Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lions and Tigers and ... Turkey - Thanksgiving in Singapore

With four days off for Thanksgiving Erin and I decided to see Singapore over the long holiday weekend. Flying out Thursday morning we arrived to our modest hotel that afternoon and were soon out exploring the city. Our first stop was the famous Raffles Hotel and Long Bar where the Singapore Sling cocktail was originally concocted. The hotel and bar exuded a British Colonial style along with a tradition of leaving peanut shells on the floor.

From there we went to a Thanksgiving buffet put on by a brewery/restaurant on the Riverfront area. It was nice to get some turkey and stuffing, but the buffet style and confused service limited our enthusiasm for the place. Maybe finding the perfect Thanksgiving dinner in a former British colony in South-East Asia is asking a bit too much... We finished off the evening with a river cruise that described some of the history of the sites we saw up and down the river. It was nice to get a feel for some of the history of the city while taking in the splendid night skyline.

The next morning we were up early for breakfast out at the zoo. After a long ride on subway and bus we arrived just in time for our breakfast with orangutans. In an open-air dining area we got a typical breakfast buffet while animal handlers brought out orangutans, cockatoos and boa constrictor to join us. We were able to hold the snake and get pictures with the animals before finishing our meal and heading out to the rest of the zoo.

The Singapore zoo is truly one of the best in the world. It's been a while since I've been to the San Diego Zoo, but I would say this one was better. The main reason was because animal enclosures were created in the most natural way possible and even gave direct access to some of the animals. Highlights included a sea lion show where we were close enough to get wet; seeing various types of monkeys get fed; an Australian Outback exhibit where a walabi came up close enough to touch; and an enclosed area with freely-roaming lemurs, deer-mice, parrots, and butterflies. It's only drawback is the long time it takes to get there and back to the city.

It was mid-afternoon by the time we got back so we relaxed some and got cleaned up before going out to dinner at the fancy "Coriander Leaf" hotel back on the Riverfront. While the meal was decent and our server was nervous at times the real treat was the wine-pairing that accompanied each course. The wines were exceptional and almost justified the high price of the meal.

On Saturday we slept in a bit before going out for brunch near Chinatown. PS Cafe on Ann Siang was a wonderful place to sit back, read a paper, and enjoy the amazingly delicious food. It was a great way to start the day. From there we went out to Sentosa Island by way of cable car. While the views from the ride were nice, we met with disappointment once we arrived. The ride we wanted to do was booked for the day, it was hot outside, and everything else looked cheesy. We confirmed this suspicion with two cinema experiences: a hokey, water-in-your-face, bumpy show about pirates and a nausea-inducing, poor-video "log ride".  After sulking in the mall a bit we made our way to the Botanical Gardens.

Erin and I have discovered something paradoxical in our travels. We like to visit and stay in big cities, but once we're there we enjoy seeking out the natural, open spaces of parks, gardens, and wilderness. After walking around the gardens we were feeling much better and even made some friends from Louisiana along the way. The highlight was the National Orchid Gardens with thousands of beautiful orchids in a variety of settings. We would have spent more time in the gardens but we had to get to dinner. After a delicious Italian dinner along the river we were heading back out to the zoo area.

Right next to the zoo is a night safari that many people recommended. With many animals being nocturnal it was a wonderful chance to see them up and about. While not as good as the zoo, the night safari provided plenty of highlights as well including a tram ride where you could potentially reach out and touch several animals; a bat enclosure with bats flying inches from your face; and the chance to see a variety of animals that only come out at night.

After arriving back to our hotel late the night before we were exhausted on Sunday. We had time to get some breakfast and walk around Little India before grabbing our stuff and heading out to the airport. Leaving at 2pm with stops in Bangkok and Hong Kong we didn't get back home until midnight.

Even with only four days I feel like we got to see a good portion of Singapore. We're both fairly sore from all the walking and tired from the hectic pace, but we had a great time and would love to visit Singapore again in the future... how else will we see all the parks and nature reserves that we missed.

1 comment:

  1. The zoo sounds really cool! Maybe you have to be 21 in order to appreciate Sentosa. :) I'm not sure I would enjoy it much now. [posted by: Amy]