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February 24th 2014
Published: February 24th 2014
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SINGAPORE – 8th / 9thFebruary 2014

I can’t get excited about Singapore! I don’t know why – it just doesn’t seem a very exciting place – maybe because its too westernized or maybe its because we have been here before? I don’t know! Anyway, we cruised across the Andaman Sea and then the Straights of Malacca (the busiest shipping lane in the world!) between Malaysia and some Indonesian Islands and reached the Marine Bay Cruise Terminal (MBCCS) 61, Marine Drive about 2.00pm.

Disembarked through a very efficient system and decided to walk to the iconic Sands Hotel as it didn’t seem too far! Big Mistake!! Its further than it looks, crosses (at the moment!) a huge building site, and it was also about 33C and very humid!! Eventually got to the Sands Building, on our knees, about half an hour later! (The £5.00 shuttle bus had passed us about 3x!!) Only bonus is that the Sands shopping centre had free wifi that could be picked up on the bus stop outside!!

Decided we would buy a Big Bus Ticket (Duck & Hippo Red Bus) for $33.00 each and had a pleasant afternoon riding around the red and yellow route orientating ourselves with the city. It’s quite quaint how you have these huge skyscrapers and then they have left the odd small Chinese Temple, to preserve their heritage, but there is, in general, a lot of building work going on everywhere!

Took the bus back out to Clark Quay as it was getting dusk and then walked down to China Town to explore the back streets and see all the Chinese lanterns lit, as well as the horses decorating the streets celebrating the Chinese New Year ( Year of the Horse! ) - Coincidentally I am a horse! Quite a good thing to be, so they say – I suppose its better than being a rat or a snake!!!) Ate in a small Chinese café – cant remember the name – 2nd Big Mistake! I don’t like spicy food but they assured me that the sweet and sour pork was non-spicy and Chris wanted a spicy chicken dish! Surprise, surprise – the chicken wasn’t spicy and the sweet and sour pork had chilli in it! The rice was fine but I had water to drink that just came in a glass – suspect!! The bill was SG$40 (about £20.00) but it left us with a ripped-off feeling……..

Walked back to Clark Quay (15mins) which was absolutely lovely and almost changed my mind about Singapore! All lit up with colour changing roofs, bridges and boats and buzzing with people strolling about, eating and drinking. Had a good walk around and then decided to soak up a bit of the atmosphere by having a drink – 3rd Big Mistake!!! Ok, so we knew it was going to be expensive at SG$15 each (£7.50 for a glass of wine or small bottle of beer!) but when we paid the bill, there was a service charge added an, as well as some local tax, so the total cost was about £9.00 each – total rip off!!! I’m sure if we had shopped around the bars it could have been found cheaper!

As it was now 10.00pm we hailed a taxi back to the ship! All seemed well – SG3.20 on the meter that rose to SG$8.40 when we arrived back at the Terminal! Surprise, surprise – Extra surcharge (because it was the Port???) and the bill ended up at SG$13.85. (That actually, I suppose, is still not too bad a price as the journey took 15-20mins!! But I still felt a little bit cheated!)

The next day, after catching the £5.00 shuttle to the Sands Hotel, had a quick look in the Shopping Mall (it has a river running through the centre with boats on it!!) and then caught the Yellow Big Bus to the Botanical Gardens! It was lovely! Had a wander around the lake and walked to the Ginger Garden and then went into the Orchid Garden (SG$1 if you are over 60!! SG$5 otherwise) Totally stunning and orchids everywhere (what else would you expect!!) Every variety you could think of as well as displays of yellow/orange gardens and red gardens, mist houses, VIP gardens – every bit we saw seemed to be more beautiful that the last! A quick walk down to Swan Lake and then caught the Big Bus again back to Orchard Road where we were going to change to the Purple Bus to go to Little India – only ½ hour later and no Purple Bus we caught the Yellow Bus back to the Hub at Suntec City. A quick peer at the Waterfall ( largest something in the World but not very special at all!) whilst waiting for the Buses to start again (They have an hours lunch break!!) and decided as time was running out, we would give Little India a miss (We had seen in yesterday on the bus and the back streets with its rickshaws looked quite interesting!) and catch the bus to Singapore’s newest attraction – Gardens on the Bay!

We had seen them building these gardens last time we were here in Oct 2011, and its amazing how they now look as though they have always been here!! Its almost a three dimensional garden as there are several layers to it, with lakes, viewpoints, bridges and the sky walk (Closed due to maintenance SG$5) There are Chinese gardens, Indian Gardens and lots of interesting bits that I’m sure that we missed but we decided to do the two domes – Cloud Forest Dome and the Flower Dome! (SG$28.00 each for both) Seemed quite expensive, but was totally blown away with the sheer enormity of it all! Its almost like the Eden Project but with a lot more colour and wow factor! The Cloud… basically a huge man-made tower, with plants and orchids growing all around it, and a huge waterfall. You are able to walk on the sky walks around the top and look down on everything as well as explore the different levels, poking out at lookouts all the way down! Definitely worth the money!

Anyway, caught the shuttle back to the ship for an hours wifi before getting back on the ship for the three days sailing to Hong Kong!

The sea days pass very quickly and I suppose you just get into a routine of relaxing, eating and the odd lecture and gym most days! The Norwegian Captain gives us our location everyday and how many miles we have travelled before giving us a useless fact of the day, wishing us a good day and announcing that ‘From the Bridge – All is Well’ !!! We went to a very interesting lecture by Dr Pat and Dr Chris (who coincidentally are our dark horse fellow diners!!!) who explained about the Mercy Ships ( and the work they had done, providing aid in four of the poorest African countries, particularly Liberia. It is a charity run solely on donations and volunteers pay £12.00 a day to help in any way they are able – even washing up! Most people live around coastal areas so a hospital ship is the easiest way to bring medical services to these countries but it was quite heartbreaking to hear that one woman had walked 200 miles for surgery and makes you value the treatment we are able to get so easily in the UK.

The end of the 33c hot and sunny balmy weather came abruptly to an end on the 20th Feb when we experienced rough seas (Force 7) and a cloudy day at sea! Still I suppose it’s breaking us in for Hong Kong and then the UK, although a bit of a problem sleeping in the cabin due to these huge bangs (waves hitting the bow of the ship!!) that continue through the night! Affects quite a few cabins I think as quite a few people moaning!!

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