Wow! What an awesome night last night. Awakening to the first day of 2014, I wonder what the year has in store for me. I have two more trips planned for this year and I’m incredibly excited for them. And I know that they’ll mean more personal growth, more confidence, more gaping in awe at incredible sights, more photos and many, many happy memories. Travelling has become such an important part of my life over the last couple of years. Looking back – I can’t believe how far I have come. My first overseas trips ever by myself – such an incredible achievement for a shy girl who panics about everything. I couldn’t have wished for more for my life and am so glad I took the plunge. Travel awakens everything in you – your soul, your empathy, your understanding of human nature. Like my favourite quote of this year says – travel is the only thing you buy which makes you richer.
Anyway, thankfully I am not suffering from the worst hangover ever today, but I could be alone in that category. Being a planner – I pre-empted a bunch of sore heads with a mammoth craving for comfort food would be the order of the day and made a booking a House, out at Dempsey Hill. Dempsey Hill used to house the Central Manpower Base of Singapore and the former British army barracks. This is where many young Singaporean men reported for their national service.
Housed in an old army barracks, House is funky. It’s an open plan restaurant, overlooking dense greenery. It’s amazingly close to Orchard Road, but far away enough, and in lush enough surroundings to think you’ve escaped the city for the day. The four of us pour over the menu, choosing burgers and fries and big breakfasts – and wonderfully refreshing cleansing juices, and a little bite of shared dessert. The service is a little slow, but the surroundings and food make up for it. There’s a whole bunch of restaurants out here, and it’s definitely one of those places to come back to.
Fully fed and arriving back ‘in town’, we split up for a while – Leigh and Mike to nap and pack for their departure in the early hours of the morning, and Erin and I in desperate need of a foot massage. We head to Chinatown and find a little place we can just walk in off the street. Half an hour later, and surprised at how quickly I fell asleep, our feet are refreshed. We head over to Clarke Quay to grab some lunch, which consists of a glass of wine due to unusually slow service and our lack of time to sit and wait and then take a cab over to Leigh and Mike’s hotel to pick them up for our next adventure.
We are heading to the River Safari. Newly opened just months ago, the River Safari is based on the same format as the Night Safari. For those who haven’t been – a little tram runs through all the plains/jungles of the world, checking out the animals. The zoo is different in that whilst the animals are effectively still caged into their zones, there are ditches between them and the tram route – so it looks for all intents and purposes as though you are just travelling through an African Savannah. It’s really quite amazing and I’ve been about four times now. The River Safari though, is based on the great river systems of the world. A boat rather than a tram, is supposed to traverse the rivers for your journey. And here is where our first problem starts. We booked tickets online – having waited to ensure the boat was up and running before booking. When we got to the Safari, the boat ride was already booked. So even though you have booked a ticket on line – you still have to arrive early in the morning to separately secure your boat ride. Which is just ridiculous!
We were so disappointed. We walked around the park, but it was really quite uninspiring. The spider monkeys were cool but I guess the big draw card is the pandas – which I love. Again, it was a little disappointing as only one of the pandas was on display, but at least I got to see one.
The staff tried to say that the boat ride wasn’t integral to the experience, but I thought the zoo was a sad let down without it. It’s certainly not a patch on the Night Safari and I wouldn’t recommend it. But don’t take my word for it because I have the beginnings of an eye infection and am feeling incredibly grumpy and hideous, so I could be biased (too much glitter in my eyes?).
Leigh and Mike had tickets to the Night Safari, being their first trip and I readily assured them that it would be a million times better than the River Safari. We hugged them goodbye, wishing them well for their forward travels to Vietnam. The last couple of days have gone so quickly and I’m going to miss them so much, but I am so excited for them and wish them well with a million hugs.
Erin and I head back to the hotel with a hankering for Ramen. We’d googled all sorts of ramen restaurants in the taxi back to the hotel in order to try and find the best one, but in the end, we settled for the one across the road from the hotel at Raffles City. And that was without realizing how many different ramen dishes there are to choose from! We ogled the menu over and over again before choosing one and a beer to wash it down with. And it was a good choice – so amazing and just what we wanted!
I drift off to sleep that night hoping the Night Safari had weaved its magic for Leigh and Mike and that their trip to Vietnam would be magical and they would get to know the excitement of travel as I do.