Friends and family visiting from home. Can anything bring greater joy to the still-slightly-green expat?!
We had our first visitors to the Lion City at the end of January. Will’s brother (L) and his friend (N) came out to stay with us for 4 nights, before heading off to Australia for a friend’s wedding. One of the great things about Singapore for me, is that so many people have to fly via it when they are going visit Asia, Australia or New Zealand, meaning a lot of people are planning on passing through to see us – hooray!
Having the guys here was just brilliant. It was so lovely to see familiar faces, share stories and jokes, and catch up on all the news from back home. We had a lot of laughs and silliness – thank you both so much for coming to visit!
As the guys were out first set of visitors, we aren’t yet jaded by the ‘tourist/visitor trail’, although no doubt we will get there at some point. We were both so excited about showing them around and showing off our ‘new’ city.
First stop was Chinatown for a bit of food. It was N’s first time in Asia (can you believe that?!) so we wanted to show him all the sights, sounds and smells of Asia, and Chinatown seemed like the best place to do that. We went to one of our usual haunts and devoured satay, Singapore noodles and many beers. Great start to the trip! The guys were pretty jetlagged so we didn’t stay all that late in the end.
The next day, we took the MRT almost the whole way across the island to Jurong Bird Park to get a bit of wildlife action. We were planning on visiting the Night Zoo later, so it seemed like a good plan to get the double entry tickets, that give you a discount. I actually enjoyed the bird park a lot more than I thought I would. As with the Singapore Zoo, everything is done very sympathetically, so I never felt bad about the birds being in aviaries, as they were so large and well thought out.
I loved seeing all the colourful and unusual birds that were there. It was a great treat to see so many and it made me curious to learn more about Asian flora and fauna. I think I need to buy myself a little book on it.
That evening we went to the Night Zoo. As so many people have commented before, you can’t take flash photos at the Night Zoo so unfortunately I don’t have any to share with you lot. But I LOVED it there – such an exciting and magical experience. You arrive in the dark, and the way is lit with flaming torches, and people drumming. It all feels very tribal and you can’t help but feel a flicker of excitement and anticipation as you wait to board your little train thingy that takes you around the park. The train thingy is electric so you just glide along, and then suddenly round a corner and see animals looming out through the gloom.
I know some people just sit on the train and don’t get off an explore. I can’t help but think that’s such a huge mistake. We saw so much more stuff wandering around, and it was a much more interactive experience. We saw flying squirrels, bats (yuk), and our new favourite creature – the Binturong. The Binturong is a funny cat looking creature, that is related to civets (those that make the super expensive coffee). It looks quite cute, until it bares its teeth, but the best fact about it is that its supposed to smell of popcorn. A cat that smells of popcorn = best thing ever. Anyway, GO to the Night Zoo. Its super fun and very exciting!
The next day we explored around the Marina Bay area. We walked along by MBS, over the Helix Bridge and back again. We also took a bum boat along the river. I found the bum boat fun, as I like being on the water, but I think we gave the guys more information about the area and the buildings than the tour guide did. Maybe we just know a lot more about Singapore than we thought, or we just had a particularly rubbish guide, but I wasn’t overly impressed.
The evening rolled around quickly, and then it was time for bar crawl, Singapore style! We started off in the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling – had to be done really, and it was the first Sling that Will & I have had since arriving. I enjoyed it; the Long Bar was fun, although I can’t imagine staying for more than one drink.
We then went on to Altitude at One Raffles Place, where we’d planned to show the L & N the brilliant view from the ‘world’s highest alfresco bar’. We’d been before on our look-see visit, and were captivated by the views of the city. It made us really excited about moving here. Unfortunately, when we got upstairs, we were told that the rooftop bar was shut for a function (turned out to be a wedding). They told us they were almost finished, so we ordered drinks, thinking we could finish them upstairs. However, it was a much longer wait than we’d hoped, so we ended up doing the briefest of circuits around the outside bar, before we had to leave for our next booking.
On to Lantern Bar, on top of the Fullerton Bay Hotel. Top marks for brilliant marina views, and gorgeous surroundings. We enjoyed delicious cocktails and lots of yummy snacky bar foods. The setting was just great, and the service was excellent – I have to mention it, as those of you who are Singapore residents know how rare that is!
After enjoying our drinks at Lantern, we headed back to MBS, and up to Ku De Ta for some more gorgeous views of the Singapore skyline. We didn’t actually go into the club, choosing instead to stand outside and enjoy the breezes and views. I felt strangely peaceful standing up there – I think I finally started to feel like Singapore was my home. There was a DJ playing some good tunes, so we ended up staying there late, drinking lots, and dancing our little socks off!
Sunday saw us doing what Sundays were invented for – working off a hangover by brunching with friends, and generally being lazy. Perfect. On Monday, L had to take an early flight on to Australia, but N was here until the evening so we decided to do an open top bus tour. Funniest thing ever. We learnt absolutely nothing about the history of Singapore or what certain landmarks were, but we did learn the about the best places to get chicken rice, buy Crocs, go the cinema, and exactly what roads bordered the Botanical Gardens. All this told to us by a lady with a voice that sounded like she did another job entirely in the evenings…Hilarious. I’d recommend it if you want a good laugh, not if you want to find out about Singapore! We finished up the day with a lovely steak in Club Street, before waving N off into a taxi to the airport.
Thanks guys for coming out and making me appreciate my new home town so much more. Being a tourist in Singapore really made me realise how much this place has to offer. Good times.