Singapore Sling Shot!
Trip Start Mar 13, 2010
45Trip End Feb 13, 2011
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So, where were we. Oh yes, we had made it onto the plane to Singapore...but only just! Check-in took a positively 'swift' 45 minutes at Jo'burg airport due to the slight problem that their computers said Annie's passport was expired. Contrary to the physical evidence, African data claimed the passport (renewed just before we left in March) had expired in Sept 2010 (which, given we were flying in August, was still in the future anyway!) whereas it actually expires in 2020. After much discussion between the check-in girl and the office, she was advised to try scanning the passport in again...and of course got the correct information! We were eventually allowed to proceed through security, which was bizarrely incident-free and painlessly quick. And then we were on the plane, racing towards Singapore.
After Africa, Singapore Air was a breath of fresh...well, air
We had a bit of a wait at the airport (7 hours!) as my Mum was coming out to meet us for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, all the comfy seats, the internet, and the shops were the other side of customs at this point, so we found somewhere to sit and promptly fell asleep with each of our heads propped on an airport trolley
The hotel was at the top end of Jalan Besar, about 2kms away from the colonial core of the city. A pretty good location to get at all of Singapore's attractions and sights. However, the first day was spent mostly recovering from jet lag...or in my case not sleeping on the plane and instead watching 4 movies back-to-back.
The next morning we awoke fresh and ready for exploring. Our first stop was the National Museum - it made sense to find out about the city before we started seeing the sights. It was really interesting, giving a view of both the political and cultural history of Singapore, as well as a few live galleries dedicated to fashion, film and the sort. They also had a free guided tour which gave a fascinating local insight to many of the exhibits. Without realizing it we spent about 4 hours wandering through the museum. Feet sore, we decided to have a quick sit and drink before walking around Fort Canning Park. On our way back to the hotel from the park, we happened to be in the vicinity of a certain hotel with a bit of historic significance
The days came thick and fast, and as we were in Singapore for only a relatively short amount of time - 6 days - we crammed a lot in to every day; much to the protest of our feet. I could almost feel the sympathy of everyone for our poor selves! Our second day/night was spent exclusively at the famous Singapore Zoo and the adjoining Night Safari. Both were excellent. It was a fair trek to get to them, but well worth it. All of the animals at the zoo seemed very happy in their surroundings, and it's difficult to describe just how big the place is. We spent 6 hours there, and didn't see all there was to see. There were several highlights; the free ranging Orang Utan area was fantastic, feeding the Manatees and Giraffe was an experience, and watching the White Tigers being fed impressive. The Night Safari was also pretty cool. Taking walking trails and seeing various animals in the dead of night is something I would recommend.
One of the best things about Singapore, I felt, was the atmosphere of the place. People often seem to criticize the city as lacking soul, being too modern, and whilst that may be true about the centre it certainly is not of the other areas
The place that I think everyone should visit, and that definitely puts life into perspective, is Changi Museum and Chapel. It is the museum about the PoWs held in Singapore during the Japanese occupation in WW2. We all found it incredible, even knowing previously the conditions they were subjected to, how badly the PoWs were treated and how some survived. It's impossible to describe, and I won't do it the disservice of attempting to - I'd just urge people to go and see it if they ever can.
On a slightly lighter note, we also managed to visit the Jurong Bird Park and saw the impressively titled 'tallest man-made waterfall' - although when we found out that this was only 'in an aviary' it didn't seem quite so impressive
And then, feet having hardly touched the ground, it was time for us to leave Singapore and head to Malaysia. We had tickets for the morning train to Kuala Lumpur on 6th August. So having enjoyed our time in Singapore immensely, we jumped into a taxi and drove through the deserted morning streets towards the train station and a 7 hours ride into the heart of Malaysia.