A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about weather

Singapore

one more stop closer to home...

overcast 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

Posted by ljmac2 17:40 Archived in Singapore Tagged jakarta singapore bus shopping zoo raining weather tourists backpackers bus_stop australia_zoo conservation singapore_zoo night_safari steve_irwin singapore_flyer bugis_street swisshotel new_asia_bar five_stones_hostel Comments (0)

Nha Trang

...the unknown Russian state

overcast 26 °C

So I think I may have over-budgeted on the tan…

Seriously, Nha Trang was nice and all, but the weather was less than desirable…although from the ever informative CNN, I get the feeling it has been like that around a lot of South-East Asia.

So as for similarities between Ho Chi Min and Nha Trang, they include hating Americans and both being Vietnamese cities. (However, I will say that one thing the Vietnamese definitely get from the Yanks, even if they don’t like to admit it, is the whole flag patriotism thing. Seriously you can’t swing a cat without it being there! The same goes for the communism flag with the hammer and sickle on it – it’s everywhere!) The differences however are far more interesting. For starters, Nha Trang is on the coast, whilst Ho Chi Minh is not, and also Nha Trang is basically a state of Russia – there are Russian tourists everywhere! Seriously everything is written in Vietnamese, English…and Russian! And from my experience of walking into many places and being spoken to in a language I don’t understand (as apparently I look Russian, or at least European by the way…), I would say Russian is the preferred second language here…it’s so weird, probably the only place I haven’t travelled to where English isn’t the preferred second language. There are even flights direct from Russia to Nha Trang. Either it’s the whole communism thing, or some rich Russian bought a big bit of land down the Vietnam coast…

Anyway, besides from the lackluster weather, we had a fabulous time in Nha Trang. We stayed at a beautiful hotel, which made things just that little bit nicer, and in all honesty, the weather (or lack thereof) made us get out and see Nha Trang in ways that we probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.

One day we went to the local market, which compared to those in Ho Chi Minh, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh was really quite paltry, but we still managed to buy five pairs of shoes between us among other things! I swear, one day I will go on a trip where I don’t have to send anything home…so far I am onto box three!

Then another day we went to the hot springs and mudbaths, which was actually really cool, and I’m glad we went as it gave me the opportunity to swim somewhere that wasn’t absolutely freezing (seeing they don’t heat their pools over here as apparently it’s warm all the time!) However, we didn’t realize it was a whole day kind of thing, we thought it was you just go and have a dip and be on your way. But there were mud baths and mineral springs and mineral Jacuzzi and mineral pools and mineral waterfalls and all manner of things that took up the majority of the day. It would have been good to know that before we went. Not only is the mud meant to be amazing for your skin, but being in the pool where the water is 37.5-39 degrees Celsius is meant to be so good for you that you don’t even have to pretend to exercise by doing laps – awesome!

On probably the gloomiest day we had there, Christmas Eve, we went to Vinpearl, which is basically an amusement park on a neighbouring island. It was so cold that I had to wear leggings and a cardigan, clothes that I had only brought with me to wear to work in Jakarta, where I have to dress respectfully and what not. Anyway, to get over to Vinpearl you get a cable car, which is all included in the price of the ticket, which is very reasonable really seeing it is $18 including the cable car, the water park (pity it was so freezing, the waterslides looked awesome!), the underwater world (fancy word for aquarium), the food and shopping centre, and the indoor and outdoor theme parks. Given the poor weather (as otherwise I totally would have spent all my time on the waterslides!) we got to have a good look at everything. I even convinced Mum to go on the rollercoaster…apparently she likes the Scenic Rollercoaster at Luna Park, however after this particular outing she informed me that her rollercoaster days were over! At the indoor theme park there was one of those 4D virtual rides that we went on, where they show a movie in 3D and you sit on this platform that kind of moves with it so you feel like you’re in the movie. Anyway, Mum and I were the only anglos to be seen for a mile and man you should have heard everyone else’s reactions to all the twists and turns they took (virtually) on the movie screen…they were screaming and squealing, I swear they thought it was real – hilarious, the best part of it!

Anyway, I suppose this has been a rather short blog, but there is only so much you can write about sleeping in and having leisurely breakfasts and reading whilst you listen to the waves crash on the beach… But I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas wherever you happened to be in the world, and that you all managed to share it with good people who were good fun. Christmas is a bit of a non-event in our family now, but we are thinking of you always ☺ xoxo

Posted by ljmac2 05:07 Archived in Vietnam Tagged beach market shopping vietnam weather language english ho_chi_minh_city americans nha_trang vinpearl mud_baths russians Comments (0)

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