Sunny Days and Stormy Nights In Singapore

Trip Start Dec 28, 2010
Trip End Mar 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
Tha Madras @ Eminence, Singapore

Flag of Singapore  ,
Friday, February 11, 2011

It was a short and uneventful flight into Singapore, ahead of time due to the immigration restrictions for Thailand. We’d done our research and armed with the contact details and location of the hotel we easily made our way through Singapore to a district called Little India. We’d had some challenges finding accommodation as we wanted a little luxury because of the length of our stay and we also wanted online access so we opted for a hotel with mixed reviews called the Madras @ Eminence. It was a good 10 minute walk from the nearest MRT (tube/train station) and a bit out of the centre of Little India but we were pleasantly surprised. Our first day was pretty chilled out as by the time we’d arrived and unpacked it was late afternoon. We ate locally at one of the many food courts around the city. You were spoiled for choice among the 20 or so stalls which offered all sorts of different foods. I decided to give some of the stalls a miss, in particular the Pig Organ Stall, and opted for an easy chicken and fried rice meal.
Day 2 and the Singapore adventure really began! We’d been on an open top bus tour in Hong Kong and all really enjoyed it so we headed out on the Singapore Hippo bus tour which also included a boat trip down the river and a trip on the Singapore Flyer (big wheel) – around 5 metres higher than the London Eye standing at 165m. Our bus ticket offered us unlimited access to all the city tour routes and by the end of the day we’d completed 2 routes fully and picked up parts of another. I don’t think there was a corner of Singapore left undiscovered by us and the trusty Hippo bus. We ventured around Little India, Chinatown, the Central Business District, the famous Orchard Road and also Raffles place as well as a few others. In amongst all this sightseeing we had time to stop for lunch and had our first experience of Singapore prices. Although not extortionate they were far higher than what we’d been used to – around 10 for a meal including a 2 glass of coke. The times of 60p meals were well and truly over. I could hear my debit card groaning!!! After our refuel we took advantage of the short boat tour which took us down the river from Clarke Quay to Marina Bay and the new Marina Bay Sands Resort. We also caught a glimpse of the flyer, our next stop. It was nice to learn a little about the history of Singapore as on the bus there had been some noise and the audio was quiet so we missed a lot of what was said. There is a point, just along from the quay, where a white statue of Sir Stamford Raffles stands and it was here that Sir Raffles was said to have first set foot on Singapore. His bronze statue, the more famous of the statues, was having some work done and so we weren’t really able to see it. This was also the case for the Merlion Statue, situated on the marina front opposite the Marina Bay Hotel. The Merlion statue and symbol were created to act as a logo for the Singaporian tourist board. The lion part comes from the original name for the city - Singapura meaning lion and 'mer' means sea. We managed to hitch a ride on the next boat tour back along to the Esplanade theatre again in the Marina Bay and only a short walk from the flyer. We had been very lucky so far with the weather. Literally every time we looked at the weather in the run up to arriving in Singapore it had said thunderstorms and rain…everyday!!! It was a beautiful and baking hot day so the air conditioned coolness of the eye ‘flight’ was very much welcomed. It takes around 30 minutes to complete a full cycle and throughout the time a small audio system gives you information about what you can see and the history of Singapore. It was a great location for seeing out across Singapore and if you squinted enough, on to Malaysia. It was a great day which we all thoroughly enjoyed but were all shattered and had another quiet night in preparation for the much anticipated Singapore Zoo the following day.
Day 3 and our turn to go to the famous Singapore Zoo. I’ve been to a few zoo’s, in fact I love the zoo, but I didn’t know what to expect as I’d heard it was good but didn't really know why it was supposed to be that good. The reasons were clear from the outset!! I stood close to the tivket booth, reading the map to get our bearings, when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a monkey sat on a branch right next to my shoulder. Not in a cage, not in an enclosure but roaming freely and right next to the entrance!!! I looked around for a minute half expecting someone to come running to catch it but nobody blinked an eye. Reading through the zoo leaflet it stated that a lot of animals roam freely, something quite unique to Singapore Zoo. Within about 100 metres of the entrance we’d encountered more monkeys and a few birds not to mention some native lizards. It was all pretty exciting so far and we started off into the different sections of the zoo, planning our day so that we could visit the shows and see the animals being fed as we went. The zoo structure is itself very impressive with boardwalks everywhere allowing you to see up close, or far away in the case of the giant crocodiles, the animals. There was so much to see that sometimes you could miss something until you were practically standing on it which is what happened with our Kangaroo encounter. Walking along taking pictures and looking at the animals we hadn’t noticed Joey (we named him) stood in our pathway. Not alarmed or concerned he just carried on nibbling at the earth and even posed for a picture as we stroked him. Pretty amazing and all this in the space of about an hour! We meandered through the different areas before stopping to watch the 'Rainforest Fights Back' show. Again we were lucky that the zoo was actually pretty quiet so we were able to get seats right at the front. It was an interactive show which started with the story of a local rainforest tribe trying to protect the forest from loggers. Some guys dressed in tribal loin clothes came out and as they made their way down the steps to the stage decided to grab Bowney to assist them in their little dance. They managed to convince him to take his top off, and grab a spear and shield, and yell at the crowd. This was shortly followed by some muscle poses. I was crying with laughter; Michelle was crying with laughter but we somehow managed to catch some classic shots of Bowney’s performance!! The rest of the show was brilliant – Animals came from all directions and with perfect timing along to the story. We all went up to have our picture taken with Bowney’s newt best mates and a big, very wriggly snake.
The fragile forest was particularly impressive. A giant netted dome housed monkeys, sloths, butterflies and flying fox bats…all just walking around. We were able to get really close to watch the bats having dinner and observe the sloth on his back, doing nothing but lying there…typical! There were a couple of things I wanted to do but had missed due to timings but one thing I did get to do was feed the giraffes. For a small $5 fee (about 2.50) you were given a basket of veg and allowed to get up close to feed them. Clearly very eager to eat, the tallest of the two cracked the wooden brace stopping him from getting to the feeding platform. I didn’t know if this was a good sign or not but they were more interested in the food than me. Giant long grey tongues curled out of their mouths to fight for the food I had, which I did try and share equally…I even managed to stroke one of them. Definitely a very worthwhile experience! Almost finished at the zoo we caught the last 'Animal Friends Show' of the day. Geared towards the little ones it used rescue animals such as dogs, cats and rats and was great for Michelle who’s missing her dog Milly. It was time to head back but we had noticed some large grey clouds rolling in and soon it started to rain. We were prepared as we’d already checked out the weather so we put on our waterproof coats and headed back towards the main entrance. We were basically at the other side of the park and the rain really started coming down. Then the thunder and lightning started. It was right above us and was the loudest, brightest and most active storm I’d seen. Torrents of rain were coming down and every second the sky was filled with lightning. It all got a bit intense so we took shelter for a while. Soon after one of the zoo trains, covered in animal print, turned up to pick us and started making its way back to the entrance, picking people us as it went by. Next thing we know we come to a stop and the driver says that a tree has been hit by lightning and is now blocking our path. Honestly it was like a scene from Jurassic Park. Thunder and lightning all around, torrential rain and we’re stranded!!! Luckily they must be prepared for this sort of thing as about 15 minutes later a tree surgeon came out to cut the trunk up and drag it off the road. All very exhilarating but slightly scary at the same time!
Day 3 and as you can imagine we were all still exhausted from the zoo so we didn’t get up until about midday! We didn’t have anything planned so we just headed out to explore Little India and Bugis Village, another district of Singapore. Michelle and Bowney decided to use their free 3 day Fitness First Pass at the gym and I headed to Fort Canning Park. Cited as one of the most historic parts of Singapore the park was once home to a fortress which stood on the hill between 1861 and 1926. There wasn’t much left there now - A Fort Gate, The Battle Box and some port tunnels – but it was lovely to walk around in the mid afternoon sun and catch glimpses of the Singapore skyline through all the vine trees. Caught up in my own little world I hadn’t noticed the same grey clouds rolling in. I didn’t want to take my chances and so ran, downhill in flip flops I might add, towards the nearest MRT station. I managed to get back to our hotel just as the thunder was rumbling above.
Day 4 was full of fun. On the outskirts of the main city is a resort called Sentosa. It seems to have every attraction imaginable – Underwater World, Cineworld, Segway Adventures and our chosen attraction, Universal Studios Singapore. So we could do a Universal Studios in lots of places but we’d already achieved so much in Singapore it was nice to have a complete day of fun and it did boast 18 unique to Singapore rides. The studios didn’t open until 10am so we had a sort of lie in and headed out and our first task was trying to get a decent photo of the Universal globe at the entrance. It was only $72 (about 36) which I thought was pretty reasonable for a day out. I did worry though that the prices for food and drink would be ridiculous!
Like so many other places the park was divided into sections such as Far Far Away, a Shrek themed section and The Lost world, a Jurassic Park themed section. We were in no rush so we took our time wandering through the different areas and sampling the rides. Disappointingly there were only about 2 rides or attractions per area and there were only 7 areas. Worse still the two main rides, which Bowney was very excited about seeing, were closed for maintenance. The settings for each area were fantastic though. In the Madagascar area there was a huge ship and in Far Far Away there was a massive castle. We headed into a 4D adventure show which featured Shrek and his friends and was actually brilliant. The 3D element was ok although a bit blurry but the 4D effects were hilarious. I was being thrown around in the moving seats, sprayed with water from all angles and during a scene where Shrek dropped a bunch of spiders to the bottom of the screen, short puffs of air were aimed at your ankles making half the theatre scream. Thumbs up from all of us for this one!! Our next main ride was the Jurassic Park River Rapids. The sign warned you could get wet or even soaked so as the picture illustrates we wrapped up in preparation. It was only at the end that you were dropped down into the water and Bowney bore the brunt of it…his shorts went a little see through!! The Revenge of The Mummy Ride was one of my favourites, probably because it was a rollercoaster in pitch black so you didn’t know what was coming. As we approached the Sci-Fi area we could see that the Battlestar Galactica Rides were actually open. Up we went on the first ride, one of two rollercoasters which raced around the track but took very different routes. It was a rough ride and our heads were all somewhat battered at the end. We headed on to the next ride and despite a short 10 minute delay to fix the ride we still went on it. Two rides in such a short space of time was not good. I came off walking slightly sideways, Michelle had a headache and Bowney felt sick! Luckily there were no more rides in the park so we just carried on through the various shows and areas and headed home to grab some local Indian cuisine. Our food was lovely but unusually presented on a large tray covered in a banana leaf with little piles of our food…no plates! I don’t think the food touched the sides of our mouths we were that hungry! Before we left Singapore we wanted to visit the famous Raffle’s hotel and get a Singapore Sling. Everyone I’d spoken to had said I had to go so I was determined, although I’d heard a cocktail cost $45 dollars which is about 23!! It’s a beautiful hotel and still retains the old fashioned charm it is famous for. The Long Bar on the second floor just oozes colonial decor and atmoshpere with old fashioned ceiling fans and furniture. Oddly when you walk in you are met by a sea of monkey nut cases all over the floor. At first I thought they just hadn’t swept up but it must be part of the charm as the waitresses wipe down the tables and knock the cases on the floor. A Singapore Sling set us back $25 dollars which wasn’t too bad and actually tasted really nice. They gave us a souvenir coaster and after another drink we headed home.
Day 5 is our last day and consisted of more packing more cursing at our backpacks and more filling time before our flight. We watched The Rite at the cinema and grabbed some food before making an early dart to the airport. Night flights are not the best but on a positive note night flying means we save money on a night’s stay. There’s always a silver lining!

Singapore is by far my favourite city of the trip. It is clean, well run and uncongested which is very surprising for such a large city. There is so much to see and do and so many different things to attract all different personalities. Budget wise it did hurt a little, although not as much as I’d thought, so I’d definitely like to go back with a bit more cash and do some of the things I didn’t get a chance to. A night out in Singapore looks like a riot but at an average of about 10 a drink it’s not a cheap night out. It also marks the end of our South East Asia adventure as we head off to Cairns in Australia. I’ll be sad to say goodbye but I’m really looking forward to heading into Australia, New Zealand and then relaxing before we come home in Fiji.
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