|Singapore (September 30 - October 3 & October 31 - November 2, 2001)|
The kids favourite airline is Singapore Airlines. Each seat had a personal TV with a choice between about 6 movies,
and a host of Nintendo N64 games. They were in heaven - even though they
didn't like what was offered for lunch.
Singapore was very green and didn't seem as hot as Hong Kong even though it's almost on the equator. The WTC debacle is much more in the news here - Singapore is a multicultural city with large Chinese, Muslim and Malay populations. There were many calls for racial and religious tolerance in newspaper articles. The Army was also very much in evidence - lots of helicopter troopships and one jet fighter flying around, and a very busy military Firing Range that we drove by.
We found very nice adjoining rooms at the Metropole Hotel - just across the back lane from the famous Raffles Hotel. We ate a late supper at a local restaurant. It was good food, but after being in Japan and China for so long, it felt strange to eat 'eastern' food with a knife and fork - I felt like asking for chopsticks.
On the next day, we went to Sentosa Island - the Singapore amusement area. The kids and I went to Fantasy Island (31 water slides!) and Sarah took in the Aquarium and Dolphin show, and the Butterfly and Insect museum. After a busy day on Sentosa, we were quite tired and left early evening for a quick supper.
We have decided to go to Sabah in Malaysian Borneo - they have great rain forests and wildlife (including the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehab Centre). The first step is to go into Malaysia and buy plane tickets for Kota Kinabalu.
So on our last day, we had a quick breakfast and took the MRT and express bus to Johor Bahru in Malaysia, just on the other side of the causeway from Singapore.
We actually came to Singapore twice. If you have have not read about Johor Bahru and our trip to the Borneo rain forest, you should stop reading this and go there now. If you've "been there, done that", then keep reading!
We arrived from Kuala Lumpur by bus for our second visit to Singapore. It was quite late, and we had difficulty getting a room. The airport has a reservation desk that can get very cheap accommodation - but the bus stop has no similar service. We wanted to stay at the Holiday Inn Park Plaza but they quoted a rate about $70 more per night than we knew we could get from the airport reservation desk. After exhausting all other options, we took a taxi to the hotel where thankfully they gave us a much better rate than they gave us by phone. We had a Pizza Hut supper, a McDonalds dessert and then collapsed into bed.
The Holiday Inn is terrific. I think we've decided that we'd rather squeeze into one room in a good hotel, than take two rooms in a cheaper hotel. The hotel is in the Orchard Road area - very nice. The kids went swimming while Sarah & I shopped. We bought binoculars and have picked out mask and snorkels that we'll pick up tomorrow.
The kids were decidedly unimpressed with their Halloween this year. We spent most of it on the bus from Kuala Lumpur. So, the following morning, we went to Marks & Spencers to get some chocolate.
We left on November 2 at 8:30PM for New Zealand. Off to Auckland!