A Travellerspoint blog


All those birds and no poop?

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Today (20th March) was spent at the Singapore bird park. This consisted of around 3,500 birds covering about 900 species. Although a lot of these were in open spaces (e.g. flamingos, which when I saw them, I got the inexplicable urge to play croquet) there were also a number of aviaries.
One, which recreated a rainforest, has the largest man-made waterfall in the world - there's a challenge for any landscape gardeners out there. Other aviaries included the largest in SE Asia, and one that simulated a thunderstorm and associated rainfall once a day (ironically, there was a thunderstorm while we were at the park).

In the evening, we found a nice restaurant in the Singapore Chinatown Cultural centre and had a great value meal (entree, main course and soft drinks for 2 for $35), although the owner made Eddie Maguire seem shy and retiring - posters and news articles about him adorned the length of one wall and a TV was playing a continuous stream of programmes about him. I guess he is running for Prime Minister next. After dinner, we had our last walk through Chinatown, stopping to take a few photos before returning to our room.

So, time for my thoughts on Singapore: this is our second time here, the previous time we stayed briefly in Raffles while on honeymoon; doing it "backpacker style" is a real contrast. Before arriving, I thought it would be the same prices as Australia but have been pleasantly surprised that it isn't the case. I would come back again, and could probably do budget accommodation again. If visiting for the first time, I would recommend shelling out as much as possible as Singapore does luxury well, but make sure to check out Chinatown, staying until past sun down, if possible.

Posted by jefranklin 04:20 Archived in Singapore Tagged backpacking round_the_world city_break Comments (0)

Day one in Singapore

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Our first day in Singapore didn't start until after midday, as we spent the morning catching up on a lot of lost sleep.
We started off by exploring Chinatown itself. It is best described as a cacophony of smells, noises and people. There are stalls selling clothes, food and bric-a-brac (i.e. junk) and just about everything imaginale except dodgy DVDs as the Singapore government has cracked down on that kind of behaviour, not that we would ever endorse it. We spent a few hours wandering around in the humidity, before heading off to the other major cultural district in Singapore: Little India.

Just like Chinatown, Little India is a cacophony of smells, noises and people. However, as Singapore is about 75% Chinese, Little India is not as large. We
spent a couple of hours here, before heading back to the hostel and having a much needed shower.

In the evening, we found probably the dodgiest place possible to eat dinner and ordered something that could have passed off as edible. There is a strong penchant in Singapore for porridge served with a variety of accompaniments (e.g. chicken, seafood, etc.). Neither Heather or I were in the mood to try it, so it should come as no surprise that the place we had picked sold nearly exclusively porridge. We managed to find something on the menu that wasn't porridge, but as stated it was barely edible. We may be losing a few kgs in SE Asia :)

Posted by jefranklin 04:16 Archived in Singapore Tagged backpacking round_the_world city_break Comments (0)

Back to Singapore

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Friday was the last day of our cruise but we didn't leave the ship until the afternoon, which gave us several hours to kill. After packing our suitcases and giving them to the porter, we headed to the pool and lazed by it for a little longer, as we had not quite done enough of that during the cruise. By this point, all the other passengers were rushing around like mad things trying to get their checking out done, but we were well ahead of them. At midday or so, the ship docked and people were given clearance to leave; Heather however stayed by the pool. Eventually after much persuasion by me, she agreed it was time to leave. By this time it was gone 1pm, and we were some of the only ones left on the boat other than staff.

We caught our ride back to the Raffles Plaza, and checked in again. Once back in our room (which had a nice view directly over to the Raffles hotel) we decided that as we had time to kill, in Singapore, we would do a tour to the Night Safari. So we phoned them up, and tickets were duly booked...

The Night Safari itself was an interesting contrast of extremes. On the tacky tourist side, there was the tour guide that we had who seemed intent on getting us through the entire tour by 10pm (the animals were pretty quiet at that point). Heather and I decided that we could get a cab back to the hotel, so we broke away from the group and wandered around the safari by ourselves. Our perspective of the safari changed completely when doing this: walking quietly as just a pair was a lot more effective than being part of a guided group. We were fortunate in that we mostly managed to avoid the large groups of tourists, so we got to see a lot of activity. I had the video camera recording everything with the night-vision on. I must get in to the habit of charging video cameras nightly rather than when the batteries are flat though. The damn batteries drained 3/4's of the way through the tour, so we missed out on recording a few animals unfortunately.

After the safari we returned via taxi to the hotel, arriving back there at around midnight. We capped off the evening in sophisticated fashion by drinking tea and listening to Mantovani on the radio. I couldn't find my cardigan, pipe and slippers though.

Posted by jefranklin 11:04 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

####[email protected]@@%%%******!!!!!!!

This morning we woke up with the mother of all hangovers, vaguely recollecting singing bad Beetles songs, drinking lots of cocktails, smoking cigars and various other things associated with a big night.

The day was highlighted by the ship returning to Singapore port, and if we wanted, we could have explored the city further. The best option for us though was to just lay by the pool and do nothing until the pneumatic drills in our heads stopped and we could face other people without a green tinge to our face. Later in the day, my brain decided to punish my body further and sent it (in auto pilot) to the gym, while Heather stayed by the comfort of the pool. Probably a better idea in the long run...

Towards the evening, my brain started to sort itself out, which was just as well because tonight was the second England qualifier. Unfortunately none of the onboard bars were screening it, so I was going to have to watch it in my room. Heather would have watched, but given that it was being screen at 2am Singapore time, she said "forget it". At 10 o'clock we retired to bed, Heather slept and I checked my alarm was set.

1.50am my alarm woke me up and I quietly turned on the tv, while perched on the end of the bed. What the f*ck is going on??? England and Azerbaijan were kicking the ball around, and game timer was 92 minutes... It's only then that I figured that I had not counted for the time zone difference that is warned about in tiny print at the bottom of the TV guide page. 2 minutes later, the ref blew the whistle, and England had won 1-0.

Not only had I not seen the game, I also knew the result so watching the replay for the first time wouldn't be particularly thrilling. Damn it!!

Posted by jefranklin 10:59 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

We are sailing, we are sailing...

Sunday morning, I had to wake up early to get a replacement camera. So it was a mad rush to the Funan shopping centre to pick a decent model before we had to leave at 11:30. After a bit of hunting around, I decided on a Canon A75, but becuase I was feeling slightly frivolous, I bought an adapter that could take standard 58mm lenses and a 2x optical lense. Then it was a run back to the hotel, where I had left Heather packing for the next leg of our holiday.

We arrived at Singapore port and headed to the checking in counter. Neither of had completed an overseas cruise before (except a 3 day mini-cruise to Spain that I did years ago, but that didn't count), so it was quite unnerving when we had to hand over our passports, never to see them again (so we thought). We eventually boarded the cruise liner and found our rooms: An ocean-view state room with balconey on level 10 on the starboard side of the ship. There was a slight hiccough with the beds as they were separate, however a quick phone call to reception fixed that. We kept the single quilts though, that way Heather couldn't keep pinching the covers :) A bonus with our room was that we had a tv that could pick up the ESPN Star, which was the station showing the next England qualifier. Woo hoo!!! I left various notes around the room to remind me, and set my alarm watch. I was not going to miss this game for anything...

Not long after leaving port, we had the mandatory abandon ship drill: we all dressed in life jackets and basically looked wallies, while the crew took us through the procedure should we happen to run in to an iceberg. In the evening we ate at the on-board Japanese restaurant and explored the ship in detail. It was very pleasant, but reminded me slightly of Butlins. Especially with the tannoy announcements.

Posted by jefranklin 10:51 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

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