Monday 27th November
Travelled overnight with Singapore airlines.
Tuesday 28th November
Arrived at Changi airport at 7.00 a.m.(local time GMT + 8 hrs), a few cat naps on the plane but quite an uneventful journey. We took the hotel transit bus into the city and was checked into our hotel by 8.15. First things first we sent our dirty washing to the laundry and then made the good old british cuppa (coffee for Linda). Decided to find the post office and send our first parcel back home to lighten our load, believe it or not whilst we were filling in the forms for postage the parcel that was sitting in the sack was addressed to Kettering. Started to rain but it was still very hot and muggy so we were damp anyway. Had an early lunch in the Penny Black Restaurant on the Singapore River front (as advised by Brian of Specialist Plant), thanks Brian we enjoyed it. By 1.30 we went back to the room for a bit of shut eye.
Feeling refreshed we then went to Clarke Quay which is where it all happens and checked out the restaurants for our evening meal later. Back at the hotel we had coffee in the lounge and watched some kids filling their faces with items from the chocolate fountain (please note that Linda resisted). Clarke Quay at night was very lively, the place was buzzing. Full of restaurants, bars and very British music.
Wednesday 29th November
Took the Singapore Airlines Hop on Hop Off bus to Sentosa Island. What a different place from when we last visited 8 years ago. Then there was just one hotel, a few shops and a deserted beach, now it was like Disney and the construction work is still going on, they are building a monorail system from the harbour in Singapore to the island, lots of new attractions and still more hotels (we preferred our last visit). Later in the afternoon we went to Suntec City a 6 storey enormous shopping centre with the centre piece being the "Fountain of Wealth". We booked complimentary tickets on the open air bus to see the Christmas Lights (touring on the HIPPO bus) but the driver drove too fast to take any decent pictures.
Thursday 30th November
Of no, we discover this morning that Ron has been bitten by some bug and his hand has swollen right up (just an excuse not to carry the bag). He is a hero though and won't let it deter him from going out. Back on the Hop on Hop off bus, but this time our first stop was the Botanical Gardens which includes the Orchid Gardens. The flowers are so beautiful to see and we spent 3 hrs just strolling through the gardens. We had forgotten though how hot and sticky Singapore is. Our next stop was Orchard Road (the biggest shopping street there is!!), after walking for about 2 miles we ended up outside Raffles Hotel, but didn't feel dressed enough to venture inside. By 5 p.m. we were ready to go back to our hotel and get packed for the next country on Friday. Back to Clarke Quay for our evening meal, we had to find a restaurant with a bar that sold Duvel for Ron (he was feeling homesick).
Friday 1st December
Another day, another flight, this time to Bangkok. On checking in we were surprised to see that we were overweight on luggage (not us personally). Air Asia only allow you 15 kgs each and our cases weighed 35 kgs between the 2, they felt sorry for us though and only charged us for an extra 2 kgs at S$7 per kg. After experiencing African airports (hustle, bustle and not enough space) it is a sheer delight to be at Singapore airport, there is free internet, loads of room, organisation at check in and no chaos. We arrived into Bangkok after a 2 hr flight, our tour guide was meeting us in arrivals. Back to chaos, all we could see was a sea of faces and people shouting "you want a taxi, cheap fare". Luckily the guide spotted us as we have name straps around our cases (you don't find many Eydmanns travelling on the same flight). Her comments were that all you British look the same, I am glad that your names are on the cases.
Now for the drive to the hotel, we just shut our eyes and hoped that none of the scooters that were squeezing between the cars would hit yours, it was utter chaos. The Rembrandt hotel was situated in the middle of a very built up area with street traders everywhere we could see. A smog seems to envelope the city (we can only presume due to pollution). We had to brave the streets though to go to an ATM (everybody seemed to want money from us). The hotel provided a complimentary Tuk Tuk, which took us to the ATM (the driver waited whilst we got our money) and then dropped us off at the main road so we could look around. The paths were very uneven and not always evident (scooters ride there when they can't get through the traffic). We ventured back to the hotel and positioned ourselves around the pool and unwound. Relaxation now until we are picked up at 9 a.m. tomorrow for a city tour.
Saturday 2nd December
Picked up by car at 9 a.m. by our tour guide, she was wearing a yellow polo shirt in honour of the King as it will be his birthday in a few days (yellow symbolizes your love of the King).First stop was Chao Phya River wear we got on to a Long Boat - this was like a motorized gondola, with a car engine drive shaft with a propeller at the back of the boat, we were the only 2 tourists on this boat. This is definitely not a ride for the feint hearted as we sped along the river (they motor along the river just like they do in a car on the highway - as fast as possible), we were soon soaked. The boat took us through the canals where many Thais still live and sell their wares. We then visited the Royal barges to see the barges that are used on ceremonial occasions. Next stop still by river was the Temple of Dawn where we got off to climb the very steep steps to look around the outside. Back on dry land and we headed to China Town and the Golden Buddha (5.5 tons of solid gold), then Wat Po with its enormous reclining Buddah. The whole tourist area was full of Thais wearing their yellow shirts and flags lining the routes ready for the procession for the King and his family on Tuesday. We went to the White Marble Temple where new Buddhist monks were taking their vows in honour of the king. The Grand Palace was our final stop before lunch, this is where the Kings of Thailand used to live, they now live just around the corner in another huge set up. Lunch was a traditional Thai meal (but no fish or curry as requested by Linda). The last stop of the day was a massage parlour (less of your thoughts) where Linda underwent 2 hours of torture for a traditional Thai massage, she didn't realise her body could be twisted so many different ways. We then had to make our way back to the hotel by the sky train, with limited instructions, we made it though.
Sunday 3rd December
We had to be up at 5.30a.m. for breakfast before we were being picked up by minibus at 6.30 for a trip to the floating market (we didn't realise though that it was over 100 km away). On route we stopped at a village where coconuts are the prime export, sampling the milk etc. We pulled up at the canals for the market and discovered we had to take another ride in a long boat again. This time the boat was smaller and we had to site on a plank on the floor (did our rear ends hurt). The whole place is just full of tourists and locals bartering for goods, but quite an experience. On our return we stopped at a wood carving centre where whole pieces of wood were being carved out by hand, the big pieces take up to 6 months to complete. Back to the hotel for 1.30 p.m. and a note through the door to say that we would be collected at 6 a.m. the next morning for our transport to the River Kwai (we thought we were on holiday!!). Had to cool down with a quick dip in the pool, it was great, then off to the business centre so we can send this journal to you all. We will need an early meal, pack then early to bed again.