Monday, November 28, 2005

Singapore part 2 - close encounters of the furred kind

Day 4 (Saturday) Shopping

Shopping day. Went and checked out the shopping malls again. I'm not a big shopper so didn't buy much - only 4 packs of razors for Andrew and one lot for me as they were a lot cheaper than Australia.... Had another S$2 lunch from next door and went to Chinatown in the evening, bought some wall hanging type souvenirs and had Chinese steamboat for dinner - despite the look on my face in one of the photos, it was very yummy.

Day 5 (Sunday) Singapore Zoo and Night Safari

Biggggg day! We left the hotel by about 8:15ish to go to the Singapore Zoo, and did the night safari afterwards and got home about 10pm.

The Singapore Zoo is a fantastic zoo!! There's heaps of feedings happening all day for heaps of different animals. They're "token feedings" (ie. snacks) which allows you to see the animals eating as their main meals aren't neccesarily during opening hours. They also make sure they throw food all over the animal area as well to give them exercise and so you can see them in action.

The zoo is set up really well, with as few actual fences as possible, and it's great to be able to get involved in the feedings. We fed elephants, Hamadryas baboons, the massive Arapaima fish - also got a photo of mum almost crapping her pants as the fish jumped out of the water. These beasts are upto 2m long and upto 90 or so kg. They just kind of snap out of the water to get their food.

The monkeys were all a scream. There was heaps of chimps and we could have spent all day watching their antics. Among them was mum, dad and small baby who was clinging to mum. There was also a naughty chimp. He kept trying to annoy the baby and mum. he'd come up and push mum who would push him back and they'd have a bit of a barney until dad came and sorted things out. Then the naughty one would run off and come back with a stick and bash mum over the head!!! That caused dad, older brother, and mum to go racing after him trying to beat him up! It was an absolute scream. After that the naughty one would come and parade in front of us jumping up and down and clapping his hands. He obviously thought it was hilarious :) We were talking to a keeper who throws in any leftover bananas into them if he goes past as he usually sits and watches them for a while. He said if the naughty one wants a banana and he hasn't got any, the naughty one will find a stick and throw it at him!!! Such characters. It was also cute to see the baby and what we thought was an older sibling playing chasey racing after each other running around mum.

Other highlights were the white tiger feeding, the elephant show which included elephants working and playing, the proboscis monkeys which I thought were just GORGEOUS, a walk through area which had ring tailed lemurs which were so used to people and more happy for you to give them a pat, the jaguar feeding was impressive, and I took some footage of that one and the elephant ride was cool too!

The night safari was a bit of a let down after being at the zoo all day. I mean it was very well set up again with no fences between you and the animals and you did a tram ride through the park and they just had cattle grates to keep the animals from going to the next enclosure. They also had great "mood lighting" so the enclosures looked as though they were lit by moonlight. The only problem was that we'd seen the same animals during the day at the zoo when there was more light, so they were easier to see and thanks to the feedings you got to see them in action. We didn't really see the point of the night safari - the animals were just as lazy still at night!

There was a fair bit we didn't do as it was 9:30pm we were over it by then after being at the zoo since 8:30am....

Day 6 (Monday) Jurong Birdpark, resting and Singapore Slings!

Today we went to Jurong Birdpark. I wasn't all that excited about a zoo with only birds, but my aunt Nola was keen so we all went along. There was a great Bird of Prey show with birds such as eagles, owls and vultures and that was pretty impressive. Aunty Vicki got to be part of the show and hold some owls so that was good! Asians seem to be quite reserved so don't volunteer for things, but us Aussies throw our hands up and wave them wildly once we hear "Can I have a volunteer for...."

They had plenty of birds I love such as macaws, birds of paradise, various parrots and lorikeets. Ok, so lorikeets are very Australian, but I love feeding them and it'll be a while until I see another! They had a massive enclosure for them and you could purchase some feed for them, so we got some great photos.

My favourite parrot is the eclectus parrot which I think are just gorgeous, and we all got in a photo holding a bird, and I got to hold an eclectus so I was happy (although I was hoping for the beautiful green male, but got the red female - oh well).

Then we got home, got a few more things from the shops we needed, had a bit of a relax, then went to Raffles!!!

We had a great time at Raffles. We only stayed for a Singapore Sling each (and at S$20 each,, you'd only want one! S$20 would get me 10 good meals at my favourite little food guy!!!). But the atmosphere was fun and we took plenty of pics and ate lots of yummy peanuts (and I stuck to tradition by throwing the shells on the ground unlike my more OH&S conscious relatives...).

We got back to the hotel and the others got some dinner (from my favourite guy, but he charges them S$2.50 - he only ever charges me S$2!), and we sat around laughing at our photos and just giggling lots.

Day 7 (Tomorrow)

We discovered when going to the zoo that the Malaysian border is very close and we can get a cab there for about S$20, so that's the plan for tomorrow! Zip over to Malaysia, get a stamp in our passport, if there's anything over the border have a wander about, then zip back to do any last minute things before we fly out on Wednesday! Gee time flies.

Things I've noticed Part 2

- Road rules, indicators, and anything like that seem to be a guide rather than a rule! Nobody stops for you at pedestrian crossings, people just weave in and out of traffic without bothering with indicators, if you're sitting in the passenger seat of a cab, the while line seems to be going under you most of the time as they don't bother staying in one line, they prefer to take up a couple of lanes.
- Singaporeans do not walk with a purpose and do not watch where they're going. We walk reasonably briskly and are constantly getting caught going at a snails pace behind people, or they walk out in front of you without looking to see where other people are, or there'll be a group of people taking up the whole sidewalk, they'll stop, turn around to be looking towards us (waiting for really slowpokes) and won't even think to move out of the way.
- Cabs are SO CHEAP!!! Costs us S$4-5 to go most places we want that are local. For the far away places we haven't paid more than S$15 for a 20 minute or so drive! Amazing!
- Hotel staff are just lovely. Not have to be friendly, but genuinely friendly. My aunt Nola is a smoker so is often downstairs having a smoke, and quite a few doormen know her now and have a chat and ask what we've been upto. One of the waiters Norman knows us (we have a buffet brekky included every day) and always says hi and asks how we're going and many others may not speak english very well but are getting to know our faces so always greet us when they were a little shy before.
- The entire place is just very well thought out. From the layout of the tourist attractions to the cultural areas, we've been very impressed.
- They aren't big fans of REAL milk! The soy milk is just completely gross, so have been putting regular milk in my tea at breakfast time, and it's always UHT milk. Bleuchh! I'm hanging out for a real loose leaf cup of tea with real milk. Mmmmm!

Anyway, not long to the US now!! Can't wait to get there! It's nice to finish a holiday and have something else exciting to look forward to rather than just going back to the drudgery of work and regular life.

Next post will be from the US!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Singapore part 1 - dolphin kisses and more!

First of all - photos are at

We've been in Singapore for 3 days and done so much! I'll try to start from the beginning and add more later probably.

I'm travelling with my mum and aunt Nola from Brisbane and my aunt Vicki who lives in the Seychelles.

We arrived on Wednesday morning (albeit 2 hours late due to an electrical storm in Sydney) and started with a wander down Orchard Road (main shopping street in Singapore) while we waited for Vicki. When Vicki arrived (also 2 hours late because her plane had engine problems and had to turn back to the Seychelles), she took us to other shopping malls around the place and we all marvelled how cheap everything could be with a bit of bargaining.

Thursday we did the tour bus thing. There's currently a deal on where you get 6 (mainly) hop on hop off tours for S$33, so we took full advantage of that! The first tour we did was a city tour that did a general tour of singapore. It stopped down near the river where we got off and did a river cruise. We went for a wander down the markets near where the river boat dropped us back off while we waited for the bus to come back. We jumped back on, went to the botanic gardens which was quite beautiful and went to the Orchid Gardens that are in there. I have a fair few piccies from the gardens!

From there we got back on the bus, and got back off at the starting point which is Suntec City (another big shopping complex). We then got straight back onto the next tour which was the heritage tour. This bus goes through the different cultural areas of Singapore. We got off at Little India and wandered through there and stopped at an Indian place to have some lunch and the food was just amazing. The spices just made the meals taste so different to what you get in Australia. We also discovered Tiger beer. Tiger beer is wonderfully refreshing, and I'm not much of a beer drinker, but the Tiger beers go down very well! I've had a head cold for the past week or so, and the Indian food completely cleared out my sinuses!!!!!

So we kept wandering through Little India, through the huge 24 hour Mustafa Centre where once again everything is very cheap. I saw some Lindt chocolate for about S$20 and I remarked to mum how that was actually quite expensive, and she showed me the chocolate side on - there was actually 8 big blocks in there for $20 (about AUD$18 I guess)!!!

By this time it was getting late and we had another tour bus to get so we left Little India and kept on the Heritage Tour bus through other cultural areas and back to Suntec. From there we caught a Moonlight bus which goes to Sentosa Island to see the musical fountain. We had no idea what to expect but it was awesome!! It had a big spray of water going up into the air, and they had a laser show firing into the water which was just amazing! It's hard to explain, but in my photos, there's pics of it, and also a couple of videos I took - gives you an idea of what it is as it's very hard to explain!

When the musical fountain finished we got back on the bus and went back to Suntec via Orchard Rd which is lit up with christmas lights and looking beautiful. We got back to our hotel and mum and I were a bit peckish as we hadn't eaten since lunch and it was 10pm by then (lunch was very filling though, and we weren't exactly starving). There's a little open area next to the hotel which has lots of little shops all selling the same sort of food all trying to get your attention as you walk by. We grabbed dinner from there - just take away rice, steamed vegies and sweet and sour pork for me, and it was S$2.50!!! It was more than I needed, but the guy kept putting more food in the plate when I kept saying it was plenty! So cheap, and very yummy.

Thursday was a big day - we left the hotel at 9am and didn't get back until after 10pm! We slept very well, although were woken up about 6am to a cracking thunderstorm. It was so loud (and the double glazing keeps most noise out really well) that I thought it was multiple explosions happening!

Today was amazing as well. We caught a taxi (also very cheap!!) to where cable cars go across to Sentosa Island so we could get a birds eye view of the place which was good fun. At Sentosa Island we did a nature trail and dragon walk thing. We were in trees and saw some gliders and Nola pointed it out, so we all looked then she yelled in excitement at all of us to look which of course scared it away. I shushed her telling her she scared it away, then we heard rustling and there was another one! So I got my camera all primed, then mum squealed in excitement and scared that one away!!!!! Sheesh... :-) There was quite a few running around, but they moved fast and stayed pretty high. We were going to stay for a while to watch them, then a group of schoolkids came by yelling and screaming so it wasn't worth it.

We walked down to where Underwater World is, had a quick stickybeak, caught a courtesy bus to the Dolphin Lagoon on another part of the island and got off there to see the pink dolphins that reside there. We passed some time until the next show by going to the Southern most point of Asia (got photos!) and had some lunch, then went and staked out what we thought would be the best spot for the show.

It was a good show and they had some otters doing some tricks, then put the dolphins through their paces. They were very very good and obviously enjoyed their "work" and didn't do a thing wrong! They knew every command very well.

The girl running the show asked for a volunteer for something so I through my hand up as did mum and I didn't really know what I was volunteering for, but I figured it would be interesting! I got picked for it (YAY!!! I never get picked for things!!), and I had to hula hoop (with someone else who got chosen) and try to do it for longer than the dolphins who were spinning a hoop on their noses! We both failed dismally....

I thought that might be it, but then I got taken down to the water, and got to pat a dolphin, and feed it some fish and ask it to sing which it did!! I thought that was pretty cool, but then the trainer said I was to join him in the water. I started rolling up my pants further and he said I'd be going in to chest deep. Hmmm. I was fully dressed!!!! I had 3/4 jeans and a white top - jeans dry very slowly and a wet white top is not good on girls... Oh well! So in I went up to close to my neck, where the dolphin came up and gave me a big kiss on the cheek!!!! It was soooooo cool! The dolphins are just gorgeous. Apparently they start out grey and turn pink as they mature, but are pink of pink with grey speckling. Beautiful creatures. I felt like the luckiest person in the world at this stage :-)

The dolphin lagoon entry included underwater world entry, so we figured we might as well go there (luckily mum had some boardshorts with her I could change into!). It was very like any sort of underwater world, but it was still good and I got some great pics of some of the creatures. If you see pictures when I put them up you'll notice I love the mouths of things, especially sting rays!!! :-)

From underwater world we got a cab back to the hotel where we rested for a bit before dinner. Dinner was awesome. It was an international seafood buffet down in the hotel restaurant. In the way of cold food there was sushi, prawns, oysters, crab, mussels, LaH LaH (also known as cockles), raw cuttlefish, salmon sashimi and probably more I've forgotten! In the hot stuff there was lobster cooked in something, sweet and sour fish, seafood kebabs, seafood mixed with steamed vegies, duck, chicken and lots more! It was all just divine, and I think we all had about 4 helpings (the plates were small I swear!!). The price including good French wine was the equivalent of about AUD$25. We're definitely going back there again!

So now it's late Friday night and I'm madly trying to upload photos while we have internet connection in the room!

Plans for the last 4 days include a red lantern tour (last tour in the package), a Night Safari, the zoo, Juronga bird park, Singapore Sling at Raffles, a drink on the 71st (second from the top) floor in the bar of the highest building in Singapore (and 4th highest in the world I think), maybe the chocolate buffet (mmmmmm) at one of the hotels and shopping. I don't really need anything but the shops are fascinating! I saw some beautiful prints on parchment sort of paper I'd like to go back and get but that'd be about it for me I think. I'm not a big shopper!

A few things we've noticed:

- Singapore is very clean - there's always people cleaning buildings and repainting everything to retain the look
- There's no bugs. At all! No mosquitoes, cockroaches, flies or anything. This is quite surprising considering all the food left out uncovered
- While things look quite unhygienic (we try not to think about it...), the food is very good, and we haven't gotten even the slightest problems in the tummy, despite eating at what by Australian standards would be very dodgy!
- The buildings are fascinating. They try to make the buildings unique, so all the skyscrapers, apartment blocks, everything has something different about it. One building I quite like has a section "cut" out of it halfway up where they've grown trees! The buildings are also very colourful. Very different to Brisbane and sydney where everything looks the same.
- Taxi drivers may not accept your fare.... I asked a guy to take us to Sentosa today, and I thought he said sure, and turned to mum and Nola to let them know they could get in and when I turned away he drove off!!!!! We were killing ourselves laughing...
- It's nice to travel with family - I swear I haven't laughed so much in a long time! I think we were all in need of a break, so we're all very relaxed and having just so much fun. Although I do wish Andrew was here to share it with me, that would make this whole adventure perfect.

Will add more as I think of it - this is enough for now :)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

And so the craziness begins...

I finished up at work on Friday (taking 12 months leave without pay to start with), and we were in Brisbane all weekend saying goodbye to the family.

The packers and removalists come this morning so we're madly trying to wash and dry the last few things before they arrive, and trying to separate the stuff we're taking on the plane, the air freight and the sea freight.

I got a bike box delivered to me from the removalists, so packed up my bike last Thursday and discovered the bike box is HUGE. For anyone who knows bike box sizes, this box made Mikal's QANTAS bike box look small, and I consider their boxes to be quite big! I didn't get a chance to pick up another bike box on Friday, so need to rush out to the bike shop this morning and try to score a reasonable sized bike box from the Bike Shed. Hopefully they'll have a spare they can give me, my poor bike will just fly everywhere in the current bike box otherwise!

This will probably be my last blog post for a while as we're staying with a friend from tonight, and have no idea when I'll next have computer access - or time to post for that matter!!

Who knows which country my next post will be from! :-)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Very amateur photography

We got a camera the other weekend so have been playing around with it taking pics of flowers, pets, and anything that will stay still long enough for me to snap it :)

Today we went for a drive taking local scenery pics so we can show our future American friends where we come from!

The photo below is my favourite pic from today - a good panoramic shot of Lake George (Hint: Click on it to actually be able to see it at a reasonable size). The camera has Panoramic Assist as does the software, so taking panoramic shots and putting them together is very easy!

Here's my other photos from around Canberra.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


I'm selling my little Laser before we head overseas. I tried selling it earlier this year when it only had a couple of months rego and there wasn't a huge amount of interest. I ended up getting all these annoying people who thought a 23 year old $1500 car should come with power steering, air conditioning and a CD player. Is it not enough that it has low k's and is in good nick????

Now it's got 10 months rego, and I only advertised it on Monday and I have three people who are really keen and all are desperately keen for a car and have sob stories so I don't have the heart to try and "play them off" for the highest figure.

First offer will win I think!