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Blog: Singapore

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Greetings from The Lion City! We had a MASSIVELY LONG flight here, during which we watched the Wallace & Gromit film (GRATE!) and the starts of "Must Love Dogs" (boring) and "Christmas With The Kranks" (boring, unpleasant, and annoying), both of which got abandoned. I also watched "Sky High", which was dead good. We had those nice seats at the back of the plane where it's just two of you, with a big gap between the chairs and the window where you can DUMP stuff, it was very nice.

We got to our hotel filled with DREAD as we had read very bad reviews of it on the interweb, but it turns out to be Quite Nice. Not quite Holiday Inn levels of LUXURY, but not quite down to MJ Hibbett On Tour Hotel levels either. It's odd really, some of it is DEAD POSH, like the lobby and the millions of people tidying plates away at breakfast, and some of it ISN'T, like the mucky marks on the walls and the water dripping on your head in reception.

Singapore is a bit of a strange place all round. It's NICE actually to be somewhere that IS so different, after New Zealand being basically ENGLAND, SUMMER 1976 with a few enhancements. The government and the way of DOING things is an odd mix of Venture Capitalism and Communism that I still haven't quite got my head around, but the people are LOVELY. Everywhere you go there's big reminders to be NICE and Mulitcultural and GET ON with each other, it's heartwarming. Sort of like New Zealand, the fact that NOBODY are the original inhabitants, and that everybody came here on purpose, seems to give it a very different feel to really old places like That Europe. There's also a very different TAKE on British Colionalism than the one I'm familiar with at home, where i grew up learning about it as The Great Evil. Here it appears to be looked back on with fondness and a sort of gratitude without ever wanting to have it back again.

ALSO all the people we've met have amazing memories, especially for faces, but are appallingly bad at giving directions, and keep getting their left and right confused. It's like a different country!!

As you may guess, we have been ACTIVE since we got here. We went pretty much straight to bed on Wednesday, then yesterday FLEW into action, with a stroll across town to catch a BOAT TRIP down the the Merlion and back. We then had a LOVELY bit of tapas (ooh, it was DEAD nice, roast potatoes and hot garlicy tomato sauce, ACE!) in a Spanish Bar, walked through the BEAUTIFUL Fort Canning Park, and thence to The Singapore Philatelic Museum. YES, it was a museum of STAMPS, and it was BRILLIANT. As we have seen on these trips, the BEST sort of Museum is The Museum Of The Single Subject Matter e.g. The Bread Museum and Cable Car Museum, both in San Francisco. The Philatelic Museum was typical of the genre - it was nice and small, and run by INCREDIBLY ENTHUSIASTIC people, who ended up having to give us some free chocolate on our way out to calm themselves down. The GRATE thing about Single Subject Museums is that you get the Executive Summary version of the local history, which is always helpful, then find out Things You Never Knew. This one had a big exhibition on CHRISTMAS, and also one about Singapore During The War. They had some lovely letters to and from PoWs and later between Colonial Officials. I got a sudden stab of PATRIOTISM reading some of these, as they were written in classic British Official Whimsy, jollying along with a bit of silliness in the face of appalling events. I was STIRRED!

We then got the Singapore Stopover Bus back to the hotel - Singapore Stopover is a GRATE thing where you get VOUCHERS for all sorts of things, including The Night Safari, where we went next. It's like a Safari Park, but at NIGHT. I thought this would mean that we'd finally see LIONS moving about, but in the end they were still asleep. We saw LOADS of animals, tainted with uncertainty about whether This Sort Of Thing was OK or not. We'd walk round thinking "But is this any different from an old fashioned ZOO, which is a Bad Thing? Or... OOH! MOUSE DEER!!!"

It was another occasion when my BRANE had difficulty coping with what it was getting from the eyes. A great big TIGER came RIGHT up to the glass to look us - i was about SIX INCHES from it, and was TERRIFIED but at one remove from myself. Similarly I stood looking for a LEOPARD for several seconds before being STARTLED by the realisation it was lying at my FEET, a HUGE great big cat seperated from my by an inch of glass, SNORING. We saw LOADS of different deer, Fishing Cats, Leopard Cats, a Clouded Leopard (with SABRE TEETH!), a RHINO, and all sorts of things. My favourites were The Otters (aah!), the various LEOPARDS, and especially The Tapir. Tapirs ROCK, they look like they were made in a night school class at The Community Centre, not even VAGUELY real but still LOVELY. Also Slow Loris was LOVELY too.

As I say, it was lovely, but a bit disconcerting. We decided NOT to go to The Creatures Of The Night Show, as it smelt faintly of Dancing Otters, which would have shoved the Dodginess Readings right into the BAD side, and walked about instead. We got home TIRED, and SLEPT. Today we ROSE early and went out on a City Tour, the best bits of which were a Hindu Temple (Hinduism: GRATE) and The Botanic Gardens, which were pretty amazing. We're now enjoying a gentle beer, then hopefully are off to RAFFLES.

And then tomorrow we're flying home! It's funny, for the past few days I've been REALLY looking forward to getting home to My Things in My Places, knowing where everything is and not needing to plan in detail where we'll get the next meal, or what we'll be doing tomorrow. I'm still excited at the prospect of HOME, but also feel a bit sad to know that today's the last day of our holiday. We've had a LOVELY time - before we set off I think we were too panicked about organising it to really think what an amazing thing we were going to be doing, but in the last four weeks we've seen and done all MANNER of things I never imagined I ever would. I'm looking forward to the New Year when I can just sit back and think about it all for a bit!

So yes, the next time i FACT here I'll be back in Dear Old Blighty, worrying about what on earth I'm going to get everyone for Christmas, and HOW on earth I'm going to do it all. See you then!

posted 16/12/2005 by MJ Hibbett

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