For the last few days I’ve been in Singapore on the start of my trip to a land down under and I’ve been having a great time. I think I should have extended my stay here by a day to be able to take in either Malaysia or Indonesia, or to explore some more of Singapore that I didn’t see, but I’ve had fun regardless! The people have been so friendly and it’s just a different world to the UK.
On the 13th I made my way up to Heathrow on the Train and Tube via London. It was a bit chaotic getting there with a big rucksack and it was made worse when the tube driver announced we would not be stopping at Terminal 4, forcing us to get off the tube, only to announce “next stop Terminal 4”. We eventually arrived at the airport but were still nice and early. There was nothing to do in the public area of the airport but I checked in my bags nice and early, due to Qantas using the British Airways all-day check-in facility, before haing a long wait for my time to board the plane. I passed the time with 2 meals in Wetherspoon’s and a couple of drinks in Starbucks before saying goodbye to Mum and heading through to departures.
The rest of the day went smoothly – the flight was without a hitch and we arrived at Singapore Changi airport a few minutes early. It was already night time when we arrived but it was still so hot and humid and I was glad the hotel (Quality Hotel, Balastier Road) was air conditioned when I arrived. I had problems getting to my room initially as my swipe card wouldn’t operate the lift but after being told what I was doing wrong I made my way up to relax and unpack in my room. My flight to Cairns is at 10pm and I’m being picked up at 7 so I enquired with reception about keeping the room on a bit later. They said I could keep the room until 6pm and there would be no extra charge which was really nice of them
Yesterday was my first full day in Singapore so I decided to get up early. After breakfast I explored the area around the hotel to see what it was like and acclimatise to the climate. Even at 7am it was really hot and after an hour of walking around, slowly and in the shade a lot of the time, I needed to rest and change my clothes before my tour in the afternoon – the humidity here does take some getting used to!
I was collected from the hotel just after lunch with a few other people from various hotels and taken to a central meeting point. Instead of having all of the coaches travel all over the city they Tour East have minibuses that pick people up from a few hotels at a time then you all meet in the city centre at a cafe with a lot of bus bays outside where you wait for your tours departure time and I found this to be an efficiant system. After getting on the coach we made our way back into the city to our first stop at the Asian Civilisations Museum. We checked out the statue of Raffles outside next to the river before heading into the museum to see various exhibits about Singapore and its history. Our time here wasn’t very long but it was enough to get an overview of the country and learn more about the rich history and culture that have developed over centuries.
After the museum we made our way to the world-famous Raffles hotel which was something I had been looking forward to since booking my trip. Our visit started with a short tour, where we were shown the grounds and told some of the famous guests that had stayed there, before being taken into the cafe for tea and cakes. The cake tasted amazing but was so rich you couldn’t eat a lot. After tea there was time to explore on our own and buy souvenirs in the gift or, as some people decided would be better, to visit the famous Long Bar for a Singapore Sling Cocktail. I wasn’t in the mood for a cocktail so after souvenir shopping I relaxed in the grounds and made a call home.
Our next activity was a cruise along the river and it was a nice way to see the city, if a little short. We travelled south from the quay past many of the buildings we had seen previously and had full commentary from the captain of the boat. We travelled out into the bay for a view of the new watersports complex before having a close-up view of the Merlion and then returning to the quay for our final stop – a pewter coin factory. At the factory we were shown examples of how all of the coins and other pewter items were made historically (and how this place still makes them). I wouldn’t have chose to visit here but it was nice as part of the tour and taught me something I didn’t know. I left the group at this point without heading back to the hotel and explored the city on my own for a bit before eating at a nice Thai restaurant along the river and then catching a Taxi to the hotel.
Today I woke up after another storm that created quite a bit of flooding… they seem to be a regular occurance in thie part of the world! I deciced to visit the city centre but decided to walk since I was only a mile from Orchard Road. This turned out to be a big mistake as the rain had made the humidity worse and my shoes actually disintegrated around me during the walk. The destintion was worth it though as Orchard Road was a nice area and allowed me to both people watch and stock up on souvenirs.
After catching a taxi back to the hotel I relaxed in my room for a bit before heading out on another tour. This was to the Night Safari which is a zoo that is only open in the evenings so you can see the animals from a different perspective. It was a really good experience and we saw lots of animals including Hyena, Tapir, Hippo, Giraffe and more. There are jungle walks you can take to see some of the animals but I highly recommend taking the safari jeeps which will get you very close to the animals. The zoo is designed in such a way that it looks like the animals are all roaming free around you rather than being in cages and this adds to the atmosphere and experience. After the safari I had dinner at the food court and watched the entertainment before getting on my coach back to the city. As my hotel was on the way a minibus met us half way in a lay-by and drove us from there which was efficient but we almost didn’t make it back to the hotel as the driver really should have driven a little slower.
My feet are really starting to hurt now as I wasn’t able to do anything about them before the night safari. I’ll get some new ones in the morning in the shopping centre I saw just down from the hotel while making my way to Orchard Road.