Singapore – Day Four. The zoo, Uber fails, tourist traps & hawker FOMO.

This day came far too quickly. Our last day in Singapore. 

I woke up, packed and went to meet Ka Lei & Kieran for breakfast, except I was distracted by yum cha and stopped for some dim sims, pork pau, chicken & rice and chrysanthemum tea – all for $12. I was starting to get FOMO at the thought of leaving already so was trying to taste as much as possible. 

We caught an uber to the Singapore Zoo and unfortunately got stuck in traffic. Our half hour trip more than doubled. We were nervous about the cost but it was a mere $35. Phew! On the downside though we did lose a fair chunk of our last day in a small Toyota with not enough aircon to keep four people from breaking out in sweat. 

We chose the River Safari at the zoo as Kieran was really keen on the pandas. It was only $28 and really well maintained. The Red Pandas even put on a show – they had a crazy scrap and had to be seperated brilliant. 

The pandas were beautiful and majestic. Roly pollies galore. Much bamboo munching. They were quite active which we were told is unusual. At the end of our visit, one climbed to the top of a tree and started breathing heavily, frothing at the mouth and what I can only put down to hiccuping. I wondered if he was pining for the other panda (climbing up to try see into its enclosure) and felt overcome by sadness. Took a billion photos and then felt guilty.

We paid $5 extra for a ‘river cruise’ where you see some random animals – monkeys, jaguar etc. It was worth it. 

We rushed around the end to get to the hawkers markets for lunch. At 1.30 ish we hoped in an uber. An hour later ish we were at a standstill outside the markets we orginilly wanted to try – they were closed for cleaning. Unfortunately our uber driver took us on a wild goose chase to the city and ignored his maps. He then charged us to take us back to where we were supposed to go in the first place. Infuriated, Ka Lei stopped talking and Kieran decided we would try Little India. 

Luckily he did, they just happened to have the bone marrow soup that Ka Lei wanted to try at the Golden Mile Markets which were closed. Of course, the soup didn’t really live up to our expectations but the prata with curry and tandoori chicken curry with naan did. 

With full bellies and minus our hangry attitudes we trecked back to the city to Raffles Hotel, the tourist trap that invented Singapore Slings and now sells them for $31 + tax + service fee a pop. Two of those and a beer set us back $96. The building was beautiful however and it was fun eating peanuts and throwing the shells on the floor. 

Our tourist destination goals mainly ticked off we arrived back in Chinatown and hit the hawkers markets in search of our favourite meals and to pack something for dinner on the plane. Plane food is always crappy. Hawkers food is not. 

We tried our luck with uber once more to the airport and had a successful trip with a 1.5% surcharge. Still much more convenient than the MRT with suitcases. Only $30 too, definitely worth using them as a transport option just be sure to check the traffic and ensure they are clear on the destination. 

At the airport we mucked around for a while – Ka Lei and I bought lipsticks at MAC while Kieran was dreaming of a Mont Blanc suitcase. There’s an awesome ‘street food’ section with reasonable prices on the second level – I grabbed some veggies as they had been Ka King in my diet and I could tell the difference. 

As we lined up for the gate security we realised we needed to empty our water bottles. Being the ever enthusiastic contributed I am I volunteered. Promptly upon walking into the freshly mopped bathroom, I feel face forward and smashed my knees / shins on the tiles with force. I did not sacrifice the bottles though and I made about 5 people outside laugh. All in all a good trade off for still-swollen knees 24-hours later and dark bruising appearing. Battle wounds. 

I hopped on the flight home and slept the entire time. I love that I can do that. I can’t physically stay awake though. I don’t have an option. I was asleep before take off yet again and awoke only when the annoying air hostess nudged me with my immigration card and again, far too early, to put my seat in an upright position. After that, the next thing I knew, we were on the ground in Gold Coast. 

Poor Kieran and Ka Lei, although they upgraded to ‘business class’ (the seats were apparently the only business-like attribute) they couldn’t sleep a wink. In the car on the way back to Brisbane I was talking up a storm while they were aching for some quiet to nap. Oops. McDonald’s on the highway home made up for it I think.

All in all, a wonderful trip. I look forward to my next adventure there, as this certainly wasn’t my last. 

   
    
    
    
    
   


   
    
    
    
   

Singapore РDay Three. Up in the trees 

Awesome day! 

Met Kieran at downtown as unfortunately Ka Lei had a conference. We walked to see the Merlion and all around the waterfront in search of food – nothing! Nothing opens until after ten. All the workers are still wandering around in their suits heading to the office. It’s definitely a late start community. 

After fighting with tourists for a Merlion spot and finding some awesome art installations we arrived at Marina Bay Sands shopping centre. The shopping mall is HUGE with all your biggest luxury brands fighting for top spots. We found the food court and shared some Hong Kong BBQ and dumplings. 

We went into the hotel itself, I didn’t find it that impressive inside during the day but it is incredible at night. We looked around and decided to check out the Gardens by the Bay. This is hands down my favourite activity so far in Singapore. It transported me back to my childhood happy place. Where I always dreamed of living. 

The flower dome is cool but the most amazing place is the cloud dome. It’s a cloud Forrest, like a vertical tropical rainforest. It’s spectacular. There’s a giant waterfall, lush vegetation and its all interactive. You go up the top and walk around, learning about the installation. Soooo cool. I was just thinking I would tell the MD of the company I work for that we should design our office like that when he commented the same thing on my picture on FB. There’s an incredible data dashboard when you come out too to teach about the warming of the world and the importance of plants etc. 

Super impressed. 

And then there are the Supertrees. SuperTree grove had me going back to my childhood to. They are giant vertical growing trees basically. They reach for the sky. For an extra $5 you can take the elevator to the top and walk around. WELL worth it. Extensive views of the city, just breathtaking. 

For lunch we stopped at Satay Kingdom, which I’m sure would be great if everything was open. We had a beer each (oh so refreshing) and shared chicken roti with bread which was quite delicious. 

We walked around the rest of the gardens and took the shuttle back as we were quite exhausted from walking all around. 

We shopped for a while, myself in awe of Celine bags and Chanel clutches, Kieran seeking inspiration for his wedding band. 

We planned to look around the casino but they wouldn’t let us in without our passports. The Singapore government does not endorse gambling and have very strict policies for their permanent residents. I heard (unconfirmed) they have to pay $100 per hour or similar that they are in there. 

We took the MRT back and went straight to Din Tai Fung for their famed Xiao Long Bao. I wasn’t that impressed to be honest. I’ve had better elsewhere. The truffle xiao long nap was a taste sensation though! The soup was delicious. Afterwards we walked back to our respective hotels, charged our phones so we could contact Ka Lei after her conference and rested our aching feet. 

We regrouped back at the MRT and met Ka Lei at the Marina Bay Financial towers where she was having drinks. 

We perished Marina Bay Sands shopping centre again and stopped at Osterio Mozza for a ‘snack’ which ended up being dinner. We shared some burrata which was beautiful, duck ragu which was also lovely and another pasta that I wasn’t fussed on at all. I don’t think it was an amazing meal and it was $150 without drinks and a full meal each. Anyway, we tried it and the cheese was good. Go there for cheese and wine. And maybe a ragu. 

We went through the hotel foyer again which has now gained a lot of depth with dramatic lighting and the art popping out. We went to the sky bars and admired the incredible landscape, from the city high rise lights to the gardens below and the ships waiting to go in port. Beautiful. 

We lined up for a thorough screening of our passports at the casino and I found it very underwhelming. It wasn’t as beautiful as I had expected and many were smoking and none were drinking. 

MRT home and crashed in bed after a massive day! 

   
    
    
    
 
 

    
    
    
    
 
    
    
   
   
    
    
    
    
   
   
    
    
   
   
    
    
 
 

Singapore, Day Two. Champagne brunches and drunken debauchery 

I woke up early and tried to stay in bed a while as I heard Singaporeans weren’t early risers. What an understatement! I was up at ten and the whole of Chinatown was still shut down. Ample opportunities for selfoes though. 

I wandered around the empty streets for a while and met Kieran where he was having breakfast. We both had a little snack as we were preserving stomach space for the expensive Sunday champagne brunch at the Hilton we were attending later that morning. 

We took the MRT to Orchard Road, found the hotel and waited for brunch to start. 

I will write an entirely seperate review blog for the brunch but highlights included:

  • Eating 3 dozen oysters
  • Drinking our weight in Louis Roederer champagne 
  • Seafood, sashimi galore
  • More cheese than I have ever seen before 
  • Foie gras as big as my hand 
  • Scotch egg with truffle hollandaise sauce 
  • Coolest nitrogen dessert that had you breathing smoke for longer than you’d imagine 

It was awesome. Somehow we were there from 12-4.30 even though it finished at 3. We were messy. We were drunk. And we were having a ball!! 

Ka Lei & Kieran went home (they had drunk more than I had) and I decided on a bout of drunken shopping. I bought a lovely Michael Kors Clutch, spent too much at Sephora (it’s no cheaper) and bought some trinkets. I got my eyebrows and lip threaded and nearly even got semi permanent (they call it embroidery or something – it’s basically a tattoo) eyebrow colouring done which lasts two years! Glad I had enough senses not to do that in the end. 

After perusing Orchard Road I went back home to rest my feet (the feeling had come back as the champers was wearing off and it was getting damn painful) and wait to get hungry. Except the feeling never came! Shockingly I didn’t get hungry and I think my tummy was feeling used and abused as it was rather unsettled all night. 

   
  

    
    
    
    
   

Singapore, Day One

One of the easiest and quickest trips I’ve had through an international airport! Helps I only had carry on. Nothing to declare so straight through the door, no authorities or anything. 

I tried to catch a shuttle but due to a festival they wouldn’t take me to Chinatown. They suggested the MRT. It was easy to take, and I was so involved in my book by that stage, I read standing up almost the whole way in. 

I dropped off my gear and attempted to buy a sim for my phone. Two 7-elevens later and feeling rather hangry I went back to the hostel and messaged Ka Lei & Kieran on the wifi. Thankfully they were only a block away. 

Chinatown is bustling. It’s Chinese New Year and there’s an Indian festival on which is closing down many of the streets. It’s absolute mayhem. 

I found K&K in a crowded hawkers market on the second floor. Somehow I recognised Ka Lei’s hair (even though it looks the same as everyone else’s) and she responded to my whistle immediately. Surprising. 

I joined Kieran and he had xiao long bao which I smashed down. We had some beer (only $6 for a huge bottle) and char kway teow. And chicken satay sticks. The food is about $3 a plate and delicious. It’s where all the locals eat. You save a seat by placing a tissue packet on it that you can buy from elderly people who are approved by the government to supplement their income. 

We went for a walk and back to K&K’s hotel for some gin (there’s huge taxes on alcohol here) and to plan our brunch for the next day. 

Hungry again, we went back to the market for some haianese chicken. 

In bed by 11 and excited for brunch the next day!

   
    
    
    
    
    

 

I’m going to Singapore!¬†

Yeah. I am. Like right now!
I found flights when I was home over Christmas to Singapore return for $420 for the Australia Day long weekend and considered it in passing. I had mentioned it to some friends. 
A week later Ka Lei & Kieran mentioned that they had looked up flights after I had told them and were keen on a quick jaunt! We booked and ten days later, here I am on the plane over.

The flights went up to $580 but they’re still pretty cheap. It’s my first time flying Scoot and while I did miss my gold privileges that I usually travel on Virgin with, this airline is really nice. 

The plane is a big 747 Dreamliner with and they gave me three seats to myself! Thank you plane Gods. Or airline ground staff. Whatever. I am thankful. 

The snacks are sh*t – no surprises there and you’ll it is $5 for a tiny bottle of water but I’m not complaining. There’s no TVs either but I knew that and stayed up late in preparation – I slept the first four hours and could easily still be asleep now but it’s really not necessary. Planes just make me zonk out. I struggle to keep my eyes open.

I’m about to start the Alchemist book for my Leadership group readings, I hear it is good. 

Bla bla what am I going to do in Singapore? Eat. Duh! 

I don’t have any set plans – I will meet Ka Lei & Kieran (K&K) tonight (they flew yesterday) and eat. Tomorrow I will eat. Monday and Tuesday I will eat. I will probably hit the night zoo, spend half a day shopping but mainly I just want to immerse myself in the local culture and eat. Alcohol has an 80% tax on it so I probably won’t be going too much of that and my body will thank me for it.

I’ll try blog errrday. Be prepared to see many dumplings.   

     

 

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