We caught a taxi to Singapore Zoo this morning to have breakfast with the orang-utans. The first tip we have to offer is that while our concierge said we didn’t need to make a booking, when we arrived at the café, they were surprised that we hadn’t made one. I would definitely do that next time – especially if going on the weekend. Lucky for us it was a Wednesday, and the maître d’ liked our smile, so we had excellent seats, right on the edge where the orang-utans would feast (we were also there fairly early, so that helped!)
They have this amazing construction of tree top rope bridges that allow the orang-utans to traverse from their enclosure to the feeding spot. What gives them final access is a dead tree whose pivot point is in the ground and is pushed across like a drawbridge to allow them to shimmy down to the feeding spot. Very clever.
And they certainly know the routine. The stars of breakfast the morning we were there, were the juveniles – one who cheekily teased the bird on the bench, and the other who was coming to terms with moving those arms and legs to get about independently of mum. There was also a terribly cute little one who clung to his mother for most of the morning. Such characters! It was good to hear that different orang-utans are used for this every day, and if any show any sign of tiring of the humans, they are whisked out of there immediately.
After breakfast (which for us, by the way, was a huge buffet to cater to every possible taste – Nic was happy with another curry vegetables for brekky!), we explored the zoo at our own pace, very pleased to have made the decision not to go with a tour company, and instead catch taxis to and from. Quite reasonable in price, really. We saw a bit of an elephant show, which had them doing things like moving logs, squirting water at the audience, and tricks that made them appear smarter than their ‘beloved mahouts,’ and made fun of these ‘inferior humans.’
Other highlights of the zoo for us were the white tigers (which are really more the colour of Siamese cats, rather than a true white), ALL of the monkey/primate groups, from the cutest little spider monkeys to the chimpanzees, and the jaguar – he was mighty fine!
We caught a taxi back to the city and decided to eat at the Dragon Phoenix Chinese restaurant in the hotel. Absolutely delicious, simple flavours of pure vegetables drizzled with a very yummy garlic sauce. Just what the doctor ordered. After lunch we caught another taxi to the Botanic Gardens, and lost ourselves in their perfect beauty for a few hours. The ginger garden was garishly gorgeous, and the orchid garden (the largest garden of tropical orchids in the world), was all elegance and exotic beauty. We saw some truly perfect specimens here. Hard to top.
We ambled back towards the city, down to Orchard Rd, with the aim of experiencing that famous shopping street at the picturesque time of twilight, just as the street lights are all coming on. We got there a little before this time, and went in search of somewhere to quench our thirst with a beer. There were surprisingly few options, but found something just right in Ion Shopping Mall – the Balaclava Bar (which used to be in Suntec Convention Centre, and has only just moved). This is oddly located on the 5thfloor carpark, but it does provide the perfect height and position to look out over the Orchard and Scotts Roads intersection, while sipping beer and crunching the slightly warm and perfect nut mix of cashews, almonds and macadamias. From here were we able to observe the steady build of shoppers – remember that people shop well into the night here, every night. And once the light started to fade from the sky, we popped down to the intersection so John could snap away. And, as always, the shots capture the moment perfectly.
We finished the evening with a delightful river cruise. This is a very popular past time for all visitors to Singapore, and at night the river and its surrounds truly shine. We bought our tickets at the very popular Clarke Quay dock, and jostled onto our bumboat with all the other tourists. We had great vantage point at the rear of the boat, unencumbered by an annoying roof, but also without any cushioning from the hard wooden slat seats. Luckily the cruise only went for 30 minutes! The architecture in Singapore is exciting and adventurous, even if it isn’t always to everyone’s tastes! The new government building that looks as if a flying saucer has landed on its roof is NOT a winner, but the pioneering spirit and engineering feat of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, with its battle ship run aground atop its 3 towers, is a marvel. Only one day left in Singapore before heading to Malaysia. We seem to be on a bit of a role, so stay tuned for more updates.
Only one day left in Singapore before heading to Malaysia. We seem to be on a bit of a role, so stay tuned for more updates.