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Merlions and Tigers and Bevs, oh my!

Some nurses and a doctor take in Singapore's sights

Yesterday marked the beginning of the real fun- exploring Singapore with Bev and Karina. We decided to be typical tourists and went on a Hop on-Hop off bus- although we stopped short of going on the Duck bus. We went with the topless bus instead; I had to explain to Karina that it meant the bus was open-roofed, not that we were meant to be topless...

Anyways, our first stop was the famous Merlion statue- the half lion/half fish that is fabled to have been seen by one of the early settlers of Singapore. There are, of course, no lions on the island but that story is how Singapura (the lion city) got its name. It kind of looks like it is spewing, but that may be because it had too much Chili Crab and Singapore Slings the night before.
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We hopped back on the bus, and took a ride around Orchard Street, the famous shopping district, and saw many sights before alighting ("alighting" seems to be a favorite word here in Singapore, I've never heard it used as many times as today) back at the Suntec Mall for some lunch. Here are some of the best pictures of what this city has to offer- lots of amazing architecture, and the integration of green space into buildings is quite innovative. That is part of trying to have Singapore become a "city within a garden". Fun fact: all of the green space and trees have helped Singapore stay 1-2 degrees cooler than their neighboring similar sized cities of Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.
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Our next stop after lunch was in Little India. Indian heritage contributes to the cultural mosaic that makes Singapore so essentially Singaporean; its influence can be seen by the many Hindu temples throughout the city, and tasted (or smelled) in the curry flavors that are common in the Hawker Centers. One of my favorite sights here was a very colourful house that belonged to a wealthy Chinese businessman and has been kept intact as a heritage building.
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Our last stop was Kampong Glam, the Malay/Muslim area which has recently become quite hip. I'd been meaning to check this area out for the last few days but hadn't made it yet. We found this area pretty fun- lots of shops, cool little bars and restaurants, and a great atmosphere. So as not to get caught up and miss our bus, we decided we would be returning to this area (under the auspices of getting margaritas at a Mexican place we saw and to check out the night market, but actually there seems to be some shopping that needs to be done there... Shhh!).
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We took the "scenic route" back to the hotel, taking in some of the other sights that are either on our to-do list or just needed to be seen. We quickly refreshed ourselves and then it was time to get on the next bus to take us to the Night Safari! I had heard heaps of good things about the night safari, and having really enjoyed the San Diego Safari Park, decided it would be fun to check out. Well, so did the rest of Singapore... The lines were quite long and I could hear the animals saying to each other how silly we humans are, lining up to go watch them sleep, eat or poop. I mean, animals would never line up (and PAY) to watch us, so what does that say about us as a species? I'm getting concerned for our future.

Unfortunately, although the safari was good fun and I got to see lions and rhinos and something called a tapir that looks like a panda crossed with an anteater, it was too dark for any pictures. Sorry about that. Meanwhile, after our safari and before it was time to board the bus back to the city, Dr. Some convinced me and Karina it was a good idea to get fish pedicures. This was never something I've really been interested in, as I don't really find the idea of something eating the dead skin off my feet tempting. However, I decided to be adventurous (I had eaten turtle the night before, after all, so shouldn't I let the fish eat me?) and me and Karina actually paid for this horrific experience. It tickled, but also felt like worms all over you. It looks even grosser than it felt... Five minutes felt like an eternity! But, it made Bev laugh and also gave me some pictures and content for this blog post. So I'll call it a draw...
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Our bus back to the city took almost two hours (it only took 30 on the way there, but it made about ten stops and an entire loop of the city before taking us back to our hotel). Instead of being grumpy about that, we decided to look at it as a free "night tour", where we got to see the city all lit up. It's a completely different look at night, but equally breathtaking. Instead of seeing gardens on the sides of buildings, you see some pretty cool light displays which make it seem like a light show happens every night!
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We finally got back to the hotel just before midnight, and then it was off to bed as Karina and I had an early start the next morning for the Education Meeting. Time to turn off my vacation brain and put on my (some) nurse hat!


Posted by Flanilandlizard 08:19 Archived in Singapore

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