Monthly Archives: September 2015

Final Figures

No pictures in this post – just the final figures.  Here are the financial details of the trip.

I will begin with the easiest figure – the grand total for 2 adults for 7 nights and 7 days was $4,160.17

This is how it was broken up.

Airfares $     1,538.80
Accommodation $     1,029.08
Insurance $        141.75
Transport $        162.87
Food/Drink $        522.04
Sightseeing/Tours/Events $        332.09
Souvenirs/Gifts $          36.45
Other spending $         397.09

It is interesting to compare the ratios with our UK trip from 2014.  You can see the details here.  Since this was only for a week the airfares were the biggest single cost.  Our accommodation included breakfast provided each day and our room serviced.

Transport was taxi and train fares.

Food and drinks included everything that we ate or drank while out and about and the groceries we purchased.

Sightseeing etc was made up of admission costs, guided tour and cruise.

As with previous trips we did not feel the need for souvenirs, however, we capitulated and bought the photo from the Night Zoo and I have also included Oh Siew May’s book in this category.

The final category of ‘Other’ included a pack of Band Aids, a couple of pieces of fabric, a dress and 2 pairs of socks for myself as well as a new umbrella for both GMan and I.  All of these would have been bought regardless of whether we were on holidays or not.

I had set myself the relatively generous budget of $5,000 so we easily came in under budget for our one week jaunt to Singapore.

This is the final post until we begin planning our 2016 trip to the east coast of Canada in earnest.
In the meantime you can keep track of my slightly more mundane life on my other blog, Organised Castle.
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Challenging Changi & A Coincidence

On our last day in Singapore we joined a guided tour of Changi.  The name is synonymous with the fall of Singapore during WWII and the subsequent occupation by the Japanese forces.

The coincidence is that the very day on which we undertook this tour was the 70th anniversary of VP (Victory Pacific) Day which signals the surrender of the Japanese Imperial Army and the liberation of Singapore.

It was clear from our guide that there are many areas which are off-limits to eyes and cameras so I have very few photographs.

The guide was very knowledgeable but also sensitive to the content and the stories he told were harrowing to hear so it is difficult to begin to imagine what those who were there actually there went through.

There is an excellent museum with this replica of the types of chapels that existed during the occupation.

020On the altar of this chapel stands a cross which was fashioned from a bullet casing by one of the prisoners.

017Finally, a plaque by the beach to remember the Chinese civilians who were executed at the water’s edge.  This is a stark reminder that is was not only Australian and British forces who suffered at the hands of the Japanese.

001 - CopyA sobering reminder as we prepared to complete our week-long visit to Singapore.

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A Different Perspective

During our first few days in Singapore we travelled to various parts of the city via the MRT.  This train service runs underground in the CBD and inner urban areas so we did not really get a broad picture of the city.  We reversed this trend yesterday when we took a leisurely 40 minute cruise on the river and harbour.

Here are some of the things we saw.

Futuristic architecture

008 (2) 010 (2) 011 013The Merlion (half lion/half fish)statue which is the symbol of Singapore.

004Sculptures

022And of course, no cruise would be complete without a photo of the tourists themselves.  I think the captain of the boat fancied himself as a photographer.

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Wetlands & War Cemetery

As promised, here is the second instalment of yesterdays adventures.

The shuttle bus stops at various locations in the Kranji area and the other spot we chose to visit was Sugei Buloh Wetland Reserve.  We took the 500m Mangrove Boardwalk.

We saw Plantain squirrels

027Mangroves

029Giant mudskipper

038Malayan water monitors

061The wetlands are a haven for migratory birds at th right time of the year and there are great facilities for serious birdwatching.

Despite the warning signs we did not meet any monkeys or estuarine crocodiles.

Our final destination for the day was a short walk from Kranji station.

066The War Cemetery and War Memorial are only a couple of miles from where the Japanese launched their invasion of Singapore in 1942.  We took time to reflect and remember those who lost their lives during the battles and subsequent occupation of Singapore during WWII.

070Tomorrow is our final day in Singapore and we are booked on a tour of Changi which I expect will be a rather harrowing experience.  However, there will be one more post before that which will cover our sightseeing from today.

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Escape to the Countryside

After a rest day on Wednesday we set off reasonably early yesterday.  Our destination was not quite Malaysia but very close to it.  We caught the train to Kranji Station where we then caught the Kranji Shuttle to Bollywood Veggies.  Yes, you read the name correctly.  Please click on the link and read all about this venture and the amazing woman behind it as it is far more than I can begin to describe here on the blog.

Ivy is a strong, articulate woman who is not afraid to speak her mind.  Some of the signs reflect this.

023We strolled around the garden, discovered plants that were new to us and gleaned ideas for our own garden.

010The cleverly named Poison Ivy Bistro serves up a menu based on produce from the garden.  It was a little early for lunch during our visit but we sampled the delicious banana cake.

024Part of Ivy’s philosophy is that it is the responsibility of the rich to take care of those who are poor or less fortunate.  We were privileged to meet May, who has not only struggled against enormous challenges in her life but has written an inspiring book which chronicles her story.

025I purchased a copy of the book which May kindly signed for me.  You can check out more about her story on her Facebook page.

Then it was farewell to the farm and back on the shuttle bus to another adventure but more of that in the next post.

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Slings & Safari

I have fallen a bit behind with the blog so I will do my best to catch up.

On Tuesday we did our best to look respectable (GMan even wore long trousers) as we were heading to Raffles Hotel and more specifically, the Long Bar, home of the Singapore Sling.

001We strolled through the lush courtyard gardens which simply reeked of another century.

005Then it was time to head upstairs to the Long Bar.

007  Of course we had to have a drink although neither of us had a Singapore Sling.  I opted for the non-alcoholic version which looked like the real deal and was very refreshing while GMan stuck to a tried-and-true cold beer.

I decided against capturing the Long Bar on my camera, but instead decided to simply soak up the atmosphere and munch on a handful (or two) of peanuts.  I did sneak in one shot on my phone which you can see here.

Here is a view of part of the colonnaded verandah with overhead fans and lights.

008That evening we had a complete change of pace when we visited the Night Safari which is a zoo experience adjacent to the main Singapore Zoo.  There are no photographs as I decided not to take my camera as I knew that the lighting was very dim in order to allow the nocturnal animals to continue their normal night-time behaviours.  This proved to be a wise idea as there was no flash photography allowed.

The tram ride with commentary was amazing and then we walked several of the trails ourselves and saw the animals in some of the most natural looking zoo habitats I have ever witnessed.  I would definitely recommend the Night Safari if you visit Singapore and have not been there before.

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Orchard and Orchids

I did not get around to writing this post yesterday evening as we were absolutely shattered after walking somewhere in the vicinity of 15 to 20km.

We set off in the morning to take a stroll along Orchard Road and see what all of the fuss is about shopping on Orchard Road.  As I had suspected I was not impressed but definitely not disappointed as it pretty well met my expectations.  However, we did not leave completely empty-handed as we each bought a new umbrella as well as 2 pairs of socks for me – all from Uniqlo.

As we left the retail madness of Orchard Road we walked past a tailoring business where the smooth-talking tailor wanted to make long trousers for GMan.  He was wearing shorts for a reason – it was 33 degrees and we are on holidays!  We had to do a bit of fast talking to shake off this persistent salesman but he did volunteer the information that we were ‘not far’ from the Botanic Gardens.

Since the gardens were on our list of places to go we decided that yesterday was a good day to do it.  We took in about 1/3 of the total area of the gardens but the highlight was definitely the National Orchid Garden for which there is a small admission cost.  There was no doubt of its worth.

Here is a selection of what we saw at the gardens.

048 026 006

016 098 059To finish off a full day we headed out in the evening to see the Sound & Light Show at Gardens by the Bay.

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Finding Our Feet

On our first full day in Singapore we set out to find our way around.  The first step was to master the public transport system which turned out to be surprisingly easy.  We took a 10 minute walk from our accommodation to the nearest MRT (train) station and after a brief discussion puchased an EZ Link card for $12 each which includes $7 credit.

2015-09-06 01Our first stop was the Arab quarter which is dominated by the impressive Sultan Mosque.  Unfortunately, it is closed for renovations so we were unable to go inside.  We also wandered up and down several streets and saw may of the textile merchants in Arab Street.  I was unable to resist and bought 2 pieces of fabric to make into blouses for myself.

We also saw this fabulous mural.

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We then headed to Gardens by the Bay which is the epitome of the slick, shiny, modern Singapore which is the complete antithesis of the Arab quarter.  Even the railway station looked new and shiny.  This is part of a huge mural that has been created at Bayfront MRT Station.

2015-09-06 03

As we walked from the station to the gardens we went through a pedestrian tunnel.  It was amazing with both sides lined with mirrors and large garden murals.  The effect was a feeling of space and light rather than a sensation of being in a tunnel.

2015-09-06 04Everything at the gardens was on a massive scale, and none more so than the supertrees.

2015-09-06 03The walkway between two of the trees is amazing.

We tucked into some spring rolls and satay sticks for lunch.

Even the sculptures are huge.

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I also managed to find a supermarket late this afternoon and picked up a few groceries.  I made a vegetable curry for dinner which was delicious.

Tomorrow we are planning to venture into the retail madness of Orchard Road.

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My Bags Are Packed,

I’m ready to go………..

2015-09-04 01Actually, it is only one bag as we are travelling light.  Tomorrow we will be flying to Singapore for a week.  It will be quite a change from most of our holidays, both domestic and overseas, because we are staying in one place for the entire trip rather than travelling from place to place.

I am really looking forward to relaxing and discovering all that Singapore has to offer.

SA 2015-01-11 01

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