Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 25: Singapore Day 2

We didn't bother to set our alarm this morning, as we know ourselves well enough to know we wouldn't get up early anyways. So we missed breakfast and slept until housekeeping came a knockin' at 10 a.m. Note to self: Actually use the Do Not Disturb door hang in the future. At any rate it kept us from sleeping until noon, which we have been known to do on occasion.

It was closer to lunch time than breakfast and we had a major hankering for Middle Eastern food. I think our sickness of Asian food is manifesting itself as cravings for every other type of food on Earth. We are lovers of all food, we don't discriminate!

Arab Street was within easy walking distance of our hostel so we hoofed it there and planned to go to the first decent looking restaurant we saw. And did we hit the jackpot! The first Middle Eastern restaurant we found was completely empty - Ramadan remember - so we got immediate and good service.

We made our own meze with hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh and chicken kebabs with fragrant Arabic rice, which surprisingly and deliciously came with a brown gravy. It was all amazing and we ate ourselves silly. It's lucky the waitress sat us down at a table for 4, since our food would NOT have fit on a table for 2. How embarrassing is that?!

The restaurant service in both KL and Singapore have been a welcomed change from the horrendous, crap service in Cambodia and Vietnam. I love these cities - they get stuff DONE!

We set off into the city to see some sights and walked by the Raffles Hotel, which apparently is THE hotel in Singapore. It's a very swank place, and I think invented the Singapore Sling drink. At the very least ordering one there is a big tourist thing to do, but at $26 SGD ($19 USD) I could not bring myself to stop for one. It is a personal rule not to drink alcohol that costs less in ridiculously overpriced Norway. I will order one somewhere more reasonable in honor of our time in Singapore later.

By this time we had walked through a lot of the city and Marv was dying from the heat. So we took ourselves underground to the metro to get to our next stop, the banks of the Singapore River. It was magnificently cooler there so we could actually spend some time hanging out. This sign is at one of the river bridges, which I think is funny. It's the original sign, too.

The official "animal" of Singapore is the merlion (think mermaid), half-fish, half-lion and there's a big statue of one at the waters edge spitting a stream into the river. The cool spray from the merlion felt amazing, and we enjoyed a fruity Starbucks drink near it. Singapore has Starbucks! This place just keeps getting better.

The heat was unbearable by this point so we went back to the hostel to relax and cool off until our next tourist event of the day, the night safari. As you can gather from the name this is an animal viewing safari that's held after dark. There are all sorts of huge Asian and African animals, which can be viewed both from a trolley and from walking trails.

It was raining quite heavily most of the time we were there but that actually turned out to be a good thing. We first took the 40-minute trolley ride to see the (not free roaming) animals. We couldn't use flash photography, which was blatantly ignored by several asshole tourists who were told REPEATEDLY told not to use flash, so we didn't get any usable shots from that distance.

After the trolley ride we set out on the walking trails, which were pretty much deserted because of the rain. I have read really mixed reviews about the night safari, with most gripes coming from the fact that the trails are wildly overcrowded with tourists. I had my trusty $5 Old Navy raincoat and an umbrella so we were happy and dry on the trails, with some really cool close-up views of animals.

There was a tiger who had just eaten laying right on the other side of the barrier glass, who was so stuffed that all he could do was lay there and pant. Which is how I like to live my life; He was a tiger of my own heart. Because he was so close we did get a half decent shot of him (no flash, of course). This is the only decent shot we got from the entire evening at the safari. It was really fun and cool to see all the animals (some were quite close up), and I think the key to an enjoyable night safari visit is to go when it's raining - fewer asshole tourists clogging everything up!

We hadn't eaten dinner before our 6:30 p.m. departure for the safari so we gritted our teeth and paid the ridiculous price for a burger, fries and beer there. It was all surprisingly tasty, though I was perplexed by the cup of salsa served with the fries - no ketchup in sight. I will file that one under "unique cultural dining experience".

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