A Travellerspoint blog

Our Long Journey Home

Saturday, 12 April 2014

View 2014-03 Singapore on greynomadm's travel map.

This entry summarises the last three days and is the last of the blog for this outing.

Thursday, 10 April was 'check-out' time at our lovely hotel. We paid our bill at about 11:00 and took a taxi to Terminal 2 at Changi Airport. On the way out we were reminded again of how clean and well maintained the city is. Clipped lawns and colourful gardens lined both the sides and the median strip of the highway.

After checking our main baggage we spent some hours exploring both our departure terminal and Terminal 3 where we visited the Butterfly World display.

Found a place to eat and then sat waiting for the Departure Gate Lounge to open. The size of this Terminal, the number of Departure lounges and the distances between the main concourse and the furthermost gate are quite staggering. From one extreme to another is posted at over 45 minutes on the direction boards.

Our flight to Kuala Lumpur departed on time at 19:15 and was fully occupied for the 50 minute flight. At KL we had a three hour wait for our flight to Sydney. The airport is not as grand as Singapore's Changi but is nevertheless impressive. We spent most of the time watching the people wandering back and forth.

Friday, 11 April started with a midnight departure from KL for the long flight to Sydney. Our section of the cabin was scarcely half full and many passengers were able to lay down across two or three seats. I dozed off from time to time while Jenny kept an eye on the GPS display. By the time we arrived in Sydney at 09:00 we were both delighted to be able to stretch our legs. The process of collecting luggage, Immigration and Customs and Quarantine were painless and quite efficient. With nothing to declare we were whisked through without any delay.

We found the Murray's Coach stand in plenty of time for the 11:15 departure and precisely on time we were off on the three and a half hour trip to Canberra. Arrived as scheduled at 14:30 and met up with Natalie for our transfer to our car in Queanbeyan. A short stop for a chat and a coffee and we left just after 16:00.

The drive down the Kings Highway was uneventful until we started the decent down the Clyde. At this most tricky part of the trip we were hit by a most impressive rain storm. Traffic sensibly slowed down and the rain eased off about the time we reached Nelligen. Called in at Batemans Bay for a comfort stop and some essential groceries. We arrived home rather whacked at about 19:15 and after a quick snack we hit the cot.

Saturday, 12 April saw us sleep in until about 08:00. There was a small pile of mail to read and process and I caught up with my emails. A quick visit with the 'old bloke down the road' and met our new neighbour. Lunch and spent most of the afternoon updating the computers and catching up with this blog and the photos taken at Changi.

The latest images are at my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-10, at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-11 and http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-12.

Thanks for following this tale and will let you know when we take off again.

Cheers and goodbye ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 00:07 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Bugis St, Singapore

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A more relaxed day today as we followed an advertisement in the guide book and visited Bugis St. We arrived there at about 09:00 and realised that only the food stalls were in operation. Re-reading the advertisement we notice that the 'official' opening hours were 11:00 to 23:00. Anyway, the absence of crowds provided us with an opportunity to see the place. It was difficult to summarise the place, from the low end food courts and fresh produce markets, the gaudy Buddhist gold and red knickknacks to seriously up-market clothing stores and eateries. We wandered about without any real goal until just after noon when we made our way back to the hotel.

The next significant task was to find and acquire a set of studs for the dress shirt we'd ordered. I'd given up hope but Jenny insisted and she was right, again. We found them in the men's accessories part of a proper department store, a rare establishment in this part of Singapore. I've always been frightened away by the exclusive brand names and the frightfully formal sales staff.

At 14:00 we had an appointment with the tailor for a fitting. It was a bit of a struggle with all the stiff new button holes but eventually I was all dressed. The shirts fit perfectly as did the jacket but I felt that the trousers were too snug in the waist with no adjustment to a larger girth. There was an allowance for me to drop my waist size but that likelihood has little chance of eventuating. As soon as I dropped the trousers and mentioned that they felt tight, the tailor started unpicking the seams to let it out. We could have stayed there but we took up his offer to have the adjusted outfit delivered to the hotel.

Spent what was left of the afternoon resting in the comfort of the hotel. Today was probably the hottest day we'd encountered and while the stores and malls were cool, we did have to walk in the open occasionally. It is quite remarkable how much vegetation lines the streets taking the edge off the direct sun.

When the sun had gone down we got up and visited the shops along Tanglin Road where we picked up some provisions for tomorrow's breakfast. When we returned to the hotel we found our tailor made suit in our room. Spent the next hour or so trying on the whole outfit, pretty swish if I say so myself. Now all I need is a beard trim and some fancy dress shoes to make the image complete. There's a lot of truth in the expression "Clothes maketh the man !!"

Last job to tonight is to visit the lobby and post this blog and today's image at my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-09.
Tomorrow we leave the hotel and spend the afternoon at the airport, flying out at 19:00. We'll be in the air or airports until the early hours of Friday. Will post a retrospective update when we get home. Singapore is no longer an inexpensive destination but it is a most pleasant place to visit.

Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 06:42 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Another Amazing Day

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

View 2014-03 Singapore on greynomadm's travel map.

Up relatively early today and after a quick breakfast in our room we made for the Orchard MRT station at about 07:30. We travelled to the Boon Lay MRT Station via about 15 stations and a change of line and then an express bus to the Jurong Bird Park, arriving there about 09:00. By the time we walked to the entrance, oriented ourselves after a few false starts we found our way to the 10:00 show of the Falconers. There were also owls and vultures on display. A well conducted and most interesting display. Next stop was the 11:00 display in the Pool Amphitheatre where a number of colourful and very clever birds kept us entertained. I managed to capture a few minutes of video and one or two reasonable still shots.

We completed the circuit of the park walking in and out of some huge aviaries and seeing many girds without the intrusion of wire netting. There was an impressive variety of birds in appropriately sized cages and all appeared to be well looked after. I was surprised at the shear number and varieties of pelicans. There was also a large collection of flamingos who like the pelicans appeared unrestrained. It was close to 14:00 by the time we left the park and made our way back to the MRT on the #194 bus.

With a minimum of fuss we rode the trains to "Little India". I was impressed by the good manners of many of the young people who offered up their seats for older passengers. The whole system, trains, stations and signage operates very efficiently and moves a LOT of people quickly and in air-conditioned comfort for no more than $2.40 per one-way trip. As good as any we've travelled on.

Little India was a slightly different experience to Chinatown with a overwhelming emphases on colourful saris, materials and children's clothing in a bewildering array of colours and styles. There was also a reasonable selection of fresh produce and off course the GOLD jewelry. We managed to restrain ourselves, limiting our purchases to a meal, a 'batik' shirt for me and a colourful pair of pants for Jenny. It was close to 16:00 as we rode the MRT back to Orchard Station.

On our walk back to the hotel we passed the jewelry store where we were due to pick up Jenny's re-sized ring tomorrow. We were spotted by Mr Super Salesman who beckoned us in as the ring was ready now. Fits Jenny's finger perfectly. Back to the hotel to unwind and cool off. Decided to repeat last night's walk to the food court for dinner. Stepped outside and found that it was raining with the threat of thunder in the air. We turned chicken and settled for a McDonald's which was less than half a block away. I had a McSpicy burger which was very tasty, Jenny stuck with the Filet'O'Fish.

Back in the hotel by 19:00 and it was great to sit down and write up the day's events.

I'll try to upload this and an image of a 'Toucan' to my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-08
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 04:52 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Singapore Attractions

Monday, 7 April 2014

View 2014-03 Singapore on greynomadm's travel map.

After uploading yesterday's image and blog we walked along Tanglin Rd and found an extensive Supermarket where we picked up some essential supplies. We didn't need any rocking to sleep after we returned to the hotel. The bed was comfortable, there was no noise and we slept through to about 07:00.

We set off just after 09:00 and walked to the Orchard MRT station. Bought two 2-day rail/bus passes and used them to travel to "Gardens by the Bay" an extensive and magnificent garden complex with many environmentally sustainable features. After wandering through the general park area we bought tickets to visit the "Flower Dome" and the "Cloud Forest". Both venues housed in huge climate-controlled domes. The Flower Dome contains plant from the Mediterranean climates and includes huge thousand year old olive trees, palms and baobabs. We walked around there for the best part of two hours - completely enthralled.

Next we entered the Cloud Forest dome where we were greeted by the spray from the 35 metre man-made waterfall. We continued to ascend to higher and higher levels and traversed the network of walkways up above the trees. On the way down there were a number of halls where the impact of rising global temperatures were graphically presented. Jenny commented that Tony Abbott should visit here for a "lesson". By the time we'd found our way back to the surface we decided that $4 spent on a shuttle ride was a good investment. An awesome experience and one of the very best attractions we've ever visited. Pity their "Seniors Discount" only applies to local residents - proof of residence IS required.

Back on the MRT to Chinatown and after some initial confusion - I took the wrong exit from the station - we found the jewellery store we'd visited in 2010. Spent some time looking at rings and walked away. I bought a replacement gorilla-pod for the camera and escaped to the food court for lunch. Along the way I also replaced a pair of sandals that were showing signs of serious wear. Ate some of the cheapest dished in Singapore but I'm almost convinced I was charged more than the locals. I was intrigued by the length of the queue at one stall in particular. Didn't get to work out the attraction.

With a large measure of luck we managed to find our way back to the MRT Station.

Back to "Orchard" station and we were forced back to the surface for the three blocks back to the hotel. Along the way we were enticed by a "75% Discount" sign at a huge Jewellery store. Jenny scanned the display window while a very smooth Asian Gentleman made polite conversation. He quickly recognised that Jenny had selected a Ruby and Diamond Gold Ring. Quick as a flash he had us inside and seated. There were at least 15 staff inside and no other customers. We'd established that he was the store manager and I had a credit card !! Numbers flashed across the calculator screen and we were presented with an incredible figure. Then he took off the GST and converted to AU$ and the number still looked a bargain so I pulled out the credit card. Smooth as silk we were offered chilled water and the size of the ring was discussed. While we waited for the credit card slip to be returned he conjured up a set of matching ear-rings at a ridiculously low price. Explained away by telling us he was allowing for a pre-stocktake sale due at the end of April. Long story short, we added the ear-rings to the invoice. His next trick was to trot out a fantastic matching bracelet but this time Jenny held firm. He reluctantly agreed it would be easier to sell ice to the Eskimos. We pick up the re-sized ring on Wednesday.

After a short rest we walked to the supermarket we'd found last night to buy my fruit ration and have a quick meal in the food court.

I'll try to upload this lot tonight and a picture from the Cloud Forest dome at my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-07
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 05:34 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)


Sunday, 6 April 2014

View 2014-03 Singapore on greynomadm's travel map.

This morning we awoke in the bustling port of Singapore. This was our disembarkation point and sadly we bid goodbye to the wonderful Ocean Princess. We arranged to collect our luggage at 09:30 and spent the two hours in the VIP (Platinum & Elite) departure lounge. There was quite a queue as we were individually processed through Immigration, some people spent a lot more time than we did. After we collected our baggage we joined another queue as we were passed through a scanning station - first time we've been scanned on the way in !! Tried to withdraw some local currency but the ATM reported a system error at my bank so resorted to using the money changer to convert som US$ to Sing$. Yet another queue as we lined up for a taxi to our hotel. I suspect that the presence of another cruise ship and the fact that it was Sunday added to the congestion.

We arrived at the hotel by about 10:15 with the official check-in time being 14:00 we contemplated a lengthy wait. We were offered an early check in for an additional fee, I was happy to pay so that we could get out of the clothes we'd been wearing since yesterday afternoon. The room is very classy and very quiet. In-room WiFi is charged at $28 per 24 hours, but the WiFi in the lobby is free. No prize for guessing which option I've chosen. We walked down Orchard Rd to one of many shopping malls to find an ATM that was prepared to spit out some money for me. I know the card and pin worked but not totally sure which account has been debited.

Walked into another mall looking for a food outlet and we were accosted by an Indian tailor. It so happened that we'd discussed a tuxedo for me but had no idea how much they would cost. He calculated around $1000 for the full outfit ready on Wednesday. Sounded a bit expensive to me and Jenny wasn't totally happy, we left to consider another option. In a matter of minutes we were in a Chinese tailor shop. His quote was $600 for roughly the same outfit, this went up a bit when I asked for a second shirt and with pleated front rather than plain. Final fitting is 12:00 on Wednesday. The last time I has tailor-made clothes was in 1964 when I graduated from OCS.

A bit further along we found a food court that provided lots of options and a slightly up-market atmosphere. We spent quite some time watching the cooks preparing the food. We wandered through a range of shops, malls and underground connections to surface finally on the correct side of Orchard Rd with just three blocks back to our hotel.

The lazy habits from the cruise ship has infected us and we've reclined for an hour or two. We plan to go for a walk and pickup a light meal when the sun goes down. I'll try to upload this before we go out and I'll report on tonight's outing in tomorrow's blog.

I'll upload an image from the ION Orchard Food Court. You'll find it on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-06
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 03:09 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

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