Monkeys at the Bus Stop - having a 'Fine' Time!

Trip Start Sep 09, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Singapore  ,
Monday, January 7, 2008

After yet another delay we decided to this time used the meal vouchers to fill up on beer and nachos in the bar, seemed as good a way as any to pass the time!

We arrived at Changi airport and like we'd been told it was the most impressive we had been to, instead of going to retrieve our bags straight away we decided to look around for a bit. The airport itself is huge and takes up most of the east side of the Island. Carpeted through-out and complete with swimming pool, gym, foot massagers, internet and a roof top bar with cactus garden - why can't we get delayed at these type of airports? The icing on this very big cake came when we went through immigration and were given a Fox's glacier mint especially made for the airport... fancy! When collecting our bags we realised that we'd been wondering around the airport for over an hour and the airport staff had pulled our bags off the conveyor belt (which had now stopped) and dumped them in the middle of the floor! Oh well at least we didn't have to wait for them!

Since a few people during our travels had told us that Singapore is 'just a city' and 'you'll only want a couple of days there' our expectations weren't that high. But we'd thought that we'd still give it a go as people had told us we'd hate Mumbai and we loved it....

Straight away you can see that everywhere is super clean with tall colourful buildings to look onto, and the people are all incredibly friendly and willing to help - at first our guard was up and we were turning them away: 10 weeks in India where help and advice nearly always comes at a price (even when they just followed you down the street they would stand there with their hand out excepting some sort of tip!) had now made us wary of people offering to help. It didn't take long (we only offended a few people!!) before we realised that they were all just really kind and want to make you feel welcome. Nice!

Our first night here also saw in our 4 year anniversary so to celebrate (apart from lunch in Melbourne) we headed down to the riverpoint for a posh dinner along Clarke Quay. We sat along the riverside and watched the cute dining boats cruise up and down whilst all around us flew remote control light up kites - it reminded us both of something out of Batteries Not Included.

The tropical weather hit us hard on our first full day, the rain was so heavy that after 30 minutes waiting under a shelter for it to stop we decided that even to cross the road to get to the bus stop we were going to get soaked so we hailed a taxi! A rainy day option was needed; luckily we had a couple ready and waiting, we headed for the Science Centre (my choice unfortunately for Tom) with experiments, special effects, optical illusions all interactive as well as a 2D dome cinema. We both had a great time acting like a couple of kids, with the added bonus of going to an attraction that for once wasn't a temple!
After just a few days we decided we really liked Singapore and there was so much we wanted to do here and that we needed more time to do it in....
Getting around Singapore is so easy as the Metro train link the whole of the island together. The name of the company Singapore Mass Rapid Transport (SMRT) broke Tom out into a Homer Simpson song everytime we used the system;

"I am so smart, I am so smart, S M R T, I mean S M A R T!" funny the first few times!

Once on the train everyone is either sleeping or playing with their PSP game consoles so naturally I joined in and seeing as we don't have a PSP, sleeping was my only option!
We set out for Singapore's highest summit located in Bukit Timah, one of only two nature reserves inside a city in the world. (A special mystery gift goes to the first person who can correctly name the other one!) Bukit Timah also boasts having more species of trees than the whole of North America as well as an abundance of wildlife. We got to the Nature Reserve to find a wooded area no bigger than Aldershot Park, no monkeys and a weirdo man drying his pants over the railings to the quarry. Needless to say we were a little disappointed, but when checking the map again we realised we were in the wrong bloody place! Bukit Bakot nature park is where we were and it was pretty crappy, although it wasn't a complete waste of our time as the signs around the park were genius:

Feeling like a pair of idiots we sheepishly went and asked a lovely lady at the bus stop the correct way to go, she was overly happy to help us and spent about 10 minutes talking us through all the buses! We got to our stop at the Nature Reserve as we got off Tom was over come with excitement and finding it difficult to control himself, I managed to calm him down enough for him to tell me 'There's monkeys, monkeys, monkeys at the bus stop!' then he ran off to feed them his peanut biscuits. Stupidly he had chosen the wrong country to do this in, anywhere else in Asia they couldn't care less, but Singapore is nicknamed 'the fine city' for a good reason, that being that everything is a fine! Eating and drinking on SMRT - FINE
Smoking in public - FINE
Vandalisium - CANE & JAIL
Possession of any drugs - DEATH
and of course as we already knew from the signs we took photos of earlier;
Feeding monkeys - FINE... and guess who got caught? Yep Tom!

Luckily he played the dumb tourist card (a little bit too well I might add!) and he managed to get away with just a warning, although he had his passport details taken just in case he tried it again, then... FINE! After the telling off the guy obviously took pity on us dumb tourists and helped us in our search for the Nature Reserve. Once inside Bukit Timah we hiked for over 2 hours up to the summit. Expecting to actually see something, it was a total anticlimax as the surrounding forest had over grown so much from the beautiful photos we'd seen that now all you could see were leaves and tree trunks! Rubbish! Tom even pushed his way through some bushes to try and get a look at some sort of view but to no avail. So we plodded back down to the nearest pub for a well deserved beer...

Tom is turning into his Dad more and more - not only is his hair beginning to receed (sorry Mick!) but also he feels the need to try every item of food there is, when going past street stalls he simply asks for 2 of everything not knowing what any of it is, he then tries it first and after I see the reaction on his face then I try!

The highlight of our trip to Singapore has to have been the trip to the zoo/night safari. The spacious layout, no cages and general welfare of the animals was excellent and by far the best we'd ever seen. As you walked into the park Siamang monkeys swang in the trees above your head to greet you, and the no-cage approach was overcome with moats and waterfalls. Our favourites were easily the giant fruit bats (over a metre in width) and the Orangutans which were both free ranging. You had to go through 2 sealed doors to get into the massive bat enclosure then once you were in the bats were everywhere, flying around you and at your face and landing right next to you to eat. It was amazing although I had to keep my ears covered up with my shawl the whole time we were in there. (Nat it was like your dream come true!) The Orangutans were also very special and had been given a large area to play in, the highlight here was you could walk up to a decking area and sit amongst them playing in the trees.
I also saw my first live badger....very happy indeed!

Well anyhow we hope you're all still enjoying the blogs and beginning to miss us if you didn't already.
Take care
Tom and Charlie xxxx
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