A Travellerspoint blog

Singapore - a walk on the wild side and a step back in time

Last day in Singapore before heading home

rain 35 °C

No trip can be called "complete" with learning about the local wildlife. Well, that's my rule anyway.

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My last day in Singapore was a sad one, as I would be leaving, but also enjoyable as I was able to see the zoo, another area where Mummy Wright used to live and the Indian District.

First off was a visit to the zoo, which entailed a train into the city centre and then.....eeekk.....a local bus! I don't know why I panicked, everything else so far has been in English, but when the bus drives through the suburbs for a LONG TIME you do worry you're going to end up in the wrong neighbourhood and get completely lost.

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Anyway, I didn't, and after about 90 minutes of travel I arrived at Singapore Zoo. I opted for the River Safari so I could get a little boat and see some of the animals a bit closer. The queue for the boat was pretty long, but there were lots of smaller animals in tanks around the queue, so it was nice to see all of them.

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Once I reached the end of the queue the views out over the countryside were beautiful....so good in fact, I didn't realise I was leaning on a row of ants. The relatives of their fallen brethren took vengeance by biting me....a lasting reminder of my trip.

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Eventually I joined the boat ride. I have to say, I was slightly disappointed it was just a small canoe-type boat around a man-made river. I had assumed we would join a big boat and float around the lake we had been overlooking for most of the queue. Instead it was a much shorter trip than I'd imagined, but it was still fun to see so many animals up close.

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Afterwards there was time to look around some of the sealife in the aquarium part of the zoo. As I'd already been to an aquarium the day before, I didn't stick around too long, but took a few snaps and looked around the gift shop at the end.

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A short bus ride later and I was back in the city centre. Once again it was throwing it down with rain, but it is so hot it is almost a relief. The only downside is you have to sit in wet clothes all day and look like you've just tried to drown yourself.

I walked along Orchard Road, which is now the main shopping area. Back when Mummy Wright was born here, it was a lot more residential and she has shown me many photos from living around this area. Gucci, Prada and Calvin Klein now dominate the area so it is hard to picture it ever having been small houses for expats, but it was nice to think that I was in the area where my mum spent the first few years of her life.

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Eventually I got to Raffles. THE famous Raffles where the Singapore Sling was invented. The idea was I'd order one, sit in the lounge and have photographs taken in my posh jumpsuit (albeit a soaking wet one now) and have the claim that I'd "done" the top stuff in Singapore.

However, I had greatly underestimated....
a) how popular this idea is
b) how much rain drives people to do indoor activities
c) how popular Raffles is at 3pm in the afternoon on a Wednesday.

Ah well. I decided to forgo the massive long queue and instead take photos outside. So I didn't have a Singapore Sling in the place where it was invented, but I DID get a picture of the sign. Haha.

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Back in the rain (again) I decided to carry on walking and went to the Indian district of Singapore, which also happened to be on the way back to the hostel.

There were lots of incredible smells and some amazing dresses, although sadly I didn't have time to be fitted for one. They looked amazing though and I could have happily walked around the cloth market all day.

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Sadly, I couldn't stick around too long as I needed to get ready for my flight. After almost 18 months abroad, I'd be heading home for Christmas!

Posted by emmaabroad 04:56 Archived in Singapore Tagged rain singapore travel shopping zoo traveller singapore_zoo raffles gucci prada solo_travel expat calvin klein singapore_sling raffles_hotel singapore_life Comments (0)

Sentosa and the death defying crossing

Sentosa Island - butterflies, beaches and being a child

rain 36 °C

So back when she was little.....mmm.....over 30 years ago, Mummy of Emma, aka Christine Wright, lived for a time on Sentosa Island in Singapore.

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A little bit has changed since then and it is no longer a residential area. In fact the best way to describe it is like a mini version of Disneyland, except with some pretty beaches thrown in. So this isn't a story about how I went to their old house and found out relatives still live there or anything like that. Still, it was nice to visit.

There is an aquarium, a viewing tower, a wax works museum, and the thing I made a beeline for when I first arrived - A Butterfly Garden.

Now, I'm probably a little bit obsessed with butterflies and I think they are well awesome and that. :-) So the fact the first thing I saw was hundreds of dead ones glued to a wall to make a giant picture was a little disturbing. But I told myself they had all died of natural causes and were now having colourful, flappy sex on that giant flower in the sky.

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Once inside you had chance to read about the different types of butterflies and their life cycles before walking into a massive conservatory. Hundreds of tiny, pretty butterflies were flying over head and all around, flitting from plant to plant like indecisive shoppers.

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I honestly could have spent HOURS in there taking photographs and just staring at them all. Honestly, I was like a little kid. I LOVE LOVE LOVE butterflies so much.

The conservatory had a little tree house in it, a shed where all the chrysalis were and a small river running through it. It was absolutely beautiful. And it was so hot in there, you didn't really notice that it was p*ssing it down with rain. (It rains a LOT in Singapore, but it is so hot and humid you can't wear a rain coat, so the best thing to do is accept you're hair will never look nice).

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After walking through one conservatory you enter a second one where they are more butterflies, a massive monitor lizard and parrots. So the parrots were having a "romantic time" so I went over and stroked the lizard instead. He was super cute and very unphased by everything. He stuck his tongue out for a bit but most of the time he had his eyes closed.

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After taking a video of loud parrot sex, I went through and saw the bugs and reptiles, including a massive dung beetle which the man told me "not scary". Erm..thanks.

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Back outside I headed to the beach - it was still raining, but like I say, it was bloody hot. I headed to the southern end of the island, where the beaches look like something from a movie, and went to the Most Southern Point of Mainland Asia (pose by sign).

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From the beach there is a little rope bridge across to a tiny island that has the sign on it. I didn't even realise it was there, but was a nice little additional thing to get a photo of while I was exploring.

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Honestly, I can't tell you how beautiful the beaches were around here. It was amazing. And even in the pictures it looks pretty, despite the fact it was bucketing it down quite a lot.

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Back over to the main part of the island, I found myself at the aquarium. I figured I should do something indoors while I dried off. And what better way to forget how soaking you are than by looking at sealife?

Inside there was a massive Noah's Arc to welcome you in. You then go down some steps and underneath the building into the aquarium itself.

I can spend hours and hours looking at fish, so I merrily sauntered around for ages staring through the glass.

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An aquarium is an aquarium. So I won't harp on about it. I saw some fish. It was cool.

Last on my list (I had bought three attractions in one ticket) was the Trick Eye Museum. This place has to be seen to be believed - it's very fun, even for adults.

Basically there are lots of paintings and statues etc that you pose with so it makes you look like you're doing something terrifying. I hung from a ceiling while being chased by a snake and also went skydiving! And yes, it totally counts!

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I guess you have to go there yourself to fully appreciate how many things there were to pose with. Being on my own I only posed with a few. There is only SO many times you can ask a complete stranger to take your picture before you get the impression they're bored.

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After an exhausting day of wandering around the island (and the walk itself is pretty too - so many beautiful gardens etc) I decided to head back to my hostel = The Drop Inn - very friendly and welcoming staff.

There are three ways to get to Sentosa - train, boat or cable car. I'd already been on the train loads and I tend to get sick on boats so I opted for cable care instead.

And it .....was.....HIGH!

I'm not good with heights so the only reassurance I got was from the fact I was over water and if I did suddenly plummet to my death, all I had to do was kick in the door and I'd just swim to safety. Or I'd be trapped and have a slow, agonising death. One of the two.

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Once I got over the fact I was VERY HIGH it was actually an amazing view of the city and Sentosa. It really was a good way to finish the day off in style.

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The locals in Singpore tend to put it down. I can see why - it is very commercialised and you end up spending a lot of money without really knowing where it has gone.

But having said that, if you embrace it, you'll like it. Yes it was cheesey, I spent loads and I felt like I was at Disney, but I still enjoyed myself.

And if for no other reason, visit there to see the beaches on the south side - it honestly looks like a movie set.

Posted by emmaabroad 00:00 Archived in Singapore Tagged fish nature beach singapore travel museum tourist disney asia tourism cable_car money aquarium butterflies setnosa Comments (0)

Welcome to Singapore

Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay and the two conservatories

sunny 38 °C

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So I guess I was never really bothered about history at school and always left that to my brother Paul.

But age comes with new interests and at 31 I thought it would be good to see a little bit of Tomlinson Family History - aka, where Mummy Wright was born (more on this in a future post).

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So after leaving behind my job in New Zealand, I caught the plane home to the UK via Singapore for a few days of sightseeing.

Firstly (and I point this out only because I didn't know either), Singapore is the country, the city AND the island. When you look at it on a map you'll be surprised it has such a famous airport and it is DINKY. The airport is famous for having a pool, cinemas, a city tour if your layover is more than five hours, a butterfly garden, amazing shops and food courts and is just generally the best airport ever. If you ever have a layover there, don't moan. It's awesome.

Anyway, I arrived at 9pm at night so my main aim was to get to my hostel and pass out. But I've stayed longer at the airport on subsequent flights and it truly is awesome.

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After resting at my beautiful hostel and getting some breakfast inside me, I had a cold shower to battle the humidity (90%-100% when it was 38 degrees) and quickly wondered why I'd bothered as I began to sweat again while still getting dressed.

Heading out in the most minimal of clothing I thought would be acceptable in city climes, I caught the train (very easy to navigate, cheap and everything is in English) and headed to Marina Bay.

The first thing you cannot help but notice is the giant boat on top of three skytowers. In fact, ask anyone who has been there and I think this and the Raffles Hotel will be the first things they tell you about. It kind of has to be seen to be believed, but even the pictures here do depict how weird looking it is.

As I arrived at the end of November, the waterfront area was littered with Christmas trees, which felt very strange to an English person who is used to minus temperatures when seeing Christmas trees rather than 38 plus! The Chari-trees on the waterfront were all for different charities and had amazing decorations on them.

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I couldn't help but think that this sort of thing would have been vandalised in Britain. Or maybe I'm doing my country a disservice? But this sort of thing really hammers the point of how clean and neat Singapore is. There is the rumour that chewing gum is illegal in Singapore and I remember by dad telling me a story about being in the merchant navy and when getting off the ship was given strict instructions not to take chewing gum with him. I think this rule is relaxed now, as I saw plenty of it on sale in the shops. But having said that, you won't find a drop of it on the ground. No litter at all in fact, and I believe there are still heavy fines in place. My waffling point being - Singapore is incredibly clean.

After walking round Marina Bay for a while and taking copious amounts of photographs and selfies (apologies - but when you travel on your own, there has to be a FEW selfies), I headed to Gardens by the Bay via Marina Bay Sands - a posh shopping centre with a river and boats running through it. You know, if you're too tired to walk from Prada to Gucci in your Jimmy Choos.

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If you do one thing in Singapore, I'd suggest making it the gardens. Not only is it a free activity (poor backpacker bonus points) but they are incredibly beautiful and there is so much to do there.

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After walking around the Chinese gardens and admiring all the pretty decorations, I headed to the first of two conservatories - The Flower Dome.

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Inside it did exactly what was suggested in the title - it was a dome with f**k loads of flowers inside.

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Again, as it was November there were lots of Christmas decorations which will jarred with my mental picture of the festive season.

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I could have spent all day in the conservatory....wandering round sniffing flowers, checking out strange ornaments and artworks hidden among them, and generally pretending to be a sweaty, panting Alice in Wonderland while trying to cover up the dark patches under my arms. (Too much information?)

I really loved being in The Flower Dome and wandering around all the different levels. So apologies if this is an overload of photographs. #sorrynotsorry

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After leaving The Flower Dome I had some fruit for lunch and had a pottered round a few of the statues outside (above). I then went inside the second conservatory, Cloud Forest.

I thought I'd like The Flower Dome best but I was very wrong! This one was WAY better, and it had a lot to live up to after the first conservatory.

Cloud Forest starts with a massive waterfall in front of you and to say it is man-made it is STUNNING. Honestly, I'm a bit of a waterfall person and this one was awesome.

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The rest of the conservatory walk seeings you slowly scaling the waterfall on winding pathways that curve to the top of Cloud Forest. On the way, you see all the different plants that survive in the tropical climes of the mountains, so the scenery keeps changing as you head up and up.

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Because you're getting higher and higher, you also get some fabulous views of the Gardens by the Bay and the city itself. You get some incredible pictures through the glass you can't help but stop every few minutes to take some snaps.

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At the top of the conservatory (there is a lift if your legs are too tired) there is a "secret garden" with a pool which was lush. It honestly was gorgeous and was surrounded by lovely colourful flowers.

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You can buy tickets to both conservatories or just one, but if you're squeezed for money or time, I'd definitely recommend you opt for Cloud Forest. The description they give you at the ticket booth does nothing to justify what you'll see inside, I assure you.

Back outside I wandered round the Gardens by the Bay some more and specifically to the water that divides it from the city. I haven't managed to upload the photographs, but if you return at night they put on a spectacular firework and light show. Everyone gathers in the middle of the gardens (no need for a jacket, it's just as boiling at night) and lays down to look up at the lights. It really was one of the best things I've done in Singapore. Although, having said that, I enjoyed it all really.

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Posted by emmaabroad 00:15 Archived in Singapore Tagged flowers marina singapore airport city tourist backpacker waterfront raffles budget_travel city_break gardens_by_the_bay raffles_hotel marina_sands chinese_gardens Comments (0)

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