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Published: October 1st 2017
Geo: 1.28941, 103.85
We started the day by visiting the OMM offices in the financial district: a great melting pot of attorneys – from Singapore, Indonesia, the UK, USA, Australia, and more. Very indicative of what Singapore has always been about.
Next, we too the Metro to Orchard Road – it was very hot when we emerged from the tunnels. We were also flummoxed by number of duplicated high-end boutiques. Surely even people who shop at Prada can cross the street! But perhaps not, because there were also multiple Hermes and Chanel, among others. All the shop spaces seemed to be full, too – did the depression bypass Singapore?
But we were not here to shop, so we found a taxi queue and requested the Botanical Gardens. Our main goal was to see the Orchid Gardens, so we were dropped at the Visitor's Centre, then took the wanderweg way to the orchids. The entry fee was nomial, and the gardens were stunning. Well, orchids are stunning, and the garden was very beautifully laid out, with water features and pre-designated "photo spots". I'm not sure I learned anything much about orchids, but it was very pleasant wandering around. Beest was the “cool house” which simulates the highlands through wet, cool air. Such a great respite from the heat!
From the gardens, we took a cab to the Little India arcade. We wandered through the shops until we found a place that looked cool and reasonable for lunch. Then along the street to the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, a very popular Hindu temple. Women were busy making flower wreaths and food offerings, and many worshipers came by. We followed a group of school children on a field trip, although I could not really hear much of what they were told about the temple.
When we reached Mustafa Centre, which sells everything, we wandered through the shop, mostly to cool off, but also to see what was on offer: cloths, watches, electronics, luggage, the usual assortment of stuff you might need 24 hours a day. Then we took the metro back to the hotel to swim and relax.
We walked to the Fairmont Hotel to catch the bus to the Night Safari. When we asked the doorman if the bus came to the hotel, he told us to wait inside, where it was cool, and he would let us know when the bus arrived. When he went on break, he made sure another staff member knew what we were waiting for; she came over to let us know that the bus was often late, and not to worry: she would look after us. Indeed, when the bus arrived, about 20 minutes late, she came to find us and two other people. We were very glad we had her helping us, because we're not sure we would have recognized the bus when it arrived. It was actually quite a small van, but we were able to get a seat. The van made several additional stops, and filled up, with every seat full but not one standing.
We arrived at the night safari right before 7pm. It took a while to pay for our tickets, but we finally alit and went to the ticket kiosk. There was no wait at all. At the entrance to the park, some people were finished their dinner and others were watching the fire show. We decided to start walking, as the park was open and the first tram had no yet left. It was absolutely lovely: the lighting simulates full moonlight – bright enough to see without feeling like your world is totally illuminated. The enclosures are completely natural looking, yet we managed to see animals in almost all locations. Better still, we had the entire trail to ourselves, so even the more skittish of animals seemed willing to come out.
Along the first trail, we saw the fishing cat out hunting, which was very cool: a beautiful animal, which walked along a log, staring at fish in the water. We didn't see it actually try to catch anything, but it was great to see it clearly. Also along that trail were some massive pelicans, strange mousedeer (with their tiny legs), and Indian Gharial (a crocodile-like thing), and otters (squeaking at us). At the end of the first trail, we saw two different types of civets. Of the Malayan variety, two showed themselves briefly, then hit when other people arrived (we were near the tram stop, so, for the first time, others were on the trail, having just departed the tram). The other variety, which looked like a combination of otter and monkey, were very active, moving constantly from branch to branch.
Looking at the map, it appeared that we should both walk and take the tram: clearly, there were animals and enclosures you would miss if you only did one. Since we were hungry at this point (it was after 8:30pm), we decided to tram back to the entrance, then tram back to this stop, then walk the second-half.
The tram on the second-half was very interesting; lots of animals to see and learn about. Most are large (lions, tigers, rhinos, hippos, elephants, giraffes, cape buffalo, Burmese water buffalo) and so fairly visible from the tram. The lions were passed out; one was in the Mysti position.
During dinner at the entrance station, we were able to watch another of the fire shows. The performers did some cool effects, such as passing the fire from mouth to mouth, or keeping a ball of fire suspended in the air by taking turns blowing on it. The crowd was a bit non-enthusiastic (unlike the crowd earlier in the evening, when we walked passed the show to enter the park), which was too bad, as the performers were clearly working hard.
After dinner, we took the first half of the tram ride; saw a few things not visible from the trail, but this first half not as compelling (and much shorter) than the second half. We got off at the one stop, then walked the paths that we had not done before dinner. We saw the Malayan tiger, pacing, clearly bored; also the cloud leopards, sleeping. Also went through the cave, full of snakes, scorpions, and bats. Some of the more amazing exhibits were in this half: the flying fox house and the bat's house. Both were enclosures you walk through, with the flying foxes and bats roaming around freely inside. We could see them clearly, and they nearly touché us. Saw one flying fox travel a short distance between trees; they have the food set up in places to encourage the foxes to fly for the edutainment of the guests.
We finished the tour a little after 10pm and managed to catch the 10:30pm shuttle back to the city, from where we took the MRT to the hotel. Home about 11:30pm; great day, with lots to see.
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