June 20 - July 11, 2001

 Our Travel Experience

More Photos


Tourist Info


Our Travel Experience

We were not sure that we'd make it to Singapore on our year off. We thought that maybe we'd fly directly from New Zealand to the States. The final deciding factor in getting us to Singapore was that our friend Mike was going to be in town for work. He even offered us his hotel room, so we couldn't refuse!

Staying at Orchard Road:
Whenever we'd traveled to Singapore previously, we'd stayed in Marina Square near the Suntec City office. Only Tara had stayed anywhere other than near Suntec, and that was way back in 1994 on her first trip when she stayed a ways down on Scotts Road in a Melia hotel. Therefore, staying right at the intersection of Orchard and Scotts showed us a whole new side of Singapore. The BUSY side!

Orchard Road was mobbed with people. The density even approached what we remembered finding in Shinjuku or Shibuyu in Tokyo. It was a bit of a shocker after spending five weeks in sparsely populated New Zealand. Because the streets were so busy(on weekdays even), we didn't necessarily enjoy exploring Orchard Road. We did walk a few blocks along Orchard Road in each direction, but by no means did we spend all day shopping and hanging out in the district as most people appeared to be doing. We would pop out for a bit of shopping each day and then retire to either the pool or our room in the Marriot.

The one thing about the Marriot hotel is that it is well located for breakfast foods (if you consider Mrs. Field's cookies & watermelon juice breakfast foods). Seth was especially excited to see a Cinnabon store just around the corner. Unfortunately, it wasn't opening until Saturday. And even more unfortunately, when he went down early Saturday morning for cinnabons, there was a big sign on the door saying "opening Sunday". We survived on Mrs. Field's cookies.

We very much enjoyed seeing Mike. Both of us had seen Mike in Singapore separtately, but this time was unique since all three of us were here together. Next time, we'll have to plan on making sure Mike's wife, Dasha, can also meet up with us 1/2 way around the world from where we first all met.

We mostly enjoyed just hanging out in the hotel room and talking. Mike and Seth would stay up late talking while Tara slept. The two of them would cover topics from religion to politics and Tara was oblivious. We also enjoyed a couple of dinners together - both in the Hyatt Hotel actually. Our big dinner out was at Mezza-9. The food was yummy and the concept of an extremely upscale foodcoart was also appealling since we each could order a different type of food. Our quick Italian dinner was also tasty.

Mike was in Singapore since he was working in a booth at the CommunicAsia 2001 show, so he invited us along to work on Friday. After borrowing a badge from his co-worker who had gone home on Thursday, we did a bit of badge switching and found ourselves all in the trade show. It was a bit odd to be in a semi-work environment. We quickly got over feeling out of place though since there were others walking around in jeans. Friday was the last day of a week-long show and the early afternoon really had that 'last day of the show' feeling. The exhibition hall was not empty of people wandering around, but it was a sparse and slow-paced crowd. The one goodie we were able to get was from the Bloomberg booth. They were taking people's photos in front of a trading floor photo. When these photos were printed, they added a Bloomberg screen photo and it looked as if you were actually in Bloomberg. Seth had no business cards of his own, so he dropped one of our friend Eileen's cards into the fish bowl on the way out. Tara had absolutely no cards. This became a problem when we tried to get a Sony bag. They wouldn't give Seth a bag without a business card. By the time we'd gone back to Mike's booth, gotten some of his cards and returned to the Sony booth, the bags were all gone.

The best demonstration was given by Discreet. They showed how their software was able to create Photoshop editing effects on video. They changed the color of a flower from white to red and then added shiny spots to a cadillac commercial. Tara liked seeing the effects she applies to digital photographs applied to video. We were also impressed with the coke machine that charges the cost of you coke to your mobile phone. Seth just generally liked seeing things in person that he'd read about in his gadget magazines: like the new organic LED screens for mobile phones and bluetooth wireless systems. Overall, we enjoyed wandering around the trade show.

Borders book library. HUGE numbers of people milling around, reading books.

After leaving Mike's hotel room, we switched to another friend's hotel room. Sam and Tara had worked together in London and now Sam was working in Singapore on a an expat contract. Tara figured that the Bank had given Sam an ample housing allowance and that she'd have a gorgeous apartment. Tara was right. Sam's apartment was actually only a 15 minute walk from the Marriot Hotel and the closest shopping/eating area was the same corner of Orchard and Scotts Road.

- Sentosa late on Saturday. Taking a taxi. The small train not coming, not coming, not coming, then being full. The monorail line being so long as to come out of the station, ending up at Asia's southernmost point, the bus line to be equally long.
- Ending up in the Merlion. Meeting the American/British couple at the top observtion deck
- Walking to the cable car. Tara taking a picutre of Seth, the cable car closing.
- Walking towards the bus station. The Merlion's green laser eyes.
- Stopping at a food court, bus home to Sam's.

We especially enjoyed the swimming pool at Sam's apartment complex. Her apartment complex is small and therefore, the pool was hardly ever in use. Tara changed that for the week that we stayed at her place. Tara made a point of enjoying the pool every single day that we were at Sam's. Often, Seth would take a nap and Tara would go down to the pool. Sometimes Seth would wake up, stick his head out the window, get Tara's attention and then come down to the pool himself. Othertimes, Seth would get Tara's attention and she would head back up into the apartment. A few times, we both spent hours at the pool. We were the only ones ever at the pool. One day we discussed travel plans in depty. Another day we just played: doing handstands, splashing each other (it was fun until Tara swallowed a bunch of water), imitating animals, pretending to be synchronized swimmers. Fun!

We also enjoyed spending time with Sam. We all went for the dragon boat races one day and decided, unanimously, that they weren't as impressive as we'd envisioned. However, we did find the lion dance competition to be fascinating. Then, we walked across the street into the Marina Mall for a movie. Funny that both Seth and I remembered exactly where the movie theatre was located! Shrek was funny. Then, it was off to Clarke Quay for a nice dinner outside. We also spent a bunch of time just at home in Sam's living room talking or watching TV. Our other big night out was to the Newton Circus Hawker stands. We ordered way, way, way too much food and it only cost S$58. We had leftovers for lunch for the next two days! It was very nice to be at Sam's.

Sam's pool.
Sam's pool spoiled us for the Ritz Carlton. Tara enjoyed the pool so much that she used the pool every single day we stayed at Sam's place. Seth also often popped down for a bit. No one else was every down using the pool, so we had it all to ourselves. Only once did someone else come to the pool area and that was to sweep up leaves from the desk. It was very peaceful to be all alone by the pool. The area was surrounded by trees that provided shady area and lots of wildlife. Countless times, we watched a bird take a bath or a drink from the side of the pool. One day, when we were in the pool, we watched a flycatcher fly over and then dive down into the pool at least seven times for a quick drink. The birds didn't seem to mind that we were using their pool!

One of the main reasons we wanted to come to Sing was to see friends and see friends we did:
Eileen, her husband and her son - buffet at Clarke Quay
Sam and Jaclyn - Tara only at UDMC seafood center
Jeanette - Seth only
 The Ritz Carlton
- At first, we almost felt like we could be living our life of over a year ago. When we lived in Tokyo, we'd often stayed in the Ritz Carlton together and seen the same friends we'd been seeing recently. With just a bit of imagination, we felt that we might still have the same apartment in Tokyo.
- Why we like the Ritz so much:
The View!
The Space in the room (Tara has a large "alternate bed" and Seth has a big desk
The bathtub!
The big bathroom
The tall, comfortable bed
The friendly employees you run into
- However during this trip, Seth did mention "even the Ritz is not perfect"
Housekeeping phone you to see if you want your room made up even when your privacy light is lit. You must also bar all calls.
The pool water was dirty
The billing system on the TV didn't work

Overall though, staying at the Ritz and eating in nearby food courts was the perfect combination for this trip!

Pat's BBQ

Chinese & Japanese Gardens
Sunday, 1 July
When Seth woke Tara up at 7am, he was just coming to bed. Those four cans of Coca Cola the night before at Pat's BBQ really wound him up and he stayed up all night on the internet. Tara figured that he should sleep until at least 1pm, so she headed out to the Chinese & Japanese Gardens. Tara knew that walking around 13 hectacres of gardens in Singapore's hot weather was not something Seth would relish, so it was the prefect opportunity to go alone.

Singapore on a Sunday morning is empty! The sidewalks between the Ritz and City Hall MRT so sparsely populated that people were still sweeping up yesterday's garbage (with brooms made from sticks of course). The MRT was also practically empty and there was no problem finding a seat. One particular MRT car looked very new and had an innovative pole design. When subway cars get full, it is hard for everyone standing around a pole to find a spot to hold on. No problem in the new car since each single pole split into three separate poles to make for three times the number of handholds. Good idea!

Tara tried to count how many times she'd ridden past the Chinese Gardens MRT without alighting. The best she could do was 10. No wonder she wanted to explore the chinese 7 storied pagoda up close. Today was the day for that. However, before entering the Chinese Gardens, she headed to the Japanese Gardens.

If she'd seen these Japanese Gardens before living in Japan for two years, she might have been impressed. But, as it was, the gardens appeared very run down and ill kept. The fact that Tara was able to explore the gardens along was the only saving factor. The gardens were so quiet in fact that Tara came across a sleeping monitor lizard in the middle of a paved walkway. Tara immediately stopped and took out her camera. The monitor lizard continued to sleep contentedly in the sun right up to the point when Tara took a photo. The noise from her camera awakened the startled lizard.  Even though the monitor lizard must have been four foot from head to tail, he had no problem running off in the direction of the water. The lizard didn't actually go in the water, but stopped just shy of the edge to look back over at Tara. He was big! This first monitor lizard sighting was then followed by a second, larger lizard sighting. The second lizard was not sunning himself in the middle of the pathway, but was sitting off the pathway near a tree. At first, Tara thought the lizard was just another root. However, since she'd already seen on looking at her, she noticed that the "tree root" had a distinctive crook in it that was actually the monitor lizard's head. This lizard must have been five feet long. He was awake, so Tara did not startle him as she moved closer to take his photo. When she got too close, he just slowly backed away towards the water. Neat. Two monitor lizards spied in the Japanese Garden.

Next, it was on to the Chinese Gardens. By now a few other people had entered the garden. Crossing the arched bridge, Tara speculated the the noisy family entering the Japanese Gardens would not be as lucky as she'd been in spying lizards. However, in addition to lizards, there were many other animals in the gardens: ants, spiders, turtles and birds. The spiders, turles and birds were shy and didn't want to have anything to do with people. But the ants were very friendly. It was horrible actually since I was wearing sandals. I first encountered the friendly ants while taking my first photo. As I was setting the camera ontop of a garbage can, my feet began to itch. I looked down and so at least five ants scampering across the top of my foot. Yuk! I had to undo the velco on my sandals to be sure I'd wiped all of them off my feet. I then looked down at the cement walkway and saw hundreds of ants crossing in a line. After that, I was a bit more careful where I stepped.

Ants aside, the Chinese garden was enjoyable. Especially as Tara climbed the 180 steps to the top of the 7 storied pagoda, she reflected on how much Seth would have hated the day out that she was enjoying. It was HOT. It was sunny. She was climbing to a high place. It was perfect but Seth wouldn't have thought so. The best section in the Chinese garden was the Bonsai garden. It was huge with hundreds of bonsai plants artfully arranged in a spectacular garden setting. This is where Tara paused for a while to write postcards. Finally, after writing 10 postcards and exploring all of the garden's attractions, it was time to head back to the hotel. Just as Tara was leaving, she spied another monitor lizard. This time, she saw a baby lizard who was barely two feel long. The lizard was especially timid and quickly disappeared into a hole in the ground. Definitely a fun morning trip.

Seth was awake when Tara arrived back home. He took one look at her sweaty, wet appearance and stated "I'm glad I didn't go."

Luxury Splurges
Six nights at the Ritz Carlton

Backpacker Savings
Three nights in Mike's hotel room
Six nights at Sam's apartment
Foodcourt lunches and dinners while staying at the Ritz
Didn't fly to Bali or Dubai or back to KL

Category Rating Comments
Overall Experience -
Ease of Journey -
Accommodation  -
Activities -
Coolness -  
Tourist Info

Marriot Hotel on Orchard Road
Ritz Carlton at Marina Square