Singapore, United Kingdom and France
30 April 2015 to 19 June 2015
The Singapore Leg
Gavin and Ivy saw us off on a rainy Thursday, both of us feeling anxious and excited at the same time. Through Customs, the explosives wand passed over me, then the waiting to board. The engine cover is up, people are looking at the engine, what’s that about? All good, we’re on board. A bit of turbulence leaving Brisbane due to the weather, not too bad. Arrived in Singapore after a smooth flight, heavy rain here which delayed our landing. Through Passport Control, picked up our bags and into a cab to our hotel.
Up and out the next morning, looking for breakfast, found the Toast Box quite near our hotel. Hunger satisfied, started our walk into town. Well, we walked and walked and walked, until we finally realized that our hotel was a lot further out of town than we thought. Into a cab to Orchard Street and the Info Center to plan the rest of our day. Bought a ticket for the Hop On – Hop Off Bus. By now lunch time, so, after something to eat at a nearby food court, on to the bus to see as much as we could in what was left of the day. The bus took us on an extensive tour, taking in Little India, China Town, colonial areas and down by the bay. Starting to flag a bit by now, very hot and steamy, so decided to call it a day, into a cab and back to the hotel. Had a delicious dinner at the Evertop Family Restaurant just up the road. Cheap and cheerful. Hainan Chicken Rice forever a favourite.
Woke up the next morning to rain and a bit of thunder and lightning, which put paid to our plans for any further sightseeing. However, ventured out to Starbucks for breakfast, and a look around the local markets. I wished I had more room in my suitcase, as I came across some beautiful fabrics. Fresh fruit and veg, meat and fish, clothing, all on offer and very busy.
So, what to do with the rest of the day, as checkout is 12 noon and our flight wasn’t until 11pm? In hindsight we should have booked the room for an extra day, we did try, but just our luck the hotel was fully booked! Nothing for it, with the weather the way it was, but to head for the airport. The taxi driver gave us a bit of a tour, which was great, pointing out the old colonial buildings and how they are now protected. There is a lot of building work going on at the airport, our driver saying how a huge dome is being constructed to cover the whole airport. Mind boggling.
We checked our bags at the Left Luggage Office and began our tour! We had a bit of lunch and then, hopping on and off the skytrain, managed to cover the whole airport! It seems a bit silly, but the Singaporeans know how to put on a show. It was amazing. Orchid gardens, the Kinetic Rain Sculpture, waterfalls and fish ponds. I’m afraid we did a bit of a”Kath and Kel“. It was amazing how the time past, even just sitting and watching the hubbub of an international airport.
Lufthansa offered early check-in, so we collected our bags and made our way to the Departure Lounge, with still quite a bit of time before our flight. More surprises here with the Enchanted Garden, the Koi pond, even the duty free shops all beautifully laid out. Had some afternoon tea, then found the Oasis, comfy chairs in front of the TV! Made ourselves comfortable, reading and watching telly. Soon time for a bit of dinner then back to the lounge. Such a long day, but the time for departure eventually arrived. We were on our way to London!
The Singapore Leg
We left London for our flight to Singapore via Frankfurt at 5.30pm Sunday and arrived back in Singapore 4pm Monday afternoon. Our hotel this time much closer to town, right near Bugis Street and a short walk to Suntec where there is a tourist office and where all the buses leave for various tours. Fairly weary from our flight, so after settling in at the hotel, took ourselves off to explore the area and find something to eat. Of course Bugis Street is much different to when Max was there in his young days in the Navy. Back then it had a bad reputation for all sorts of unsavoury activities. Now it’s a stylish part of Singapore, with shopping malls and restaurants, but still keeping the markets and small eateries popular with the locals.
Slept in next morning and nearly missed our breakfast (provided with our accommodation). Mad dash then to make it in time. After breakfast made our way to the tourist office to see how much sightseeing we could cram into the next two days. First, a visit to Gardens by the Bay for a look at the Cloud and Flower Domes. The Cloud Dome is basically a huge greenhouse filled with all sorts of plants and flowers from all over the world that enjoy a moist humid climate. The Flower Dome is set out as gardens from different parts of the world. Even an Australian section showcasing our grevilleas, callistemons and kangaroo paw just to name a few. The main flower display was a Nursery Rhyme theme with masses of flowers forming a cottage garden. Very bright and colourful. A walk around the garden areas outside, a bit of lunch and back to the hotel. Next, the Singapore by Night Tour, so back to Suntec to board the bus. This tour was amazing. First a stop at the Singapore Flyer Food Trail for tea, you guessed it, Chicken Rice! Then back on the bus for the Gardens by the Bay Light Show. The show took our breath away, truly spectacular. Amazing light effects set to music. Next stop Bugis Street and a wander around the markets. Back on the bus to pick up a boat for a cruise around the bay, getting off at Clarke Quay to board the bus back to our hotel. All in all a great way to spend the night.
Up early for ‘first breakfast’, then on to catch the bus for the Zoo. We were the only two on the Safari Gate coach, felt very special. Looking forward to ‘second breakfast’ with the orang-u-tans. Settled down to a very tasty meal when down through the trees came Mum Orang-u-tan and her brood. What funny creatures they are. Very blasé sitting there eating their fruit and leaves, watching us other funny creatures watching them. Those who chose to were able to line up for a photo, me included. The rest of the day we spent strolling around the Zoo, taking in various shows, the Polar Bear feeding, the Elephant Show and an Animals of the Rainforest Show. There were the usual exhibits of assorted monkeys, a beautiful white tiger, all sorts of animals from Africa and Asia. Back on the bus, a bit of a rest, then out again for a wander around the shops and some dinner.
The Singapore folk are such a friendly bunch, always a pleasure to talk to. I know there were lots of other places we could have visited, but time was against us. Again, in hindsight, we should have done the Singapore leg in one go, preferably on our way to the UK. After six weeks touring, and then the long flight back to Singapore, we were really too tired!
So, our last day in Singapore. Starting to feel very weary by now from our travels. Not much enthusiasm for any more sight-seeing from either of us! Off to the airport, a look at the Butterfly Garden, which was lovely, a bit of duty-free shopping, then a comfy spot to sit and read and watch TV, and basically veg out until our flight! Didn’t get much sleep at all on the flight home. Finally, breakfast, and then on the ground at around 7am. And there was Gavin waiting for us. So pleased to see him. Thank you, Gavin, for doing the Airport run.