Sunday, 13 December 2015

Episode 44 Singapore, Malaysia and Queensland

Lorelei’s Sailing Adventures

Welcome to Episode 44

SINGAPORE, MALAYSIA & QUEENSLAND


Normally our blog is all about our “sailing” adventures.
This post (like our last post) has no sailing as we have been doing some land based travels.

At the end of Episode 43, we had just left Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand after 2 fantastic weeks there visiting friends David & Maddie.


Our route for this Episode of the Blog.

Our flight from Chain Mai to Bangkok was uneventful and so was our evening flight from Bangkok to Singapore.

From Bangkok we had to fly up through a storm which gave us a good view of the cloud formations.


Climbing up from a busy Bangkok Airport

Going up through a storm


Singapore’s Changi International Airport

SINGAPORE

We arrived at Singapore at 9pm and were really tired – and hungry.

At Bangkok we sat next to an Aussie couple Peter and Tran in the departure lounge.
We bumped into them again at the immigration queue in Singapore, again in the Taxi rank and then funnily enough again in the foyer of the hotel.
We all had a laugh as we could have shared a cab….
We were all hungry so we went to Chinatown and the 4 of us had a great feed.

We had booked into the Furama City Centre Hotel in Singapore.


When we arrived, they upgraded us to a 15th floor suite as we were staying for 1 week.
We got to our room after 10pm to find an incredible view over the city and harbour.  We had a huge window 2.5m/8ft tall and the entire width of the room and never grew tired of the amazing view.

As we took this photo the entertainment centre in the middle of the frame was all lit up and going crazy as Taylor Swift was performing on her world tour.

For our first full day we went and explored town and did some camera accessory shopping and brought a new tripod.


Singapore has some unusual looking buildings…

The most iconic building in Singapore is the newly built Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
It’s just huge with a span across the top that resembles a ship.




The most Iconic Statue in Singapore is the Merlion,
which is half Mermaid / half Lion.




Whilst in Singapore we either walked everywhere or caught the MRT rail system.
Compared to the Sydney or Brisbane rail system, the MRT is incredible and super modern, clean, efficient, cheap and with so many trains, very little waiting.
Whilst it’s the same the western world over, everyone on the train was glued to their iPhone.



We soon realised that Singapore really starts to come alive at night and the rest of our week in Singapore reflected that.
We would sleep in till 9am, have breakfast, start our activities at 11am and go until at least 11pm.
It was so unusual for us compared to being on board Lorelei when by 11am, half the day is over.

The highlight for Paul was the 3 night time light shows on around the city.

The first one we went to was the OCBC Garden Rhapsody.
This was located at the Gardens by the Bay Park where there is a stunning forest of giant metal trees that stand over 50m/175ft tall.
The trees come alive in a brilliant light show that can been seen from many locations. The 20 minute performance is on twice each night.








We enjoyed it so much the first time from the lookout that we moved to underneath the trees and watched the 2nd show 1 hour later.
We took over 600 photos and it was very hard to pick which ones to put in the blog. We could have filled an entire episode with the various colour combinations from the light show.







On the way home we stopped to take some photos of the magnificent Marina Bay Sands Hotel all lit up at night.
Paul was very happy with the results – and the new tripod.
As we were taking the photos we just caught the end of the Marina Bay Sands laser show which is projected from the top of the building.






Walking back through Marina Bay Sands was just incredible. The place is just so huge it’s hard to fathom how they built it.
The interior looking from either side of the walkway through the centre is enormous.


In front of the Hotel is the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Complex.
It is very ritzy and has a canal with Gondolas running though the lower level.



We also took some terrific photos of the city skyline.


The glass building in the middle of the shot below is surrounded by water.
It was amazing and all the more so when we realised it was an Yves Saint Laurent retail store.


Lisa on the Olympic Boardwalk

We found a street in the city cordoned off and loads of stalls selling Sate Chicken Sticks.
There was a sign saying some crazy person had consumed 150 sticks in just 20 minutes.



China town was a favourite place to visit and eat as it was only a 2 minute walk from the hotel.
The food choices were immense and most places were open until midnight.

In the centre of China Town are a few very significant temples.
The oldest Hindu temple in Singapore is the Sri Mariamman Temple which was built in 1827.
The statues on the rooves of the buildings were very intricate.



The inside of the temple also had some detailed statues and paintings on both the ceilings and walls.



The rest of Chinatown also had lots to see from stalls, shops, temples, and restaurants along with traditional medicine outlets and massage centres.




We even found a Tintin shop which was great but so expensive.
There were lots of limited edition things with some of the small figurines as much as 189 000 Euro.




The most impressive temple in Chinatown is the Budda Tooth Relic Temple.


It was only built in the last decade. It has 7 levels with a main hall and mezzanine below and a museum with a lot of information, history and relics on the top levels. The detail inside is incredible.











The top level is outdoors and has an interesting rotating prayer drum.



Outside during the day it looked Ok but at night it looked much better all lit up.



We managed to watch the Marina Bay Sands light Show over 4 different nights from 4 different locations.





We also took some other photos whilst at this location of the city.



This was the view of the lasers from our room.


And this was the laser show from the other side of the harbour.



And again from directly underneath the building


November 11th is Remembrance Day.
For Remembrance Day we decided to visit the Changi War Museum.
For Paul it was very special as his grandfather Hugh Joyce was a long serving POW at the Changi prisoner of war camp during WW2.


The site for the POW camp was the Changi Prison which at the time was newly built in 1939 and only a few years prior to the war.
When then Japanese took Singapore they converted it to house the detained ex-pats and later on, the POW’s.
As the number of prisoners grew, the camp spread to outside the prison walls and into the neighbouring fields.

After the war the area was eventually converted back to the Singapore jail and it was upgraded to a modern maximum security centre only a decade ago.

Whilst not much remains of the POW camp, they have still retained the original front gates and 160m of the front wall.


The historic chapel which the POW’s built was relocated and restored/rebuilt in the new Museum which is next to the jail.



It was a very sobering experience to see the museum and Paul was
pretty upset when he walked out.
We managed to find Hugh’s details in the POW register and it was interesting that he was listed as “Missing Presumed Dead”.


This is one of the photos we saw of Aussie and
British POW’s inside the cramped prison.

Whilst we were in Singapore, the Indian community celebrated Deepavali which is
the Festival of Lights.
It is celebrated on the 15th day of Kartika in the Hindu Calendar.


For the evening we caught the MRT into Little India to help celebrate.
The place was packed and the streets super crowded with 1000’s of people.
We went to dinner at an awesome Indian vegetarian restaurant before braving the streets.



To get the best shots of the lights over the streets, we had to wait behind the traffic lights and when they turned red, run out onto the street and take photos before they turned green again.
For the people with iPhones it was fine but Paul had a dslr on a tripod which proved challenging – but he got the shots….


Looking back up the street, this is what was bearing
down on us when the lights changed….




We soon realised that the streets were filled with 1000’s of partying men and NO Indian women. Deepavali is for everyone but we just couldn’t understand were all the women were.
The only ones we saw were western tourists.
What we didn’t like were the Indian men making a nuisance towards Lisa and the other blonde western women.
It was pretty disgusting their attitude towards the women and soon we got sick of it and left – and never went back….


SENTOSA ISLAND

Just 2 MRT stops from the city centre is the Harbour front.
Across from the bay is the incredible Sentosa Resort World which is on Sentosa Island.

The place is massive and can be accessed by monorail, cable car, bus or boardwalk over the water.
To say there is lots to do is a major understatement!!

There are many resorts as well as retail stores, bars, caf├ęs and restaurants.

For the tourists there are the big attractions like Universal Studios, The Aquarium, Sky Tower, A huge water park and i-fly – the world’s largest indoor skydive centre.

Combine all of that with scores of other activities like luge runs, Segway tours, museums, the Merlion, Fort Silaso, flow boards, zip-lines, numerous beaches, cable cars, etc and you have a huge option of things to do.

At night there are 3 amazing light shows as well.

If you could afford it, you could easily spend 1 week there, go hard-core and still not do it all.

We spent a full day there from start to finish and stumbled out at 11pm totally stuffed.

The Sentosa Monorail arriving at Resort World

Universal Studios


The Main Street of Universal Studios

Paul’s favourite chocolate – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups



Luge and chair lift

Flowboarding – a beginner on the left and
an experienced guy on the right

Beautiful white sand beaches but no waves and looking
out over about 1000 commercial ships.

Sentosa Island was a Naval Base in WW2 and there are many remnants from the war including Fort Silarso and numerous Pillboxes

Segway tours were very popular

At night Sentosa came alive with light and lots of things still to do.
The Merlion looked great by day and even better at night.




The i-fly building was the same.



We went into the centre at night and were excited to see a group of 4 experienced skydivers practicing their formation routines.
There’s no photography allowed inside while the people are flying so we took one of the wind tube in between flights.


The highlight of the evening was the Wings of Time laser/light show that is on twice nightly.
It costs $18p/p but is well worth it.
We took 100’s of photos of the performance and it was a real challenge to pick ten photos out for the blog.











On the way home we took some other photos of Sentosa at night and stopped in to see the Lake of Dreams light show.




As we walked home across the boardwalk (the cable-cars and monorail had already closed…) we stopped to see the cruise ships in the bay and the boardwalk all lit up.



LEGOLAND - MALAYSIA

About 5 months prior we were sitting in a restaurant in Lakey Surf Town at Sumbawa, Indonesia with Aussie friend Nathan.
Over lunch we met a great Aussie family who were there for the surf too.
When we got talking about future plans, they said they were heading to Malaysia to go to Legoland for their 2 children.
This got Paul’s attention immediately as he loved Lego as a kid and had no idea there was a Legoland in Asia.
Paul remembered how when he was young he got a brochure in a Lego set of the (at the time) only Legoland which was in Holland.
He dreamt of going there one day……

 So over the next 5 months we did loads of research on the place and had booked tickets to go when we were in Singapore.

Getting there from Singapore was surprisingly easy as we could do it by bus. Although it was a bit of a mission at the border unloading off the bus, clearing out, loading back on, going 1km across a causeway, loading off again, clearing into Malaysia (with all the usual body scans, baggage x-rays, etc) and continuing on our way.

We had arrived on the first bus and we very surprised at how few people were at the park. It was empty!!! We figured it would get busy as the day went on but it did not.  We estimated only a few hundred people in a theme park the size of Movie World or Sea World.


With no lining up necessary, we went over to the Legoland Hotel first to have a look.




We decided to do the rides first and the staff were just waiting with the rollercoaster sitting there for a customer to turn up.
Anybody could just stay on for ride after ride if they wanted.


There were lots of smaller Lego designs all throughout the park.






One of the highlights was the Star Wars Exhibition.
They had made a very funny Lego/Star Wars Movie which had everyone from young to old in stitches.

The Star Wars Lego creations were a set from each of Star Wars movie.
They were very impressive.








We went up the Lego Sky tower which was a rotating viewing platform over 50m high.
It gave a great view of the park as well as the very empty bus and car park.

The Bus and Car park – both less than 10% full.


The Kingdom theme area was cool with the numerous roller coasters and Castles.





To get out of the heat for a while, we headed indoors where we could build Lego cars and race them down a race track.
The wheels were all identical so you just had to build your own chassis and fit it out how you wanted.
Lisa’s was more robust and a hit with the little kids, but Paul’s won the drag race.



At most theme parks, we have found the food average and/or expensive.
Not at Legoland!!
For lunch we had an amazing turkey, pumpkin, fetta & basil pizza with garlic bread and drinks for under $20.



In the afternoon we headed into the centre of the park for everyone’s highlight, Mini-land.
Mini-land is a scale re-creation of Asia’s most prominent structures. There is at least one from each country and a few from Malaysia as it’s the host country and for a limited time, Singapore as they celebrated in 2015 their SG50 anniversary of independence.

Over 50 million Lego pieces were used in the construction of Mini-land.



The famous Ankor-Wat in Cambodia.
The world’s largest Religious Temple.

A Chinese Temple – Note the Great Wall on the hill in the background

The Taj Mahal

The Singapore Flyer

The Harbour front of Singapore



The largest single creation was a scale model of the Kuala Lumpur
International Airport.




A Thailand Temple


The Royal Barge in Myanmar


Afterwards we needed a break again and watched our first ever 4D movie which was excellent. We walked out a little wet and covered in snow!!!

We also watched a Ninjago live show which was indoors. The creator of the show must have also created the Wings of Time show at Sentosa. They we made using similar special effects and it was brilliant for all ages.




Before the park closed we went to the lost kingdom and did a ride where you could shoot targets using light beam guns.
We did it 3 times and the last time Paul took photos of Lisa shooting.




We left the park after it closed at 6pm and were on the 6:45pm bus back to Singapore.

As we arrived back at the Singapore waterfront, the night was clear & still making it perfect for a few last minute city shots.



For our last full day in Singapore, we relaxed, went shopping and had some great food.  We had bigger plans but cancelled them as we were totally spent.
We surmised that we had walked over 10klm for the last 7 days (and took about 600 photos per day) and we weren’t doing anymore.

It had been a fabulous (albeit a bit expensive) week in Singapore but it was time to move on to our next destination – Australia.

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA


We flew on a Friday night and landed at the Gold Coast (Surfers Paradise) in QLD on the Saturday morning.
Fortunately our friends Rod & Mel, daughter Claudia and son Hunter (who are originally NSW Central Coasties and we cruised with on their catamaran Heartbeat 2) live only a few minutes from the airport.
They picked us up at 8:30am and by 9:15am we were surfing across the road from their new place on Currumbin Beach.
The family has a stack of boards and over the next 3 days we rode, shortboards, longboards, SUP and sometimes all 3 in one surf session!

Rod, Paul and Claudia (Hunter was still surfing…)

In the afternoon we walked/cycled down to a surf spot called The Alley.





We had some great meals out too.


We had a look at the border monument which separates QLD & NSW and overlooks the Tweed River bar entrance.

How do you know which person is Rod??? His Shorts……

Claudia standing in QLD and Hunter standing in NSW

Looking down over the Tweed River entrance

On the Sunday arvo we went for a surf road trip down to Cabarita beach after a lazy start to the day catching up and cycling around the local area.

Mel and Lisa enjoying a coffee and the view from Mel’s balcony.


The surf was bigger and better than the Goldie and produced some long rides.


Hunter has been flying drones for over a year now and is a very competent pilot.
He brought his new 4kHD drone down to get some footage of the coastline and the surfers.
Paul joined him and they found Dolphins playing in the waves and school of over 100 large Manta Rays just 100m out past the surf line.






After a fantastic long weekend, we moved onto Paul’s parents, Ron and Diann’s house in rural Queensland.
It involved a train from the Gold Coast to Brisbane, a bus from Brisbane to Toowoomba and then a 2 hour car journey further west from there.

It was so good to see them and the property as we had not been there in 4 years.



The trees and gardens on the property are forever changing and many of the flowers were out creating nice photo opportunities, particularly the roses.









For our 2 weeks on the property we relaxed, ate lots of yummy home grown food and helped tackle some of the bigger jobs including mowing, pruning, and clearing old trees, rebuilding the chook pen and cleaning the fishpond.

Cleaning the Fishpond


Lisa collecting the eggs each morning

Lots of yummy home grown cherry tomatoes

Behind the house is a bird feeder.
It attracts many species of bird from large to small early each morning,













November 20th was Lisa’s birthday and we cooked a special dinner and lots of yummy treats.  Ron’s birthday was 2 weeks prior so we had a joint celebration.



Paul and Diann are both into photography (like mother, like son….) and they would set their tripods up in the arvo waiting for the sunset.


The sun sets over the Bunya Mountains and looks fantastic from the front balcony of the house.




Some nights we would watch it from the garden and other nights whilst having a drink on the side balcony.



BBQ’s in the afternoon were always great fun out on the back patio.


There is lots of wildlife on the property aside from the birds.
There are kangaroos, wallabies, possums, hares, lots of snakes & spiders and some pretty groovy frogs.




During the second week we had some wild weather.
In the mornings we had some cold and very foggy mornings.


During the days we would get temperatures into the 40+ degrees, followed by a wild afternoon storm starting to form.


One afternoon we had a raging storm front develop and come right over the house.



Paul was out taking photos when a huge bolt of lightning hit just behind the house. The noise was ear splitting and very scary.
Then he heard Lisa and Diann screaming and ran around to find them pretty rattled as the lightning had stuck the ground only a few feet from where they were standing.

It then started hailing and with it came some very strong winds.
We were worried about the windows breaking so we had to scramble and get all the storm shutters closed quickly.




When the weather settled down we got stuck into the biggest chore which involved cutting up a series of fallen hardwood trees.
The trunks were big and heavy and it took 2 days for us to cut them up and get them to the top part of the property for splitting into to smaller pieces for winter firewood.



After 2 weeks we returned to Brisbane and tried to link up with some friends but sadly they all fell through.
Some were holidaying overseas, some were interstate on business & most were too busy in the lead up to Christmas.
So we booked a flight from Brisbane and flew to Sydney to visit family and friends there and spend Christmas on the NSW Central Coast.


So that’s it for 2nd episode of our 2 part land travelling adventure while we have a break from being on board our yacht Lorelei.

It’s also the last blog post for 2015.

Early next year sees us returning to Lorelei and continuing on with our sailing adventures.
We have a very big year of travelling planned for 2016 with lots sailing, exploring and even some outback 4WD adventures……

Have a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year.

Paul Hogger
Lisa Hogger
Yacht Lorelei (having a well earnt vacation….)

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