one more stop closer to home...
27.12.2011 - 29.12.2011 26 °C
So back in Singapore…weird after being here less than six months ago. It’s also a very weird place to stay at a backpackers I’ve decided. Because Singapore is so ‘nice’ compared to the rest of South-East Asia, I feel that people mainly come here on the way home from their trip so they choose to stay somewhere ‘nice’ to make the most of the end of their trip. Don’t get me wrong, this Five Stones Hostel in Clarke Quay where I’m staying is very nice as far as backpackers go (and expensive too) but the vibe here is so weird. It seems that most people who stay here are here for a purpose, rather than just travelling through. For instance, I’ve never been to a backpackers where people go to bed at 3am and not because they’ve been out – because they’ve been on the computer!
However, it has been nice to have a couple of days layover in comparable luxury before I get stuck into having to actually use my brain in Jakarta! Originally I came here so I could get the visa I need for Indonesia, but seeing I got that all sorted in Ho Chi Minh, I literally just have a couple of days to do as I please.
So the night I first got here, I decided to do as many people do in Singapore, and splurge. I went to this bar called the New Asia Bar on the 71st floor of the Swisshotel, which has views all over Singapore, very similar to those available on the Singapore Flyer, except for the fact that it is higher than the Singapore Flyer! Being a sucker for a good high view, as well as bars, it was an excellent idea, except for the fact that I wanted to go up there for sunset, and being in a different time zone to previously, I misjudged how late sunset was actually going to be! Needless to say, it turned out to be a rather expensive affair, and once it was well and truly dark I found myself incredibly eager for the comparatively cheap McDonald’s dinner available downstairs under the hotel!
Yesterday I decided to be a true tourist and go to the zoo! (Similar to a good high view, I also love a good zoo!) Getting there turned out to be quite an adventure in itself however. I wanted to try and find this bus that went express to the zoo and only went from certain bus stops. I thought I’d found the stop but I had quite a wait so I sat down to read my book. Then this old Singaporean man came up to me and asked me if I had $2, and I don’t usually do that kind of thing, but I was going to be sitting there for a while so I thought I better be nice so I gave him $1, the only coin I had. It turned out to be $1 well spent. He ended up reading my palm and telling me how to get rid of my wrinkles and my tuck-shop lady arms…lol! Then this other old man came up to the bus stop and was making all this signs behinds the first old man’s back, saying he was crazy and don’t talk to him, etcetera etcetera, but he was ok. Then once the first old man left the second one decide he wanted to talk to me and that was enough entertaining the locals for one day for me – I decided to catch a train and then a taxi to the zoo instead! Luckily I have been here before so I vaguely understand how the MTR works.
Anyway, I did eventually get to the zoo, and it was great. Luckily for me it was ‘raining’ earlier in the day (and by that I mean spitting) so that kept the crowds at bay. The Singapore Zoo is well famed for being an open landscaped zoo, meaning that rather being kept in cages, the animals are kept in ‘habitats’. So obviously they can’t come up to you and attack you – they are separated from you by a strategically placed ditch or pond or log…depending on the type of animal, the bigger that ditch may be. But it was really well done. They are very proud of the fact that Steve Irwin apparently considered Singapore Zoo Australia Zoo’s sister, and a lot of the animals in the zoo, especially the crocs, came from Australia Zoo. Also there’s this whole Australian Outback section in the zoo that apparently Steve Irwin designed and opened and what not, so as I said, they are very proud…
Given the ordeal that it took me to get out there (even though it’s really not that far – in how many places can you take the metropolitan train system to the other side of the country?!) I decided to stay and zoo myself out at the Night Safari, next door. It’s a similar concept to the Singapore Zoo with it’s open planned-ness and what not, except a) it’s only open at night (duh) and b) it’s kind of bigger, in a Werribee Open Plains Zoo sense. There are different ‘habitats’, such as the Himalayas, African savannah and South-East Asian rainforest, with the corresponding animals set out throughout the park, and you get this tram, which drives through it all in about 40 minutes. It is really good, except for the crowds – no bad weather seems to want to keep them away. Luckily however, you can walk most of the park, which surprising very few people choose to do. I must admit, it is quite daunting, especially since I did it on my own and it’s a) night, b) barely lit, seeing you’re meant to be looking at the nocturnal animals, c) there are things flying everywhere (you can go into caves and see them up close if you want – no thank you), and d) it’s an open plan zoo! Those tigers in particular are especially stealth! But it’s ok as at the Night Safari, the bigger, more dangerous animals, like the lions and tigers and hyenas are a bit more securely enclosed.
Anyway, despite the crowds, I did end up doing the tram as well, as they make it so that there’s a part of the park that you can’t see by foot. It’s well worth doing though, although given that predominantly the tourists here are Asian (and we know how snap-happy they are!) I think they get a bit disgruntled that you can’t take photos with a flash due to the fact that the animals are nocturnal and it’s night time, which means that basically, you can’t take photos at all! With both zoo’s they are definitely major tourist attractions, but they definitely hound you with the message of conservation, which is good, and I guess is especially important in Asia where they may not receive as much education on this.
So it was a big day at the zoos yesterday – I didn’t get home until 12! Tonight I fly to Jakarta, so I’m not going to do anything too strenuous today. Although I did by chance discover that the shoes I bought to wear in Jakarta (you have to wear a certain type of shoes – it will be the first time I haven’t worn thongs in about 2 and a half months!) have mysteriously gone missing, despite the fact that I haven’t even worn them yet! Luckily, I actually bought them when I was here in July on Bugis Street, so it looks like I’ll be heading back there this afternoon!
I probably won’t get a chance to blog now until 2012 (next year!) so I hope you all have a fabulous weekend seeing the New Year in, and that it is a great one for you ☺ xoxo