Monday, 24 March 2008

Singapore, Day 2 and 3

On Saturday we decided to check out a cool bazaar that I'd found on my last visit, problem was I didn't know exactly how I'd gotten there. I guessed it was around the Little India area, so we headed up there on the tube. After walking around in the heat for an hour we finally found it - nowhere near where we thought (it was the Bugis St markets for future reference - and metres from a train stop, d'oh). Across the road is the Bugis Junction mall which was worth visiting just to cool down. There's nothing like walking past a shopping centre in stifling heat and having a blast of super chilled air wash over you.

After an hour there we jumped in a taxi to the world renowned Singapore Zoo. Apart from the road to the airport, it was the first time I'd seen outside the city. Residential areas turned surprisingly quickly into dense jungle, which was parted by the clean, modern highway.

The zoo is built on a peninsula, and houses animals from all over the world, including polar bears! Highlights were the amazing rare white tigers and the dozens of crazy red-arsed baboons (possibly not the scientific name). Check out the rest of the photos for more.

Just as the three-thirty elephant show began, it started to rain. It steadily got heavier, until it was a full-on tropical downpour, and they had to call off the show. We were stuck at the elephant enclosure for an hour, although the elephants themselves didn't seem bothered as they played in the mud. As soon as we'd resigned to getting soaked, some guy came around selling plastic ponchos for two dollars. Genius.

We wandered around for another hour in the storm but most of the animals had been moved under shelter (as if cheetahs can't handle a little rain). The only ones left out were the hippos, giraffes and the polar bear, who was probably enjoying the relief from the heat. For those wondering, they keep him in a deep chilled pool and he has an air-conditioned cave, although he was actually born at the zoo. It was a bit of a disappointing end to the afternoon, since we missed a lot of animals like the big cats.

After catching a bus and train home, we spent a few hours in the hotel business club, and then walked over to Chinatown later that night for food. The Smith St food market was just closing up but we got a meal of fried rice inside a hollowed out pineapple plus a few cheap beers. I would have liked to explore more if we'd had time.

The next day was Easter Sunday and we only had a half-day before our flight home at 6pm. After a quick shopping expedition to Orchard Road, we headed back into the city to the famous Long Bar at Raffles Hotel, where the Singapore Sling was invented. Claire had the cocktail while I had a Tiger, which came to $45 (!) but I guess you've got to do it once.

On returning to the hotel just after lunch time, we packed and checked out in record time, took a quick taxi to the airport. Again, we didn't get much shuteye on the trip back, but the 8am arrival was timed well so that we had all of Monday to catch up on sleep.

It was such a short holiday it's still hard to believe it all happened, although I'm sure it was slightly more memorable than the original weekend in Newcastle would have been (sorry Novocastrians).

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