Saturday, July 05, 2008

Guided Tours

You may be extremely good with maps, have an excellent memory for detail, have worked out how to get around.........in fact you can arrange your own tour, except you will so busy with the detail, perhaps looking for free wireless connections for your laptop too for that extra information, you won't have a chance to take photos, let alone have a really good look around. But on a guided tour, someone else is looking after all that stuff.

We booked three tours in Singapore, a single day in Paris, another day in Amsterdam, the Hop On Hop Off bus in London, a cruise down the Thames and Seine and at the National Gallery in London, we hired head phone commentary machines. I could not say that any of them not great. In the case of the gallery, we may not have seen as much art, but we learnt a lot about what we did see.

I used to be dead against coach tours, but after visiting the Northern Territory and using tours, after Thailand and using some tours, after Vietnam being one long tour, and now using tours in Singapore, Europe and England, they are the only way to go. Ok, it cost us $400 for both of us for a day in Paris, but it was well worth it.

You can only spend so long observing street life. Then you want to see other stuffs.

Day two. Singapore

Times are local. Currencies a rough conversion to AU$. We arrived at Albert Court Hotel in Albert Street, Singapore at about 7am. We were immediately given a room but not one that we had chosen. They said they would move us the next day and they did. Perhaps this was to do with the fact that we did not show up the night before as planned. Thank you Qantas. But it did mean that we could not unpack properly.

We walked to Orchard Road but it was a bit too early for the shops which seem to open after ten. Who lives at the bottom of this long driveway, surrounded by a high fence and armed guards, I wondered? I asked a taxi driver later and he told me the President or Prime Minister, I forget which.

Orchard Road was nothing like I imagined and it was very noisy due to a lot of construction. I expect this never really stops. Smoking is bad for you Ronald.
The traffic lights intrigued me. As you can see from the picture, they have seconds count down instead of a red figure. Believe me, once the light says zero, you better be off the road. And just to continue a theme, these other traffic lights fascinated me, mostly because I could not work out what they were for.

As for the drivers of Singapore, they are nothing like in other Asian cities I have been to. The traffic is orderly, the drivers polite and there is seldom a horn to be heard. The only crazy driver we came across was the taxi driver who took us to the airport. A car pulled in front of him, not dangerously, and he put his head lights on high beam and just left them there.

We found ourselves a place to buy some lunch and returned there a few times on other occasions. It was almost like a food hall as we know it, but more rustic and open air. There was a large variety of food, except western. We also found a place for quite good coffee not too far away and returned there many times.

In the afternoon we went to the hotel tour desk and booked some tours with RMG Tours. They were all excellent tours. Our first was Night Tour, which took us to the Raffles Landing Site, then dinner roughly where this photo was taken and then a ride on a bum boat (don't ask) along the Singapore River. Everything was so dazzlingly illuminated. We sailed close to the Merlion and then off the boat and back onto the bus to the Royal Selangor Pewter Centre. Boring! From there to Bugis Village, just a night market. Not so interesting either. Lastly, to Raffles Hotel, where we sat in the Long Bar upstairs amid peanut shells strewn over the floors. The punkas were slowly moving back and forth, no doubt powered by electricity rather than days of old when the were hand operated. If visiting Raffles, check it out well first and perhaps you won't be paying $18 for a large beer like we did.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

I return and day one of the holiday

I am returned to the land of Oz. Wow, have I missed my blog mates. That will be the last significant holiday without a laptop. In fact, that will be the last overseas holiday. Foreign travel is just too hard.

The holiday was wonderful. I have seen so many things and met so many people, but I am very pleased to be home in my own country, among my own people, black, white and brindle, and with my own things around me.

What did I miss most? My own shower. More on that later. But I also missed pornography, especially xtube.

Day one of our holiday did not happen. Our Qantas flight was delayed ten hours. I checked our flight on the net at about 10am the day we were to leave, our flight being about 3pm, and it said delayed until 11pm. It did not actually leave until 1am the next day. I just love Qantas. We wasted our pre paid airport bus fare and our first night's accommodation in Singapore. I'll be going Qantas for about $300 compensation. (Note following travel trip 1) We ended up catching a cab to the airport. It really is the best way.

So, not a great start. We just moped around at home for the day, feeling angry, frustrated and oddly, I felt bored.

When we arrived in Singapore, early morning, we had not really slept for thirty hours. But we coped, as you do when on holidays, and pressed on.

For a while, I will probably only write and post pics about our holiday. There will be a day by day post, some short, some long and some rants. I don't mean to offend anyone........well, most of the rants will be about the UK and I say here, they do some things better but some things not as well as we do. So, tune out if you wish. I hope to make the posts interesting and they will be ordered and logical and without emotion, as are my usual posts, not!

I am not sure if everyone realised, but the already published posts about our holiday were all written in advance, based on stereotypes and set to be published on certain dates. I won't go back to them and address comments, but I was quite excited when overseas and I read the comments. I had very limited access to the net. Just a hotel in Singapore, a public library and a home pc where I did not want to leave any history apart from secure email.

We arrived home at 10.30 pm last night, Wednesday. Our mail box was quite full, and then our mail that was held, was delivered today. I am not sure why so much mail was delivered when it should have been held. Bad Australia Post. Hello, we paid. As it was, our large mail box would have held it all.

I have spent most of the day at home catching up on stuffs. The stuffs certainly build up when you away. Money is a nightmare. We did go out to see sister and Little Jo, who has now acquired the name of Jozilla. She is not quite walking yet, but on her feet. She has grown a lot and is verbalising almost intelligible words. It is nearly her birthday and we gave her our present in advance, a Paddington Bear and the book actually bought at Paddington Station.

Sister made us lunch and then after lots of play time with Little Jo, we did some shopping in down town Koornang(?) Road Safeway and then home to battle more money and papers. Ex NT politician/politician called in to see us and we made a few phone calls to other friends.

It will take days for life to return to normal.