Singapore Sling

Trip Start Jul 27, 2003
Trip End Jul 26, 2004

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Flag of Singapore  ,
Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Monday 21st June
We were up early to catch our bus from lovely Melaka to Singapore. Malaysia is joined to Singapore by a huge causeway. It was relatively easy to cross through, exiting Malaysia and entering Singapore immigration. We got our passports stamped and were back on the bus within 15 mins. We got dropped off at Lavender bus station and went to catch the MRT which is Singapores spotless underground system. Its perfect except for the ticket procedure which is stupid! Youe queue up to buy your ticket which is only about $1 - $1.50 to anywhere (divide by 3 for pounds) but you have to pay $1 deposit for your ticket which means you have to queue up again after your journey to insert your ticket back into the machine and request your $1 back. The ticket is of no use after one journey, youcan't add credit to it , you can't buy a return or a day pass you just have to queue twice for each journey! Otherwise its perfect. Clean, quick and ontime and also extremely cheap!

We took the MRT to Orchard Road and walked down to The India High Commision to sort out our visas. The Embassy is only open from 9.15 to 11.00 and 4.15 to 5.15 and it was 4.15 when we arrived and we got a ticket at the Tesco Deli counter style queue system and found we were number 40! They eventually opened the desks at 4.30and we got our application forms and filled them in. The visa takes 5 days but we had checked if we submit on Monday we could collect on Friday which was fine as flight was on Sunday. I went to ask a question about the form and was told I couldn't submit it today! They only accept application in the morning session and afternoons are for collection of Visas! If we didn't get it in today we would have to wait till Monday. There was apparently no way round this but to come back tomorrow morning. We could then apply between 9.15 and 11.00 tomorrow and then make two more visits next Monday one in the morning to submit our passports and one in the afternoon to collect them! So four visits to get a visa! We eventually left at 5.30pm with nothing gained and made our way to Orchard Road for a Starbucks. We put our rucksacks back on and made our way up Orchard Road to where we were staying.

We were staying at Toms who is Trevs Dad (for those who know Trev - Hi Trev!) Tom has been in Singapore for 13 months with work and stays in a really nice serviced apartment. We met him in reception and went up to the apartment. There is a free breakfast downstairs every morning, maid service, swimming pool, tennis courts and even a free shuttle bus service every hour which goes to variou places in Singapore.

We were pretty knackered and had a lazy evening with a bottle of wine and caught up with Tom.

Tuesday 22nd June
We got up and called Siungapore Airlines to get our flights changed to Tuesday. They had no availability for 2 weeks but reckoned we would have a good chance on standby so we were put on standby for next Tuesday. We headed down for our free brekkie of muffins, danish pastries, croissants, toast and best of all (because its been months!) cereal! We got the 8am Shuttle to drop us off near the Indian Embassy. Already there was a queue in the street waiting for the doors to open. We waited in the queue and eventually got our ticket and waited. We eventually got served and handed over our application and application fee and then headed out into the shopping mall that is Orchard Road. I have never seen so many shopping malls and centres in one street, each one bigger and brighter than the last. We had a wander round the freezing cold malls before heading back to the apartment for a swim in the pool. We had a lazy afternoon spent either in the pool or the air conditioned apartment. We got a call to say our standby flight had been confirmed which was great. When Tom got home from work we all headed out to an Indonesian restaurant on Orchard Road for a delicious Beef Rendang.

Wednesday 23rd June
We caught the shuttle bus to Raffles and had a wander round the huge hotel. Its massive! They have a map and directory to help you get around. We had a look around the shops and the Long Bar, home of the famous Singapore Sling, it was too early to try one! We headed across the road to Chijmes which was a convent, orphanage and school till 1983 but has since been redeveloped into bars, shops and restaurants. From here we headed down to the SIngapore River and walked along it to Clarke Quay and had a look round the stalls and shops on the riverfront. We headed to a local Hawker Centre for some lunch. Hawker stands were once upom a time street stalls like those found everywhere in Asia but being Singapore it was decided they made the streets look untidy so they were all rounded up and put into Hawker Centres. The food was great and dirt cheap but its basically just like eating at a food court so the atmosphere and hustle and bustle you get from the street stalls is gone.

After lunch we headed to Fort Canning Park to walk it off. Its a beautiful big park with a reservoir in the middle and great views of Singapores Financial District. We sat in the peacefulness of the park for a while and then headed down the hill back to Orchard Road to cool off in Singapores biggest mall which has the worlds largest fountain outside. It wasn't switched on which may and just looked like a large brass ring so not that great. We were soon knackered and made the walk back along Orchard Road and back to the apartment. We ordered in a pizza and had a bottle of wine and watched a film before having an early night.

Thursday 24th June
Today after breakfast we caught the shuttle sown to the bottom of Orchard Road and made our way through Esplanade Park and checked out some of the stunning architecture and sculptures. We got to the river and walked along passed the beautiful Old Parliament Houses to the Raffles Landing Sight where there is a white statue of Sir Stamford Raffles which marks the spot where he first set foot in Singapore in 1819. Opposite the river were some good views of the shiny skyscrapers in the CBD behind the old terraced houses of Boat Quay most of which are now cafes and bars.

We crossed the river into the Financial District and made our way to Chinatown. Even the streets of Chinatown are pristine! We had a walk round the streets of Chinatown before giving up on the heat and getting the icy cold MRT back to Orchard Road. We headed back to the apartment and chilled out for a few hours before making our way to North Singapore about an hour away to the Night Safari. It opens at 7.30pm till midnight and was fantastic. Why has no one else done this before. Singapore Zoo and Singapore Night Safari have a no cage policy so they have natural barriers like rocks, streams and vegetation to seperate the animals from us. They had a special offer on a dual ticket which meant you could go to the zoo within a month for not much more so we bought one of those and headed into the night safari.

There are 4km of walking trails through the jungle and a tram which goes all the way around. We decided to walk the trails first. Its just like taking a walk through a forest at night and lighting is minimal. All th animals are really active rather than lying asleep like you see in day zoos. We saw some Fishing Cats which were amazing, wild cats sitting at the edge of the stream and every now and again swiping out a fish with their paws! We walked on further and suddenly came across a huge Black Rhino munching on some grass. It feels really surreal.

We wandered througfh the Burmese Jungle, the Nepalese River Valley and the Asian Rainforest having close encounters with elephants, sloth bears, otters, tigers, anteaters and a million others. The other good thing was it wasn't a case of there being one or two animals of each type there were quite a few of each species so they didn't look lonely. We went round on the tram for a last look round before catching a bus at 11pm to catch a bus home. A highlight of our visit to Singapore.

Friday 25th June
After our late night last night and also wanting to take advantage of being in a nice place we decided to have a day off today and didn't leave the apartment. We watched TV and surfed the internet all day.

Saturday 26th June
We got up and headed out to take a walk through the colonial district to the Botanic Gardens. It was really hot so we had lots of rests along the way. The Botanic Gardens are beautiful 130 acres of tranquility in the city. There was a Swan lake and a Lily pond, Orchid and Ginger Gardens and a huge bromeliad collection. By lunchtime we were sweating so caught a bus down Orchard Road to Scotts Road Food Centre. We had a lovely Chinese for about a pound each and caught a shuttle bus to Raffles.

We headed up to the Long Bar where we found ourselves a comfy corner and ordered ourselves a couple of Singapore Slings. They arrived in a tall glass witha wedge of pineapple and a cherry on top - they were lovely. The free peanuts were good too and you just throw the shells on the floor. The floor is littered with peanut shells and nearly everyone is drinking Singapore Slings. We sat enjoying the ambience and the swaying aplms on the ceiling. We made them last as the tab came in at $37.50! We had a wander round the Raffles shop and lawns where a Wedding was taking place. We caught our Shuttle Bus back to the apartment and had a shower and a rest before heading out with Tom on the lovely Emerald Hill Road, a listed street full of cafe bars which felt more like the Med than sitting in Singapore.

Sunday 27th June
Today we headed to Sentosa Island an island off South Singapore joined by a bridge and a cable car to the mainland. I don't know quite how to describe Sentosa. Its not a theme park as such but you pay $2 to enter and the island has a free monorail which takes you to various beaches, resorts and theme parks like Fantasy Island and Underwater World. The centre of the Island is a hill full of nature trails. We went to one of the manufactured beaches which was nice but looks out onto the busiest shipping lane in Asia. It also faces a huge oil refinery!

We took the free monorail a few stops around the island and got off in the middle for a walk on one of the nature trails and then walked back down to the beach for a swim. We swam about for a couple of hours and then headed back to the apartment where we watched TV before getting an early night before a busy day tomorrow.

Monday 28th June
We made the journey to the Indian Embassy and joined the queue on the street at 8.30 and waited till they opened at 9.15. We got in and got our ticket and waited another half an hour till we were called. OUr application had been successful so we handed over our passports and visa fee with instructions to caome back between 4.15 and 5.15 to collect them.

We headed to Orchard Road MRT and headed to the Zoo. We went to watch and animals of the rainforest show where they had orangotangs which were scarily human like. The zoo has the same no cage policy and the monkeys are literally flying overhead through the branches and trees. We went to watch the polar bears being fed which are my favourite. They are beautiful. We also saw the lions and the wild dogs being fed. The wild dogs went mental there were about twenty of them in this huge enclosure and they were viciously attacking the dead chickens. We walked through the worlds largest primate collection and watched the baby chimpanzees playing in the trees.

By 2.30 pm it was time to head back to the city for our final queue at the Indian Embassy. We only had a 45 minute queue and we got our passports back with our Indian Visas inside. We then headed back to the apartment for our last evening in Singapore.

Tuesday 29th June
We got up and put a load of washing on then had breakfast before packing up our bags. We checked out some places on the Internet for India as we have no real plans yet and because of the monsoon season heat we think we will head North to the Himalayas where it will be cooler. We sorted ourselves out and caught the 3pm shuttle to Raffles where we caught the MRT to the airport. $1.40 direct from the city to Terminal 2 - bargain.

We killed time at the airport which is easy at Singapore with countless free internet terminals and free shows. We watch a Spiderman Show which was on in the foyer where good looking men in lycra outfits jumped about from scaffolding and ran about. I quite enjoyed it! Time passed quickly and our flight was called. We were the only non Indians on our flight and I had heard that Indians don't travel light and they were getting on the plane with huge peices of hand luggage including TVs, lampshades and huge cases. We were delayed by half an hour as there wasn't enough room in the overhead lockers for all their bags so they had to check some luggage in whilst on the plane. The stewardesses told me we would still be in Delhi on time as they allow for this on all flights to India!

We had another excellent flight with Singapore Airlines, with delicious food, a couple of G & Ts and Ice Lollies! We arrived in Delhi at 21.50 to a temperature of 37 degrees but had to wait an hour for our luggage as there was so much for the baggage handlers to manage! At 11pm we ventured to the PrePay taxi booth without a problem and paid 215 rupees for a taxi to Paharganj in central New Delhi. There are 83 Rupees to the pound. We had a hairy ride into town where the Thai driving was made to look timid! We arrived in Paharganj just before midnight where the streets on the Main Bazaar were pretty quiet apart from a few cows! We found an open guest house so checked it out and paid 250 rupees for an ensuite room with fan, air cooler (which has zero in common with air conditioning!) and cable TV. We dumped our bags and had a quick cold shower and went to bed.
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