Thursday, 18 December 2014

Singapore...and the end of the cruise.

The further south we went the hotter it got, very hot in fact. As previously described there was more avian life around the ship too but not really enough to say it was a significant reason for choosing a cruising holiday, well not in this part of the world anyway.
I spent much of my time soaking up the rays and reading a book taking the occasional refuge in the swimming pool to cool down.
Even the Pigeon looked on enviously at the latter !
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Strangely, when we arrived at Singapore I wasn't sorry to get off the ship, we still had the last leg of our journey to look forward to to say nothing of Singapore itself.
Disembarkation was fairly painless, enough time to have a last breakfast and a short wait before our turn to get off the ship and we were soon on our way by mini bus to our stop over hotel.
Basically we had one afternoon and one evening to decide how to spend our time in Singapore. Certainly not enough time to do it justice but from what I saw I can only lavish praise.
It's a greener version, well around the city centre anyway, of Hong Kong. It's not as dominated by skyscrapers either although it does have a fair few very impressive ones around the financial district.
Seen here later in the evening when we returned for the light show.

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First we had to decide on what to do with our daylight hours. Once again, the Botanic gardens seemed a good compromise. Fortunately our hotel was built over an underground station so getting around was very simple and if Hong Kong's underground was impressive, this was even better !
This is the platform
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Spotlessly clean and 100% safe.
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Mind you, a train spotters worst nightmare !

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On board much of the same ( and there is free wifi).
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Spotless. The fines for disobeying the rules are not cheap but I guess everyone respects them because it make a much more pleasant envoirenment.

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I did wonder if a "durian" was an alien from a Dan Dare comic adventure ( age give away again) but they are , as the picture suggests, a kind of fruit. Don't they get included in the eating rule ? Yes, but they are not allowed on the trains either because they apparently smell  awful too!
Anyway, off we went to the Botanical gardens.

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Like most things in Singapore, very well maintained too. The wildlife was a little limited but nevertheless I faired quite well.
Black Swan
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Red Junglefowl
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both of which I presume have been introduced.
A new bird for me though was the Hill Myna, I'd only seen Southern Hill Myna in Kerala.

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as well as the Yellow Vented Bulbul
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So that was a good result.
I also saw my first reptiles of the trip
Red Eared Terrapin I think

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and Water Monitor
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which I caught out of water too.

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Quite a big beast, must have been over 3 feet long.
The local Squirrel was Plantain Squirrel, another first.

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but by far the most common bird was the Jungle Myna, particularly around the cafe area where close ups were easy.
* Now identified by a reader as Javan Myna.... another new one for my list !
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They used the ornamental fountains to drink and bathe.
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Running them a close second numerically were the Spotted Dove, probably the most commonly seen bird on the trip.
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While Claire spent an hour in the world renowned Orchid house I went in search of more targets but it proved fairly disheartening. I did find a Common Kingfisher and a White Breasted Waterhen but little else of note
White Breasted Waterhen
We decided to call it a day and return to the hotel before heading back in to town for the light show.
A German beer at a nearby bar /restaurant proved to be pretty expensive at around £7.50 a pint but our overall impression was that singapore is much cheaper than Hong Kong too.
I'm afraid their light show was a lot better too ! Featured on an apparently artificial lake

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They have strobes and music but best of all they cleverly project images on to the water features.
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and they even manage a few flames too.
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Close to where the viewing point is, at one end of a shopping mall, there is another stunning feature too.
A giant washbasin !
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The contents swirling around before tumbling in to the mall below.
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Oh, and talking of the mall, fancy a gondola ride !
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All very impressive indeed.
We followed up this with a visit to Chinatown and although we admittedly only saw one street it seemed more full of souvenirs than eating places. That said we had an excellent meal and a few beers at a very reasonable price.
The only bad news was that instead of just a few yards from the table and back to bed, it was another train journey. Life was so easy on the ship !
The following morning we had insufficient time to do very much at all before being picked up for our airport transfer and the flights to Thailand.
We did get a look at Singapore's airport and once again, all I can do is heap praise.
We only saw one terminal of the three that are there but again, greenery plays a big part.

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I believe you can take a free 2 hour bus tour of Singapore if you have time to spare when you pass through in transit ( but you are not allowed to get off for obvious reasons), there is also a butterfly garden as well as this social media tree where you can have your photo taken and posted both on the tree and Facebook I presume. Free of charge again too.

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We sat in comfortable armchairs where you could hook up for power either with a plug or USB, oh and there was Wifi of course. All free.
We were suitably impressed and would have loved to have stayed a few days. 
Instead we were heading to Phuket for a four night stay before heading home.
Hopefully a chance to add to my birding trip list, and of course there's the food. Yum,yum !

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