and very cheap. All the restaurants looked like cheap kebab houses that are only frequented in England in the early hours of the morning after some beverages. They all had plastic signs with rubbish pictures of the food, tiled walls, plastic furniture etc. We discovered that this is the norm and even the posh restaurants look like this.

We picked a restaurant that was full of locals queueing and tried to guess what you were supposed to do. Not looking like locals it wasn’t long until one of the staff came and gave us a hand, pushing the locals out of the way so that we could see the food. We did get stared at by every single person that came into the restaurant (especially me as we did not see many women at all while in Little India).

We asked for chicken and lamb  but had no idea what that came with or what type of curry sauce it would be in. We were escorted to a table and shortly afterwards were presented with our food. It was lovely. We had chicken and lamb curry (still not sure on the sauce) on a banana leaf (instead of a plate) with a variety of extras (potato curry, onions in sauce, cucumber and an unknown veg dip). Rice was also provided along with some lime drinks. The locals all ate with their right hand only, so we got down and dirty eating the curry and rice like them. It was an excellent start to the varied cultural nature of Singapore and a great way to immerse ourselves in the area while getting over jet lag.

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Were in Singapore

After a delightful 5 hour coach journey from Plymouth to London we were able to chill for a bit and join some old friends for a drink or two.  After a few hours of catching up we tubed it to Heathrow, checked in, made some final quick calls to the family and waited to board our fight.

Unlike our flight to Hong Kong, we left on time which was a great relief.  To try and fit into the Singapore time zone (currently 7 hours ahead of England) we both got some sleep straight away and spent the second hour of the flight watching films (action for me and something that made her cry for Ruth!)and listening to music.  When I woke up halfway through the flight and looked out the window there was the most amazing sunrise in progress with sharp lines and colours that made it look more like a painting.

The flight was fine but by the end of the 12 hour journey we were pleased to get off the plane.  We now have a new stamp in our passports  and used the Singapore MRT (tube) to get to our hostel.  The MRT is extremely quick and clean (might be something to do with the $500 fine fore eating or drinking on it) and our hostel was only round the corner from the Little India station.  Ideal really, now time to have a shower and then get some food.

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It’s approaching the time that it is right for us to leave the UK again and resume our travels down under.  After some very long phone calls to the airlines we have managed to book our tickets back to Oz including a four day stopover in Singapore.  Hopefully this time our flights won’t be delayed, unlike our Hong Kong ones, and we’ll actually get to spend all of this time checking out the city.

Our flight to Singapore is booked for 26th April and the flight to Brisbane, Australia is on 1st May.  We are staying at quite a new hostel in Singapore, that seems to be getting a lot of good reviews so far, called G4 Station.  It is quite a centrally located place that should allow us to make the most of our time there and experience the many different aspects of Singapore.

So far I think I’m most excited about the food but the botanic gardens and rainforest also sound great.  We’re both looking forward to seeing another Asian city and its culture.

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