A Travellerspoint blog

May 2007

Singapore

Christmas In The Tropics

rain -17 °C
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Saturday (16/12/2006) We arrived at Changi Airport in the afternoon and then took a taxi straight to YWCA Fort Canning Lodge which so happens to be located just next to YMCA and Fort Canning Park. Since it is located in the Orchard Road area, all we had to do is just to walk through Park Mall, cross the road and we have already reached the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station. Cross the road one more time and we're already at Orchard Road. That afternoon was a really hot day even though it was already late afternoon when we started walking around Orchard Road, checking out the shopping centres.

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We also managed to find the Singapore Visitors Centre @ Orchard where we purchased a 2 day trip; City Tour and a Heritage Tour Sightseeing Pass which includes a free Christmas Light-Up tour for visitors using the HippoTours bus. At night, Orchard Road was very lively with lots of people doing Christmas shoppings, Christian activities and a lot of Christmas lights with Christmas deco. The special thing about Christmas in Singapore is that you can always find a Christmas tree in front or inside a shopping centre. So, just imagine Orchard Road, a whole stretch of shopping centres as well as Christmas trees along the way. There were Christmas trees which represents the 4 seasons; winter, spring, summer and autumn, a very huge Christmas tree inside Takashimaya and a special Christmas tree, exclusively decorated with thousands of Swarovski crystal ornaments just at the corner of The Heeren Shopping Centre. There was also a huge Christmas tree decorated with teddy bears that will be donated to the orphans after Christmas.

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Sunday (17/12/2006) Started our first sight seeing around Singapore today. In order to catch the early HippoTours bus in the morning, we had to walk about 8 minutes from the lodge all the way to Clark Quay. Just as we left Clark Quay, it started to rain so we had to sit on the lower deck instead of the open deck of the HippoTours bus. The HippoTours around the City Tour took us one round through the city of Singapore whereby we passed various places of attraction like the Botanical Gardens, Merlion Park, the ever famous Raffles hotel, the Esplanade Theatre, Orchard Road and Suntec City. At the end of the tour, we stayed at Suntec City where we checked out what the fuss is about on the Singapore Garden Festival 2006. Since we only had less than 1 hour before we leave for the Laser Musical Fountain in Sentosa and the Christmas Light Up Tour, we decided to check it out the next day.

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The 45 minute Laser Musical Fountain show in Sentosa was excellent! Although it was raining on and off throughout the whole show, it still went on. Kippy was the icon of Sentosa Island and the musical was really funny. Then we went to Bugis Junction to get some dinner before we were dropped off at Orchard Road since the HippoTours bus had to go through Orchard Road so that we can see the Christmas Light-Up. Rain and rain throughout the whole day!

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Monday (18/12/2006) Today, we took the HippoTours again at Clark Quay. This time the Heritage Tour took us to places like Chinatown, Bugis Street, Little India and Gelyang Serai which is a Malay village. Since Singapore Botanical garden was on the route, we decided to check it out. The place is just so fascinating. For those who love flowers and plants, the Botanical Garden is not to be missed 'coz they have various types of cactus, trees and lots of orchid species. The cool house is also something that should not be missed out because this special glasshouse is installed with air cons and mist sprays that sprays every few minutes so that it feels like you're in the montane forest that is a few thousand metres above sea level. The guide who was in the HippoTours bus that dropped us off in the Botanical Gardens earlier was happy that we actually spent 2 hours there.

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After that we dropped off at Suntec City to see the Singapore Garden Festival 2006. The ticket was $6 and it was worth that price. We took a lot of photos there because the landscapes and the floral arrangements were just so amazing and we ended up just being there for 4 hours. I wondered how they can actually carry up most of the big stuffs there like the Dome, the Chinese pavilion and the cottage because it was held on the 6th floor of the Suntec City Convention Centre. The chrysanthemum flowers were also extra huge! Then on the 4th floor, they displayed all the winners of the floral and ikebana arrangement from schools, educational section on pests and disease management, more orchids and also floral products for the public to purchase. If I live in Singapore, I would have bought most of the plants because they are quite cheap compared to Brunei. What a whole day of just checking out all the botanics of Singapore!

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Then in the evening, we caught a Night Safari Express Bus which cost $4 per trip from Orchard road. Since the Night Safari is located at Mandai Lake Road, it took us about 1 hour to reach there from Orchard Road and it was raining cats and dogs all the way. Due to the heavy rain, the night performances were cancelled so we only went for the tram ride. Of course, the animals were inactive due to the rain so it spoilt the night for us. But we had dinner at Bongo Burgers which serve very big portions and it was just delicious! By the time we got back to Orchard Road, it was almost 12am.

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Tuesday (19/12/2006) Our plan for today was to visit the Singapore Science Centre. In order to get there, we had to use the MRT which was actually new to us because there is no MRT in Brunei since everyone here has their own car. So, it took us quite a while to figure out which line to take from Dhoby Ghaut MRT station (there is a East West Line, North South Line and North East Line) and also which MRT station is the nearest one to drop off so that we do not have to walk so far. Finally, we took the NE line first until the interchange station before changing to the EW line until the Jurong East MRT station. That involved stopping at 11 MRT stations along the way. When we reached to the destination, we had problem finding where the Science Centre is because most people do not know where it is until we found it ourselves. By then, it had started to rain heavily again and we got quite wet by the time we actually reached to the Science Centre.

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Not only was it raining, but the queue from the ticket counter was so long that we had to line until outside the entrance but it was actually worth the wait 'coz this place is very educational especially if you like Science. We bought the Science Centre admission with 1 IMAX movie ticket for only $12.80. First we checked out The Mind's Eye which involves optical illusions and it was quite fascinating because it proves that your eyes can play tricks on you. Then we watched a demonstration on how a tesla coil work when electricity is passed through it. The sound of the lightning was quite loud so we were asked to cover our ears before the start of the demo and we were mesmerized that the tesla coil can light up flourscent lamps held by people among the crowd. There are also various exhibitions related to Chemistry, Biology and Physics.

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The 4D IMAX movie was shown in the Omni-Theatre which is 5 storey high and has a 23m diameter hemispheric giant screen that stretches 180 degrees horizontal from wall to wall and is tilted at a 30 degree angle to the horizon. So, people are actually looking at the wall of the dome instead of the normal flat white screen like in the cinemas. Honestly speaking, I almost fell asleep while watching Deep Sea 'coz the chair was so comfortable but never choose a seat near to the bottom row 'coz your neck will ache by the end of the show even though it only last for 40 minutes.

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After the Singapore Science Centre, we took the MRT to Chinatown to check out the products mostly from China before heading back to Orchard Road in the evening for window shopping.

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Wednesday (20/12/2006) Today, we went to the Jurong Bird Park by taking the MRT to Boon Lay MRT station which was 14 stops. From there, we had to take a taxi to reach our destination. There are more than 600 species of birds in this park like the emperor penguins, eagles and the snow owls. This place also houses the world's largest Lory Flight Aviary, tallest man-made waterfall, largest collection of South East Asia birds and hornbills and the largest colony of Humboldt Penguins bred in captivity.

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Next, we went to Haw Paw Villa which is the quintessential house of Chinese folklore. There are 25 clusters of original statues and figurines replicate Chinese mythology characters like the Laughing Buddha and the Fu Lu Shou (Taoist deities). The most fascinating part of this villa is the Ten Courts of Hell which features the ten steps of judgement before reincarnation. This exhibit serves as a teaching of moral values and Chinese cultural heritage for future generations but honestly speaking, if you have a wild imagination, it was a bit scary to just walk through the whole tunnel. However, even though it was bizarre and scary to just see everything in the villa, it was also quite fascinating especially when you wonder, how do they actually make all those statues and small figurines.

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Thursday (21/12/2006) Today was our second last day in Singapore and our last plan was to visit the Singapore Zoo. In order to go there, we had to go to the Ang Mo Kio MRT station and then take a taxi. The zoo consists of the Australian Outback, The Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia, Elephants of Asia, primate kingdom, treetop trails, Wild Africa, reptile garden and cat country. We also saw polar bears for the first time in flesh.

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When we reach back to YWCA Fort Canning Lodge late afternoon, we decided to wander around Fort Canning, since we were staying just next to it. It was quite a climb upwards as the hill was quite steep. There is a Fort Gate which is the remain of the fortress that was used from 1861 to 1926, a 9 pound cannon, Fort Canning Green which used to be the old Christian Cemetery, the spice garden which was Raffles' original experimental and botanical garden and the Keramat Iskandar Syah which some people believe that this is the resting place of Iskandar Syah, a ruler of Tumasek which is the 1st Malay king of Singapore during the 14th century.

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Friday (22/12/2006) Our flight back to Brunei was very early. We had to be at the airport by 6am which was quite tiring but honestly speaking, I was getting homesick already because I miss the weather in Brunei which did not rain everyday. Even though if it does rain, I do not need to carry an umbrella around in my bag 'coz I have my own car if I need to go here and there. But I'm glad that we managed to see almost all of the places of interest in Singapore regardless of the wet weather.

Posted by Lingering 21:57 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

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