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Published: November 28th 2014
The symbol of Singapore
Goodbye Sapphire Princess …we’re off to find our luggage in the gigantic warehouse on the dock. Thousands of pieces of luggage, how much can you possibly need for a 17 day cruise? It’s a miracle the ship even floats with everything aboard LOL. Red 7, somewhere our luggage is in a pile called Red 7. Cope guards the carry ons while I go on a search and find mission. Mission accomplished as I get a cart a move the luggage toward Cope through the throngs of people grumbling and looking for theirs.
Just the day before we got off we signed up to take an overview tour of Singapore on the way to the hotel. After going through customs and immigration we headed to our bus and to our surprise, we found all 4 of our table mates from our assigned dinner service ;-) Amazing since there were 2700 people aboard. There was also a couple from L.A. who were on our land tour who we had not seen in awhile. It is really fun to be running into new friends from the land tour and the cruise. Usually we do not know anyone
Jean and Cope with Students too
and on this trip we made many new friends including a couple, Karen and Matt who live 3 miles from us in Gilbert!
As we traveled toward the city, which is very close to the terminal, we realized that we were back in the land of “pedestrians have the right of way” and it’s not crowded, there are only 5.7 million people here instead of 1.3 billion. It shows. Everything here is clean and orderly. People actually stop for red lights and very few motorcycles and virtually no bicycles. And certainly no bicycles piled high with goods. We already LOVE Singapore.
Like all the other Asian countries however, there is a ton of construction going on. New high rises are being built, a new metro line is under construction, apartments that were built 30 years ago are being town down and new ones built. The crane is the national bird here too ;-)
Our first stop was at Marina Park where people were strolling, having gelatos, and taking pictures of the mascot of Singapore, a gigantic concrete “Merlion” spitting water into the marina lake. The Merlion is part lion and part
Orchids of every description
fish—a long time Singapore tradition and story. Very cute.
Next stop the top of Mt. Faber, a small mountain here in the middle of the city. Winding tropical roads took us to spectacular views of Singapore, the port and Sentosa Island. Between us and Sentosa was a looong cable car sweeping over tropical land, the Singapore River and finally to Sentosa. Reminds us of our cable car ride to the Big Buddah on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. We didn’t take the cable car ride but we understand that on Sentosa is Universal Studios, a Butterfly Farm, all types of fun things to do with the family and beautiful beaches.
Everything was a surprise today as we had not looked at the itinerary for the tour ;-) Especially surprising was the next stop, the Singapore Botanic Garden, specifically the National Orchid Garden. Oh my gosh there were hundreds and hundreds of orchids from tiny little things about ¼ inch across to magnificent ones maybe 4-5 inches across. Blues, yellows, pinks, greens, browns, blacks. You name the color there was an orchid to match. With all of the heat and humidity today (90 degrees with 85%
humidity) we are wilting ;-) but, it is not difficult to see how all of these beautiful flowers grow and flourish here. It is almost December here but at 4 degrees north of the equator, it is hot and humid most of the time! As we were waiting for the group to get back together I spotted a kiosk with ice cold can of diet cokes! My first $2.50 expenditure in Singapore. Cope and I shared and oh did it feel good going down ;-)
Heading down the hill we drive through upscale portions of the city and see the US Embassy called the Fortress as it looks like a fortress, also the embassies of Britain and Thailand.
Okay, some of the passengers are staging a coup LOL…They want to skip Little India (which was highly recommended to us by other visitors) and go directly to lunch, so there will be time for shopping time in Chinatown. UGH! We’ll see what happens. Our tour guide is a confused soul and not good at keeping all of us in line. As we get off the bus in Chinatown for lunch we follow her single file
Fresh Chilled Pineapple
Straight from a street vendor
up and down streets as she asks person after person if they know where our restaurant is…double ugh! FINALLY almost by chance we stumble upon the restaurant ;-) Great food and our chop stick skills were useful once again. There was plenty of food but some of the women started complaining they didn’t get enough to eat… good grief. Our tour guide, Ivy said she would try to make up for the shortage of food at lunch. What the heck? Anyway…we were happy and wondering if it would be Little India or shopping in Chinatown. Chinatown it was. 1 hour to shop till you drop. We were done in 15 minutes. A few postcards, a Merlion for the “memory shelf” at home and a few other trinkets. Chinatown was very clean, orderly and shopkeepers friendly. A nice place to be. When we got on the bus, our tour guide had fresh slices of chilled pineapple for us-yum!
On to our hotel-the Pan Pacific in the heart of the Marina District. Although the area is upscale it is not at the level of Dior’s and Valentinos. The shopping centers are more like going to South Coast Plaza or
Last Chance in Chinatown
Last chance to get your sausages before the EQUATOR!
your local nice mall. Singapore is not cheap-the exchange rate is basically one to one for the US dollar.
Once again, WOW! The Pan Pacific is beautiful and connected to the Marina Bay Mall. Our room is large and very modern. We love the shower so much we might never leave ;-) Just realized today is Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Friday… today is figure out the city day… We hopped on a Hop On/Hop Off Big Red bus for a tour around Singapore and to get our bearings. Through the financial district, the marina area, by the embassies again and the botanical gardens. Through Chinatown and Little India and Arab town. Down the “Rodeo Drive” of Singapore, Orchard Road… beautiful and all decked out for Christmas. We will be moving to this area tomorrow as we switch hotels. Our first impressions of Singapore are… a city of skyscrapers, amazing neighborhoods, water and tropical plants, clean, only small amounts of traffic. Beautiful upscale stores and small inexpensive shops. Great restaurants and food vendors. Friendly, nice people and beautiful children.
Time for a little downtime…writing post cards, reading, reconfirming stuff. Next Stop: Two more days in Singapore
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