04.29.2017 - 05.01.2017
29 April 2017
Off to Singapore today for a quick three day stop.
Sometimes people ask how we choose where to travel: wish/bucket lists, suggestions and sometimes I'll just see a photo and think "I just have to go there". For research, we do find travel books are good resources and a good source for travel books is the library. Luckily for me, the Pima County Library (Tucson) has a large, current travel book selection which includes most countries. Fodor's, Frommer's are good basic books but I'm more inclined to National Geographic, Rough Guide and Lonely Planet and then again, there is the internet. There are so many blogs and websites that have great info.
You might ask why Singapore! Yes, we've been here before - twice actually - but Brenda has not. We had planned our Borneo trip for May 3rd-7th, and we needed to work around those dates.
My thought process was: where would be a good stop for convenience, good food and some nice sites? Singapore's Changi Airport is a huge hub and actually one of my favorite airports. From there it's easy to get down to Indonesia. Also, Singapore has great food and is easy to navigate with only one drawback. It's expensive. We're staying at the Mitraa Hostel in LIttle India. I booked a 4 bed dorm for the three of us but they gave us a 6 bed dorm (same price) - cost is $90 per night and as far as Asian prices go - that's expensive (for us).
We arrived about 730pm, got settled and headed out for some sustenance. It's Saturday night and the streets are teeming with people of every shape and color - locals and tourists a like. Just down from our hostel, on facing street corners are two groups of food stalls. We've learned that you always look for the place that's busy. One side of the street was full, so it's across that street where we grab the only empty table. These areas are occupied by five or six different food stalls that share the same tables and the same beer girl. An enthusiastic, smiling man beckoned us to his stall. The dishes looked good (each about $5Sg = $3.50 USD), we order. This is all new to Brenda so we explain: you order food from the stall that suits you and then give them the table number. We had asked for beer so we are approached by the "Beer Girl", we give her our order and she delivers. Each person is paid independent of the other.
After dinner, we start the trek down the Serangoon Rd, passing every type of shop imaginable. After a bit, Jim decides his leg is bothering him and he heads back to the room. Brenda and I have a bit of energy left so it's off to see what little gems we can find.
30 April 2017
With Singapore being two and a half hours behind Sri Lanka and the fact that our room is quiet and without windows, we woke up and find we've missed breakfast. That's ok. As Brenda and I perused the shops the previous evening, we saw one restaurant that was really busy and through the window Brenda saw someone eating what Brenda described as "a tree". It was actually a cone dosai. With that dish in mind, we made it back to Komala Vilas for brunch. So glad we did - next to string hoppers, dosai is one of my favorite dishes and this place had some that were new to me. We enjoyed our brunch a plain dosai, kama dosai and kama dosia with onions - all really good.
Our last visit to Singapore was five years ago and JIm and I enjoyed a nice afternoon at the Gardens by the Bay, which at that time, were quite new. They have enhanced the gardens in the last five years. Exhibits there change frequently and the current one is "Tulips". It's a nice way to pass a couple of hours and gives easy access to the Marina Sands Hotel (for a quick peek). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gardens_by_the_Bay
It's also just a quick MRT (metro) ride way from Chinatown and that was our destination for dinner. Wandering the street, we stopped to check out a menu and was summoned in by a very enthusiastic young waitress. The dishes, authentically Chinese, brought us back to your days in Wuhan.
Our finally destination for the night was going to be Clarke's Quay to take the harbour cruise. An awesome way to see the cityscape all lite up. Sunset in Sri Lanka was about 6pm but here it's about 7pm. So,we were a bit early. Rethinking our plans, we head back to the hostel and will do the boat cruise tomorrow - our last night in Singapore - hope it doesn't rain!!
01 May 2017
Happy BIrthday to our sister-in-law Ann Burke!!
Again we slept in...it's also laundry day today. Fortunately, the hostel has a washer ....and a dryer (not often seen). In other places, we've used their laundry services or washed out a couple things as we go but once we get into Indonesia, we won't have time to send out our laundry...and we REALLY need to get some done.
With laundry done, we're off for our last day in Singapore. Brenda took the lead today and she thought the Singapore National Museum would be nice. What a great choice. The museum is very deceiving. From the outside, it looks like a period building but expands to a huge area with great exhibits. Admission for those 60+ is $10Sg , otherwise $15. Brenda got an early birthday present from the man behind the desk.
Our next stop was supposed to be a small boutique shopping area but it didn't live up to expectations so it was off to the MRT. On the way, we saw that we were passing the famous Raffles Hotel. It was built in 1887, named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the man who founded Singapore and is now part of Fairmont Hotels. It is also where the Singapore Sling was first made. We decide to stop in and "maybe" have one. Well.....NO...not for $36 per drink. I'll make one when we get home and we'll toast Singapore....for a whole lot less.
Evening came as the lights along Clarke's Quay glittered against the city backdrop. Not a rain cloud in sight. It was as mesmerizing as I had remembered. The forty minute ride brought us through the the quay areas with the Marina Sands Hotel the highlight.
Our trip to Singapore had come to an end and it was time to get back to the hostel, pack and get ready to start "Part II" of our adventure.
02 May 2017
Currently writing from the hotel in Semarang, Java, Indonesia. We flew in from Singapore (via Jakarta), met up with friends from Utah (Wayne Wurtsbaugh and Linda L'ai). The five of us will travel tomorrow to Borneo for a klotok (small boat) trip through the Tanjung Puting National Park to see Orangutan (among other animals) in their natural environment. Might not (read: probably won't) have internet until sometime on the 7th...But I hope to have some really great photos to share. Check out: http://www.orangutanapplause.com/orangutan-tour/