We started our day by visiting a Buddhist temple around the corner from our hostel. It is called the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and we had seen it last night all lit up as we had gone to the food court.It is a really new temple having only been built in 2002 and, to be honest, from the outside it looks like something out of Disney Land... we have to keep reminding ourselves when we see things like this temple, that it is not plastic, it is actually real. As we entered the temple we could hear the wonderful of people chanting on the inside and we couldn't wait to have a look around. But before we could go in I had to get kitted out with a shawl for my shoulders; you can't wear strappy tops or shorts above your knees in a Buddhist temple (although we did see some girls try to wander in wearing boob-tubes and hot-pants) and as the tops of my arms were showing I had to wear a shawl given to me buy one of the monks
. As soon as we crossed the entrance we were overcome with a strong smell of incense and within the blink of a eye Tom was running over to the incense burner to take some photos; considering that Tom normally hates it when I burn incense at home, he has become obsessed with it in Asia. As we left the courtyard and entered the temple hall we saw that the mid-morning chanting was taking place; there were about 7 monks dressed in their beautiful saffron coloured robes and a congregation of about 30 people collected in the hall chanting in time with the beat of a drum. The hall itself was huge; it is called the Hundred Dragon Hall and along the side there are 100 Buddha statues housed in small inlets in the wall, in the center of the room is a large table covered in offerings and candles and at the back of the room were three huge statues of Buddha. The whole room was decorated in bright reds and golds and, mixed with the sound of the chanting, it was a really special experience to be there and we ended up staying in the temple for nearly 3 hours just looking at everything and taking it all in. Before we realised it we had been there for a lot longer than we had planned and we had to alter our plans for the rest of the day. We had planned to see about 4 temples in China Town in the morning and then head out to Singapore's largest Buddhist monastery on the outskirts of the city before visiting the night safari. However, considering that we had spent 3 hours just at one of the temples, we decided to give the other China Town ones a miss for today and go out to the monastery straight away.
The Kong Meng San
Pho Kark See Monastery is outside of the city and we had to take a bus ride to get there, which was a bit scary because hardly anyone in this part of Singapore speaks English and we had to use sign-language to explain to the bus driver where we wanted to go
. But we managed to get there in one piece and wow... was it worth the trip out here! The monastery was absolutely beautiful.; it was really different to the temple in the morning, which had quite a few tourists in it, as we were the only visitors at this one. We could tell straight away that this was a working monastery as there were monks walking around in their robes, chanting and meditating (and playing on their i-phones, which was quite funny). Rather than feel like tourists as we had in the morning, we felt more like observers at the monastery and we spent a few hours there just taking it all in and learning more about Buddhism. After a while we headed back to the MRT and went to the night safari.
The Singapore Night Safari is the first one in the world we had heard some really good things about it, although we were kind of skeptical about how a safari would work in the dark. However it turned out to be bloody brilliant and we were so happy we had gone along. When you arrive at the safari you get loaded up on to a tram and taken around the park for about an hour; the animals were lit really nicely and it was a great experience to get the chance to see them in a different light (sorry for the pun). After the safari ride we went to see a fire-eating show called Thumbuakar, which involved a load of half-naked sexy men dancing around and breathing fire! It was a really great show, but then they tried to drag me up on stage and I had to pull myself away from them
. Luckily they picked someone else instead and I was safe, however a few minutes later they pulled Tom up on stage! He was quite happy to get up and stand in front of a crowd of people. He was on stage for ages, about 10 minutes all together, and I was really proud of him because he threw himself into it and had everyone laughing their socks off. They took his shirt off him and had him doing funny body-builder poses and playing with fire. He looked like he was having the time of his life! Everyone in the crowd was in stitches laughing, but there was a little part of me which was thinking: "Hmm, your laughing now but what you don't know is that he is the most accident prone person in the world. And now he is on stage playing with fire and lighter fluid. God, I hope he doesn't set himself on fire". But I am very pleased to report that he lived to tell the tale and I was so proud of him for giving it his all and when he got down off the stage everyone was patting him on the back and telling him well done. We didn't get chance to see everything at the safari because we had to leave slightly early to get the last MRT train back to the city, but we still had a great night and would really recommend anyone to visit the safari.
On our second day in Singapore we decided to spend the day visiting some of the country's temples and monasteries and then take a trip out to the famous Singapore Night Safari.