We started off flying into Singapore on Tuesday morning. The kids are pretty used to flying at this point, so the two hour flight went by quickly and we were happy it wasn't a full flight so we could easily sit together. Gotta love Air Asia's non-assigned seating!
Our highlights of Singapore:
We found an awesome children's science museum. It started pouring right after we checked into our hotel, so we were happy to have something indoors to visit! Jane did not mind the rain. She loved using the purple umbrella and walked and walked with it.
The metro in Singapore is awesome. VERY clean, cheap, extensive, and easy to use. We got around the city easily with the trains and busses. We were thankful to find this was all so cheap, because not much in Singapore is! Check out our tiny hotel room (I was standing with my back against the wall, and notice the closet is open). You'd feel sad if you knew what we paid for this little room, and apparently, it was a deal. But, the location was good, and it was clean. Plus, with our family right now, we can sleep almost anywhere. Plus, it keeps things interesting when you have to jump over the beds to get to the bathroom, right?
As you may know, Jack is a science nut, so of course, he loved the museum. Jane was really intimidated by the dinosaur exhibit. The ones inside move pretty realistically. She did NOT want pictures with them!
Jack was fascinated by this tornado. He's getting pulled in, can you tell? We loved that everything was in English, so we could actually read about things! Jack's favorite book right now is my textbook from my Natural Disasters class I'm taking. He brings it on long taxi rides and requested it for his bedtime story last night. Where did this kid come from?
Jane found an exhibit that was just her size, where she could look at mice and turtles. She just loved going in and out, and being able to touch the ceiling.
This museum was HUGE. We loved the exhibit on bodies. Jane was fascinated by the nose for some reason.
Jack's been working out...
Speaking of healthy bodies, are you familiar with Magnum bars? We were first introduced to them in Europe, but were thrilled to see that Asia has them too. Of course, they're much smaller in Thailand (as are a lot of things). We were shocked to find 4 different kinds, and they were the full European size in Singapore. Jeff was in heaven!
The main reason we wanted to come to Singapore to begin with is because of the zoo. Silly, I know, but we love watching Animal Planet, and it seems they talk about the Singapore zoo more than anyplace else! It was hard to miss a chance to go to one of the best zoos in the world! (Can I just not talk about how ragged I look in ALL of these pictures? In my defense, Jeff and I were sick for most of this trip, which made it a little rough. But, we did enjoy it, despite not having near the energy we are used to having.)
Aren't siblings great?
The foliage on the way to the zoo, as well as inside the zoo, was SO beautiful. They make the zoo as natural as possible, and it was very impressive with the way they did a lot of the exhibits with very few fences or bars.
The kids loved the animals, and we set Jack loose with the camera for most of the day. But, I'll just say that he's still learning about what kinds of things we actually want pictures of! He has a fascination with maps, and it was fun to have him navigate us through the zoo. He took his job pretty seriously. (don't you just love zebras? It's one of those few animals they don't change to make into a cartoon, like sea horses. They are fascinating exactly how they are!)
We ended at the playground, where we lost track of Jane for a minute, only to find her wading (with shoes on) in the waterplay part. Oops! It was nice after looking AT things all day, for the kids to actually play ON stuff.
After the zoo, we just had to do the Night Safari that we'd heard so many good things about. Jack is fascinated with nocturnal animals, and this was full of them. The highlight for me was going in the bat house. They have fruit tied to trees, and the bats are just in the trees, right by you! It was awesome to watch them flying all around you, eating, and watching you. Very cool. This was our only picture from the Night Safari because, well, I don't take pictures at night time. I don't have the camera and/or the skills for it! This was while we were waiting for the tram to take us around.
Jack feel asleep on the bus on the way home. He was sitting on the floor, and leaning against some strange guy's leg. Can I just say that the people in Singapore were not all that friendly? The friendliest people we met were the Indian tourists. Of course, westerners are never too friendly (let that be a lesson to us!), but as far as the Singaporeans, we were less than impressed, and it made us very homesick for our Thai people. Do we live in the best place in Asia? Definitely. Am I biased? Of course. But for us, I can't imagine any other place fitting us better.
We spent an entire day on Sentosa Island, just 500 meters off of Singapore. It's an entirely fabricated island, where they even brought in sand from Indonesia! They have resorts, beaches, and lots of activities! Our kids love the beach, so we spent a good part of our day there. The water was actually really dirty, so they mostly played in the sand.
Everything is synthetic or imported, so it just seemed like the Truman Show to me. We were just pretending, along with everyone else, to enjoy our "beach" vacation. Why was this so funny to me? It really was a beautiful place!
The tower I was standing on when I took this next picture is the southern most part of mainland Asia. It's the closest to the equator I've ever been! The kids loved the bridge.
The island was set up brilliantly with free busses and trams running contantly from one place to another.
We watched these peacocks for a long time. They were just casually walking between picnic tables and people.
We went to the Animal Encounter show, which ended up being a photo op with a parrot. Very cool. I was impressed that Jack didn't even hesitate to hold the parrot!
The whole concept was really fun, although most the activities cost a LOT of money! We were surprised what we found that was free though, so we still enjoyed ourselves (we're cheap, I know!), and chose to do ONE thing, and that was the cable car. It was beautiful. Especially if you didn't look at the part where they're building a huge Universal Studios. Finished structures can be beautiful and fascinating. Construction... not so much.
The Singaporean skyline was beautiful. I'll always be fascinated by the "big city" idea. Singapore is so small as a whole. Did you know it's illegal to chew gum in Singapore? Jack seems to make normal faces less and less now days. I wonder why?
Overall, we were really glad we went to Singapore. Everyone loves Singapore because it is so clean, very organized, very westernized, and everything "works", unlike Thailand where the sidewalks are broken, buildings are always waiting to be demolished, and things generally just don't run as smoothly. But, we learned something about ourselves. We didn't really like that Singapore was so westernized. We kept looking at each other and asking, "are we still in Asia?". I love places that just BUST with their unique culture. Thailand definitely does that. I felt like Hong Kong, although quite westernized, still had a very unique feel to it. Other cities with uniquness: Boston, New York, and San Francisco, and I'm a sucker for the smaller towns I went to in Holland, Austria, and Germany. Singapore seemed to be very ordinary to us. Maybe it's because it had been so talked up by all our expat friends here who really miss the western world, maybe it's because it was all so expensive, it made it a little hard to do everything we wanted, or maybe it's because we just weren't feeling well. We're still not sure, but one thing is for sure... we've never met anyone that feels this way! We just missed the culture of Thailand, the interaction of eating from street vendors, the smiles from 7-11 employees, and toothless grins from people as the children walk past. We missed the personal contact we get from absolute strangers every day here. Yes, it was clean and absolutely beautiful, and there was plenty to do, but we did not get attached to Singapore. If, by some small chance, we ever go back, I hope that we'll have a chance to attend church there and interact more with the people, and possibly have children old enough so we can go to some cultural shows or museums. I'm sure all of this would have helped us to understand and feel a little closer to this culture! A lesson we will carry on for our next trips!
So, goodbye Singapore! Thank you for letting us walk down your clean sidewalks and not have to jump over pot holes. Thank you for an impressive subway system. Thank you for a variety of Magnum bars (from Jeff), and thank you for three full days of places we've never been before!
From Singapore, we hopped on a bus to Malaysia... I don't think any place could have been more different! Pictures to come soon.