Singapore

The Escape part 1

So we are in Malaysia  now, landed in Singapore late on the 13th and then we crossed the border on the 16th. Right now we are at the house in Taman Sri Lambak, our second home as we call it. I have really slow internet so the posts about Singapore and Johor Bahru will have to wait. I have loads of pictures from Gardens by the Bay and Legoland plus some other places we have visited. Be patient and as soon as possible I will upload them. The plan for tomorrow is a drive to Desaru for some ocean time. Then on the 25th we are invited to a wedding in Segamat. I am beyond excited!!!

They do have some cool buildings in Singapore. I watched a video on YouTube about the city and a guy said “it’s like I’ve arrived in the future”. It is very modern but not soulless in any way. 

Singapore

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Nearly there.

It is slowly dawning on me that we are actually flying to Singapore on Monday. When we booked the tickets 12th of December seemed so far away but now it is just around the corner. The car is booked, hotels are booked, places to eat have been researched and so on. As you already know both my husband and I are food lovers and I have to admit that food is a big part of why we love to travel in Asia. Don’t get me wrong, you can get good food in Europe too but it is usually soooo expensive and travelling in Europe is also expensive compared to Asia.

The plan for Singapore, where we will stay for three nights, is to visit the ArtScience museum again. We went there in 2015 when they had the DaVinci exhibition and it was awesome. This time they have two exhibitions that really fit our family; Journey to Infinity: Escher’s World of Wonder and NASA: a Human Adventure. We are also planning a visit to the Gardens by the Bay (http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en.html) and as my mother is travelling with us I am really looking forward to that. As a child I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and she loved flowers and gardens. My mother and I always think of her when we are surrounded be beautiful flowers.

My husband and I are huge fans of Mark Wiens (https://www.youtube.com/user/migrationology), a man who like us travels for food. The big difference is that he is now able to do it for a living and I am so envious. Imagine being able to do two things you love, eat and travel, and getting paid for it! My husband has made a long list of places to eat and a lot of them are actually from Wiens’ youtube channel.

The only thing that sucks is that no one has invented the teleporter yet, you know as in Star Trek and “beem me up Scotty”.  I will have to suffer through feelings of near anxiety on the plane for way too many hours once again. Hopefully it will all be worth it. Staying in Sweden one more winter is not an option.

Escaping winter once again.

We have been back in Sweden for one year, 4 months and 6 days… but who’s counting?!? I miss Malaysia every single day. The food, the sun, the food, the people, the food, the warm rain, the food. Did I mention the food? Don’t get me wrong, it is great to be back home, to  hang out with my friends, the children are playing with their friends, see my mother, the big family we have here and so on but I miss Malaysia a lot. That is why we are going on a vacation this winter, we will leave the dreary winter cold Sweden for some weeks in Asia. We will arrive in Singapore on the 13th of December and fly back home from KL on the 19th of January. During that time we will visit Singapore, Johor Bahru, Kluang, T6, Muar, Melaka, Ipoh, KL and also Lombok (Indonesia). Some of those places are revisited; others are brand new locations for us.

This time, my mother is coming with us and for her everything will be a first as she has never been outside of Europe. The children are already looking forward to guiding her around at their favourite spots and eating dinner at Musa’s in T6. His satay is missed, and also the ayam soup which is to die for. They are also planning a trip to Legoland in JB and apparently there is a new water park in JB called Austin Heights something. My husband and I are mostly excited about not having to put on heavy winter clothes for at least part of that horrid season called winter. And the food, always the food.

So if there are any readers left, you can look forward to a new escape from winter and some ideas about where to travel in Malaysia- and Indonesia!

Singapore, again.

We went to Singapore again the first week of March. Didn’t have any plans, just wanted to see a bit more of Singapore City and have a city vacation. We booked a room at Fort Canning Lodge (YWCA), mostly for its location and price. Being Singapore, hotels are never cheap but this one is not too overpriced. There is a pool, but when we were there they had swim school for young children so it was pretty crowded and we felt out of place. The wifi was good though, fast and included in the room price. No breakfast but there is a Kopitiam nearby where you can get coffee and toast for 2.50 dollars. Or you can order breakfast at the hotel, prices start at 6 dollars. We chose to go to the Kopitiam, the coffee is really good there.

We changed hotel for our second night as the Lodge was fully booked and we decided pretty late that we wanted to stay one more night. Ended up at The Strand, on Bencoolen Street, right next to a huge building site for a new tube station. We thought we would have a really bad night’s sleep due to the noise from the building site (in Asia they usually work 24/7) but we heard nothing due to good and thick windows. The Strand is old and worn but it was one of the cleanest hotel rooms I have stayed in. The bathroom was spotless, nice and fluffy towels and the room had everything we needed. And the hotel staff was super friendly and helpful, especially towards our children. The breakfast was good, one of the best hotel ones we’ve had on this trip actually. Even the coffee was good.

I wanted to visit the zoo, we went there in 2010 and I really liked it. Normally I don’t care much for zoos, animals in cages stresses me and I usually end up feeling sad that I went there. But Singapore Zoo is well kept and the animals have large enclosures to wander around in. It is pretty expensive, children over 3 years of age is 21 dollars and 32 for adults. There are quite a few restaurants at the entrance and they are all expensive and rather dull. The funny thing is that there are two KFC restaurants, one at the entrance and one inside the zoo. I myself don’t like their food but after eating a very limp and tasteless salad for 6.90 dollar I have to say that you can get worse than KFC at Singapore Zoo. But if you want good and inexpensive food, make sure to eat before you get there. Even the drinks and snacks are overpriced, even by Singapore standards. But I know it is the same in almost every zoo, amusement park, theme park and such, you pay double for everything in those places, at least in every country I have been to.

A funny thing happened as we were looking at the otters. Our youngest daughter was walking around and her shoes made the usual “peep peep” noise. Most shoes for toddlers have that sound effect here in Malaysia, it is both adorable and annoying as hell. Anyway, three young women were standing next to us and, in Swedish, said: I don’t understand why people buy that kind of shoes to their children!?! That noise!
Imagine their surprise when I turned around and spoke to them in Swedish… The looks on their, now a bit reddish, faces made my day!

If you want to see everything you will have to plan for a whole day at the zoo. We aimed to see most of it but not all and stayed for about 4 hours. March is still not the hottest month but it can get really warm and humid anyway and we were so tired when we got back to the hotel. And our oldest daughter had a sore throat that turned into fever and coughing so our last day in Singapore ended up being a late check out from The Strand and then we drove home to rest and recover.

White Tiger

End of a roadtrip.

Driving to Singapore is really simple, just make sure you remember your passport. As Singapore is so close to Malaysia it is easy to forget that it is in fact a whole different country. It will become very apparent once you cross the border, the somewhat chaotic and fast traffic will give way to smooth driving and drivers actually obeying the laws! Singapore as a city is clean, designed and expensive. I myself prefer Malaysia but as my husband says, it is sometimes nice to go to a more organised place…

Crossing the border by car means you have to have an autopass for your car. This you get on the Singaporean side, after passing the customs and everything. We stood in line for about 30 minutes to get it, all in all it took us about 50 minutes to cross. If you go by buss it usually takes anywhere between one and three hours. Once you have the autopass it is smooth sailing when you cross the border, it took us less than 20 minutes going back. The amount you have to pay for having your car in Singapore is 35 SD per day, but you do get 10 free days on the autopass, and holidays are always free. If you find the rules difficult to grasp they have a great help line you can call.

We decided pretty late that we were going to Singapore for New Years so all the cheaper hotelrooms were long gone. And being Singapore, cheap doesn’t really mean cheap but rather less expensive. If you want to stay downtown, or around Orchard Road, be prepared to pay. We finally found a place called Hangout@Mt Emily at a walking distance from Orchard Road and YWCA where the rest of the gang had booked rooms (over six months ago). As we booked only a few days before going we ended up paying close to RM 1350 for two nights, breakfast included. And that was the best price we could find, other hotels had rooms for double that sum, for ONE night. Thanks but no.
Turned out to be a nice place, no frills but clean and comfy beds and our own bathroom. The breakfast was bad though, and very crowded. I suggest you eat out instead. They also had parking outside the hotel and it was free for hotelguests, always good to know if you come by car.

The main reason people come to Singapore for New Years is the fireworks down Marina Bay. People sit around for hours, having picnics and just chatting while they wait for the display to start. We hung around for quite a while but at 11 pm our children were so tired that the oldest begged us to go back to the hotel. So we did. I ended up watching the fireworks through the windows of our room, traveling with children means you have to adjust a lot and change plans all the time. Sometimes it can be stressful but most of the time we try to go with the flow, it is easier on your nerves that way.
New Year’s Day we went to the Art & Science Museum and saw the most amazing exhibition about Leonardo da Vinci. They had 13 original sketches on display and loads and loads of stuff to play and experiment with. Our children loved it, and we did too. Da Vinci has always interested me and the exhibit was definitely worth the somewhat steep entrance fee. I think we paid SD 35 per adult which is a lot.

We left Singapore the next day, with our wallets a lot less heavy. Be aware that everything costs at least twice, usually three times, of what it does in Malaysia. But you will find nice shops, the malls are big and if you like spending you have come to the right place. We didn’t do any shopping but looked at all the Christmas decorations that were still up. In that department I can assure you that the Singaporeans have never heard the phrase “less is more”.
We spent the night in Johor Bahru, meeting up with the family at my husband’s cousin. Ended up outside their house, eating satay and talking, with the children running around and playing. English, Malay and Swedish were spoken, the children understanding each other perfectly. And with that, our roadtrip came to an end.

If you want to see photos from Singapore, my husband’s blog can be found here.