We are back in Singapore now, we got in late last night. Ali was up at the crack of dawn and enjoyed a nice breakfast cooked by the wonderful Nancy while Kim slept in all morning! We were exhausted and kind of lazy this morning, although, we did get caught up on uploading more of our pics, hopefully by tomorrow we will have them all up for everyone.
After we finally got ready, we went to lunch with our cousin Jeffery and five of his old co-workers. We had a great lunch of beer and fish and chips at a local microbrewery on the water. It was a lot of fun to meet true Singaporeans (and one Malaysian). They were all lawyers from a firm that works with pesticides around the world. We learned a lot, had a good lunch and a good time!
Then it was off to explore Sentosa Island. This is a small island off of the Singapore mainland. We took the monorail over and explored the island. It is starting to look like a Disneyland for adults and will soon be a mini Las Vegas. They are building two new casinos on the island and six hotels and lots of shopping. The worlds largest dual track roller coaster is also being built. Most of the things open next Wednesday, too bad we leave on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning! :( Right now there are still a lot of things to do, especially for kids. They have a few 4D movie adventures, a butterfly and bug habitat, a nature walk, etc. We rode to the top of the Tiger Tower and were able to get a great view of the city. (The tower kind of reminds us a little of the Space Needle, but it is just a rotating room that goes up and down every ten minutes).
After our ride, we took a hike down to the beaches of Sentosa. There were a couple of resorts that we visited. On our way to the beach, we saw a peacock roaming around, it was beautiful. When we got to the beach, we discovered they had built two new surfing/wave machines where you could practice surfing. It looked like a lot of fun, but we didn't have our swim suits, so we couldn't try it out! :( So we decided to walk down to the beach instead. We stuck our toes in the Indian Ocean and then looked out on the coast and got to see Indonesia.
Also, there were millions of boats, oil rigs. There are a ton of refineries just off of the coast of Singapore. It was interesting to learn that Singapore has added an extra 15% to the country's landmass with sand from Indonesia and Malaysia. So the country is physically growing in size and population. As you will see in the pictures, they are very protective of the oil and refineries and there are boats that roam the sea with machine guns protecting everything.
After our history lesson from Jeffrey, we walked up through another resort and then took a taxi to Chinatown. It was amazing. They are getting ready for the Chinese new year which starts in 3 weeks. Today is the first day of the last month of the year. 2010 is the year of the tiger! Chinatown was filled with red decorations for people to hang in their houses. We learned that the new year celebration started when a monster used to scare people. They found out he was scared of the color red and loud noises so the following year they decided to have a large celebration with a lot of red and loud fireworks to keep the monster away! We ate at a traditional Chinese Sheshwan Restaurant. It was delicious and makes American Chinese restaurants look bad! :)
After some people watching and shopping, we went on a tour of the Red Light District in Chinatown. Our tour guide gave us the history of prostitution in Singapore and then took us all throughout Chinatown, giving us some history of the area as well as how prostitution has affected it over the years. Then we saw a few brothels and went to a meat market (this was a little joke at the end). It was very interesting and a different side of Singapore which we were not aware of. Prostitution is legal within the four red light districts (we only visited the one). The brothels are very discreet (you can see them in our pictures, the little buildings at the end with the lighted numbers).
On our way home, Jeffrey had the great idea that we try some durian fruit. It kind of looks like a round pineapple on the outside with prickly spikes all over the outside, and on the inside is a gooey, yellow fruit with a big nut in the middle. People here think this is a delicious exotic fruit. It smells like garbage that a cat has peed on and it pretty much tastes like that too as you will see in our pictures. The little old toothless lady that sold it to us, brought us some mangosteens (small little mango type fruit that was delicious) to take the taste out of our mouths! This is an experience we never want to relive!
We had a very interesting and history filled day. The solar eclipse was supposed to happen at 4:25pm today, but it was a cloudy day, so we were unable to see it, but we tried! :( We are exhausted and off to bed now so we can have some energy to visit Little India tomorrow!