Tuesday 23rd – arrived on time (local time 21.15 – now only 8hrs ahead of Ireland), got through customs relatively quickly and our luggage was waiting for us in the baggage reclaim hall – what efficiency! At the arrivals hall we queued for a taxi and within 10mins we were on our way to our new abode, Swissotel at Merchant Court. A very warm welcome awaited us, given the usual rundown of the hotel and things to do and see and then shown to our room. We had secured a great deal through Expedia and were staying in one of the Executive rooms with access to the club – a far cry from our "dated" room in Sydney. By the time we unpacked, it was time to hit the sack!
Wednesday 24th – up relatively early and after breakfast started to explore the city. The humidity/heat was incredible but we ambled along taking in Clarke Quay, Raffles landing monument and onto the Asian Civilisations Museum
. This Museum was very interesting and chronicles 5,000 years of Asian art and history, providing information on the heritage of East, Southeast, South and West Asian Cultures. We then sauntered across Cavenagh Bridge the oldest original bridge in Singapore, taking some photos of the Fullerton Hotel en route – originally built in 1928 as the General Post Office. From here we walked along the landscaped promenade of Boat Quay. In the 1860's this was a hotbed of trading activity, handling three quarters of Singapore’s total shipping business – totally different now with a strip of pubs and restaurants with alfresco riverside seating and what a lovely place for a leisurely lunch – the beauty of holidays! We eventually dragged ourselves away and on to Chinatown. Decorations for the Chinese New Year was still very evident, the hustle and bustle quite dramatic – we strolled around some markets but eventually the heat got too much for us so back to our hotel for a much needed rest. Luckily our hotel was very central, literally a 2min walk and you were on Clarke Quay. Later on we paid a visit to the club room and had a few bevvies and various delicacies – caught up with some emails and our Blog and retired early.
Thursday 25th – Decided to have a relaxing morning – visited the swimming pool and chilled out for a while. We had lunch booked for 12.30pm in Raffles, the world-renowned hotel
. This is Singapore’s oldest hotel but still exudes charm and elegance. Lunch was buffet style and the selection was enormous – absolutely delicious - we were the last to leave at 3.30pm. We took a tour around the various exquisite boutiques and also took in a visit to the hotel museum, whiling away a couple of hours. We enjoyed our time here so much that we decided to book afternoon tea for Saturday – we would leave our Singapore Sling until then. We eventually got back to our hotel, detoured by the club as you would...had a few more bevvies and then decided to take an evening stroll along the quays – so different at night time – the place is busy during the day but absolutely buzzing at night – a great place to relax and while away an hour or two.
Friday 26th – Our plan for this am was a trip to Orchard road – for those of you who haven’t been to Singapore this is it’s most famous shopping street - shopper’s paradise! It really is an incredible place with mega-malls, several luxury fashion stores and underground markets. We wandered around for a few hours, buying a few bits and pieces but mesmerised in the main – this place is for hardcore shopaholics!!! By 2pm we had enough and decided to head back to Clarke Quay(our local) for lunch – now this is more our style!!! Our plan for the evening was to take in the night safari - the world’s first night zoo
. We got a taxi at 7pm expecting it to take 30mins but never expected the traffic to be so heavy...it took us 55mins to get there and apparently that was good going – would you believe our fare cost the equivalent of 20 Euro – don’t our Irish cabbies have a lot to learn – I would hate to think what that would cost at home... This was a fantastic evening and we would thoroughly recommend it. First off we attended the Creatures of the Night show and saw a number of nocturnal animals displaying different skills. We then took the 45min tram ride around the zoo, enjoying the many sights including elephants, rhinos, hippos, hyenas to mention just a few of the 1,000 nocturnal creatures living in naturalistic enclosures that replicate in as much as possible their respective homelands. It is a simple enough visitor offering and one is left wondering why other Zoo’s don’t offer it as an option ..... it seems like a real money spinner to me, Taxi back to our home base took less than 30mins thankfully...we had a few drinks in Clark Quay before retiring for the night.
Saturday 27th – A tour booked for this morning – collection from the hotel at 08.15am - we were eventually collected at 08.45am – not a great start we were beginning to think we had been stood up! First stop was the Singapore Flyer ride. This is similar to the London Eye and takes you 165metres above ground level and gives you a 360degree panoramic view of the city – another super attraction lasting one hour
. From here we went to Merlion Park where we took photos of the Merlion (statue, half mermaid and half lion) and then got a river boat ride in what they call a bumboat to Clarke Quay – lovely views of the city from completely different angles. Once we disembarked we visited the Royal Selangor museum and showroom. Back on the bus and off to the National Orchid Garden – what a treat. The display of Orchid’s was just fantastic – see photos – even I could have stayed here for much longer but time got the better of us. From here it was a drop off to Orchard road or back to the hotel – we opted for the latter as we had our afternoon treat to look forward to. Taxi to Raffles at 3.25pm and were seated at our table with a glass of bubbly by 3.40pm – what a way to spend a Saturday afternoon – we would highly recommend this way of life – the only disadvantage as we currently see it is the need to sample a bit of everything and the consequent impact that has on the waistline. It was afternoon tea/high tea as we were treated to a buffet of local dishes as well as the normal 3 tiered cake stand. By 17.00pm we could eat no more, so made our way to the long bar for our Singapore Sling. One was nice but neither of us could manage a second – the place was very buzzy, lots of tourists like ourselves keen to partake in this experience. The long bar is quite familiar looking – to those of us that have frequented various pubs over our lifetime – it is a long dark wooden bar – with stools and the usual beer taps
. The difference in this place is the tradition that has been maintained that customers having drinks are offered a bowl (or several) of monkey nuts – they de-shell the nuts, eat away and are actively encouraged to throw the shells on the ground. Yes – you can imagine what that does to the floor – it is completely covered with empty shells but it appears to be accepted and no effort is made (during opening hours at least) to clean up the mess. Strange but nice in a peculiar sort of way .... The bar is visited also by pigeons who fly in and perch up on high pedestals waiting for dropped peanuts which they retrieve quite bravely at the feet of lounging customers. One could certainly while away a few hours here (by the way Guinness and other desirable ales are served here so you don’t have to survive drinking the Singapore slings). Back to the hotel and did a little packing. Up to the club room for an hour and then out to take a night bumboat ride. Such a difference – the place was electric, thronged with tourists and locals alike partaking in the various activities on offer. Had a drink along the quay but with our early start the following morning we were home before midnight.
Sunday 28th – Alarm call at 05.30am – not very pleasant...taxi ordered for 6.30am to take us to the airport. We really enjoyed our few days in Singapore – the city is absolutely spotless - the only drawback as we saw it was the high humidity levels – we would recommend it as a stopover but not for a long holiday