The next day was planned for the Singapore Zoological Gardens. This was the best place! The zoo was so amazing! The animals roamed freely (like monkeys and such) around, while the more vicious ones had some type of natural barrier between the spectators and them. The nature within the gardens was so full of plantlife I had never seen before. Really it was like a jungle, with paths everywhere leading to different places that animals lived. We watched different shows, and I actually got to sit right next to an orangutan!
The most famous thing to do also at the zoo, is to go to the night safari, which has been recognized world-wide for its magnificence. So, of course, we went along too. It started to get really stormy though, but it was perfect. The night safari is a park with hyenas, lions, giraffes, and everything else, that you can take a little train through at night and see them in their habitat. The coolest part was after the train ride, walking through the jungles with the lightning in the background, you could see the giraffes in the shadows. It was truly awe inspiring.
This was the last day for Singapore. We left the next day at the train station for Malaysia. On our way back from Malaysia though, we stopped back through Singapore for one more day of playing in the city.
The next day, we headed off for Sentosa Island where the huge Merlion is found. We had to board a gondola, that took us a good 20 minutes to the island. We were so high up! When we got out, the island was like a complete theme park. It had beaches, parks, butterfly gardens, and peacocks roaming around everywhere. The biggest landmark of course was the Merlion standing perched above the highest point looking over everything. It was quite a sight. We never lost our way because you could see him from practically every point. We then went to the beach to swim a little. We found that at the beach was the Southernmost Point of the Asia Continent. So, that was fun to at least “know”. We then went back to the Merlion and went inside and climbed to the top. At the top, you get a grand view back at the main island of Singapore, and then directly opposite, you could see islands of Indonesia. You can climb to the head, or look out the mouth. After that, we wandered around more, and came upon a man with a huge snake that would let us hold it for a small price. So, of course, Keiko and I just upped the snake on our shoulders and I donned a turban and vest and did the whole charming deal.
That night, we watched a fantastic laser light show. It was right in front of the Merlion, and the lights and music were fabulous! At the end, the Merlion’s eyes turned into lasers also, and went everywhere! It was an awesome sight. That was a great end to an awesome day!
The next day, we woke up and made it downtown again for a cruise on the Singapore river. These little boats had a tape recorder that did the tour for us. When we got in the boat, the people around us were other tourists from other nations, and the tape had actually been for Japanese speakers. So while Keiko and I were fine listening to the facts of the buildings and such, the rest of course complained. So, we had to go back to shore to get the English tape. It was really interesting to see the buildings brightly painted in pastels. It looked like a fake city that is used in movies. We then did a walking tour around the city, and thanks to Lonely Planet, we saw a lot of interesting things and learned a lot of the historical sites within the city center. We saw the famous Merlion, and it was so much smaller than one would imagine! Compared to me, It was maybe 3 feet taller! But, later I found out there is a much bigger one on Sentosa Island. We spent the afternoon just wandering to the different districts within the city.
We then found the Indian sector and went to the most famous of their temples. It had an elaborate entrance where several people were carved and stacked up toward the top. We then wandered to the famous Orchard Road, the rich part of town, where all designer type shops can be found. There were also several street performers that were very entertaining.
Flying from Hong Kong, we had a beautiful view of the North China Sea. The tropical scenery was amazing! Stepping off the plane in Singapore, I realized how hot it was there. Coming from Japan during March, it had been quite cold, so being in such warm weather really told me I was in the tropics. The airport was pretty new, and looking out the windows, I’ll never forget how “plush” everything was. The greenery of grass and bushes with pink tropical flowers surrounded everywhere I looked. We waited in line with others for a taxi.
The taxi took us to our hotel located near the Paya Labar E5 Train Station. It was right in front of the Muslim area in town. See, in Singapore, there are three distinct groups. Chinese, Indians, and Muslims. Our hotel was really nice and cheap (I had booked the nights over the internet). That afternoon, we used the train and went to the city center, which was just a 20 minute train ride. The trains reminded me of Disney Word’s Monorail system because it was above ground. The streets of downtown were immaculate, and it seemed like a really safe place to be. Signs were everywhere warning things that were prohibited. “No flammable liquid gas, FINE” “No smoking, FINE” No eating and drinking, FINE” All were fines of S$500. Those were signs just in the train station. We had a nice dinner outside while people-watching, and we noticed right away how cheap things were. Singapore I thought would be more expensive than things in the US, but it was actually very comparable, if not cheaper.