We loved our time in Borneo so very much, and all too soon it was time to leave. We enjoyed one last breakfast at that amazing buffet, and then packed up and headed to the airport. After a week in the wilds of Borneo and the laid back beaches of Kota Kinabalu, our next stop was an entirely different sort of place….SINGAPORE!
For our stay in Singapore, I decided to look for accommodation through airbnb, which we have used previously in the States and in Japan, with much success. I was able to find an amazing place that fit all five of us easily, had a fantastic location, and as a bonus, had it’s own private pool for the kids to relax in at the end of the day. The apartment was fantastic, and I highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Singapore.
Our first night in Singapore was mostly just finding and checking into the apartment, letting the boys test out the pool (of course! it had been almost 24 hours since they’d been in one!) and then heading out in search for dinner. We walked over to Maxwell Food Center, as Ryan and the kids and I had been there last October and I was craving some old favorites. We dined on black carrot cake, wonton soup, grilled chicken skewers, and of course the famous fried sweet potato dumplings from Ri Xing Jiang Ji. We washed it all down with some fresh squeezed juices (some combinations were better received than others) and then finished it off with one of those Singaporean shaved ice concoctions.
The next day we walked to the Marina area to visit the Gardens by the Bay, which we had missed on our last trip to Singapore and I really wanted to see. I’m so glad we got to go this time, because it really is an amazing place. It was also, as a bonus, decorated for Christmas, so quite festive! As we were there midday, we mostly stuck to the indoor facilities, the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. Both were spectacular, and it’s a tough call which the kids enjoyed more, the Mediterranean gardens in the Flower Dome that were fully decorated for Christmas or the amazing Cloud Forest, which contains a 35 meter mountain, covered in vegetation, and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. We also came across a family of otters frolicking in the outdoor gardens, and they were super cute. After spending several hours exploring the gardens, we walked across the skywalk to the Marina Bay Sands hotel and over to the attached shops to enjoy a late lunch. Perhaps because we were there at an odd time, we had no trouble getting a table without a reservation at Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Street Kitchen, where we enjoyed a nice meal before walking over to the Singapore Flyer, another item on my Singapore wish list that we hadn’t gotten to on our last trip. We also picked a great time for that visit, and were able to buy a ticket and walk right on board without a wait! The views from the 165m ferris wheel were unbelievable!
The following day was Oliver’s birthday, so we headed to the Singapore Zoo per his request. I had thought he might be interested in their Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife program that we had learned about on our last visit, but instead he asked to visit the Night Safari. I had contacted the zoo to see if we might sign up for their Gourmet Safari Express, which looked like a ton of fun, but unfortunately you needed a minimum of 15 people to sign up for it. Anyone heading to the Night Safari with a large group should totally check it out! Since we planned to stay late for the Night Safari, we took our time getting to the zoo, stopping again at the Marina Bay Sands Shoppes, where I was able to pick up some cupcakes for Oliver’s birthday. Cupcakes in tow, we hopped in a taxi and arrived at the zoo right around noon. Once there, we grabbed some lunch, ate the birthday cupcakes, and headed into the zoo. We spent several hours at the main zoo, visiting with old favorites like the giant tortoises, naked mole rats, orangutans and pygmy hippos and enjoying the Fragile Forest and Australian Zone. Next we headed to the River Safari, which we had not done on our last visit. It was a fantastic experience, and I’m so glad we went. In addition to the amazing flooded Amazon and Rivers exhibits, this is also where the Singapore Zoo keeps its red and giant pandas, so you need to go to River Safari if you’d like to see them. Keep in mind that the panda exhibit closes before the rest of the River Safari area, so make sure you get there early enough. We took the River Safari Cruise, but ran out of time and weren’t able to do the Amazon River Quest and Squirrel Monkey Forest visit. Oh well, I guess we’ll have to just go back!
After finishing our whirlwind tour of River Safari (seriously, folks, plan to arrive at 4:00 PM latest to River Safari, earlier if you can!), we had time for dinner before the Night Safari opened. We headed over to the Night Safari area and grabbed a table at the Bongo Burgers restaurant. This was not my first choice, but Oliver the birthday boy wanted to go there and it turned out to be a fantastic decision, because as we finished our meal, the Thumbuakar fire performance started, and we had a perfect seat. We had no idea that the show was going to happen, so it was quite a lucky coincidence that we ended up sitting and having dinner where we did.
As we ate our dinner, and watched the show, the line to get into the park got bigger and bigger and bigger. I hoped that once the gate opened the line would move quickly, but unfortunately we did end up waiting about 1/2 hour in the line to get inside. Once inside, there was another quite long wait to get onto the tram for the Night Safari tram tour. If we were to do it again, I’d get in line earlier so as to get a better spot in the tram line, or if we wanted to sit and eat and watch the fire show again, I’d plan head for the animal show first and watch that while letting the line for the tram ride die down. If going with the second option, though, you would definitely need to plan for a long night…we only did the tram ride, no animal show or any of the walks, and we didn’t leave until around 9:30 or 10:00 PM.
It would have been nice after our long day and night at the zoo to sleep in, but it wasn’t possible, as we once again needed to pack up and head for the airport. It was time to head to Cebu for our long awaited reunion with Ryan and begin the vacation part of vacation- 10 days on the beach with nothing planned!