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Published: June 26th 2017
Geo: 7.89072, 98.3988
After five days at sea we reached Singapore about 8-30am on Thursday 14th, January. We had watched our approach from both our balcony and Deck 14 and were surprised by the number of ships lining up outside the harbour. The Terminal was at Marina Bay right opposite the distinctive Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the three towers, supporting a boatlike structure across the top, now a modern symbol of Singapore.
We were able to disembark about 9-30 and made our way through Immigration and into the Arrivals Hall. We had arranged to meet our friend, Troy Engle, an American coach who had been at West Point but who now heads the High Performance Sports Program of Singapore. We soon found each other and it was great to catch up since it had been two years, at the Moscow World Champs, that we had last seen him.
He suggested that we visit Gardens by the Bay, a huge complex of gardens and buildings very close to the Terminal. This proved to be a winner! This has been developed in the last few years and is a sprawling complex of outdoor gardens with two large domes and an avenue of "Supertrees" which has an
aerial walkway linking them. We first entered the Flower Dome. This houses a wide variety of plants including an amazing cactus garden and huge Baobab trees. There is a changing display of flowers and now a large variety of dahlias are on exhibit. There are also gardens from various areas including Australia, South Africa and South America. All the plants are complemented by wonderful wooden sculptures which emerge from their driftwood material to become vibrant, polished animals. At the moment the gardens are ornamented with Chinese New Year symbols, particularly the Monkey, as it will soon be the Year of the Monkey.
From there we went into the Cloud Forest Dome. The first sight is a 35 metre man-made mountain with a cascading waterfall spectacularly falling from the top. We went up inside the mountain in a lift and then walked down and around looking out over displays of tropical plants including spectacular orchids and a huge variety of ferns. We stood on a platform next to the waterfall and felt the spray on our faces. This again was a wonderful collection, all artfully displayed and we spent some time exploring it all.
Then it was time for a coffee break
and a much needed catch up on the Net so we stopped at the Café Crema and spent some time checking emails and uploading my blog. We chatted to Troy all the time and he was very patient and understanding about our need for Internet time. When we had finished there we walked to the avenue of Supertrees constructed of metal but covered by plants including bougainvillea and various vines. We ascended to the Skyway which links several of these “trees” 22 metres above the ground. Spectacular views back across the Singapore skyline are to be had from up there and especially of Marina Bay Sands and the surrounding harbour. In the extended grounds of the gardens are several playgrounds for children including a water play one, all free to access. There are charges for the three areas we went to but they are not excessive. Troy said he had a yearly family pass and often brings his two little ones, aged 2 and 3 to visit, which he says they love. A very impressive addition to Singapore's attractions.
From there we caught a taxi to Clarke Quay for lunch. This is a section of the river which has many restaurants
and bars following the banks of the river. We settled on a Thai restaurant, Rennthai, and had a great lunch, washed down with refreshing Tiger beer. The conversation flowed along with the beer and the river! Fletcher wanted to see Fort Canning as it was the site of the signing of the surrender in 1942. There is a display there, in a place called the Battle Box of artefacts linked with this dreadful time. We crossed the road from Clarke Quay to Fort Canning Park and were faced with a long climb up the hill to find it. We climbed up the red brick steps, pausing several times along the way, but unfortunately the Battle Box was closed for renovations. We still were able to see the remnants of this 19th Century fort, stopping by the gates and the married officers' quarters. A sudden thundery shower sent us scuttling for shelter but we had taken umbrellas with us and it cooled the air somewhat.
We eventually came to the Hotel Fort Canning which had recently been renovated and occupied one of the historic buildings from the days of the fort. We stopped for another beer and more conversation as well as
extra WiFi. About 5-30 we called for a taxi and when it eventually arrived we headed to the Lion Beach King restaurant to meet up with Troy's wife, Katrina and his two cute kids, Cassidy and “Little” Troy. It was lovely to finally meet them in person as I have been following them through Facebook for a while now. This restaurant specialised in seafood, especially crabs. We had three huge plates of crab, Chilli, Black Pepper and Butter. While extremely messy to eat they were all delicious and there was plenty for all. Katrina was lovely and I enjoyed chatting to LT as his father calls him, though Cassidy was rather shy. All in all we spent a fun couple of hours there, eating, drinking and getting to know each other.
At 8-15 it was time to go for the little ones were getting tired. We said farewell to them all and Troy ordered us a taxi ( which he prepaid) and taking Katrina's gift of pineapple cup cakes we returned to the ship. Back on board we changed and then went to the Wheelhouse bar for happy hour and to listen to the 2 Cool Duo. A great way
to finish a very pleasant day.
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