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    Sunday 19 September 2010

    Day Twelve - Marina Bay Sands

    There are all sorts of ways to cool down here, but the easiest is to try one of the many iced drinks. From soya based, fruit based to drinks with jelly balls, you can get all kinds of everything to cool you down. My favorite are the drinks with added Jelly or Jelly balls, so unusual!
    Vinnies Mango Iced drink with Jelly balls at the end
    Another local delight are icecream wafers, like the ones you'd have on a Sunday. Nothing quite beats some vanilla HB between two wafers. However here they take it further for less then €1 you can get some icecream in a slide of bread! I know we Irish like bread with everything, but with icecream, it well, just has to be tried once and was actually really nice!
    Patrick with an ice cream sandwich
    The plan for today was to make a visit to the sky park on top of the Marina Bay Sand Hotel. If you've been following our holidays thus far, we've already taken many shots of this new iconic hotel. But today would be our chance to actually get up to the sky park and decking which runs over the three towers of the hotel. The total length of the park is longer then the height of the Eiffel Tower in Paris! It tool some 18 months to complete - amazing. 
    Our fried noodles with omelet
    Before heading up we head some lunch in the youth olympic park, just under the Sands itself. We had the most amazing local dish of fried noodles wrapped in egg. It was something else. Alongside the park is the pit area for the F1 race which is due to take place next weekend too!
    Part of the F1 race track
    It costs S$21 to get to the top of the Marina Bay Sands, including an audio tour. It's totally worth every cent. Granted you only get access to half of the sky park, but the views are breathtaking, the best in the city. You get your tickets from the basement of tower 3 and take an express elevator up the 56 odd floors to the roof.
    Vinnie on the roof of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel
    The hotel is the second complete integrated resort in the city. It contains of all things a complete shopping mall and casino.
    Patrick frightened, overlooking the city
    The infinity pool
    The highlight at the top is the world highest infinity pool. A sight to be seen. The temperatures up here easily exceed 40 degrees. Unfortunately access to the pool is for hotel residences only, and at that not all rooms get access. 

    We did try to book ourselves in for a night before coming over, but it was too expensive. But it was so tempting to just jump right in.
    The infinity pool at the Marina Bay Sands
    Vinnie with the pool and city behind
    The view of the city from the sky park of the Sands
    At the base of the hotel is a complete shopping mall with all the international labels. Most of the stores haven't moved in yet as the hotel only opened some weeks back. There is also a casino and Museum. The Museum is in the shape of a lotus flower, which collects the rain water when it rains, funneling it into an internal fountain. It should look amazing when completed later this year. The DNA/Helix shaped bridge connects the sky park to the hotel as seen in the picture below.
    The Marina Bay Sands, with the lotus flower shaped museum (being built) beside it
    All the sights of the bay area, the Singapore Flyer, the Lotus Museum, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the Merlion.
    We took the night off tonight and took home some take way, set in, in front of the TV with some vodkas and the Golden Girls. Perfect!
    Dinner (Thai), Vodka and The Golden Girls!

    Saturday 18 September 2010

    Day Eleven - The Merlion

    The weather in Singapore is glorious, everyday without fail it's over 31 degrees in the shade (real feel of over 40) and at night just below 30. Yes you do sweat a lot, you can't help it. It's encouraging to see the locals struggling with the heat too.
    Vinnies favorite way to cool down, a fresh soy drink!
    We left late today as it was raining that morning. Being in the tropics, rain and thunder showers are frequent. Although this was the first shower we'd seen in 11 days. So Vinnie took full advantage of this by doing the laundry. The Citadines, the apart'hotel we are staying at does have a laundry room, so very handy.
    Some of the fortune telling birds
    Hitting the streets that early afternoon we walked via little india to some of the more colourful shopping streets teaming with locals and all kinds of gems. Outside the packed temples fortune tellers set with their trained birds, with their aid your fortune could be told.
    Prayers and offerings inside one of the temples
    The smell of incense flooded the air from the many religious temples crammed into the streets.
    Outside a Hindu Temple with the monkey god behind
    Another god decorating the exterior of a temple
    We directed our exploration to the Bugis Street Market, with it's some 600 street traders. Here we picked up fresh juice for around €0.50, so cheap.
    The bust of Mr Raffels himself, the founder of Singapore
    As we where so close to the Raffels hotel, we headed over to window shop at he many high end stores make up the ground floor of the hotel. Our favourite Molton Browne had a store here, but the prices where alot more then back home.
    Downtown Singapore and the Central Business District (the CBD)
    The Merlion park was the next stop today. According to legend, the Merlion was a creature found here comprising of the head of lion and the body of a fish. The Singapore tourism board back in the 70s made it he official symbol of the city and commissioned what is now an iconic sculpture of the waterfront.
    Vinnie lending a hand
    The Merlion sits on a platform spitting water into the river. A curved decking wraps around it allowing us tourists to take photos. Facing the Merlion are the other waterfront iconic buildings including the Marina Bay Sands and the Esplanade.
    Vinnie at the Merlion
    Patrick at the Merlion
    The singapore tourism board were out in full swing for the F1 race later next week. They had set up podiums and were giving out free flags and other F1 trinkets.
    At the night safari
    We picked up dinner from a thai restaurant beside the apartment then made our way to the north of the island and the night time safari. We got there late, so we only had time for the 40 odd min tram ride taking you around the park. Basically this park is right beside the daytime zoo, but here the park is only open after 7 as the sun has settled. You get to see the animals in a night time setting, illuminated by special moon like lighting.
    At the night safari
    We actually missed the last train back into the city, so we navigated and found our way back on the night bus network where we headed out to Taboo night club until closing! Great fun and the bus only cost a flat rate of S$3.50.

    Friday 17 September 2010

    Day Ten - underwater world

    Today we decided to venture over to Sentosa island, just south of singapore. It's billed as Asia's Playground. It has the cities first fully integrated family resort with man made beaches, theme parks and casino. Connection to the island is made at Vivocity shopping mall, using the Sentosa Express monorail train.

    Vivocity shopping centre is another example of the many many shopping centres in the city. It's modern, spacious and running over several stories, very large. As it's the middle of the mid-autumn festival, many stalls had been set up to sell the traditional sweet of the occasion, the moon cake. 
    The moon cake stalls set up in Vivocity shopping centre
    We tried some of the non-meat moon cakes, they were okay apart from the Durian one. That was plan disgistusing.
    Outside Universal Studios Singapore
    We had wanted to pick up tickets for the newly built Universal Studio Theme park, but it was sold out for the entire weekend. We opted to pick up tickets for Monday. It cost around €30 a ticket with €10 back in vouchers to spend in the park on the day. Not too bad.

    Boarding the monorail, we headed over to west side of the Island to pay a visit to Underwater world, which had one of those underwater tunnels which takes you inside the tanks with the fishes wishing over. They also also had petting ponds to feel the fish up close.
    Vinnie with his new underwater friend
    Inside the underwater tunnel

    We rounded off the visit to Sentosa with a visit to the songs of the sea show, which takes part on a beach. It has real actors which interact with a music, light and laser show, which was great fun and perfect as the sun set.
    Vinnie and I in the backstage bar enjoying a free Singapore Sling!
    That evening we headed to the backstage bar, which was great fun. The manager even made us free Singapore Slings! Yay!

    Thursday 16 September 2010

    Day Nine - Singapore Sling

    Today we travelled back to Singapore where our apartment has been lying alone. It sort of feels like heading home from a little vacation on our holidays.
    The pool side view from the hotel
     We arose early for another monster breakfast then a short stroll around the pavilion shopping mall, which is right beside the hotel. Even though today was a national holiday, everything was open as usual. A performance platform had been erected for some nation day performances later that afternoon.
    O'Briens Sandwich Bar in KL Airport
    We availed of the late checkout, headed back to the hotel and took full advantage of the pool and sun loungers. This has to be the first time we've ever sun bathed at a hotel pool in all these years of blogging our annual holidays.

    Very relaxed and sun kissed, we checked out and took a taxi to sentral train station to catch the KL Airport Express (we had a return ticket).
    Inside the jungle area in KL Airport
     We flew the 18:20 JetStar to Singapore. KL airport is truly beautiful. Not only does it feature a tropical jungle oasis but also an O'Briens Irish Sandwich bar!!! How fun!

    Landing back in Singapore was a breeze as it was so familiar to us. We knew exactly how to leave the airport and connect to the city and our apartment via the underground.
    Singapore Slings at the Long Bar
    We rounded off the evening with a Singapore Sling at the Raffels hotels Long Bar, the location where the drink was first created!
    Vinnie outside the Long Bar

    Wednesday 15 September 2010

    Day Eight - Twin Towers the Sequel

    We got up extra early this morning, 7am! Our poor bodies where in shock! At least we made it down for breakfast. It was exactly as we'd expected. The buffet style breakfast featured global dishes including standard continental breakfast with fresh cakes and cereals for Europe, pancakes from the US, a fully Irish//UK fry up from back home, miso soup and rice from Japan, Curry from India etc. So much food, we really stuffed ourselves!
    The screen showing allotments for the slots to visit the sky bridge
    Making it over to the Pertronus Towers around 8:10am we thought we would have made it good and early for the opening of the ticket office at 8:30am. Nope, the queue was MASSIVE! Several hundred were in front. Daily, only 1,200 free tickets are handed out. We queued about an hour and managed to secure two tickets for later that afternoon.
    The Monkey Lord
    Taking full advantage of the spare time, we jumped on the monorail and headed back to KL Sentral and boarded a local commuter train headed towards the Batu caves, a Hindu religious site set inside a cave complex "discovered" some 120 years ago.
    Vinnie in front of the massive Lord Murugan
    It took less then one hour to get to the cave complex, with the train station only 100 meters from the ground. There are many temples set inside and around the cave complex honoring different lords. The rock is limestone which explains why the caves have developed. The caves are said to be some 400 million years old! The world's tallest statue of Lord Murugan, a Hindu deity, is located outside Batu Caves, standing at just under 43 metres in height, painted with some 300 litres of gold paint.
    One of the many unfriendly monkeys!
    It's 272 steps up to the template cave, with has a 100m high roof. The steps are step and made more difficult by the presence of Crab-eating Macaque Monkeys! These monkeys are not afraid of humans and will attack!  They jump around and over you as you climb the steps in their search for an easy meal from humans! It sorta added to the fun.
    Inside one of the caves
    We made our way back to the city centre just in time for our allotted time slot to visit the Petronus Twin Tower sky bridge around 2:45pm.
    Inside the caves
    The tour kicks off with a short 10 minute video on how great the Petronus Corporation are. It was interesting, but almost like brain washing. Under very strict control and order we were escorted in smaller groups through security, bag check and then into a lift to the 41st floor, the location for the lower section of the sky bridge.
    At the base of the Petronus - about to head up to the sky bridge
    We had around 10 mins of surprised time to walk and enjoy the bridge and it's views of the city below and towers on either sides of the connective bridge.
    Part of a tower from the sky bridge
    It is a must see attraction, but it does take some organisation and patience to get tickets. Then when you are there it's so formal you almost feel you aren't actually welcome and are only seeing parts of the tower with secret parts off limits to us tourists.
    Vinnie on the sky bridge
    Leaving the tower the Petronus Corportate profile was in full view as we left via a room contains a little more background to the towers itself and not the corporation, which had been the focus of the Pre-Visit video.
    An interesting road sign
    Post tower we headed back to a vegan macrobiotic restaurant we had spotted on the first day, woods bon marché. Naturally nothing was off bounds on the menu, which made a welcome change.
    Ireland's Potato at the Times Square Mall
    That evening we relaxed by the hotel pool, moon bathed at 8pm in temperatures over 30 degrees before retiring for an early night.
    At the hotel swimming pool with the Petronus Twin Towers in the background
    That however was interrupted when several loud bangs where heard outside our window. It was a massive midnight fireworks display. Turns out it was the annual show to ring in the day long national day celebrations. That certainly explains all the flags we had been seeing around the city over the past few days.

    Tuesday 14 September 2010

    Day Seven - Twin Towers Part 1

    Sort of slept it out this morning, we missed our breakfast buffet. If you've never had an Asian Crowne Plaza breakfast, I can highly recommend every cent paid for it. So we headed up to our club lounge to feed on the free food and drink provided there. Some VIP lady was escorted in whilst we were there (in our shorts and flip flops). She had a lady in waiting, a minder and entourage. She even got the furniture rearranged to her liking. Umm.
    Road sings in Kuala Lumpur. Malay and Arabic.
    The plan was to visit the petronas twin towers. It's only a short stroll from the hotel. We got up around 2pm to find all tickets had been allocated for the day. Tickets are handed out on a first come first served basis from 8:30 each morning. We were advised to get down before 8am tomorrow.
    The national flag is everywhere, on all buildings, inside and out. Turns out it's national day this week.
    Access is only given to the sky bridge which links both towers. It's less the 200 meters up, less then half way. Tickets are free. So it's better then nothing. New plan is to attempt to pick up tickets tomorrow.
    Vinnie and I in front of the Petronus Twin Towers
    There is a massive shopping mall under the towers, so we had lunch in pizza hut and passed some time in the shops. We choose pizza hut as we where guaranteed a veggie option. It was fine, only problem is they don't stock more the 4 types if veggie topping. Everything here is so meat focused (especially chicken).
    We took a walk around the park which sits directly south of the towers. How people can jog laps around it in temperatures approaching 40 is beyond me!
    A view of the towers from our hotel swimming pool
    We headed back to the hotel for a nice dip in the outside pool, which overlooks the towers followed by some drinks in the lounge.
    China Town 
    The evening was passed taking a walk through the night markets in Chinatown, a short monorail ride from the hotel.

    The view of the Petronus Twin Towers from the Sky Bar of Traders Hotel before midnight
    Before calling it a night we popped over to the traders hotel as we heard the views from the sky bar where amazing. And they certainly where. A must. The sky bar sits on the top 33rd floor of the hotel. It's on two levels with a massive swimming pool in the middle of the bar.
    The Petronus Towers in darkness from the Sky Bar at Traders Hotel after midnight
    The windows open up  to a perfect view of the twin towers, spectacularly illuminated with flood lights. We had some cocktails and food here before calling it a night. Bit of advice, get to the skybar before 12 as the illuminations on the tower are turned off at midnight sharp.
    Our own twin towers of long island iced tea!
    It's early to bed as we plan on getting breakfast then queuing for tickets for the towers tomorrow.