What?! No beach?!

Trip Start Jul 02, 2003
Trip End Aug 03, 2004

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Flag of Singapore  ,
Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Singapore. By far the nicest place we visited so far. There was a distinct lack of any beaches but it definitely made up for it in every other way. After all the hassle that comes with being a ferringhi (for those of you who are monolinguistic - foreigner) in Asia to reach Singapore was a real relief!!

Singapore's only 38 years old so it's got the benefit of taking the best bits of the west and integrating it with its Malay and Chinese culture. This means, however, that the centre is very modern and commercialised against a backdrop of small, and colourful houses and shops.

Singapore was essentially a hot, humid London but clean and efficient. So come to think of it, nuffink like London wot so ever!! The underground (Mass Rapid Transport) system and the underground passageways meant it was really easy to get around. (And for Vicky to find Topshop!! Because we didn't have enough to carry already!!)

As always the journey there was not quick!! It took an entire day and started with a white-knuckle boat ride from Pulau Tioman! (Vicky vowed never to get on another boat!!) We checked into our 'better-than-usual-scanky' hotel, courtesy of Vicky's uncle, Mike. After spending several hours trying to make ourselves look bootifool, we met Mike for dinner, which was fantastic after communicating with him via e-mail for the last year! (And finally some proper western grub, complete with a funky-monkey cocktail!!) The next couple of days we were shown the sights of Singapore by Mike, our own personal tour-guide. What a legend!! Although our one 'complaint' is that he introduced us to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, which became our all too regular! (And where we ended up spending about a third of our time and money.)

We had a very busy week compared to our usual state of beach-bumming! With Mike we checked out the Singapore river, the Merlion Statue (a half fish, half lion creature - the icon of Singapore), and marveled at the 'Escapade' - a building modeled after 'durian' - a fruit that looks, smells, and apparently tastes like shit (thanks for your wisdom, Moz). We visited the Botanic Gardens, which Vicky enjoyed but Moz, being more interested in beers than flowers, was less excited about.

We also wandered to the famous Raffles Hotel, which visually was nothing spectacular, but has an interesting history. We saw the Sir Stamford Raffles statue (not to be confused with the Merlion...) and of course, every tourist attraction has its own shopping centre (where Vicky bought an ickle cuddly monkey - Moz's replacement).

No tourist spot was missed!! We ate in various hotels/restaurants sampling some 'not-too-adventurous-and-weird' Singaporean food (well, that's what Mike told us...)

After saying goodbye to Mike, we had to fend for ourselves so we eventually peeled ourselves off the Coffee Bean chairs to explore further...

Vicky suggested going to Jurong Bird Park for the day, which Moz jumped at. He was very disappointed when he didn't get to see any of the beautiful 'birds' he had imagined. Aside from this little 'misunderstanding', the park had an exotic collection of birds (the f******g flying type!!) and good shows (which really pained Moz!!).

Unfortunately Moz's plan to get a replacement bird was in vain and the next day was stuck celebrating their 'happy, lovely, romantic, unforgettable' anniversary (yes, ok Moz, I have forgiven you!). This 'magical' day was spent on Sentosa Island, Singapore's answer to Disneyland - although they're not quite there yet. The island was basically a bunch of different attractions (with different entrance fees - they're not silly!). These included, a Butterfly Park (Vix spent too much time here!), Dolphin Lagoon (a 'show' in the loosest of terms), Underwater World (seen it, done it for real with trusty snorkels!), Cinemania (weird!!), dancing fountains (cool, and wet), more big man-eating fish and the large Merlion statue (which can be seen from the mainland). It was raining (what?! Wet stuff?!) when we got back so we didn't fancy venturing out very far to find some grub. We trekked all the way downstairs in our hotel and finished off the day with a lovely meal and dessert! Definitely ate too much!

The next day was not all that productive - we had been busy after all! The most we planned was to see a film at 9.45pm but after an early-ish dinner and getting distracted coz we had 'loadsa time', we missed it. Ooops. Luckily this meant we had plenty of energy to explore the 'riveting' Science Centre. Vicky was obviously very excited about this prospect, but gave in so Moz could get his own back for the loooong time spent in the Butterfly Park.

We stayed in Singapore a couple of nights longer than expected because we really wanted to visit the Zoo and Night Safari, but we had to put it off because of dodgy weather! Eventually we got there and spent a long day walking around and taking 'photo-photo' (Japanese-stylee). Vicky's favourite were without a doubt, the Chimpanzees! Moz was fascinated by the less cute, massive, dinosaur-like crocodiles! Time for more Moz wisdom: 80% of the world's animals are nocturnal so we explored the Night Safari hoping we could see the same creatures but actually doing summink. In actual fact, most of them do nuffink by day or night!! The one's that were interesting were the usual suspects. Owls, iguanas, bats and hyenas were freely roaming/flying around the grounds. The zoo was definitely one of the best we've been to, but the Night Safari was original, and a fantastic end to the day! After spending ten hours walking round, we were completely whacked!

We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Singapore, although maybe we're a bit biased having Uncle Mike as a tour guide; what a star! Thankyou again Mike for putting up with us and treating us like royalty!!

After relaxing in home-comforts we were very reluctant to move on, but we were in danger of spending the rest of our time in Asia in Singapore!!
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