~ by Allan
It’s hip to hop on and off.
Today we had breakfast and I discovered a new fruit. It looks like a speckled watermelon with a hint of strawberry. It’s quite good and was set up on an auxiliary fruit bar with these chilled sunken stainless steal canisters holding ice cream. To keep with the fruit theme I scooped up some mango ice cream. I’m on vacation not a diet. I will ask the name of the new fruit tomorrow but fear I won’t be able to pronounce or spell it. For now, it’s speckled watermelon.
The hop on hop off bus was right across the street from our hotel inside the visitor center. We picked out our combo ticket and hopped on the bus. After a short ride we hopped off at the icon of the Singapore skyline, the Marina Sands Hotel.
The hotel has three vertical towers topped by a horizontal deck spanning all three towers. It is said that the design was to look like the Chinese symbol for good luck.
We then walked through the atrium interior and out through the back into the Singapore gardens. The landscape design was fantastic with many different species of plants. Many of the trees were hundreds of years old, transplanted and lovingly cared for here.
Our path eventually took us through the Chinese and Indian gardens to get us to the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome.
The Cloud Forest is a rain forest of various plants and featured a artificial mountain to show the plants that grow in “different elevations”. It was about fives times bigger and more detailed than I expected. All of this is kept in a glass dome structure. We climbed our way up the mountain via the flying walkways suspended around and through the mountain. After walking down the mountain there was a short movie showing how we are screwing up the planet. Spoiler alert, humans are idiots.
For a break we had a quick lunch of fruit bowls, eating them with a toothpick while people watching from a bench on a jogging trail. Many schools kids were visiting on field trips learning about the environment and climate changes. They were cute.
With our feet rested we headed to the Flower Dome, which was exactly what it sounded like, again with impressive examples of plants and trees. I was awestruck at the age of the trees. Some were hundreds of years old, big thick and probably chosen for their aesthetics . Even the rocks were cool. Very feng shway .
Side note, many of you know about my foot problems and now a blister was slowing me down. Marla was having a plantar fasciitis issue which was keeping her at my pace. We were a matched couple. Marla’s fancy new running shoes were helping her, but I was fighting these cursed feet and losing.
We made it back to the bus stop and after a few minutes wait we hopped on. We noticed that the traffic was very light and flowed smoothly before I said something about how easy the driving looked for a major downtown city. This was partially due to the traffic signals which are computer run with input from each car’s transponder, then charges you for traveling on every major road. Surprisingly unlike Rome, Paris or Madrid there were hardly any motorcycles or scooters buzzing about.
The bus now toured the financial district and informed us about car buying in Singapore. Our audio guide said that to own a car in Singapore you must pay for a permit which is roughly the price of the car and it’s only good for ten years. This explained why every car seemed less than ten years old. This may also be why Singapore exports more used cars than any other Asian nation.
We then rode downtown where our audio guide now talked about the apartments going for around 3 million for a basic three bedroom unit. Eventually we made our way uptown near the National Orchid Garden and where those apartments by contrast are about 6 million. Fortunately most Singaporeans live in more affordable high rise buildings that are government subsidized.
After a long day of hopping we made our way to a massive food court located in the mall that we would use to cut through to the hotel’s street. We both ordered clay pots of chicken and rice. The meal had that burning clay pot smell and was still sizzling on the tray. None of the food vendors had drinks, you purchased them from the lady at the drink kiosk.
With our bellies full and on our way back to the hotel we bought this magnet that read, “Singapore is a fine city” you are fined for littering, spitting, chewing gum, etc. So true. Singapore is beautiful, clean and quiet.