06
Sep 13

Thailand 2012: Psy in Bangkok, Siam Ocean World

Date: 27th November 2012

The previous day (26th November) was spent… nowhere. When I woke up, it was raining heavily. I had breakfast from the hotel restaurant and then just stayed indoors for much of day, doing some work online. The plan for today was to go to Maeklong ‘Railway’ Market, but it was far out and given the weather conditions, there was no guarantee I would get there in time for me to see the trains pass through.

Today (27th November), the weather only got slightly better.

Magnum chocolate truffle

I had a Magnum for ‘breakfast’

I decided to have an early lunch and walked around the area heading towards Asoke BTS.

Shalimar Indian restuarant Bangkok

I ended up find this spot on Soi 11, choc full of restaurants and a few pubs

I ate at Shalimar Sharma’s (pictured above) simply because I had reached that stage when I missed Indian masala. It had a North Indian thali which cost ฿250. Feeling full, I then began my day by going to Siam Center.

Siam Center stage setup Bangkok

I had seen a huge billboard stating Psy would be appearing on stage here today

Psy press conference stage Bangkok

Even though I was officially sick of the song, I thought why not just get a glimpse of the guy in person at this press conference

Psy press conference Bangkok

Being a work day, there weren’t too many fans either. Mostly press, and tourists.

Gangnam Style dance Siam Paragon Bangkok

I head way too much “Gangnam Style” in Thailand. Like, every-freaking-day!

Elephants Gangnam style dance

“Gangnam Style”-fever reached fever pitch in Thailand, they even made elephants do the dance

Gangnam Style Psy in Bangkok

Psy was finally in the building!

Psy in Bangkok

Before taking to the stage, Psy left a message for the King of Thailand, who was hospitalized

Bangkok passengers Siam BTS station

Even passengers waiting for the train were looking at what was going on

Continue reading “Thailand 2012: Psy in Bangkok, Siam Ocean World” »


13
Jun 11

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Zoo (Day 4, Part 1)

Date:  22nd November 2010

Yesterday evening was nice. Today was the last day of Loy Krathong, and I’m guessing tonight’s events were going to be a ‘grand finale’ to the festival. But first, I decided to move out of Rux Thai and take a single room at Centerplace Guesthouse because I was going to be out all day and tomorrow morning, I would leave for Chiang Rai.

A single room at Centerplace Guesthouse costs just 200 baht (Rs. 300/$6.7/€4.5).

After transferring my bags, I decided to spend my morning at Chiang Mai Zoo, which is en route to Doi Suthep.

Chiang Mai zoo entrance ThailandNow I knew Chiang Mai Zoo wasn’t going to be as impressive as Singapore Zoo, but the main reason I chose to visit the zoo is to see a rare animal I rank among my favourites in the animal kingdom — the giant panda!

Chiang Mai Zoo has three of them. But the entrance fees to the zoo are broken up by the individual attractions the place has to offer. The zoo fee costs just ฿100, but it does not include the chance to see the pandas. That’s another ฿100. Also, if you want avail the open air bus, that’s ฿20. So all-in-all, I paid ฿220 (Rs. 325/$7.2/€5) for my entry.

Chiang Mai entrance elephant fountainFlamingos Chiang Mai zoo ThailandChiang Mai zoo white parrot

Indian elephant Chiang Mai zoo

The Indian elephant

I walked a bit, saw a few animals at the entrance that I’ve seen many time before and then hopped on to the zoo bus to head straight for the pandas.

Chiang Mai zoo minibus

You have a driver who gives commentary about the attractions as you go along, but it’s only in Thai

Chiang Mai zoo panda statues

I got down here

Chiang Mai zoo Lin Ping house entrance

You hand over the panda entry ticket here

Chiang Mai zoo way to Lin Ping house

First up, Lin Ping, the youngest panda in Chiang Mai Zoo

Chiang Mai zoo Lin Ping playground

This is Lin Ping’s playground. So, where is Lin Ping? (Photo taken on Nokia E72)

Chiang Mai zoo Lin Ping sleep

To the extreme right corner… she was asleep (I hope)

Pandas in Thailand Chiang Mai zoo

Chiang Mai Zoo has 3 pandas, among the only 35 outside China

While young Lin Ping gets her massive play ground, her parents Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui are in a separate air-conditioned enclosure not too far away.

Chuang Chuang panda Chiang Mai zoo

“Ni hao” (Chinese for “hello”)

Chiang Mai zoo panda Lin Hui walking wood

This is the female panda Lin Hui

Chiang Mai zoo panda Lin Hui Chiang Mai zoo panda eating
Chiang Mai zoo panda Thailand
Chiang Mai zoo panda Thailand

Chiang Mai zoo panda Lin Hui playing

Play time for Lin Hui

Panda playing Chiang Mai zooChiang Mai zoo Lin Hui lookingChiang Mai panda walking ThailandChiang Mai zoo panda plants

Chiang Mai zoo Chuang Chuang eating

And this bloke here is Xuang Xuang (Chuang Chuang)

Chiang Mai zoo Xuang Xuang panda eating Thailand

Fussy eater! :-)

Chiang Mai zoo Chuang Chuang sucking thumb

Post-brunch sucking-of-thumb*

Chiang Mai zoo Chuang Chuang eating bamboo

Then ‘tooth pick’ :-)

Panda Xuang Xuang Chiang Mai zoo

Look at its ears! :-)

Chiang Mai zoo panda Xuang Xuang eating

Lin Ping was actually born using insemination because this bloke wasn’t interested in ‘doing the job’ with wifey

Chiang Mai zoo Lin Hui eating bamboo

The entire process of how they inseminated Lin Hui is explained near Lin Ping’s section

Chuang Chuang Lin Hui pandas information Chiang Mai zoo

The first two pandas at Chiang Mai zoo

After getting my panda fix, I moved on.

Chiang Mai zoo monorail train

The zoo has a monorail service too (which costs extra as well)

Chiang Mai zoo 7eleven store

And the ubiqitous 7-Eleven can be found inside the zoo as well

I took the tram car again, and it stopped for a while at the newly opened aquarium.

Chiang Mai zoo aquarium entry fee

At those prices, I wasn’t keen on checking it out

Chiang Mai zoo aquarium lake

Chiang Mai zoo monorail service

Chiang Mai zoo ducks pond

Chiang Mai zoo sign Thailand

Chiang Mai zoo koala tree Thailand

Tree hug

Chiang Mai koalas tree

Chiang Mai zoo koala sleeping on tree

Koalas were busy sleeping

Chiang Mai zoo koala sleeping waking upChiang Mai zoo koala sleeping

Chiang Mai zoo koala sleeping fact

Natural born sleepers

Chiang Mai zoo Dunger koala tail

Dunger is one of the koalas

Chiang Mai zoo kids park

The Kids park

They have a kids section with a bunch of cute animals and some rather interesting tiny creatures.

Chiang Mai zoo pygmy marmoset Thailand

This creature is called the pygmy marmoset

Chiang Mai zoo pygmy marmoset

It’s a really tiny animal and it moved funnily

Pygmy marmoset Chiang Mai zooChiang Mai zoo kids parkChiang Mai zoo kids park garden flowers

Chiang Mai zoo deer park reindeers

I moved on to the deer section next

Chiang Mai zoo deer park

Chiang Mai zoo deer walkway

There’s an overhead walkway

Chiang Mai zoo reindeerChiang Mai zoo ibex deer

Lama Chiang Mai zoo

Lamas

Chiang Mai zoo steep hill

I walked to the next attraction

Chiang Mai zoo monorail track view

There was a huge tree trunk which had a set of stairs you could climb to get this view (Taken on my Nokia E72)

Next, I entered a birds enclosure.

Chiang Mai zoo Lady Amherst's pheasant

Lady Amherst’s pheasant

Chiang Mai zoo Lady Amherst's pheasant tail

Lovely looking thing

Great hornbill Chiang Mai zoo Thailand

Great Hornbill

Trumpeter hornbill Chiang Mai zoo

Trumpeter hornbill

Oriental pied hornbill Chiang Mai zoo

Oriental pied hornbill

Indian peacock Chiang Mai zoo

India’s national bird — the peacock (Edit: A reader just pointed out it took a dump. Didn’t even notice that until she told me!)

Country rooster Chiang Mai zoo

Got the lighting right on this one

Siamese fireback pheasant Chiang Mai zoo

Siamese fireback pheasant

Pheasant Chiang Mai zooPheasants Chiang Mai zoo

Chiang Mai zoo birds enclosure panorama

This is the birds enclosure (Panorama comprised of 6 shots)

White bellied sea eagle Chiang Mai zoo Thailand

Birds of prey next. This is the White bellied sea eagle

Black kite Chiang Mai zoo staring

A kite… staring at me

White breast kite Chiang Mai zoo

Grey head fish eagle Chiang Mai zoo

Grey head fish eagle

Black kite eyes Chiang Mai zoo

Seriously, stop staring

Black kite beak head Chiang Mai zoo

“Duuhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”

Ostrich Chiang Mai zoo

Ostrich (if you didn’t know)

Porcupine Chiang Mai zoo Thailand

Porcupines

After the birds, next up was a large open section entirely for Gibbons.

White gibbon monkey swinging Chiang Mai zoo

Apes with really long arms

Black gibbon teeth Chiang Mai zooGibbon monkey hanging tree Chiang Mai zoo

Gibbon swinging on tree Chiang Mai zoo

It was fun to watch these gibbons swing around

Gibbon sitting on tree Chiang Mai zoo

Chiang Mai zoo buddhist monks

The gibbons have a pretty large playground

Siamese crocodile Chiang Mai zoo

But they share the compound with a Siamese crocodile

Buddhist monk golden umbrella Chiang Mai zoo ThailandGibbon section Chiang Mai zooWhite handed gibbons Chiang Mai zooWhite handed gibbon closeup Chiang Mai zoo

Gibbons fighting Chiang Mai zoo Thailand

Fun to watch apes play-fight

White handed gibbon feet shape Chiang Mai zoo Thailand

Look at their feet. Nature and its designs!

White handed gibbons fighting Chiang Mai zoo ThailandWhite handed gibbon scratching Chiang Mai zoo

Rhinoceros Chiang Mai zoo Thailand

The only Rhinoceros in Thailand

Rhino stegosaurus head Chiang Mai zoo

When I saw this photo, I thought to myself “Looks so much like a stegosaurus”

Elephant ride Chiang Mai zoo Thailand

They have elephant rides here, costs extra of course

Chiang Mai zoo elephant ride Thailand

Humboldt penguins Chiang Mai zoo

Humboldt penguins, in a seperate temeprature-controlled zone

Penguins Chiang Mai zoo Thailand

Chiang Mai zoo Thailand pathway

It’s only at this point I realized Chiang Mai Zoo is quite big

View Chiang Mai city from Chiang Mai zoo

It occupies a large area and is quite hilly

Chiang Mai zoo mountain goat

Shooting club ATV Chiang Mai zoo Thailand

The irony of having a shooting club inside a zoo(!) is beyond me

Luge car station Chiang Mai zoo

The land has the slopes for luge riding, but I didn’t see anybody in the cars

Chiang Mai zoo tree panorama

Went in search for more animals

Black bear Chiang Mai zoo Thailand

The Asian black bear

Black bear sad face Chiang Mai zoo

:(

Black bear Chiang Mai zoo wall

Poor thing only has his shadow to talk to

African lion Chiang Mai zoo

Didn’t look at her for too long

Monkey Chiang Mai zoo

More monkeys

Assamese macaque Chiang Mai zoo Thailand

Assamese macaque

Assamese macaques Chiang Mai zoo Thailand

Pig tailed macaque Chiang Mai zoo

Pig tailed macaque

Emu Chiang Mai zoo

Emu

Ostrich feather Chiang Mai zoo

The Bare-bum Ostrich*

Monorail track Chiang Mai zoo

White tiger Chiang Mai zoo

And finally, the beautiful white tiger

White tiger Chiang Mai zoo Thailand

Elephant Chiang Mai zoo

Passed the same elephant on the way out

Also on the way out, I couldn’t help but buy a small souvenir from Chiang Mai zoo. They were selling stuffed toys of the zoo’s main stars, the pandas. I bought a small Lin Ping souvenir for 150 baht.

All in all, I must have spent nearly 4 hours in Chiang Mai zoo. A lot longer than I thought I would spend. I mostly came to see the pandas and ended up seeing pretty much everything the zoo had to showcase.

Garden Chiang Mai zoo

So is a visit to Chiang Mai zoo worth it? Well, Singapore Zoo didn’t have pandas (they only get them in 2012), and even koalas, when I visited back in September. So yes, this visit was time and money well-spent. At half the price of Singapore Zoo, you still see a lot of animals. Chiang Mai zoo also has animal shows and even a Night Safari. How good those are, I didn’t bother to find out of sheer dis-interest.

Entry Doi Suthep Chiang Mai Thailand

Go up this way for Doi Suthep

Chiang Mai afternoon road

I got back pretty late in the afternoon

Chiang Mai lunch rice seafood curry

So I had a late lunch at the small eatery

Chiang Mai afternoon Wat canal

Chiang Mai looked pleasant as ever

Chiang Mai afternoon Loy Krathong

Floats were gathering

Chiang Mai afternoon Loy Krathong float

Another Grand Parade tonight?

Chiang Mai Thapae road afternoon

Rachadamnoen road Chiang Mai

Rachadamnoen road looked empty today

Chiang Mai Yi Peng float preparations

I asked them what time it would start and they said ‘at sunset’

I had some time, so I decided to go back to my room and rest a bit.

Centerplace Guesthouse single room bed

This is what a single bed room at Centerplace Guesthouse looks like (Lin Ping on the bed is not included in the ฿200. I just put her there)

Centerplace guesthouse single room toilet

The toilet is clean, and has hot shower

I lied down for a while — this day wasn’t over yet.

Next posts in this series:

Thailand 2010: Last day of Loi Krathong; Sunday Grand Parade (Day 4, Part 2)

Thailand 2010: Heading to Chiang Rai by bus, Wat Jedyod and Golden Clock Tower

Thailand 2010: Golden Triangle in Mae Sai; Chiang Rai’s White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

Thailand 2010: Pattaya — Beach road, Viewpoint, Jomtien Beach, Walking Street

Thailand 2010: Back to Bangkok — Chinatown, Patpong, Platinum Mall and Chatuchak Market

Thailand 2010: Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha, Sampeng Market, JJ market (again)

Thailand 2010: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market tour, Cobra show… and leaving Bangkok

Previous posts in this series:

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Loi Krathong celebrations; first Grand Parade

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai cooking class; Loi Krathong celebrations in Mae Jo, Sansai

Thailand 2010: First day in Chiang Mai for Loi Krathong; driving up Doi Suthep

Thailand 2010: Arriving in Bangkok and preparing for Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai


07
Nov 10

Singapore 2010: Day 3 – Singapore Zoo, Marina Bay Sands; leaving Singapore for Penang

Date: 27th September 2010

We only had from morning to evening in Singapore today, so we decided to skip Sentosa as the journey all the way to the theme park wouldn’t be worth it unless we could spend time at Universal Studios as well… for which we didn’t have “sufficient funds”. So, Singapore Zoo it was.

This being our last day in Singapore, I decided to take a few photographs of ABC Hostels, in case you were curious as to what its like from the inside.

ABC Backpacker hostel reception Singapore

The reception

ABC Backpacker hostel reception free internet Singapore

The hostel provides free internet; we found it quite slow

ABC Backpacker hostel reception free internet Singapore

ABC Backpacker hostel breakfast kitchen Singapore

This is the kitchen

ABC Backpacker hostel breakfast kitchen restroom Singapore

...where you'd come to make your own breakfast or anything else

ABC Backpacker hostel breakfast table Singapore

Once made, you have to sit outside. Once done, wash the dishes yourself. (Photo taken by my friend Loi)

ABC Backpacker hostel breakfast table eating area SingaporeABC Backpacker hostel moped Singapore alley

ABC Backpacker hostel rooms Singapore

Our room was at the end to the right

I didn’t take a photo of the room we got because it was in a mess, but picture this: not a big room, big enough bed for 3 mid-sized adults, functional split A/C, well-lit, with a mirror and table. That’s it. If you want more than a room for just sleeping, its best you book yourself into a regular hotel.

After finding out how to get to Singapore Zoo, we set off for Bugis MRT station.

Raffles Hospital open field Victoria street junctionRochor Center Victoria street junction SingaporeTo get Singapore Zoo, we first needed to get to Ang Mo Kio MRT station, and then take a bus from there.

Ang Mo Kio bus station Singapore

Ang Mo Kio bus interchange

Ang Mo Kio bus interchange station opposite MRT SingaporeBut as soon as we got down, there was a van waiting with a woman approaching tourists with a deal. Buy the entry ticket with 4 tram rides and a drop to the zoo in a van (one way) for SGD23 (SGD18 + 5 for the tram rides). We knew the entry fee is SGD18 (Rs. 620/$14/€10) for adults so it seemed like a good deal (but what do we know). Plus we didn’t have to take the bus.

Singapore Zoo agents van ride ticket

Singapore Zoo entry ticket special

The entry ticket costs SGD18 even if you were to buy it at the zoo entrance

When the van quickly filled up with other tourists, we set off.

Ang Mo Kio branch office Singapore

This part of Singapore was noticeably different

aAng Mo Kio metro road traffic Singapore

It's still well connected by the metro

Ang Mo Kio public library SingaporeAng Mo Kio MRT track Singapore

Driving to Singapore Zoo lush greenery

There was lush greenery around these parts

After a 15 minute ride, we arrived at Singapore Zoo. The weren’t a whole lot of people in queue — but we just walked straight in as we already had our entry tickets.

Singapore Zoo entrance gate

Singapore zoo elephant statues

They have real ones too

Singapore zoo entrance leaves greenFirst up, monkeys…

Singapore zoo cotton top Tamarin monkeySingapore zoo cotton top tamarin monkey habitatSingapore Zoo cotton top tamarin information… then parrots.

Singapore Zoo cockatoo parrots entrance

Singapore Zoo parrots at the entranceSingapore Zoo cockatoo pink parrotFrom this point on, the zoo truly begins.

Singapore Zoo animal shows timings ridesSingapore Zoo wooden bridgeSingapore Zoo alligator in water

Singapore Zoo greater mousedeers

Greater mousedeers they are called

Singapore Zoo waterfall

Singapore Zoo asian small clawed otter

These otters were 'busy'

Singapore Zoo Asian small clawed otter info

Singapore Zoo siamang hidden in tree

There was a siamang (a type of ape) hiding in the trees

Singapore Zoo wooden bridge ledge

Singapore Zoo Tiger Trek gate

Next up, my favourite animal

Singapore Zoo tiger trailSingapore Zoo tiger statue

Singapore Zoo white Bengal tiger den

There they are!

Singapore Zoo white Bengal tigers staring

Hello beautiful

Singapore Zoo white Bengal tiger yawning roaring

Its roar was sooo... (oh who am I kidding), it was only yawning

Singapore Zoo white Bengal tiger sleepy scratchingSingapore Zoo tiger exhibit wooden platform

Singapore zoo babirusa wild boar

Babirusa, native to Indonesia

Singapore zoo babirusa wild boar hornsThe zoo has a few sections for smaller creatures, like reptiles which are on display in enclosed exhibits.

Singapore Zoo lizardSingapore zoo aquarium fishesSingapore zoo tortoiseSingapore zoo aquarium large fishSingapore zoo aquarium large fish full

Singapore zoo pygmy hippo water

The pygmy hippo... or at least half of it

Singapore Zoo desert warthog

Desert warthog a.k.a Pumba

Singapore zoo pond boat house

Singapore zoo Australian lizard

This was at the Australian Outback section

Singapore zoo carpet python

Carpet python

Singapore zoo path to kangaroos

Singapore zoo Australian kangaroo

If you don't know by now, they're called kangaroos

Singapore zoo Australia kangaroo meaning

This I didn't know

Singapore zoo Australian kangaroo feedingSingapore zoo Australian jeepSingapore zoo Australian kangaroos

Singapore zoo Australia Steve Irwin tribute

Remembering the late Steve Irwin

Singapore zoo big bird small head

Funny looking thing, this bird

Singapore Zoo Hamadryas baboons entrance

Next up, baboons!

Singapore Zoo Hamadryas baboons sectionSingapore Zoo hamadryas baboons habitatSingapore zoo hamadryas baboons lazing sleeping

Singapore zoo hamadryas baboons ibex

They have to share their space though

Singapore zoo hamadryas baboons ibex rocks

Singapore zoo hamadryas baboons acting human

It's fun watching monkeys behave human

Singapore zoo hamadryas baboons scratching back Singapore zoo hamadryas baboons close upSingapore zoo hamadryas baboons close up staring

Singapore zoo hamadryas baboons waterfallSingapore zoo hamadryas baboons injured

Singapore zoo banded mongoose sand

Banded mongoose

Singapore zoo saddle billed stork bird

Saddle billed stork

Singapore zoo black backed jackal

Black backed jackal

Singapore zoo bamboo path Ramesh

Singapore zoo elephant fountain statue

Next up were Asian elephants

Singapore zoo elephant show panorama

This is where they have the shows

Singapore zoo Asian elephants

Singapore zoo Asian elephant SBI adopted

Good on SBI for doing so

Singapore zoo hog deer

Hog deer

Singapore zoo long billed bird

Singapore zoo manatee water

Manatee

Singapore zoo African penguins

African penguins

Singapore zoo African penguins info

Didn't know there were penguins in Africa

Singapore zoo crocodile eyes above water

Guess what this creature was

Singapore zoo crocodile under water

Yup. I didn't bother knocking on the glass or anything. I was too chicken.

Singapore zoo lake boat ride

Boat rides on the lake are also available

Singapore zoo chimpanzee trees

This is where the chimpanzees play

Singapore zoo chimpanzee

Couldn't get a clear shot of its face

Singapore zoo chimpanzee climbing

Singapore zoo pony rides

They have a few ponies at the kids area

Singapore zoo pony

Singapore zoo model house old chinese

This was some model of an old farm house

Singapore zoo KFC restaurant

Oh the irony of seeing a KFC at a zoo

Singapore zoo mountain goats

Singapore zoo llamas

Llamas

Singapore zoo mandrill baboon

Mandrill baboon

Singapore zoo proboscis monkeys sign

More monkeys

Singapore zoo proboscis monkeysSingapore zoo rain water level comparison

Singapore zoo Malaysian horned frog

Malaysian horned frog. Waited for the guy to turn around. He didn't.

Singapore zoo American bullfrog

American bullfrog

Singapore zoo red birds

Singapore zoo pigeon hair small head

This is one of the most intriguing-looking pigeon-type bird I've seen

Singapore zoo river duck one legAfter this, we entered a fairly large netted section which enclosed a few bats, birds and some more interesting animals of this world.

Singapore zoo netted section bat hanging

Singapore zoo huge bat flying wing span

Took this on the same settings as the last shot, which is why it came out this way. Still, kinda cool.

Singapore zoo huge bat upside downSingapore zoo huge bat eating

Singapore zoo long tail animal closeup

You can get pretty close to these animals but you are asked not to touch them or feed them

Singapore zoo long tailed animal

Singapore zoo lemur family

Lemurs

Singapore zoo green white bird

Singapore zoo sloth hanging eating

Sloth. How these animals eat upside down is amazing.

Singapore zoo butterfly

Singapore zoo fragile forest

Went in here next

Singapore zoo leopard walking on tree

Shooting the above leopard proved to be quite difficult, and in this video you’ll see why:

Singapore zoo leopards

They did stay still eventually

Singapore zoo puma

Puma, the real thing

Singapore zoo lion

Finally, his highness truly

Singapore zoo lion tongue

:P to you too

Singapore zoo lion den ground panorama

The king gets a pretty big ground for himself

Singapore zoo giraffe

Singapore zoo feeding giraffes

You can pay to feed the giraffes and get your photo taken

Singapore zoo zebras

Singapore zoo ostrich

Hello ostrich

Singapore zoo wind blowing trees

It was very windy and looked like it was going to rain fairly soon

Singapore zoo cheetah

The fastest animal on the planet, the awesome cheetah

Singapore zoo cheetah cubsSingapore zoo heron

Singapore zoo birds cleaning rhinos back

The rhino and its cleaning birds

Singapore zoo orangutan island

'Orangutan island'

Singapore zoo orangutan swingingSingapore zoo orangutanSingapore zoo orangutan eating

Singapore zoo old big orangutan

I know you can't make out much of what this is

The one above was a very big ape (I believe an orangutan), quite old in age who was kept in this glass enclosure and it was quite dark… so you really couldn’t see it. It was moving around very slowly but unfortunately, due to the darkness inside its “cage” and the reflection on the glass, I couldn’t really get a good shot.

Singapore zoo polar bear exhibit

Aww shucks, I really wanted to see the polar bear

Singapore zoo tram ride

Despite having paid for 4 rides, I never availed the tram rides

With that, we were finally done. Well, sort of. We could have stayed back longer and waited for some of the animal shows. But it was 2:30pm, we had to have our lunch and the skies were quite cloudy.

I still wanted to go to Marina Bay Sands and since Ramesh and Loi were against it, I wasted no time and decided to go on my own.

Singapore Zoo Night Safari entrance

Something for next time

I waited at the bus station just outside and in under 5 minutes, got one that goes to Ang Mo Kio MRT station.

Driving to Singapore zoo Night Safari Orchid gardenAng Mo Kio rainy day dark clouds SingaporeSingapore Ang Mo Kio Spiritual Grace Memorial GardenSingapore Ang Mo Kio shopsSingapore Ang Mo Kio Balinese massage Japanese restaurant

Singapore Tagore Drive road

They have a street named Tagore Drive; not sure if it's after our Rabindranath Tagore

Ang Mo Kio Yiu Chu Kang Secondary School SingaporeSingapore Ang Mo Kio HBD apartments bus stationIt was nice to drive through the residential side of Singapore. Compared to all the commercial glitz and glamour of the central business district, Ang Mo Kio seemed so quaint and… nice.

Anyway, I arrived at Ang Mo Kio bus terminal in around 15 minutes and got down to take the underpass to the MRT station. Ang Mo Kio is located on the red line, so the train goes straight to Marina Bay — the last stop. The ride took another 15 minutes.

Once I was out of the station/construction site (it looked like they were upgrading the station) it was still drizzling.

Singapore Marina Bay construction workSingapore Marina Bay road junction

Getting to Marina Bay Sands Casino Singapore

That's where I was headed

Singapore marina bay art monument

Singapore marina bay rainy day

It was tough holding a camera on one hand and an umbrella on the other

Singapore marina bay financial district offices rainy day

When I saw this, I smiled :)

Why did I smile? Because seeing the above instantly reminded me of another ‘marina’ I was at in April. I could help but go: “Ahh, so that’s where Dubai got the idea from!”

Singapore Marina Bay City Gallery rainy day

Marina Bay City Gallery

The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands Singapore

The mall at Marina Bay Sands Casino & Hotel

Marina Bay Sands Shoppes way to mall Singapore

Marina Bay Sands mall shoppes Singapore

More stores are set to open

Marina Bay Sands shoppes mall Harley Davidson Furla Testoni store Singapore

Felt like going in just to see the car

Singapore Marina Bay Sands shoppes mall directionsSingapore Marina Bay Sands shoppes Gucci store

Singapore Marina Bay Sands shoppes mall canals sampan rides

They offer boat (sampan) rides on these canals

Singapore shoppes mall to Marina Bay Sands Casino hotel

To get to the hotel and Sky Park counter, you need to go down this

Singapore Marina Bay Sands Casino way to Helix Bridge

Go up, come out the left side of the lobby, which leads out to the Helix Bridge

Singapore Marina Bay Sands observation deck sky park ticket counter

Then take a left and go down this escalator. Down here is the ticket counter for the Sky Park.

And when I got there they asked me to wait because the sky park was wet.

$@#%!

Turns out they have a “wet policy” which essentially closes the observation deck to visitors if the observation deck is wet. I asked them if I could go up as I was leaving Singapore in a few hours but they said sorry, they couldn’t make an exception.

I told them I couldn’t wait as I had a flight to catch in a few hours time, so I didn’t.

I made way back up disappointed and decided to check out the hotel instead.

Singapore Marina Bay Sands hotel inside lobby architecture designSingapore Marina Bay Sands hotel inside lobby architecture designSingapore Marina Bay Sands hotel tower 2 lobby giant lanternsSingapore Marina Bay Sands hotel tower 3 lobby RueYou could tell by looking at the guests coming down to the lobby they were high rollers; in town to gamble a lot of money away.

Since I couldn’t check out the Sky Park, I thought I’d at least check out the casino.

Singapore Marina Bay Sands Bvlgari way to casinoBuuuuut… the casino has a strict dress code… and a “No Photography” rule — both of which I didn’t qualify for. I didn’t even bother using the “but I’m leaving Singapore in a few hours” excuse as one sight of the huge security men at the casino entrance will make you think otherwise.

Singapore Marina Bay Sands Shoppes escalators

So I made my way back to the mall

Singapore Marina Bay Sands office buildings rainy day

Damn you rain god! Ruining everything!

Singapore Esplanade concert halls rainy day from Marina Bay Sands

Singapore Marina Bay Sands wishing well rain oculus panorama

Saw this "wishing well" of sorts outside the mall. I had to take a closer look.

Singapore Marina Bay Sands casino hotel rain oculus wishing well coins

If you are wondering what those are... they're coins!

I went to the other side of the mall to where the buses to the Marina Bay MRT station are.

Singapore Marina Bay Sands convention center

Besides having a 2500-room hotel, casino and a shopping mall, they also have Singapore's largest convention center

Singapore Marina Bay Sands casino hotel towers

Singapore Marina Bay Sands Sky Park rainy day

Sigh. So close, yet nowhere near.

It sucks I couldn’t check out Marina Bay Sands Casino & Hotel the way I had planned. Oh well, another thing for next time.

It was past 4:30pm when I boarded the bus back to the MRT station. The drizzling hadn’t stopped, and I had to take the metro back to our hostel. I got to the hostel before my friends did and I used the time to get out of my wet clothes and re-pack. When the other two arrived, we took all our bags and walked towards Victoria MRT.

We took the MRT all the way to Terminal 2 at Changi. As soon as we got out, right in front of us was a board showing the layout of Changi Airport. Three big terminals… and then one tiny red square. That was our budget terminal :)

It was so funny, I regret not taking a photo of it. It was like the big guys just wanted to keep rubbing it in on how cheap people who avail budget carriers are, just so they would quit and use the regular airlines instead.

Anyway, we were at the budget terminal by around 6:30pm for our 8:15pm Tiger Airways flight. And then the flight got delayed by 30 minutes. While we could pass time by availing the free internet and having snacks at the airport, it was still annoying as it only meant our arrival at Penang would also be late.

Waiting at Singapore Budget terminal airport

A minute before announcing it was time to board, most of them were sitting on the floor

Singapore Tiger Airways Penang flight delay

Departing 20:15; current time - 20:38. Oh Tiger... :)

Once the plane did finally take off, we all three agreed on one thing: we were definitely coming back to Singapore!

Even though it was only 3 days, we loved every bit of it. Except the rain bit, we all hated that. We also decided we come back during F1 week but stay much longer.

Singapore Port container ships at night from plane

Thats just some of the many container ships at Singapore Port

We landed at Penang, got through immigration quick and soon took a pre-paid taxi to head to Georgetown, where our guesthouse was.

Penang tree lights airport Malaysia

Hello Malaysia

Penang taxi at night Malaysia

It was raining here as well

It took more than half an hour to reach our hotel in Georgetown, that’s how far the airport was.  We were going to be staying at Old Penang Guesthouse during our time on Penang island.

Old Penang Guesthouse triple room interiors

We booked a triple/family room

Since it was nearing 12am, we quickly went out in search of dinner.

We were told there were 24 hour restaurants, mostly serving Indian cuisine, not too far from our guesthouse. We walked under our umbrellas and got into one.

Penang dinner Kassim Mustafa Indian restaurant

Penang dinner Nasi Kandar rice mutton curry

What I had: Nasi Kandar

Basically rice with your choice of meat and a mix of curries. Yum it was.

There were many ‘Indian’ restaurants in the area.

Penang Ros Mutiara Indian restaurant catering

Penang restoran Kapitans 24hrs Indian restaurant

Kapitan's is quite popular - and open 24hrs

Penang street lamps glow rainy nightPenang night Chinese temple rainingPenang night cobble stone cars parked road rainPenang night cobble stone road red light

Penang night cobble stone temple junction road rain Georgetown

Penang Georgetown junction cars raining night

Penang Old Trafford Man Utd burger stall

Yup. A burger stall honouring Machester United. Just one of many such tributes we came across in Malaysia in honour of England's most famous football club.

Penang Reggae Bar The Meeting Point Georgetown Malaysia

There is a 7-Eleven and quite a few bars near our guesthouse

Penang Georgetown garage Ken = Cow graffiti

Once back in the room, and a warm shower later, we did our calculations and thought about what had to do tomorrow.

Penang Yeo's Glass Jelly drink can

In my ongoing quest to try out things I've never had before, I drank this. It was okay.

Our first trip to Singapore was done, and Malaysia had begun. We only hoped it would be nice & sunny in Penang tomorrow.

Other posts in this series:

Singapore & Malaysia 2010: Planning and preparing for the trip

Singapore 2010: Day 1 – Little India, CBD, Clarke Quay, China Town… and a lot of walking

Singapore 2010: Day 2 – Orchard Road, mall-hopping… and already shopping

Malaysia 2010: Day 4 — One day in Penang (Around Georgetown, Gurney Drive, Penang Hill)

Malaysia 2010: Day 5 — Langkawi (Ferry ride from Penang, Cable car & Sky Bridge)

Malaysia 2010: Day 6 — Langkawi (Island hopping tour, Pantai Tengah beach, Night market)

Malaysia 2010: Day 7 — Kuala Lumpur (Low Yat Plaza, Petronas Towers, Jalan Alor)

Malaysia 2010: Day 8 — Kuala Lumpur (Batu Caves, Petaling Street/China Town)

Malaysia 2010: Day 9 — Kuala Lumpur (KLCC Aquaria, Merdeka Square, KL Tower observation deck)

Malaysia 2010: Leaving Kuala Lumpur… and about going back

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