Monday, 30 April 2012

Singapore, Lion city

After leaving Bali at 3am we have arrived in Singapore, aka transit city. Singapore is best known as a connection place. Most people spend a day or two. However, we decided that we could spend 7 days and not spend too much cash money. Prices here are similar to home in some things and much more in others. This was a bit of a shock to us when we found out about this before coming, but we realized that the Canadian dollar is worth a third more than the Singapore dollar. Woot woot!

When we arrived we decided to take the train into town but a very rude MRT worker said I couldn't take my surf board on the train. So we took the bus and a very nice bus driver let me and my board on and helped us get to where we were staying. Once we checked in we headed to the MRT station and picked up a transit pass- EZ Pass. The transit here is amazing and the trains and buses are all used by way of the pass card. This may all sound trivial to all of you but after relying on others to get you where you need to go and not being sure if you will actually get there, this is really nice.


We then explored Orchard Road, singapore appears as a giant shopping mall. You basically could avoid going outside at all if you really wanted to, due to all the connecting underpasses for crossing the streets. however when you do cross the street cars actually stop for you!! THEY STOP!!!!!! amazing. There are three key elements to people's lifes in singapore; They LOVE to go to MOVIES, SHOP and EAT. If they can do all three at once, they will. We saw two movies while we where in singapore; Iron Lady and Hunger Games. Oh and for our movie snack we had a chocolate mousse cake.
Since we were trying to do singapore on a budget, apparently there are lots of free activities, such as going to a museum after 6pm is normally free. To limit food costs we purchased fresh bagels from these wonderful corner stores called Bread Society and Bread Talk and got some dried fruit and peanut butter that lasted us the week. 
A big perk about Singapore is you can where normal clothes, not your grungy travellers clothes- oh wait thats all I brought? So now people look strangely at us because we wear shorts and tanks tops/ singlets which normally wouldn't be a big deal but there is a Louis Vuitton on every corner of Orchard Road.
Singapore also has any kind of food you ever wanted, so we had some vietnamese pho bo why we were there, and sushi, lots of sushi and had a wonderful time sampling different countries dishes. Ryland also found a delicious German beer he wanted to try.


We headed to the Botanical Gardens for the day, the whole area is this massive green space that ranges from lavish ponds (more like lakes) and rainforest, to healing gardens. 







After spending four hours wandering and sight seeing throughout the park we headed for some dinner. I ordered a traditional dish called chicken congee. On the menu it looked like a chicken soup, and a friend had recommended it to me. This rice porridge shows up, its more like watered down mush, something that you feed to someone who has no teeth. I could see how perhaps this would be a great breakfast, but for dinner it wasn't really what I was looking for but I ate it none the less. I also offered Ryland some and he laughed and wolfed down his lovely delicious looking meal "I've had that before, it's not very good" where the words out of his mouth- ahahha thanks for the heads up!!!!  I couldn't help but sit there slurping my mush and laugh at myself. It really does taste like absolutely nothing. I have a feeling that it is like Indonesia- or anywhere really if you get a meal and don't like it, don't dis it try it somewhere else before you decided you don't like it because everyone makes things differently.

The Next Day April 13th,
We went to the ZOO!!!! We got up early and caught the MRT to the Bus and then arrived at the zoo, seriously though Toronto needs to take some lessons from Singapore's public transit. I cannot praise it enough. Its so wonderful, functional, on time, I need to stop. The zoo was great, I wouldn't say it has the diversity of say the San Diego zoo but it has a good variety of animals that you would find throughout Asia. The really cool thing was that many of the monkeys had free range of the trees and literally above your head as you walk throughout the zoo. Some exhibits you could walk through such as the kangaroo's pen and a rainforest one that had bats, and a two toed sloth. There was also a cousin of the Komodo Dragon that was pretty big just walking around the zoo. We watched the cheetahs, white tigers and lions get fed. Male cats, I am sorry still can't catch their own food in captivity. It was actually sad to watch, and funny at the same time. 






After spending several hours checking out the zoo, I still think my favourite zoo is in Chiang Mai because you literally can walk through so many of the animals exhibits and it was just a massive area but it was very exhausting so we rewarded ourselves with sushi. You haven't had a real sushi experience until you have to order on an ipad and your meal shows up either in a rocket ship, or a race car. This was a high tec sushi bar which we found highly entertaining.


April 14th- China Town/ Little India
China town had all the stuff you never wanted!! Just kidding, this is the only place we found to buy reasonable priced souvenirs so we bought some tea and a few other nick-nacks. The strange thing I found about china town was that unlike toronto's china town thats pretty packed with people and stuff everywhere, in China Town Singapore there was so much space!  Also the food was cheap and delicious. We had wonton soup and steamed pork dumpling for breakfast from a street stall, just the way we like it! Also the pork dumpling was massive bigger then my fist.   We also went to the chinese food market, Ryland was on a mission to find some spices for making tom yom soup!! After spending some time in China town we headed to Little India, we arrived only to have the skies open upon us, but the rain didn't bother us because well it was still really humid and hot. We walked around for a while and found a spot that we decided we would have dinner at, it was delicious. The women that was running the restaurant, told us that we had to order a hot drink so we wouldn't catch a cold. I had a really delicious Indian tea that had 12 different spices in it, and Ry had a traditional Indian coffee. We shared samosa's, Poppadum, butter chicken, vegetable jalfrezi and of course garlic nan bread. 



April 15th- Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay area is beautiful tall buildings, and is very expensive. Good thing we didn't do much. We went shopping in the mall, it had a river that you could row in and an ice skating rink (the ice was plastic).  A casino and a proper Theatre for musicals. Ryland bought some dress clothes for some upcoming weddings, I never knew he could look so grown up? Well he cleans up really nice to say the least! It was good to know that after being travelling for three months at the end of it all we can still pull ourselves together to look respectable.  Then we went to the Art and Science Museum, it was packed, the line to get tickets was 40 minutes long, but some nice women told us we could also get tickets inside the mall, that line was only 10 minutes long. The museum had two exhibits on, Andy Warhol which is always interesting and the Titanic exhibit. Little did we know that we were going to the Titanic exhibit on the 100th anniversary of the sinkage (that explains the crowd). We could barley move throughout the exhibit  but it was kinda cool. It had a bunch of artefacts from the wreck, and as you entered you were handed a card with a description of a passenger, who was with them, what class they were etc. and at the end of the exhibit you could look up if they survived or not. I was a first class women travelling with her son and husband, who survived with her son but her husband was lost to sea. If you have ever seen the movie, and remember the scene right before they sink and their is a priest on board going down with the ship, thats who Ryland was.  There was also a giant piece of ice in the exhibit that everyone was going nuts over. We didn't make it to raffles, which is unfortunate but there is always next time!!!




April 16th- Sentosa Island 
We took three different MRT lines to get down to the island and we could actually pay to get on the island with our EZ pass. We went to universal studios, it was pretty busy for a week day. It seems that people are never at work, unless it was a holiday and I had no idea. The line for the kiddy rides was 40 minutes but everything else was five minutes.  Also we had to sit at the very front of every roller coaster because Ryland is so tall, and it was a safety issue. I think we almost did every ride they had and say the Water World show. It was a good last day in singapore.






Its the end of the road. April 17th, we have 30 hours of air time ahead of us, and 72 hours until Canada.    Time to go home.



Saturday, 14 April 2012

Bali!

Hello all! Sorry we haven't posted in a while, we have been quite busy and the Internet has been quite poor on the island. There also haven't been computers for us to use to upload photos.
The first few days we were in Bali it was the Balinese new years Nyepi! This was our third new years of 2012! So fun! This new years was quite different though because on "new years eve" they make really scary floats of evil spirits and have a big parade and make lots of noise and play music really loud. And on new years day everyone stays inside and doesn't make any noise or use electricity to make the evil spirits believe that no one is around so that they will leave. It was a pretty interesting experience except that where we were several large Australian families tried there hardest not to observe Nyepi and made as much noise as they could.


We spent a few days in Nusa Dua which is on the south east side of Bali. We hung out at the hotel cause it had a really nice pool but we also went zip lining which was fun. We went with a Canadian couple whom we met in Saigon, Bobby and Kate.



We moved to the Kuta area (the beach) and Laura took some surf lessons with the Quicksilver team and I bought a board.

Laura unfortunately got pretty bad board rash from the foam boards. As you can see her hands looked pretty bad.

Legian beach, storm surf

 

We also went over to the Gili islands and went diving there, it was awesome!

 

This place was a great surf spot. Except that it was about 3 feet deep and the coral was quite sharp.

Beach poses!

 


Stray cats!

 

Scuba lessons for Bobby and Kate
Apr├Ęs dive. Saw so many turtles. So warm and clear with lots of marine life.

This is one of the dive guides Alex. Super relaxed and helped to create a great experience.

Twilight on Gile Air

 

Local transportation on the Giles

 

Look closely. Yup, that is a scorpion which Laura found in her towel. She quickly dealt with it. It did leave a beautiful corpse though, as you can see.