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Thursday, June 03, 2004

Summer Vacation

Hobbit Magic
10 Wonderful days to kick start the summer. 8000 plus miles away from Sacramento & not to mention the fact that I did not have to listen to Kings talk. The reason for taking such a vacation was a combination of being burnt out (both Tab & me) and wanting to get out of Sac-town.

*** (See Pictures) - I will post remaining pictures by this weekend. ***
Hostile Takeover

Well enough with Tabitha’s ramblings about the trip here is my summary of our vacation. We left Sacramento and boarded our flight from San Francisco International airport. A quick stopover in Incheon, Korea, (See Pictures) and 18+ hours later we reached Singapore. Note: Did not catch much sleep, as we were both excited about our vacation and the fact that Singapore Airlines offers one of the best in-flight entertainment and meals. (See Pictures) While Tabitha caught Chasing Liberty, I watched the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy. (They had about 60 movies and a lot of TV Shows and on demand music)

After arriving in Singapore at 1:00 in the morning we caught our shuttle through Tour Winds and reached our hotel the Marina Mandarin (See Pictures). Note: If you are ever to travel in Asia get Asian Affair Holidays and plan your trip. Both hotels in Singapore and Bangkok were awesome. A quick shower and some shuteye later and we headed down for the complimentary breakfast at 6:30. Breakfast was a mix between continental and daily Singaporean breakfast that included noodles, congee (rice porridge) to name a few.

Day 1:
ORCHIDGetting around in Singapore is easy as getting on the local SMRT (subway) or local buses and taxis. For most of our journey in Singapore we used the SMRT, as it was very cheap and convenient way to get around. For our first stop in Singapore I decided that we would visit one of Singapore’s many orchid gardens. Singapore National Orchid Garden has some 400 species of orchids and 2000 plus hybrids. (See pictures) This took most of our energy and a better part of our day. We then headed over to the shopping paradise of the world Orchard Road. Stop at this place at your own risk – for shopperholics this must be heaven. From trendy shopping centers, expensive upscale malls, restaurant and nightclubs and we were in search of FOOD. Food in Singapore is amazing because of its amazing melting pot of cultures. The types of food offered in Singapore are a fusion of Chinese, Indian, Malay and Western cuisines. Every shopping mall or center has a Hawker Stand or as we call it a food court.

SHREK2sAfter grabbing a bite to eat we decided to head over to watch Shrek 2 in the comforts of a cool air condition theatre and to avoid the heat and humidity that Singapore was offering us. We decided to watch the movie in a GV Gold Class at Great World City. For people who have not heard of Gold Class and are wondering what the heck is Gold Class? Friends you have never truly watched a movie until you have experienced Gold Class theatre. (See Pictures) What is Gold Class? (Check out Tabitha’s Experience of GV Gold Class in Bangkok) But sadly, as much as Singaporeans love their food and shopping, they are seem to love watching movies as much as we do. When we got to Great World City we found that all show times for Shrek 2 were sold out.

SharkA little disappointed we decided to head over to Sentosa Island (something like a resort area for Singaporeans and tourist to get some R&R – it has orchid gardens, beaches, resorts, spas, theme parks…) to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Underwater World and the Butterfly Garden. First let me say that I chickened out of my date of swimming with the sharks. If you saw how big the sharks were you would understand my fear. I would probably look like a huge American whopper to those sharks. (See Pictures) FISHHighlights here were probably the 83-meter long acrylic tunnel where you got to experience the creature of the deep and all that separated us was an inch of glass. It felt like we were in an aquarium bowl being watched by these great predators of the sea (all types of sharks and sting rays). Another first was the touch pool; sea horse and sea dragon exhibit were definitely worth the money.

Butterfly Garden – home to 2000 butterflies – and we managed to see a whopping 2 whole butterflies. We arrived at the garden around 6:00 and the people at the garden said that the butterflies were resting for the day. Stupid butterflies we fly half way around the world and they are sleeping (See Pictures). They do have a huge collection of beetles though.

CRABAfter a very tiring day flying in from San Francisco and island hopping we decided to call it a night and headed back to the hotel for a hot shower and a short nap. Made reservations to experience the local seafood delicacies. Our hotel concierge made reservation at “JUMBO Seafood at Boat Quay” another tourist location. My stomach and I made acquaintance with the famous Singaporean “Sri Lankan – Chilly Crab,” fresh river prawns and scallops. (See Pictures)

Day 2:
whaleWell we heard a lot about “Clark Quay” and it’s famous Sunday flea market. That was all it was a flea market. Not much to report from here are we were very disappointed. We then headed on to China-Town (See Pictures). We spent the rest of our day in China town buying a lot of stuff – Chinese paintings, good luck charms, cushion covers. Broke up the day by visiting a spa for a foot reflexology (getting my poor tired feet rubbed by some “dood”).

Returned back to the hotel and spent a lazy mid afternoon at the pool. After dinner it was off to one of the biggest seafood spots in Singapore called the East Coast Seafood Center. It has plenty of restaurants serving seafood. This time around I tried another Singaporean special – Pepper Crab. All in all this ranked much better than the Chilly Crab – but the Thai Crab curry still rocks my world (See Pictures).

Day 3:

MONKEYAfter a very disappointing second day we got up at the crack of dawn (too early for me). We went and visited the Singapore Zoo to have breakfast with the Orangutans (See Pictures). This was one of the highlights of my trip in Singapore. I just wish I could have touched the baby orangutan. (Don’t worry Marsha – I won’t kill the monkey) Thanks in part to the Animal Rights group we are just allowed to eat breakfast with them and take a picture but no touching. NO TOUCHING THE MONKEY PEOPLE. Since they share so much of their DNA with us we could actually give them our diseases and vice-versa. We also got close to a python. Note: Tabitha who is usually scared about pretty much anything wasn’t having a lot of fun having a python draped around her neck (See Pictures).

We were just going to have breakfast with the orangutans, but instead we spent the better part of the morning enjoying the Singapore Zoo. If you have little ones or are a little one at heart like me make sure you stop over at the Singapore Zoo. (Check out Tabitha’s experiences at the zoo).

After the zoo – we decided to visit my number one highlight of our trip to Singapore by visiting the Singapore Science Center newest exhibition and the only one of its kind in whole of South East Asia – “The Lord of the Rings Exhibition.” (See Pictures) I am not a very big fan of the movie but to actually see almost every costume and prop used in the movie was a very memorable experience the sad part being that you were not allowed to take any pictures inside. For those of you lucky to be in the Boston area around August 1st visit the exhibition there before it heads back to New Zealand.

1Some of the highlights from the exhibit:

Costumes – worn by the actual characters in the movie from Arwen, Aragorn, Legolas, Frodo, and Gandalf to name a few.
Arms and Armor – this was very neat to see the detail put into each armor even though in the movie you barely see few frames at the most. Arms and armor worn by every race in the movie from the humans, elves and the orcs. We even got to touch a couple elven weapons and human chain mail armor.
Models – I just can’t say enough about this exhibition. The full-scale detail models of the orcs, big blue cave troll was really impressive and mind blowing. There is even a model of Sauron.
If you are lucky enough to be in the Boston area in August and have enjoyed the trilogy then plan on visiting the Boston Science Museum as the exhibition will return back to New Zealand after it’s Boston tour and I am pretty sure the last time I checked Boston is a lot closer than New Zealand.

SlingOur last day in Singapore turned out to be a blast as we headed back towards our hotel we stopped over at the Merlion Park. (See Pictures)
We ended the evening with some shopping and visiting the Raffles Hotel for its famous Singapore Sling (Ingredients· 1 1/2 ounce gin · 1/2 ounce Cherry Herring brandy · 1/4 ounce Cointreau · 1/4 ounce Benedictine · 4 ounces pineapple juice · 1/2 ounce lime juice · 1/3 ounce grenadine · dash bitters).

For Bangkok highlights check Tabitha’s experiences or NEW PICTURES of our Bangkok Trip.

June 3, 2004 in Travel | Permalink