24.11.2013 - 28.11.2013 30 °C
We were up at 05:00 (ouch!) to catch our bus from Melaka to Singapore and with it being both a Sunday and a National Holiday had reservations about trying to catch a bus to the station, and after waiting for 10 minutes wimped out and jumped in a passing taxi.
The bus was the new, high standard we were now used to with fully reclining seats like you get on a Business Class flight, and in only 3 hours we had reached the border. We were made to get off, go through the exit border for Malaysia to get our passports stamped while the coach drove through and waited to pick us up the other side. This was simple enough, until we reached a split in the corridor both signposted Coach Pick-Up Point? Having no clue which way was right, and everyone else from our bus being long gone we took a chance and luckily managed to find our bus - not surprisingly everyone else was waiting for us - oops! A 2 minute drive through “no-mans land” and we were ordered off the bus again, but this time had to take our bags with us to enter into Singapore and have them scanned, before rejoining our bus (we had checked where it would be this time!). The whole process took less than 10 minutes!
Another hour later and our bus dropped us off on Beach Road, seconds from our hotel, it was just a shame we walked for 10 minutes in the wrong direction before we realised how close we were! We checked into the Park Royal on Beach Road courtesy of Mummy & Daddy Cullen, but as it was only 11:00, our room was not ready but they said we were free to enjoy the pool area while we waited - so we did, soaking up the sunshine - until the thunder started to roll and the pool was closed. Just as we had dashed into the bar area under cover, I saw Nick drop his bag and run making me think something was wrong, but as I rounded the corner, I realised he had seen his Mum and Dad and was giving them a huge hug! It was so lovely to see them as it had been nearly six months and we had a lot of catching up to do!
We checked into our room which was huge and very nice before jumping in a taxi (everywhere in Singapore has a taxi rank outside it, hotels, shopping malls - literally everything!) to Clark Quay for a spot of lunch. Clark Quay is a large waterside, open-air complex of bars and restaurants, however we had not realised it was more of an evening destination so our choices were limited having to settle for some sandwiches and chips, but they did the trick.
From here we went over to the world famous Raffles Hotel for a nosey around at how the other half live. The hotel and attached complex live up to their reputations. The main building is a beautiful white colonial style with courtyards you can walk through and is very, very posh with strict dress codes in most areas. After a good mooch around we crossed over to the Raffles City shopping mall to get a coffee.
That night Nick and I had arranged to meet up for drinks, with Nick’s friend and work colleague Lisa and her husband Eugene (as chance would have it they happened to be leaving Singapore as we were arriving). They had suggested a lovely place called Chimes and at £7 a pint (in happy hour, or it would have been £10) we nursed our pints for as long as we could, while catching up with Nick’s work and each others travel plans.
The next morning after an overly priced breakfast at the hotel, we decided to do the Singapore Airlines Open Top Bus Tour. Thanks to Lisa and Eugene who kindly gave us their left over tickets, we could join Susie and Hughie on the tour for free, who also received tickets with their flight.
The Bus was the usual sight seeing, hop on hop off tour and great for getting to see the sights over the huge city. Our first stop was the Singapore Flyer (a huge big wheel which took 30 minutes to do a full rotation similar to the London Eye) and was next to the F1 Pit Lanes, much to Nick’s and Hughie’s delight.
From this side of the bay we could see views of the new Gardens by the Bay and the amazingly constructed hotel, Marina Bay Sands, cementing our decision to visit them later.
Our next stop was the icon of Singapore the Merlion, designed in the 70‘s info about why.
From here it was a short taxi ride to China Lane for a spot of lunch before heading down the street into the centre of Chinatown. This was yet another Chinatown that was a little disappointing, but at least this time there were no knock off’s, just tourist tack and the odd clothes shop.
By now it was baking hot, so we jumped back on the bus for the remainder of the tour, listening to the commentary as we went past the very British buildings and lovely Botanic Gardens, finishing next to our hotel.
Once back, I started sorting out our bags, removing the things we needed to go back, which Susie was kindly putting in her suitcase for us. I had the intention of joining everyone else, who were now chilling by the pool in the afternoon sun, however it took me longer than expected and by the time I was ready it was dinner time.
While in Raffles City mall the day before we noticed there were some really good food options, so decided to head there. It was the right choice, as we discovered a very reasonably priced Chinese (everything in Singapore is EXPENSIVE!!), where we could share a few of the mains. Then of course we went in search of cake (Hughie made us do it!) and ended up with a lovely slice of chocolate moose crepe cake (this is basically loads of thin pancakes layered up with chocolate or other fillings in between them).
After a great nights sleep in our enormous bed, we went in search of somewhere knew for breakfast, after our extremely expensive and disappointing one in the hotel the previous morning, and found a really good (and cheap!) Espresso Bar around the corner which had a decent menu and some yummy pastries! Feeling full, we headed over to the National Museum of Singapore which was the first purpose built Museum in all of South East Asia and was housed in a very ornate and grand colonial building.
We started by visiting an exhibit of Australian art from the DATES to Modern day which I found really interesting, but am not sure Nick and his parents were so sure. We headed back towards the lobby to discover that there was a free guided tour of the History of Singapore exhibit - perfect! Our guide was excellent and it was very interesting to learn all about Sir Stamford Raffles, the British Colonisation and our hasty retreat during World War II.
After a very interesting couple of hours we stopped for a quick drink, but annoyingly Nick wasn’t feeling great again, so we all agreed we had had enough culture for the day so went back to the hotel for another afternoon by the pool (this time I got to join in the fun!). That night after a failed attempt to find some food at a local Hawker Food Court we decided to head back to Clarke Quay and as suspected there was a much livelier atmosphere by night! We ate at a really nice Western restaurant - although I somehow managed to order a spicy Caesar Salad?!
Next morning and Nick woke up feeling even worse so stayed in bed while Susie, Hughie and I went back to the Espresso Bar for breakfast. We bought him back a huge croissant which seemed to perk him up so we decided to visit Gardens by the Bay; essentially a huge public park near the marina which has “Super Trees”, a Sky Walkway and two Bio-Domes (a bit like the Eden Project in Cornwall). Susie and Hughie had more free entry vouchers from their Singapore flight so while they went in, Nick and I wandered around the free bits, before discovering the Sky Walkway was an absolute bargain at S$5 (£2.5o) each, so up we went!
From here we walked through the Marina Bay Sands hotel which is enormous and very impressive (we didn’t go up to the Sky Park though sadly) and headed through to the attached shopping mall which is very exclusive, full of every designer label you can imagine and not a high street brand in sight! It did however have an excellent food court which was surprisingly cheap!
We then spent the rest of the afternoon being very lazy napping by the pool!
While we were at the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Mall we spotted our favourite food stall; Pepper Lunch which we had first fallen in love with in Hong Kong and then discovered throughout SEA so had to head back for dinner! Luckily Nick’s parents enjoyed it just as much as we did! After dinner we walked outside to the marina to watch the most fantastic light and fountain musical extravaganza! It was absolutely amazing and mesmerising to watch with pictures projected onto a mist of water, fountains shooting jets of water into the air and even flames all timed perfectly to music - there were even bubbles floating over head! It was a truly magical evening and the perfect end to our time in Singapore with Susie and Hughie!
Our final morning and after another delicious breakfast at our new local, it was time for an extremely difficult and emotional goodbye with Susie and Hughie as they were picked up for their flight home. We then had another couple of hours to finish packing before checking out, jumping in a taxi and heading to the airport for our flight to Perth.
It was the end of our second leg of our trip. First Europe, then Asia and we were still loving every minute, but our final part awaited - Australia and New Zealand here we come!