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March 29th 2010
Published: April 1st 2010
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Merlion ParkMerlion ParkMerlion Park

This is the lion that is the icon of Singapore.
We rolled into town at about 8 PM and made it to the hotel in time to walk to the best place in town for “chili crap” which we took to mean chili crab. Sure enough about 3 blocks away, we found “No Signboard Seafood” and perused the menu. We settled on a seafood and noodle dish that was more food than anyone could possibly eat in one sitting. We finished it anyway.

On Monday, our first full day in Singapore, we took an afternoon city tour that turned out to be only the two of us and one chap from UK. Our first stop was at the waterfront of the Singapore River at Merlion Park. Here is the iconic statue/fountain of the lion spewing water into the harbor.

Singapore, which means “lion port” is one of the busiest ports in Asia. It’s not the largest, but is by far the busiest with many days seeing 500 ships dropping anchor to load and unload goods. This city of 5 million people is uniquely qualified to handle all the shipping traffic.

In Singapore they officially speak 4 languages almost interchangeably, although hardly anyone speaks all 4. The languages are
Singapore HarborSingapore HarborSingapore Harbor

the busiest harbor in Asia -- just look at all those ships!
English, Mandarin (Chinese), Hindi (Indian) and Malay. Many written signs are in at least 2 languages and sometimes in all 4.

Singapore is an island city nation that was a part of Malaysia until gaining their independence in 1965. Malaysia was not totally happy with granting independence Singapore, known as Cathay from ancient times, and still owns the railroads and, in particular, the railroad station. It seems there’s still a bit of tug of war even after 40 years.

Our tour included a stop at another Taoist temple, Thian Hock Keng. Its deity is the goddess of calm sea that the Chinese built when they arrived here a few hundred years ago. It seems that since they didn’t have airplanes back then and the trip by boat took 10 months one-way, they felt they needed a special goddess to pray to for a calm trip. Fortunately, we don’t need to pray to an idol to get traveling mercies.

The final stop on our tour was to be the Singapore Botanical Gardens. Oddly enough, we were both looking forward to visiting the gardens, much as we had with those in Tasmania. Unfortunately, it started to rain as we
and the rains cameand the rains cameand the rains came

pitchforks and hammer handles
were approaching the gardens and we tried to wait it out. No avail. It poured down in a deluge for what seemed like an eternity. I poured so hard that it was what my father (it would have been his 98th birthday the day before) used to call “raining pitchforks and hammer handles.”

We adjourned to the snack bar for another half hour to wait out the storm. When it finally let up a little, it was just that a little less heavy. It was still raining enough that we couldn’t really enjoy the foliage, so we gave up and our tour operator took us back to the hotel. By the time we arrived at our hotel, it had slowed to a light mist so we took a walk and found dinner. During dinner it started up again and luckily, we could linger over our meal until the rains stopped, or Noah showed up with his ark.

Tuesday, another full day in Singapore, we were so bored that we hopped on the light rail and rode from our station all the way to the end and back. The afternoon brought another deluge and we avoided it by staying in, either in the hotel or in the restaurant.

Wednesday is our big travel day from Singapore to Calcutta, India with a plane change in Kuala Lumpur and a 3 and half hour time zone change.


2nd April 2010

Fabulous exploration
You grumpy old men are on the coolest trip ever! Very courageous to finish the massive serving of seafood and noodles in Singapore. Still laughing! Do we need to ship an umbrella to you?

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