Ok, I'm back home but I haven't written about Singapore yet. I left Johannesberg on Wednesday evening. I took a shuttle to the airport at about 6.00pm where I went shopping before my flight at 11.30pm. I ran into Elisse, Lucy and Alan at the airport so I talked to them for a bit as well. I slept for quite a few hours on the flight to Amsterdam as there was no tvs so i just listened to the radio. I arrived in Amsterdam about 10am where I had a layover until my flight to Singapore at 9.30pm. I decided to head into town to buy some souvenirs so I left my hand luggage (a new bag I had bought from the airport in Johannesberg to fit all my curios in) in a luggage locker and headed out to catch a train to town. I walked to Dam Square where I went to the souvenir shop I had seen on my first visit and bought some things for myself, family and friends. I then decided I wanted to see a movie so I ripped the movies page from a newspaper that was on the train and set about finding out how to get to the theatre. I had to catch the Metro (a subway system) to get there where I bought my ticket for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and then waited about 1 1/2 hours before it began. There was only a few of us in the theatre which was nice and I enjoyed the film which was also good. I then caught the Metro back to Amsterdam Centraal and then a train back to the airport, where I bummed around for a few hours before catching my flight to Singapore. On the flight I watched Blood Diamond and Wild Hogs as well as catching a few hours sleep.
I arrived in Singapore at about 4pm on Friday where I went through customs and then caught a taxi to my hotel. The hotel was quite nice, my room had 3 beds! The only bad thing was that there was no window as my room was in the centre so I had no idea what it was like outside, light or dark, rainy or fine etc. I rang home when I arrived but no one was there so I left a message on the answering machine. Dad rang back about 20 minutes after that and we spoke for a bit. I was going to head out for dinner but after speaking to Mum and Dad I felt a wave of exhaustion so I ordered room service, had a bath and went to sleep.
On Saturday I woke at about 8am, headed down to breakfast (included in the room price) and went out. I went on a walking tour around the Arab Quarter which was described in my Lonely Planet guide. I saw a few mosques, one of which I went into, and just had a general look around the area. I headed back to the hotel with my lunch while I decided what I would do with my afternoon - Sentosa Island or the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari. In the end I decided on Sentosa Island so I headed out on the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport System - a subway) to Harbour Station where I was going to catch a cable car to the island. I bought a package tour when I bought my cable car tickets which included entry to Underwater World/Dolphin Lagoon, Images of Singapore Museum, Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom and return cable car rides. The cable car across was nice, I had a lovely view of the harbour and the city, as well as of the island, including the Merlion statue (massive) on the island. I first headed to the Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom which was good, except it was a cloudy/rainy day so there weren't as many butterflies flying around as would usually be. I then wandered through the Insect Kingdom, one of the staff was holding a scorpion and asked if I would like to hold it but I declined. After that I headed over to the Images of Singapore museum which was really cool. It had a lot about the culture and traditions of people in Singapore which was interesting to learn about. It was raining when I went in but luckily the rain had stopped when I came out as I had to go down to the beach section of the island. I was going to catch a bus but the lines were far too long so I walked down this nature trail and dragon walk which had statues/models of different dragons along the way, e.g. earth dragon and octagon serpent. When I reached the beach I saw that was where Underwater World was but I decided to look at that later after I had bought my tickets for the Songs of the Sea laser and lights show on in the evening. I went to Fort Sentosa which is where the Japanese invaded Singapore and they were under Japanese rule for several years. The fort was really interesting, there were real life accounts of life during the war and I also got to walk in the tunnels which are part of the fort. I really enjoyed the exhibits because as you were reading the signs there were sounds of what it would actually hav been like to be there at the time, very cool. After that I walked back to the beach area to catch a bus to Beach Station where you buy the tickets for the nights show. The first performance at 7.40pm was booked out so I bought a ticket for the 8.40pm show. I headed back to the beach to have a look through Underwater World. It is virtually the same as our Underwater World, except this one was very very crowded, too crowded, so I didn't stay as long as I normally would have. Unfortunately I ran out of time to see the Dolphin Lagoon (also included in my ticket) because it closed at 6pm. I wasn't too worried at first but then I realised that they were pink dolphins, whcih would have been lovely to see, oh well. As I had left Underwater World earlier than I had anticipated I decided to walk down along the beach and check out a restaurant that had been recommended in Lonely Planet. I ate fish and chips on a sun lounge chair facing the beach which was really beautiful. Following dinner I wandered over to where the show was being held and joined the already long line to go in, even though it was still 35 minutes before the show was due to start. 2500 tickets were sold for each show so you can imagine the length of the line! The show was fantastic. The story was designed for children but adults would definitely enjoy it as well. It was set on this village built above the ocean. As a backdrop there were large waves of water that the lasers were projected onto, some of the images they projected were amazing. There was a fire display and a water display at different points in the story and it ended with more water displays as well as fireworks. Just wonderful. Afterwards I wandered back to the beach where I caught a bus up to Imbiah Point so I could catch a cable car back to Singapore. I tried to take a photo of the city lights on the way back but unfortunately it didn't come out as well as I had hoped. I then had to catch the MRT back to Bugali Station and then walk back to the hotel. Even though it was about 10.30pm on a Saturday night I felt completely safe walking by myself. It's amazing different atmospheres that you feel in different cities. When I got back to the hotel I watched the rest of Suddenly 30 that was on TV, packed all my stuff up (I had bought another suitcase earlier that day to fit all my souvenirs in) and went to bed.
Sunday I slept in quite late, till about 9.30am. I had set an alarm to wake me up at 7am but unfortunately I had set it for 7pm instead. Oh well. I headed down to breakfast about 5 minutes before it finished and then back upstairs to collect all my stuff before heading down to check out. Luckily I was able to leave my luggage with the concierge who would look after them all day until I had to go to the airport. That day I decided to head to China Town and have a look around. I caught the MRT and when I first arrived it appeared to be like every other China Town I had visited. Firstly I went to the China Town Heritage Centre which I thoroughly enjoyed. The exhibits were fantastic and the whole thing was set up in a townhouse. At the end of the centre there is a whole section which shows how people lived in China Town years ago. The house was divided into cubicles which housed up to 5 people at a time, in one tiny little room. I think there were about 8 cubicles and a plaque described the actual people who had lived there and the rooms were set up as they had been in the past. They all had to share one tiny (and disgusting) toilet and a kitchen (right next to the toilet). On the level below was the tailor's quarters. He had a bigger room all to himself and gave the room beside him to his apprentices. He also had his own kitchen and toilet. After viewing the Heritage Centre I wandered around the markets of the town. It is common practice there to barter for goods but I really wasn't in the mood (considering I had done it for 6 weeks in Africa) so I headed to a proper store to buy my souvenirs. I had lunch, wandered around some more and then headed out to check out the famed Raffles Hotel. I had a look around, you can only look at the outside, you used to be able to see in the lobby but not anymore. I had a look in the hotel museum and gift shop and then to the Long Bar to have the famous Singapore Sling cocktail at the bar where it was created. I really enjoyed the drink, I'm definitely going to try to make some when I get home. After looking around Raffles I headed back to my hotel. I sat in the lobby for a while as I got back earlier than I had planned and then headed off to catch the MRT to the airport. I decided to catch the MRT instead of a taxi because it was $1.20 for the train and over $20 for a taxi. Turns out, however, I didn't think it through properly as I had to carry all my bags the couple of kilometres to the station. I must have looked a sight with this massive backpack on and pushing a suitcase with another bag on top of it. I had trouble getting my stuff down to the platform but some nice people gave me a hand. I had to switch trains at one station but once I was actually on the MRT it wasn't that much trouble. I had a couple of hours to kill at the airport so I wandered through the shops after I checked in (2 of my bags, yay!) and then found this awesome little oasis centre with tvs, sleeping chairs (with alarm clocks you could set) and massage chairs. I opted for a massage chair and spent a beautiful hour having my back, neck and legs massaged, so lovely. My flight left at about 9pm. We had a really lovely dinner, I had chicken, and then I watched the rest of Wild Hogs and Pirates of the Caribbean. I napped for about an hour and then I was finally home. So excited! I collected my luggage and then joined the line for customs, which I was not looking forward to. I, of course, had to have my luggage thoroughly checked, and they went through all my souvenirs. I got to keep the majority of my stuff, unfortunately losing the hide that was the top of the drum I bought Sean, as well as the spices and teas I had bought in Zanzibar. Everything else was fine though. I was so excited to see everyone and they all said how freckly I looked, which of course I did.
Overall, I had an absolutely fantastical time and I'm still missing Africa. Wonderful memories and I'm so excited to tell everyone about it and show them all my photos. Thanks for reading, love Sarah!!!