A Travellerspoint blog

Night Out in Sing

sunny 29 °C

After breakfast, we all head around to the park so the kids can get rid of some energy and steam up a bit. After this, the pay off comes in the form of a visit to Brunetti’s in Tanglin Mall – the Singapore branch of the Melbourne coffee shops. G and I have iced chocolates, something you don’t get elsewhere in town.
Here we split up, with C and O off to gymnastics. We head out and start working our way along Orchard. We only get a short distance before we head into a sport store to look at stuff. G finds some garish Reebok zipper shoes which he cannot be separated from. That over, we head along mainly window shopping as we are in the expensive area of town.
What we are really after is getting back into the pool. By the time we get home, the others are back and we all head down to the pool together. G has to get used to being the king of the kids as C and O jump all over him trying to get him to play with them rather than us. They are having a great time, and O is particularly displeased when it is time to go back up.Cool haven at the end of a hot day

Cool haven at the end of a hot day


Again tonight we are treated with a baby sitter, so the adults can head out for dinner. Before I do, I give the kids my last hug goodbye before I head off early in the morning.
First stop is the Altitude bar at the top of the UOB Plaza. Here you buy a minimum one round of drinks to get access. But once up to the top, the night view is fantastic. We can see most of Singapore from here, and bits of Malaysia lit up too. All the new landmarks are clearly visible with the Star casino, The Flyer (ferris wheel) the Lotus Flower brightly lit. You can clearly see Raffles, the old coastline, up the Singapore river, and probably where you are staying. Where the new coast is was hard to tell. There are so many ships moored just off the coast and so many others sailing along the straits that their lights make the separation between sea and land a bit hard to see. We can see further to some of the outlying islands, including the ones off shore where all the oil refining and storage is. We have had a good drink and a chat, but it is dinner time. Up in the Altitude bar

Up in the Altitude bar


We are close to Chinatown for dinner at a small place called Blue Ginger. Here they serve a fusion of the early races in Singapore. The food is delicious, we have fish cakes, fish head curry and other good stuff. Between the four of us, the meal was similar price to Melbourne, but something you cannot find there.
We head back home for yet again coffee and chocolate. We have a bit of a chat before it is time to call it a night.
Up just before 5 and get escorted out by L and T for last goodbyes and hugs. It has been great to catch up again and see everyone out here. It is a quick ride out to the airport which gives me an hour or so before hopping on the plane.
Leaving Singapore during daylight, I get an idea of how small it really is. The flight itself is uneventful, the service is good, but the TV in the seat was bigger on Emirates, G will be pleased to hear. At Honkers, There is a sign to direct me to transfers and before I can sneeze, I am being lined up for the Hangzhou flight. Dragon Air is Cathay’s regional airline, and quite comfy, although now the TV does not work. So, earplugs in and have a doze.

Posted by lostagain 15:51 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Singapore's Chinatown

sunny 28 °C

Having given all the crab time to process, we are up late for a change. I get a bit of a gym session in so I can tell the rest of the training group I really did do something on my trip. By the time we are ready and heading out, it is a few hours since breakfast so the first stop is the Yum Cha restaurant in Chinatown. We stuff ourselves here with a number of courses but my favourite is the xiao long bao, a soup dumpling, so I go back for seconds of that. The bill is less than for similar at our Melbourne favourite Gold Leaf.Yum yum dim sum

Yum yum dim sum


We head into and around Chinatown, enjoying all there is on display. L looks for new and different perfumes, while G dreams of remote control helicopters, cars and tanks. I spend half an hour in the Tintin shop, selling loads of certified Tintin merchandise, and opened a few years back by the Belgian Ambassador. L drags us out, and we get G a souvenir “i Fine” t shirt.
We go into the beautiful Buddha Tooth Relic temple on South bridge Rd where we make offerings to our zodiac gods and get booklets describing the sort of people we are. Disturbingly close in some cases, not sure who they were thinking of in others.With my thousand buddhas

With my thousand buddhas


Just across the road there is another mall. This is not like those on Orchard Rd, it is older and not as open and light. Despite this, there is a Rolex shop in here too. There is also a glasses shop, but apart from a few basic styles, there are no cheap frames. The designer items are all the same price as Orchard, but these guys are more likely to bargain. Moving on we cannot find ourselves anything, so it is back to the glasses shop in the basement of Wistria Atria, but they cannot do the lenses before I go, so we just take the frames. At $240 for 2 frames it is below going rates in Melbourne and Singapore.
We are heading back to base when we get a call from J, checking up on us. We arrive back a little damp and have a shower ready to go out. T & J have got a baby sitter in so we can go out minus the kids. G felt a bit left out, but oh well.
First we did the tourist bit and went to the long bar at Raffles where we drank and threw peanut shells on the floor. It is very quaint and traditional, but most of the people seemed to be tourists. Not sure about the damage. Raffles is very colonial and picturesque as a building in its own right, but I can’t show you as I forgot the camera.
We hop back in the car and head back to Dempsey Hill for dinner, this time at Samy’s for Indian food eaten off banana leaves. We have a good mix of meat and vegetarian curries to fill us up. The curries are nice but mild, and are washed down well with a Kiwi Riesling. The main attraction though is the good company and conversation.
Back at home, the ladies have an espresso and I have a gin and tonic to settle down. Same as last night, too much food as we try to get to sleep.

Posted by lostagain 14:23 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Little India and pepper crab

sunny 29 °C

In the morning we head off late again after breakfast – too much time up chatting with T last night. We are off to the tourist office to find out our transport options for around town. There is a daily tourist travel card that works for the MRT (Metro, Underground) but we are told it is only worth it if you are doing 6 or more trips. A few more bits of advice then off to the next shopping mall, until we see a Hagen Daaz shop and stop off for a milk shake each – it’s a new promotion so the girl is happy to have her first shot at it. We call that lunch and then head on.Gorgeous

Gorgeous


We are heading to Plaza Singapura and a shop called Stereo. Their claim to fame is they only sell headphones and have the biggest range on the island. We get a few out to listen to – G has his iPod out to test run them all, and we spend half an hour going through a small collection. A favourite is chosen – partly because they look cool – but we have a bit of a discussion and go back and widen the test range to try and improve the sound quality. We have success with a pair of Audio Technica ATH 5PRO or something– good sound and very comfy over ear pads to keep G happy. The sales lady who has followed us around for an hour then completes her job by upselling us from the silver to the camo print for an extra $10. So G is very happy with his birthday present a month and a half early.Little India

Little India


We then take the MRT one stop to Little India and have a walk around. It is a collection of typical two storey shophouses all steeped out for the Deepvali festival to celebrate the good deeds of Ravi. It is very colourful, but we found it hard to find the Indian feel to the area. We stopped off in the market to buy some mint and limes - for more mojitos!Little India Markets

Little India Markets


We had promised G a swim in the pool so we headed back and jumped in. Just mucking about by ourselves and having a nice refreshing wind down. The weather starts to close in and thunder and lightning start up so we head inside. We get back up, and O finds he has missed out on a swim with G so he is not pleased.
As the rain starts to crash down, the mojitos come out while the kids have pop corn to stave off hunger. We are heading out to Long Beach for dinner in the Dempsey Hill area. The taxi driver takes us via the back way, but does not know where the restaurant is, and we eventually get dropped off at the back of the kitchens. But with that all sorted out, we are led to our table on the verandah and after the seats are dried and the table moved out of the rain, we sit down to eat.Out for pepper crab

Out for pepper crab


The speciality is the Pepper Crab here, so we order one of those and a Chilli Crab too. These are priced at around $50/kg. A few vegies as well to appear healthy. The pepper crab is very spicy and in your face, but once your mouth gets used to the sting it is really good. The chilli crab is in a chilli sauce that G would have on its own for breakfast lunch and dinner. He scrapes the bowl clean before asking if it is healthy for him.
We head back home and have a little ice cream. By the time we are in bed, we have had so much food that we cannot lie down comfortably.

Posted by lostagain 14:19 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Singapore October 2011

Yes it is out of order

sunny 28 °C

All the last minute preparations behind us, Mum picks us up and out to the airport. We have been warned about delays due to Customs go slows, but there is so little happening at the airport when we arrive that we are into departures in 30 minutes including a hot chocolate. Start to go through all the things we have forgotten, but we have got passports and tickets, and that’s a good start.
Spend a while in duty free using the iPad to compare prices of stuff between Melbourne, duty free and Singapore. Got the basics of a shopping list, but there is nothing I really need, so we won’t be buying unless there is good prices going. Of course buy a couple of bottles of Mumm to enjoy with T&J. Spend enough time here to get called up over the PA for the flight, to G’s consternation.
We are the last on the 7pm Emirates flight, which is half empty. The crew are very attentive, and keep us well watered and fed. We are all watching too much TV, and I am the only one to get some sleep before we arrive in Singapore at midnight. Taxi into T’s place in the centre – S$26 is not expensive by home standards.
Enthusiastic greeting from T, which belies the fact she has to be up in 6 hours to get the kids to school. But we still have a bit of a natter before we are all off to bed.
Surface long enough to see T, C and O off to school. Back to bed, so the morning is very short (as far as we can tell) and we eventually pull ourselves out to go for a walk down to Orchard Rd. We do not get very far, caught in one of the many shopping malls and losing each other in the levels. We have a good lunch in the food hall, and good value at $5 for a good size meal. We continue around the Mall, which stretches over 5 floors with the most expensive around ground level - usually the prestige brands with the prices dropping as you go up levels or into the basements. Looking for glasses, trying to get a good value pair but the prices seem similar to Melbourne. We head into the next mall, which is more of the same, just the names of the labels change. Certainly makes it is easier to get about and see all the different major brands if that it what you are interested in..
On Orchard Rd

On Orchard Rd


We drag ourselves back, still tired, to rest with T and the kids. We are still too knackered to go out for dinner, so T kindly makes us a lovely roast chook for dinner.
In the morning after T, C and O are out, we slowly rouse ourselves and get prepared. G and I are heading over to Sentosa Island today. L is up and dressed and going shopping with T. We hail a taxi and head over to Sentosa. We get a good scenic tour on our way out there, and it seems to be taking longer than expected. Looking at the map later we have been for a ride, about 50% extra his way around. From now on I am sitting in the front seat with the map out.
We start at fort Silosa, looking over the (largely useless) fort that was overrun in WW2 with its guns pointing the wrong way. There are some interesting displays, tunnel complexes and views of the transport fleets in the Malacca Straits, but a bit more detail than G is interested in with the other attractions waiting. Fort Silosa

Fort Silosa


His main focus is just around the hill at Mega zip. But when we struggle up the hill through the humidity, it is closed for maintenance – bugger. The open alternative is the mega climb at $24 each, an elevated ropes course with the choice of three levels. We go straight for the highest course because we are tough. The course is pretty short, but with the humidity it is pretty draining. There is a section with a jump from one plank to another across a one meter gap which G hops across as if was drawn on the footpath, but it really throws me (especially after looking down the 10 meter drop) and I have to gather my thoughts a few times before I jump it gingerly. Got to say, the one in France was better as it took longer and was more involved, and had a working zip line. Up on the high level

Up on the high level


With the course complete, we head off to the luge. This is a concrete track going down the hill side which you ride little carts down, steering into the corners. I don’t get to see much of G as he is out of sight after the first corner. The fact that he thrashed me is probably G’s favourite part, so we do it again. Good fun, but at $36 for two quick rides each it would want to be.
We have a slurpee, then have a look at iFly, the indoor skydiving ride. It looks likea lot of fun, but as you need 3 hours and $200 each, we give it a miss. Instead we head over to the Segway “eco tour”. There is a brief training session, then we slowly head up the beach road for 12 minutes and then ride back for 12 minutes. There is no discussion about the island, flora or fauna. All in all it is very tame, there is no tour and there is no eco to speak of. G was feeling quite let down after all the build up.
After the disappointment we hop on to the mono rail which gets you form the south of the island up to Harbourfront shopping mall for free. It also connects you with Universal studios, a popular stop. And it’s the only free ride around.This is how a testicle feels, hanging around all day

This is how a testicle feels, hanging around all day


We head into Vivo Mall at harbourfront (yes there’s a mall here too) to check out the prices of stuff like Lego, headphones, cameras, iPods etc. After a while looking around and comparing prices, it was soon apparent that prices were much the same as Australia within a few percent and no one was willing to bargain. And if you know where to look in Australia, there are better retail options, except Lego which was definitely more expensive.
We then went on to Hunan Digital Mall but that was basically all computer stuff with minimal cameras and headphones, but all at standard prices across the board.
Headed back to T’s as it was getting on a bit. Greeted with a mojito – great stuff! This on top of the weariness means we let T cook us dinner again – carbonara tonight. I keep up with price comparisons online for stuff, and cannot see much cheaper in Singapore in what I am looking for – especially without knowing the cheaper areas. L had much the same – not to mention the issue of the clothing sizes.
View from T's place

View from T's place

Posted by lostagain 14:11 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Last day in Tokyo

overcast 2 °C

We started the day with another traditional breakfast – gave G time to get awake before we had to get everything packed away safely. It is a great rounded meal to start the day, but I am sure the average Japanese start the day with cereal or toast like we do.
We head into Tokyo station and around to the Imperial palace. Today we cannot get into the East gardens, so we have to be satisfied with a very pleasant walk around the outside of the moat. Weather today is again cold and crisp – I am dressed up as yesterday, and G has gone for the down jacket.
We are not the only ones here, there are a few tourists, but there are hundreds of locals who obviously use this as their daily run or walk – including a number of high school groups, some of whom were not enthusiastic about the exercise on a bloody cold day.
We know it is cold because the water in the moat is frozen over in parts, which has the swans looking a bit confused. The moat is about 15 metres wide, with sheer stone walls on the castle side which would have taken some work to get through. There are also some elaborate, but secure gates at the end of each of the bridges. As I say we could not get into the gardens, but we enjoy what we can from the outside.
Next we check out a few duty free shops in Akihabara, but there is nothing that we really want here, and I wanted Sennheiser headphones but only the local brands are available. Last look in the model shops, then we head back to the ryokan. On the way we find a vending machine selling - yes – pancake drink for the last time. At Homeikan we do the final shuffle of papers and stuff and get a taxi before saying goodbye to the team.
We head back to Narita on the N’Ex, using up the last day of our JR east pass. This has worked out well for us, and I would do the same again. As we head out on the N’Ex the departures board lets us know that we are well on time as the Jet Star flight is already 90 minutes late. At Narita 3 hours before original scheduled take off. They are not going to open check in for another hour, but we are 100th in line already. Get talking to some other snowboarders in the line. They were also in Hakuba, and went to Cortina one day, which they said had the deepest powder, but was a real schlep to get to. We get through, and another delay is announced. Nothing much in duty free (Bombay Sapphire is much cheaper then Aus) but we grab some food to snack on. At the appointed time we get to the gate and at least there is an explanation why the delay – a volcano has erupted in Bali and the flights have had to take a wide detour around. I am getting a bit jack of volcanos.
Finally the flight takes off for Cairns. No entertainment so I watch District 9 on the netbook. We meter out the food, none of which is healthy. The delay up and back means we will miss the appointed transfer time back home – the 4 hour stopover has disappeared. At Cairns we are told that the flights are held and are waiting for us. We get the baggage and run across to domestic. When we arrive, the crew say don’t rush, there are loads more to come. We are the first to arrive from our flight and there are loads more from the Osaka flight that comes in even later. Find out later that these delays are not unusual with Jet Star normally, but today they have been especially keen to wait as the airport is closed later in the day as Yasi comes through that night.
The rest of the trip is uneventful, just the weather changes – freezing in Tokyo to 30 and 95% humidity in Cairns to a dry 40 in Melbourne! We have had a great time, we are happy to be home, but we are also determined to get back to Japan for some more skiing, so watch this space...

Posted by lostagain 17:35 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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