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Thoughts of Singapore

Monday 27th July

storm 31 °C


Swipe left to see the full panorama

We are now relaxing comfortably in Bali but for now my thoughts are lingering back to Singapore. Our second day in the city was even more enjoyable than the first. Early morning brought stormy weather. After a relaxing breakfast in the club lounge (so worth paying for a club room if you can, for all of the extras that come free of charge) we relaxed in our room for a while watching the lightening and storm clouds approaching. We had pre-booked tickets for the Singapore Flyer (like the London Eye but nearly a 100 foot higher) so were a bit concerned when it seemed to have stopped running. I guess having a bathroom window with a direct view meant we could check this out without having to brave the rain. We asked reception whether the closure was due to the inclement weather and a quick phone call confirmed that it was. Given that the worst of the storm seemed to be passing over we decided to take our chances, and luckily for us it reopened just as we arrived. The 'flight' was very much as it's London counterpart but it gave us yet another opportunity to take photographs of the sights of Singapore including the Marina Bay Sands, the Gardens by the Bay and our hotel.

After a light lunch/ afternoon tea back at the hotel we walked over the Helix footbridge and then on to the Gardens by the Bay. They look pretty amazing from a distance but exceeded all expectations once there.


There are two bio domes both larger than at the Eden Project in the UK. The most spectacular by far is the Cloud Forest. Just inside, a waterfall (the largest indoor water cascade in the world) gives a hint of what is to come. A central pillar is planted with hundreds of thousands of exotic plants including numerous varieties of orchids. A lift takes you to the top of the dome and suspended walkways take you past plants and the waterfall and give you the sense of being in a rain forest. An rather salutary and scary educational video near the exit describes what the planet might be like at the end of the century if we don't do something about global warming.


The flower dome is less spectacular but gives the opportunity to see some of the smaller species of the baobab (one tree that holds a particular fascination for me). It also houses a large display of flowers, although a little unnaturally and rather gaudy for my taste. By the time we finished looking round the bio domes it was starting to get dark and our intention was to go and look at the 'super trees' at close quarters having previously seen then lit up from the distance of our hotel. They did not disappoint; combining the appearance of a modern art installation with that of the natural form of flowers and climbing plants as you might see elsewhere in the tropics. What we hadn't appreciated is that they have a light and sound show twice every evening. We wanted to go up onto the walkway that links some of the trees and although we had to queue to get up there we were able to see part of the show from ground level and the rest from the walkway. Best of both worlds and a thoroughly amazing experience.


So specular was it that it nearly made me cry (how soppy) and good enough that we decided to have something to eat nearby in the gardens so that we could watch the second viewing! We then made the short walk back along the river admiring the view of the Flyer illuminated against the night sky, and with our hotel ever in view back across the Helix footbridge to the Ritz Carlton Millenia for another much needed nights sleep.


Posted by Gill's Travels 02:41 Archived in Singapore Comments (1)

Singapore ~ The Lion City

Sunday 26th July


It now really feels as though we are on our way. So far Singapore has certainly exceeded my expectations. We arrived early in the day (our flight landed just after 7am) so getting through immigration at a speed that would be a mere dream in the UK was appreciated. We took a few minutes to have a cup of tea and get our bearings. We then easily sorted out getting tickets and boarding the shuttle bus which was amazingly good value at only S$9 (about £4.50) each. As we drove towards the city centre we were really surprised at how green everywhere looked. It is clear that a huge amount of money has been spent planting trees and shrubs such as Bougainvillea at the roadways. Whilst we were en-route we chatted to an Australian couple about our trip and their holiday in Europe which had included a visit to Scotland and a cruise down the Danube.

Once we arrived at our hotel they were amazingly welcoming and apologised for not having our room ready. We had expected this given in was still early morning so after a coffee we went and made use of the hotel pool. We were just hoping that we would be able to check in in time to get changed before we needed to leave for an excursion to Raffles Hotel for tea followed by a trip on the river. Fortunately when we went back to reception not only was our room ready but they had upgraded us to a suite which meant that we had even more amazing views of the Marina Bay.


We went on our Footsteps of Raffles Tour which was perhaps a little disappointing. A lot of the roads were closed or if not, very busy because they were holding another rehearsal that evening for the celebrations of 50 years of independence for Singapore which are taking place on the 9th of August. Nevertheless we got to find out a bit more about the history of Singapore and about the role of the British. Tea at Raffles was delicious, a combination of English high tea and Chinese Dim Sum. We sat with a very nice couple from America, one of whom came originally from Vietnam and the other was currently working primarily in Indonesia.


We then had a bit of time in which we could take a few photos before we went off on our boat trip. This was a great way to see the city although we were left feeling that perhaps we could have arranged both elements of the tour ourselves for less money. Given how tired we both were after our flight, perhaps that wouldn't have happened if we had bee left to our own devices.

We returned to our hotel for a while before taking the shortish walk to the SkyPark at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Whilst we were walking there we were able to see some of the Independence Day rehearsals with tank processions seen in the distance and some spectacular military fly pasts. The hotel was designed by Moshe Safdie, and comprises of three 55 storey hotel towers topped by the SkyPark which is home to bars, restaurants and an infinity pool for hotel residents. It was very busy when we got there partly because a lot of people had decided to use the SkyPark as a vantage point to watch the fireworks, yet another rehearsal for the forthcoming celebrations.


The building and the pyrotechnics were amazing although the massively long queue to get down was a bit challenging as both Nigel and I were getting really tired by this point. Once back at the hotel we decided to eat in our room, this had the double advantage of allowing us to just relax without having to make any further effort and was also a good value option in an expensive hotel as we have found that this is often cheaper than eating in the restaurant. Once we had eaten we just relaxed for a while, took the opportunity to take some night shots of the city from our room, before having a much needed good nights sleep.


Posted by Gill's Travels 09:16 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

A Taste of Things to Come

13 weeks and counting . . . .

It is now only 13 weeks until we go off on our travels. Our first night away will be in a hotel near Heathrow, so that we can be ready to catch our plane with plenty of time to spare the following morning. Our first flight will take us to Singapore. Once there we have splashed out a bit and have gone for a room with a view of the Marina Bay. This is not a cheap option but we wanted to start and end our travels with a liitle bit of luxury. This choice also fits in with my philosophy for city hotels, which is to go for a more expensive room in a mid-range hotel rather than a cheap room in an expensive hotel. This tends to ensure upper floors with good views.

I gave also been doing some research on things to do and places to visit. On the list so far is the Singapore Flyer (a bit like the London Eye), the Marina Sands Observation deck ( for more great views) and at the top is a visit to the Gardens by the Bay with its amazing vegetation and incredible tree like installations. We might also book a tour which includes afternoon tea at Raffles, just to get a feel of Singapore's colonial past.

Just thinking about a first few days away is getting me excited, a feeling that I guess will only increase as the weeks go by.


Posted by Gill's Travels 15:37 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

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