Singapore

This was set to be a busy day. We had pre-booked the hop-on hop-off bus and tickets for the Marina Bay Sands Skypark online before we left home. We also needed to shop for wedding wear for me. Then we added in a few things that made the day even busier.

I was awake before 6:00 am but when I looked at the window it was evident the sun was not up so neither should I be. I rolled over and waited for there to be at least a glimmer of light outside. Eventually it lightened up and we were up and about a little after 7:00 am.

Breakfast in the hotel restaurant was included with our room. We both ate muesli and some noodles and then finished with pastries or toast along with coffee. We were sure to take our first anti-malarial pills with breakfast, obeying the instructions to take them with food and remain upright afterward.

Before 9:00 am we were out and walking down Middle Road to Suntec City and the hop-on hop-off bus. We exchanged our vouchers for tickets and were away on the Yellow Line by 9:15 am. The bus headed past Marina Bay and then wound through some of the downtown area before heading out to the Botanic Gardens.

We had not planned to visit the Botanic Gardens today but it seemed like something worth doing so we hopped off and headed into the Learning Forest where we walked among some tree tops.

It was barely 10:00 am when we hopped off but it was nearing 12:00 pm by the time we hopped back on. In the meantime we had visited the forest, swan lake, the sundial, frangipanis, bonsai, and ginger garden before getting to the orchid garden. We paused for drinks before entering the orchid garden. Somehow the cashier recognised us as seniors and we got the discount so entry cost us $1 each. That was a bargain for the number and variety of orchids that we saw as we wandered through the garden.

After the orchids we headed for the visitor centre, following the signs. Sadly there is more than one visitor centre and the one Majella saw signed was not the one where the bus would come but we did not realise that until it was too late. We headed back, about a km, to the right one. Along the way I managed to not lift my foot sufficiently while ascending a set of shallow stairs. I lost a little skin on one knuckle of my left hand and have some minor abrasions on my right palm. My camera bounced and seems to be OK. My watch asked if I had fallen and if so, was I OK or should it call emergency. I’m OK but will try to remember to lift my feet.

Once we hopped on the bus it headed back down Orchard Road and then to Suntec City. There we switched to the Red Line bus that would take us to Little India. Acting on advice we had received we got off at the stop nearest the Mustafa Centre to shop for my kurta(s). We had seen some in shop fronts as the bus went along the street but they were not easy to find in the Mustafa Centre which had lots of western clothing but little else on obvious display in the basement men’s section. Majella eventually asked somebody who directed us into the back where I found two, one gold and one purple, that seemed the right size and met with Majella’s approval. One included a set of white pants to be worn under. The lot cost me a little more than $40, which seemed a bargain.

I had thought that was the limit of our required shopping but it was not. Majella needed a ‘dancing’ outfit with flared skirt as seen in the photos on the wedding website. Up we went to level 3 where we spent 20 minutes or more checking the racks for suitable outfits. Majella tried on about 6 but fitting was awkward and they lacked zips or other fasteners to facilitate getting them on. Eventually we gave up and headed down the street to see what else we might find.

Some way on we found the Mirador Centre where a store one level up appeared to offer something that might suit. The man who served us went to great lengths to search out items that might be the right style and fit for Majella at a price that could be justified for what would likely be a single use. She tried several without success. Eventually he found something that had the right style and fit at a price, reduced from what was marked, that Majella was prepared to pay. He was determined to make the sale. I hope he managed to make at least a small profit on the deal which, even at his reduced price, cost somewhat more than my two outfits.

We hopped back on the bus and rode it to the Malay area where we got off and walked down Arab Street. By then it was about 3:00 pm and we were hungry so we ate chips with masala spice and drank coffees at a cafe on Arab Street. Then we walked down and back while Majella browsed the fabric stores with their amazing silks but resisted the temptation to buy anything.

Back on the bus we rode past Chinatown to Marina Sands. Finding the access to the Skypark was a challenge because of a lack of signage around the hotel and no indication on our online tickets of where the entrance was. After a couple of false starts Majella asked directions and we walked to the far end of the building where the entrance was outside, around the corner and in the basement. At the top we admired the panoramic views of Singapore with the rain clouds looming across the city. We made our traditional call to Hannah from high places – started in 1999 when she called us from the Empire State Building in memory of Sleepless in Seattle. We thought about having a drink but the restaurant seemed accessible only from within the hotel or at least we could not find an entrance and we were not prepared to simply stand on the deck to enjoy a drink.

Majella was keen for the 8:00 pm light show that she had heard about and was planning to come back to the Gardens by the Bay later for that reason. However, when she inquired about that she was told the lights were off for maintenance.

With no reason to come back later, we headed off to see the Gardens by the Bay. Signage in the hotel beneath the 5th level walkway to the gardens advised that it was necessary to go to either end of the 3 tower hotel and then walk around the outside to the elevator. We did that and then walked into the air conditioned hotel on the 5th level walkway and out the other side. Why? At the far end of the elevated walkway as we came down the obvious path to the gardens was closed off for maintenance so we headed down the remaining side to find that we then needed to walk back up to get where we needed to go. A simple sign would have saved us that effort.

We made it up the path to the Gardens by the Bay centre where we bought tickets for the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. We thought about the super trees but doubted we would have the necessary time or energy.

The Flower Dome had a special display of dahlias in addition to the permanent displays of plants from various parts of the world. There was an extensive Australian garden and other areas devoted to geographic regions and types of plants such as succulents. The displays included a number of sculptures of animals, appropriate to the plants, made of what appeared to be driftwood. They were amazingly detailed and lifelike. The space was comfortably cool compared to outside. It must be cooled to provide suitable conditions for plants that would not otherwise survive the tropics.

The Cloud Forest has a six story waterfall near the entrance. Beyond that after walking around the base it was up via elevator and some stairs to a walkway above the tree tops. Then the path meandered down past a variety of plants that grow high up among the clouds. There were misty sprays of water to simulate the moist environment among the clouds. Again, despite the heat outside and the humidity inside, the evaporative cooling kept things pleasant.

We walked back on the walkway through Marina Sands thinking we would catch the next Red Line bus and ride it to Clarke Quay where Majella planned to eat dinner. We waited in vain for more than 30 minutes before I thought to check the website where I discovered that, despite the tickets proclaiming 24 hour access, the buses actually run for only 8 to 9 hours per day. There was no bus coming by that time so we caught one of the taxis lined up waiting for fares at the nearby hotel shopping mall.

At Clarke Quay we considered the variety of food that we might eat for dinner. It seemed pointless to eat Indian at this point on our travels and Majella did not want Mexican, pizza, or some of the other offerings. Eventually we ate at Bayang which served Malay/Indonesian food and was offering a 2 for 1 deal on selected drinks. We shared an appetiser tray with spring rolls, prawns, potato cakes, and chicken satay sticks along with a tray of beef satay sticks. I had the 2 for 1 deal with Tiger beers Which seemed fair given I was thirsty after walking 20000+ steps across the day. Majella had a Singapore Sling which was not on the 2 for 1 deal but she thought one was plenty. We caught another taxi back to our hotel. It had been a busy day and we were both ready for rest.