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Singapore flyer

Singapore flyer view
We’ve been to Singapore several times now, and we’ve done most of the touristy things – on this trip, we decided to go on the Singapore Flyer ferris wheel. Funny story, we had just been shopping and were carrying around a large wooden box full of sharp steak knives, which somehow made it past Flyer security. And the hazy views of this busy, beautiful city were worth it.

Operation: Get Visa In Singapore II

Because our visas ran out while we were in Canada, we had to turn around and make another trip to Singapore as soon as we got home. Now, I cannot believe that I have reached a point in my life where taking a trip to Singapore seems humdrum and exhausting rather than exotic and thrilling… but I have. It was not a touristy trip, and in fact, we scheduled a bunch of work/personal appointments for the few days we were there, meaning we spent the bulk of our time at the bank, embassy or doctor, or waiting to go to the bank, embassy or doctor, or on our way back from the bank, embassy or doctor.

Still, we enjoyed it as best we could: room service, TV channels, swimming pool, great restaurants and shopping nearby. We stayed at the same hotel as last time, and made a point of paying for access to the executive lounge – this is the traveling secret we’ve learned. For only a few extra dollars, the executive level at hotels means you get free food and drinks, free internet, and little perks like movie rentals and extra yummy snacks. It’s totally worth it.

One night we ate dinner at our now-favourite Mexican food restaurant. It is quite literally the only restaurant in the world where the kids eat everything on their plates. It’s a miracle! They also have yummy sangria with apples in it. For lunch another time, we ate at a marché-style place and had the best fig/goat cheese salad on a piece of bread ever. That description really does not do it justice, I swear. Otherwise, we spent our little bit of free time shopping, picking up some life essentials like a milk steamer, a new coffee grinder, Star Trek novellas, a Hello Kitty cross stitching kit, and ukulele song books. Can you guess who got what?

The only touristy things we managed to do were to visit the Raffles Hotel and take a ride on the Singapore Flyer. The hotel was beautiful, and I had been hoping to buy some souvenirs at the shopping galleries within, but J had a knock-em-down-drag-em-out cry fest in the middle of the place so we had to ditch. It was expensive anyway, so no huge loss. The flyer was pretty cool. The kids loved it, although I’m not so sure the folks sharing the capsule with us enjoyed their enthusiasm as much.

So anyway, now we’re back to real life… again!

Singapore – part 3

Well, friends, it only took me a week, but here are the final photos as promised! We spent our last day in Singapore visiting the Gardens by the Bay. It’s a relatively new attraction there, and from what we could tell, every cab driver in the city must have been getting kickbacks for recommending it to visitors.

The gardens featured two huge indoor conservatories: Cloud Forest, a man-made mountain/waterfall/forest, and Flower Dome, a collection of plants from around the world. There’s just something about asia and miniaturizing things. But we love you for it, so don’t stop!

There was also an enormous outdoor component, with more world species and gardens, but we didn’t get that far. We also didn’t get a chance to do the skywalk between a cluster of huge light-up trees. This is the problem with travelling with your kids. But we love them, too, I guess.

After the gardens, we spent the evening deciding where to to eat dinner. We settled on a “Marché” restuarant, where you can have food made fresh in front of you. It was really neat – you get a debit-style card when you come in, and you wander around to all the stalls (like, crepes, bbq, pasta, salads, fresh juice, etc.) and you “buy” whatever you want on the card, then just pay it all off at the end of your meal. The only problem was that we ended up taking turns waiting in different lineups, first for the kids’ food, then for ours, so we never really got to sit at the table together. It would have been good on a less busy night. After dinner, B miraculously found size 13 running shoes in the mall nearby. The only pair on the whole island, probably!

And thus ended our Singapore adventure. Check out the gallery:

 

Singapore – part 2

Here it is, the much-anticipated second part of our Singapore trip.

On Day 2, we spent the morning trying to open a bank account. This was complicated by the fact that we weren’t exactly sure how to do this. First, we google mapped the bank we wanted to visit and found a location reasonably close to the hotel. So we took off early in the morning, thinking we could get ‘er done quickly and head to the zoo afterwards.

Yeah.

After we wandered up and down a few back alleys, we realized that the bank we found online must have been run out of someone’s basement or something. It was not there. Back at the hotel, I made a list of all the branches in the city. But which one to visit? Your guess was as good as mine. I guessed wrong.

After a few taxi rides back and forth, we ended up at the right location, just minutes away from the hotel (the other way). We milled around in the lobby for a while, being passed off between staff members who were trying to figure out what we wanted, until we said the magic word “offshore account.” Ah-ha! Suddenly we were whisked away to an elevator in the back that took us to the magic rich peoples’ floor, where we were offered tea and snacks and talked through the relatively simple process of opening a “gold-level” account. Hooray! It was all very fancy and satisfying.

Meanwhile, we headed out for lunch (while our personalized account cards were being embossed). It broke my heart to pass up the awesome dim sum place we saw, but we found a choose-your-own sushi kiosk instead. LittleB’s had salmon sashimi and cucumbers, and ours had salmon sashimi, avocadoes, tempura onions, sweet thai chili sauce and dried apricots. It was fantastic! And the sweet old cleaner man in the mall food court saw me stash away the beautiful boxes and gave me another one to keep. It was funny.

Choose-your-own sushi rolls. Yum!

After our relatively successful bank outing, we headed to the Night Safari for the evening. It was basically a zoo, but all the animals were either nocturnal or more active at night. We saw the usual suspects (elephants, lions, tigers, hippos) but there were a ton of interesting malaysian and south asian animals. Here are some highlights:

-We saw the malayan tiger being fed. It was huge and terrifying, until the keeper accidentally threw a hunk of meat into the dirty pond and the tiger was so indignant it made me think of Hobbes.

-There was a free-flying fruit bat cage, where you could walk through and see them eating. They were huge. It was awesome.

-We saw a group of asian otters who were begging for food and following us around. Their annoying screams are still ringing in my ears.

-Best of all, the “creatures of the night” show featured a number of exotic nocturnal animals. The headliner? A couple of raccoons. B and I killed ourselves laughing.

I don’t have many pictures because it was night, but here they are. Enjoy!

Here are the kids at the entrance to the Safari, waiting for the fire-dancing show to start.
And the show. This makes it look way more exciting than it was. It was just a bunch of teenagers walking around looking bored and dancing to embarrassing 90s-style tribal pop. Something made me think the “traditional” interpretation about this was pretty loose.
Waiting for the “Creatures of the Night” show to start. LittleB was just practicing, I guess.
A cool underground cavern in the Australia section of the safari. It was one of few places well-lit enough to get a photo.
The only animal shot I got – a sugar glider squirrel. The kids loved these things, and they now feature in every game of animal 20 questions we play (and we play it a lot!).
The kids with a stuffed cassowary and some bones. They just like the skeletons. I don’t know why we bother coming to the live animal shows.

Singapore – part 1

indoor fountain

We’re back from our mini-vacation to Singapore!

It was a busy few days, but we managed to pack a whole summer’s worth of activity into four days, since we didn’t get the chance to take any summer holidays this year. (Other than, you know, the whole moving to an exotic country thing.)

This is going to be a multi-parter, since I don’t have the stamina to upload all the pictures in one go. So, here are days 1 and 2 of our adventure:

We arrived on Wednesday night and checked into the hotel. It was a lovely suite-style room, and the hotel was nice enough to upgrade us for the whole time we stayed. So we got to enjoy the executive lounge and all the free snack foods and drinks that came with it! See the following obligatory hotel room photos:

The bedroom part of the suite. A nice king bed – although it certainly seemed smaller with three of us sleeping in it! (J took the middle.)
Hotel bathroom. For once, we did not feel obligated to steal all the tiny shampoos. I think we’ve finally become adults. *sniff*
The “suite” part of the suite. You can also see the typical caya family evening: no pants, headed straight to the tv (we’ve been here all of 5 minutes at this point). We’re classy folk.
The hotel even gave us tiny bathrobes and slippers! The kids were so excited.
B, however, was far less excited about the slippers *he* got.
And… the executive lounge. I was in here enjoying “high tea” – basically a strange assortment of tiny sandwiches and colourful gelatinous desserts. But the tea was good.

On Thursday, we needed to take care of the administrative things that actually brought us to Singapore. So, we headed to the Indonesian Embassy for our visas, then spent the day wandering around Orchard Road and shopping. We didn’t do a lot of shopping, because Orchard Road is the expensive, gucci-prada kind of area. But we did manage to buy a breakmaker (yes, mom, a Zojirushi!), and we saw plenty of nifty stores and fancy restaurants. The malls there were hard to navigate, because they go up instead of out. We would be way up on the 6th floor or way below on the B2 level and still have more stores to see. It was crazy!

indoor fountain
Many of the malls have interconnecting tunnels, and this fountain was in a particularly cavernous area of one of them.
The Singapore Grand Prix is next weekend, so there were a lot of race cars on display. This one was at the TagHeuer store.

We capped off our first day with a really great meal at a mexican place. Yes, I know, we went all the way to asia to eat mexican, but it was the only place LittleB could eat. In fact, I think it was the first time he has eaten a whole meal since we left Canada!

Full bellies = happy kids.

Stay tuned for a bunch of pictures from the Night Safari and the Gardens by the Bay!

Operation: Singapore

Damn kids.
Damn kids.
I spent weeks building a 1/2000 scale replica of the city skyline solely for this one blog post, but the kids wrecked it, so here’s a crummy “picture”. Bah.

Tomorrow we’re heading for Singapore.

I know what you’re thinking: wow, the Cayas have only been in Indonesia for three weeks, and they’re already so sick of it they’re moving to another country? Well, shame on you for thinking that. I mean, didn’t you read the title? Damnit, it said it right in the title: we’re just going to get our Visas. Jeez. We even came up with a secret “codename” and all.

So we landed here in Indonesia on Visas-on-arrival, with the full knowledge that we’d need to leave the country again to get our more “permanent” visas. Apparently, this happens all the time. What it means, in our case, is we get to head out to Singapore, head to the Indonesian embassy to get our visa stuff worked out, then spend 4 days living it up in “The Fine Country” (I didn’t make that up, that’s apparently Singapore’s unofficial nickname).

Tomorrow promises to be a ridiculous day, though. Up at the usual crack of dawn, get the kids to school then off to see potentially our new landlord and get a housing contract to look over, then pick the kids up from school, then drive through hell and back (“Hell”, in this case, being traffic from Bogor to Jakarta) to get to the airport by 5pm.

We’re definitely looking forward to it. With all the hassle of moving to Indonesia and all the hoops we had to jump through to get that done on time and in an orderly fashion, we really didn’t get a vacation this year. S’s work is paying for 2 nights stay (as part of the whole “getting a visa” process), and we’re springing for the other 2 nights. What is HILARIOUS, however, is that we are going to Singapore, but staying at….  yep, you guessed it: a Holiday Inn.

A Holiday Inn that charges $600/night.

Yeah, I don’t get it either. Apparently, S’s work booked us for a suite of some sort (which explains $300 of the $600 price tag), and for the other two nights (on our dime), we happily downgraded our room to something a little less than “2 nights at a hotel that costs an entire month’s rent”-ish.

I did suggest that we stay at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, which is world famous for its rooftop swimming pool. S thought it was a pretty cool idea. Then I showed her the picture of the rooftop pool:

I bet this guy regretted going on the new "1200AD: The Earth Is Flat" ride at Disney World."
“Yeah honey, I’m just going to swim over this way for a seconDOHMYGODI’MGOINGTODIE”

… apparently, I’m not allowed making hotel suggestions anymore.

Anyways, we’re definitely looking forward to heading out tomorrow! I’m sure we’ll have lots of pictures, because you know us: we’re certainly good at taking lots of pictures, and not at all the opposite, despite the litany of evidence that proves otherwise.

-B