We used the time to visit the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, which made for a long, exhausting day in the heat. A lot of the animals (especially at the night safari) were allowed to roam somewhat free, with the orangutans having a very large open enclosure that allowed them to climb trees within a large area. During lunch, we ate delicious Indian food and watched baby orangutans climbing ropes; it was pretty fantastic. Other highlights were the white tigers, fishing cats, erotic baboons, probiscus monkeys, and giant tortoises.
We also entertained ourselves on the Singapore Flyer, the world's largest Ferris wheel. It would have been a mildly better experience if our cabin wasn't filled with screaming children, but catching glimpses of Malaysia and Indonesia, watching the thousands of boats waiting to unload, and realizing the vastness of Singapore made it definitely worth it.
Other highlights of the trip included Fort Canning Park, with all its ancient and more recent history (WW2 bunkers, archeological digs and Raffles' house, considered the founder of modern Singapore, as we learned at the Asian Civilizations Museum), SkyPark where we got to watch the rich people frolic like monkeys in a cage (or were we the monkeys?), and Lau Pa Sat market, for delicious food. I will never forget the day when Greg suggested we go to Orchard Road, which is chock full of shopping malls. I will never understand how Singaporeans can shop so much! His excuse was that he wanted to go somewhere cool, but after all the giant crowds of people he pretty quickly changed his mind (and my desire to buy things may have also affected his decision to want to leave).
Some observations about Singapore (Of course, this is based on our limited experience... we really didn't wander too far into residential or industrial areas):
- Ridiculously clean! So many people were employed simply to keep the city clean. Every bathroom seemed to have a dedicated cleaner, who would constantly be scrubbing the stalls down.
- The city was very well designed (Calgary could learn a few lessons): transit was efficient (and clean!), there were lots of public washrooms and garbage cans, even solar-powered, motion sensitive fans were installed on a popular boardwalk which had little shade.
- People were always out and about - shopping and eating. Streets were always busy!