Done and ticked off the list, but not without a naughty electronic purchase...!
Thu 8 Mar 12
A little more wandering I've done, and some brighter pictures of Singapore I certainly have :o) But first of all - the zoo! Singapore has a normal (daytime) zoo and also operates a 'Night Safari'. The two are next to each other but have different enclosures and (I think) different animals.
As it's out of town, I wasn't entirely sure how well I would be able to navigate my way there via both trains and buses. Buses are hard enough to navigate in England when you don't know where you're going... But shame on me for doubting the Singaporean public transport system! As it turns out, it was dead easy. The train took me to Ang Mo Kio where it was a short walk to the Bus Interchange. The terminal itself had six berths, each of which had individual lines for the 2-3 buses that arrive into that berth. Not only was it all incredibly well signposted (the line for bus 138 was marked Singapore Zoo), but there were screens telling you what time the buses were due to arrive. And, of course, as if I should've expected anything less, the bus turned up dead on time. There were even timetables available once you got on the bus to show you all the stops on the route, so you can figure out where you are and how long you have left to go! Public transport, done properly.
The journey to the zoo was pretty interesting - it's much less touristy and you can see 'real' Singapore - made up mostly of tower blocks to contain the expanding population. It's also very rural - and the scenery became more rainforest-like the further we went from the city. The zoo itself was very good - some enclosures were a bit small (as always), but there were some excellent areas like the Primate Kingdom. Here, monkeys are practically running free on their own little island, and the Orangutans have an almost entirely open 'treetop playground'.
The zoo also has an excellent enclosed rainforest area with exotic plants, free-flying fruit bats, and ring-tailed lemurs that got so close you could touch them! Of course, being a bit animal mad, I got totally trigger happy and ended up with about 300 pics of animals... Here's just a few more:
The Night Safari was amazing. No pics of that unfortunately, as it was too dark. You can take a tram around the largest enclosures - only separated by moats and ditches from most of the animals. Some of them, like the deer and tapirs come really close to the road. There's also four walking trails around the park, which take you to some smaller enclosures (and animals) and gets you a closer view of some of the animals on the tram journey - I was only a ditch away from hyenas and sloth bears, and really felt like I was in their territory! The lions were having a few arguments over their dinner when I got to them, which was really great to see. I saw a flying squirrel actually 'fly' and they had another bat enclosure with bats flying all around (although too quickly to really get a good look at them). It was really cool seeing all the nocturnal animals doing stuff rather than sleeping - definitely worth checking out if you're ever in Singapore!
Before I left Singapore I took a short walk down the road from the hostel to the Maxwell Food Centre, one of the recommended hawker centres in the city guide I've got. Packed full of eateries, I made straight for a recommended stall (Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice) for what I'd read was their "deservedly legendary" Chicken Fried Rice. Sadly, I didn't agree with the review. Maybe it's just my Western tastes, but the chicken was steamed (so kinda slimy) and the whole chickens were just chopped roughly and thrown onto a mound of rice, leaving you with whole wings and bony bits. Not my idea of appetising... Have a look and you'll see the chickens just hanging around in the window...
Nevertheless, it was lunch, and what I needed to keep me going until the flight. The walk to the food centre also gave me a good opportunity to get a few more snaps of Singapore, and the mix between old and new within the city.
As for my naughty purchase, I've now got a pretty new HP Mini - much lighter than my old Dell Laptop, and much more travel-friendly. Thanks to cheap Singapore electronics (and James - for giving me the nudge I needed on my earlier blog!). Next stop... Melbourne!!