A Travellerspoint blog

Singapore

Singapore 2011

sunny 33 °C
View Singapore 2011 on Lingering's travel map.

Sunday (21/7/2011) This is my second trip to Singapore but my first time using AirAsia, the Malaysian low budget airline. For those who have used AirAsia before, you would be familiar with the continuous flight as well as the delays which used to be up to 1 hour long when it first started. Very disappointingly unlike other airlines, they do not even have the luggage check through service all the way from Brunei to Singapore and we had to check out of the KLCC airport and then check in again with our luggage to go to Singapore.

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When AirAsia landed on Brunei International Airport (on time surprisingly), after about 15mins of dropping off passengers coming to Brunei as well as their luggage, it was our turn and our luggage to get on the same plane and off we go to Kuala Lumpur. The plane was small, only 2 rows of seat with small leg space but it was alright for a 2 hour and 15 min flight. Funnily unlike the other airlines that I’ve been on, no one uses the toilet nor did anyone make much noise since there wasn’t any entertainment so it was easy to catch up with our sleep. KLCC is surprisingly just next to KLIA and we had to walk down from the plane on the runway with the hot late morning breeze blowing on us while we walked a distance to the Malaysian immigration area. Queue was bad and the process was very slow. By the time we passed through the immigration and gotten our luggage, it was already noon time and we had to check in our bags again before we can have lunch. I had to learn how to do self-check-in which is pretty easy once you know how to do it and the machine print the boarding pass right away but then we still had to queue in the check in counter to drop our luggage. We had a quick lunch in an “open cafe” inside the terminal and boy, not only was the service so slow but the place was full of flying houseflies that it was impossible to eat in peace and enjoy the meal even though the portion was big! The waitress had to stand next to our table and swat at the houseflies which was very unhygienic. I really wonder how the health authorities can allow these types of “cafe” to operate in an airport terminal.

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We arrived at Changi’s airport terminal 1 at 3.30pm and then took a taxi which drove us all the way to Waterloo Street. The road wasn’t that jam as it was a lazy Sunday. When we arrived at South East Asia Hotel, there were a lot of people praying in both the Buddhist and the Indian temple as well as lotus flower sellers. For only S$100, our room is not too bad actually, much bigger than the Brooke Hotel I stayed in Hangzhou last year. It’s just like your typical bedroom that you have at home but the only thing missing is a small fridge which is useful if there is one. After resting for a while, we decided to go out and check on the surrounding. First we went and checked out all the small shopping buildings around and well, basically almost all of them have sales to remove the older stocks so that they can put out new ones. We bought a pair of comfortable shoes each as well as some clothes.

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Since it was already getting late, we decided to drop off our things at the hotel first before going to the Albert food court to see what sort of food they sell. Mostly they had porridge and pig spare parts which both of us don’t eat so we decided to have the Indonesian “ayam” (chicken) BBQ for only S$4.50. It’s not bad though I don’t know why they dip the BBQ drumstick into the black sweet soya sauce for since it’s supposed to be BBQ. Then we walked through Bugis Street and crossed the road to go to Bugis Junction just to see what is available there. They had an exhibition on the smurfs designed by the locals which you can bid in conjunction with the movie “The Smurfs In 3D”. By the time we finished going around Bugis Junction, it was almost 10pm so we made a quick round in the Bugis Street. Most of the stalls had already closed so we didn’t actually see all of the clothes and accessories that they sell and decided to check them out again the next few days since it’s so close to our hotel.

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Monday (22/7/2011) Breakfast is from 8.30am to 10am daily. The menu is either vegetarian Chinese buffet or an American breakfast. We chose vegetarian Chinese buffet since they had fried rice, noodles, fried carrot cake and also vegetarian pao which is not bad at all considering that I’m not a 100% vegetarian. Our plan for today is going to the Universal Studios in Sentosa. In order to get there, we took the MRT all the way to Vivocity and then took the Sentosa Express for only S$3 (return trip) which was located on the 3rd floor of that shopping centre.

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It is similar to Hong Kong’s Disneyland though smaller in size and instead of concentrating on Disney characters, they concentrated on Madagascar’s characters. We didn’t see a lot of mascots going around unlike in Disneyland, probably because of the hot weather. We managed to watch Madagascar Boogie dance by 4 penguins, Alex and King Julien XIII which was pretty funny but we didn’t stick around to take photos with them since it was so hot. Then we went for rides like A Crate Adventure which is a water ride that helped to cool us down slightly from the hot weather and then queued for Shrek 4-D Adventure which is actually a simulator ride that smacked our legs with something when the spiders came and squirted water at our face whenever the donkey sneeze. Feels like you’re riding a horse at the same time too LOL!! After that we tried the Enchanted Airways for some adrenaline rush and I have to say, the last time that I went on one was like 5 years ago and you feel like you’re going to be thrown off the ride anytime. Man, a few seconds just feels like 1 minute!

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Our next target is to watch the Water World which was full of actions (not to mention water too) and it was pretty interesting. It can accommodate a lot of people at one time and it was 30 mins long. By the time the show was over, it started to drizzle a bit so we decided to take a break and have lunch at their food court. It was fully packed as everyone was taking this opportunity to take shelter from the drizzle too. Very good business during raining times I would say! The chicken rice that comes with a soya bean pudding is not bad even though it is expensive (S$10.50) compared to the chicken rice we have in Brunei but it was much more worth it than the one I had at Chinatown which costed S$8 for only a few pieces of chicken. After lunch we went on our way to the Lost World and then to the Ancient Egypt which both wasn’t 100% completed yet. But the Ancient Egypt looks magnificent like the one you see in “The Mummy”.

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Our original intention was to try all the rides in this park as there’s only 3 and we’ve gone on 2 already. However, we had to give up on Battlestar Galactica ride as we don’t want to throw up our lunch but it looks very exciting even though the loops and the ride was much more longer than the Enchanted Airways. So we just kept on walking to Sci-Fi City which was nothing much and headed to New York which is just basically some buildings found in NY like the Rockefeller Centre and its famous statue of Atlas. There wasn’t much attractions to see in Universal Studios unfortunately and the only mascots that we took picture with is Woody Woodpecker’s girlfriend and King Julien XIII who is a very cheeky lemur for sure!

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By 3pm, we ran out of things to see so we decided to go back to Vivocity and look around for a while before heading to South Bridge road to get my new Canon Powershot SX30 IS. I’ve never been to this area before so it took us quite a while to find it but eventually we did. After dropping my things to our hotel, we took a bit of a rest before going to Singapura Plaza as I wanted to get some embossing crafts. Things have changed a lot since I last went there. Spotlight isn’t selling a lot of scrapbook materials as they used to but I managed to get my heat gun from another shop 1 floor below Spotlight. After doing some shopping, we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel to get some sleep.

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Tuesday (23/7/2011) Today, we headed for Marina Bay Sands® Hotel. Following the instructions I’ve gotten from the internet, it was pretty easy to go there without using a taxi and we didn’t even need to board any bus as stated as it was only walking distance from the MRT station. It was a pretty hot day and there weren’t many people heading towards that direction either. We entered through The Shoppes which houses so many brand names and walked from one end to the other end, passing by the casino area before we actually got into the hotel area and once again went from one end to the other end of the hotel just to find the entrance to the SkyPark area. They have to improve by putting up signs to show the direction to go to the SkyPark for visitors for sure! Going up 52 floor isn’t anything new to me as I’ve been to towers higher than this one. From the top, you can see constructions going on which is expected to be completed in 2012 and the tall buildings that crowds Singapore city. Since there wasn’t anything much to see and it was getting hot as it was close to noon time, we decided to check out the swimming pool of this hotel which is located on the roof top. Pretty nice view and it looks like as if you’re swimming without any walls at all even though they do have glass panels to prevent their guests from falling off from the swimming pool.

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After coming down from the SkyPark, we decided to have lunch first before continuing our tour to the Art Science Museum which is another small building outside The Shoppes. There’s a wax skating ring around the food court which offers various types of dishes. The Art Science Museum is very small as it only has 3 galleries. We went to the Van Gogh exhibition fist and actually sat down there and just looked at his paintings while relaxing to the music. Then we went to Dali’s gallery which is famous for his Surrealism’s sculptures. Before leaving Marina Bay Sands, we decided to check out the casino and I did try and play the jackpot which was pretty expensive as 1 credit cost 5 cents and the cheapest game to play is a minimum of 50 credits which cost $2.50 per game. I played a total of S$17 on jackpot only, lost more than S$13 at first but in the end during the last 2 games, I managed to cover back most of the money I lost and eventually only lost S$3.75 which is not bad at all. I would say that jackpots are addictive and no wonder a lot of Chinese men and women just sit around all day at the jackpot machine and just keep on pressing the button in hope to strike it big!

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By 3.30pm we decided to head towards Chinatown. There wasn’t much decoration for the Mid Autumn festival like last year and the paper lanterns weren’t as nice as before too. However like always, you can see a lot of tourists from various countries looking for souvenir on Temple Street, ranging from shirts, magnets, keychains, mirrors, etc. We checked out the “bak kua” or the BBQ pork jerky as well as some of the shops around Chinatown. After getting some souvenirs of our own, we decided to sit down and have some snacks. I had ice kacang for S$2.50 while my friend has satay with rice for S$6 which is not too expensive. After having enough of rest for our feet, we walked towards the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple And Museum which was not too far away but unfortunately, it was already closed by the time we found it so we decided to head back to Bugis and have dinner before going back to rest.

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Wednesday (24/7/2011) Today, we head to Science Discovery Centre which took at least 30 mins to reach by the MRT but since it wasn’t crowded, it was a relaxing ride while we just look out the window and see the seneries away from the city centre. We reached to the Science Centre in time to see the IMAX movie first which was quite interesting because it’s about 2 great women who took care of baby organ utans in Indonesia and elephant orphans in Africa all their live and it shows how dedicated they are to their work. Very touching and the orang utan sanctuary in Indonesia looks very interesting. After the show, we headed to the main gallery and watched the Tesla coil show. Most of the things looks the same like last time but they have changed some of the galleries so it was interesting to see new things. They also have the dancing iron filings that moves according to the rhythm of the song being played. They even had a demonstration on fire tornado and explained to us how it is formed. It’s a very educational place for people to bring their kids along as kids gets easily fascinated by animals and things they can’t explain themselves.

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Since were already in Jurong area already, we decided to go a bit further to Jurong point, also another shopping centre selling stuffs at a cheaper price than in city area. I managed to find angry birds stuffs for my boyfriend’s niece and nephews since they’re so crazy about it. They also have a Japanese food court where they sell all sorts of Japanese food but not to our liking so we decided to go back and grab dinner around Bugis area. Man, more than 30 mins ride on a fully packed MRT is not your ideal way of travelling as you have to stand up all the way like sardine fishes in a can!

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Thursday (25/7/2011) Since we have finished all the places that we intended to see, the next few days are just solely for shopping and some sightseeing. I wanted to see how a Jewish temple look like so we went for a walk from Waterloo street all the way to Bras Basah MRT station. There were some colourful houses and I finally found Maghain Aboth Synagogue not too far away from the MRT station. Unfortunately, it was closed so we didn’t have a chance to look inside.

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After that, we took the MRT to Geylang Serai which is located between Paya Lebar and Eunos station since my friend wanted to find cloth materials for her family. It’s a Malay area where there are lots of stalls selling “baju melayu”, “kebayas”, Malay biscuits, decorations and curtains for the “Hari Raya” festival. Not all the eateries are open though since the Muslims are still fasting during the day so we didn’t try any Malay snacks. By the time my friend got the things she was looking for, it was just about lunch time so we decided to head back to the hotel first and grabbed lunch at the Bugis Junction's food junction.

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In the afternoon, we decided to check out Orchard Road since we had to get some things from some of the shopping centres there. After walking from morning until night time, my feet were really aching and I had no choice but to get a foot massage there. When she started massaging it, my feet were really stiff and every massage she did caused a lot of pain but after 25 mins, they felt so comfortable and painless. Ready to walk non-stop for another few more days I hope. So we walked all the way towards Ion Orchard and saw an ice cream man on the way. We decided to have ice cream wafer sandwich for S$1 and sat for a while to rest our feet while enjoying our cold dessert. After walking all the way to the end of Orchard Road, we headed to Ion Orchard where I wanted to get Royce’s Champagne Pierre Mignon since we don’t have chocolate liquor available in Brunei before we ate at the food court since it was already getting late.

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Friday (26/7/2011) Since today is our last day in Singapore, we plan to do last minute shopping before we head back to Brunei tomorrow. We first went to Orchard Road to find Begawan Solo and also some clothes in OG complex. For lunch, we decided to grab a Subway sandwich on the way back to the hotel. Yummy! It’s the first time I tried Subway’s ham sandwich even though I’ve seen it before in US and was trying to find it at Changi’s terminal 2 but couldn’t find exactly where it was. We started to pack some of our stuffs until about 2pm and then went out again to Chinatown to buy bak kua. Since we don’t plan to go out for dinner again that night in order to do our final packing, I ordered bimbibap as takeaway which is not bad and it’s cheaper than the one in Brunei. Our final stop was to Albert Complex to buy some shirts for the men in our family.

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Saturday (27/7/2011) We woke up early today as we checked out the hotel at 6am. Even though it’s dark at that time, there were already people who came and pray at the 2 temples and people selling lotus flowers. We had to wait for the taxi driver since there were 2 taxis parked at the taxi stand without any driver. Finally one of the lady came to her taxi after praying at the temple so she drive us to the airport. Fortunately, we were already in a taxi when it started to drizzle. All our flight coming back were delayed but the pilot from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur managed to make up with the delay time by reaching KLCC in just 30 mins. After all the hassle of checking out from the immigration and taking our luggages and then checking in again, we only had about 1 hour left to grab lunch at McDonald’s and then had to walk quite a distance to reach to the boarding gate. Overall I would say, AirAsia is only good if you only intend to go to 1 country directly instead of transiting but it’s not very comfortable for long distance travelling nor do I like the KLCC system very much. But for less than S$270, what do you expect from a budget airline.

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Posted by Lingering 00:46 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Singapore

Christmas In The Tropics

rain -17 °C
View Singapore on Lingering's travel map.

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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