October - November 2017
  • Day1

    Singapore

    October 7, 2017 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Well we made it safe & well to Singapore! The flight from Brisbane took 8 hours & there is only a 2 hour time difference making it 3.15pm local time (5.15pm Brisbane time) when we landed.
    Changi Airport is huge and has 4 seperate terminals connected by little trains! It is also soooo clean!
    We had a lovely taxi driver who drove us to our hotel (Ibis on Bencoolen) via the coast road & filled us in on all the places we need to visit & the foods we need to try - the latter being, BBQ stingray & fried carrot cake at the Newton Hawker Centre - we will let you know how we go with this...
    Once checked in, we headed out to explore our new surroundings. We caught the MRT (train) from Rocher to Clarke Quay (a hip & happening area on the river filled with restaurants, clubs & bars) for a bit of a nosy. We had dinner at The Bungy Bar & watched the Bum Boats ferry passengers down the river. It was a great spot & we got to view the Marina Bay Sands hotel's light show in the distance. Very cool!
    We were very tired after our first little adventure (we had walked over 10,000 steps) but our first impressions are that Singapore is a vibrant, colourful, clean city with a focus on green areas & recreation for visitors & locals alike.
    Read more

  • Day2

    Singapore

    October 8, 2017 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Today we walked for miles exploring Singapore. We started off by taking a bus to the Singapore Flyer - the world's biggest Observation Wheel. We got there early, & as a result, we ended up with a capsule all to ourselves (normally would hold up to 28 people)! It took 30 minutes to complete one full rotation & wow; what a view! Absolutely stunning!
    Next, we headed to the beautiful Gardens by the Bay via the Helix Bridge & Marina Bay Sands shopping mall - The Shoppes!
    The Shoppes complex was overwhelming, to say the least - with over 270 boutique stores & even Sampan boat rides down the canal running through the complex! We stopped for a drink & Red Velvet cupcake at High Society to centre ourselves & escape the stifling Singaporean heat & humidity (33C today). Once we were suitably refreshed we headed up a couple of levels to experience a Fish Spa - yep, you get your feet & legs washed before plunging them into a pool full of carnivorous little fish that go crazy for exfoliating your feet - kinda creepy & weird, yet strangely enjoyable!
    We walked across the bridge linking the Marina Bay Sands complex to Gardens by the Bay where we began our afternoon of exploring the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen - what an incredible experience! We visited the Cloud Forest & the Flower Dome - both were essentially air conditioned green houses on steroids & were absolutely phenomonal! I am sure they had an example of every single plant & variation known to man on show - most of them grouped by country/region. The colours of the flowers & plants were spectacular!
    Our final stop in the gardens took us to Supertree Grove & the 22m high Skyway, a 128m ariel walkway that connects two of the Supertrees giving us a very different perspective of the gardens. It was awesome!
    After a very 'full on' day we dragged our weary bodies back to the hotel, via the very efficient Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) network, where we fell into bed for an early night in preparation for our next adventure - Sentosa Island & Universal Studios tomorrow...
    Read more

  • Day3

    Singapore (Sentosa Island)

    October 9, 2017 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    We had a bit of a sleep-in this morning & had breakfast at around 8.30am - with everyone else 🙄😃; breakfast in Singapore consists of many different options - think curries, noodles & plenty of fried things.
    After our bellies were full, we caught a cab to the beautiful Mt Faber, where our Day 3 adventure began...we were heading to Sentosa Island!
    We boarded our very own cable car carriage for the journey to the island - the view was spectacular! On arrival, we switched to the Sentosa Line and did a loop of the island before alighting at Merlion Station and heading down to Universal Studios. Once in the park we headed straight for the rides & knocked off The Mummy; Battlestar Galactica & Transformers pretty quickly before we headed to the Waterworld show after lunch. Our favourite ride was Transformers - the effects were awesome!
    Walking out of the park in the afternoon we marveled at the stores in the precinct - a junk foodies paradise! - Herschy's, Reece's, Candylicious & Krispy Kreme to name but a few!
    The next stop was the Skyline Luge attraction - we had so much fun here! We flew down the winding course, avoiding all of the "Sunday drivers", before catching the ski lift back up to the top of the hill & doing it all again! Possibly my favourite part of the day 😁.
    We finally boarded our cable car & headed back to the mainland. We were so knackered now, but dragged ourselves back to the hotel via the MRT - when did we become so old? Lol!
    All in all it was another great day exploring this part of the world. Tomorrow we will do a quick victory lap of this green & active city before packing & preparing for the next leg of our journey - Turkey.
    Read more

  • Day4

    Singapore

    October 10, 2017 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    We are currently sitting in Changi Airport awaiting our flight to Turkey & have plenty of time to kill - the perfect time to note down what we got up to today....So, first up, we packed our bags, checked out of our great little hotel & left our bags with staff before catching a cab to the CBD; we were off to 1-Altitude Bar for a personalised tour with Santiago - the friendliest Columbian tour guide you could ever meet - & he's lived in Brisbane!
    1-Altitude is the highest alfresco bar in the world and the view was incredible! The weather today was pretty good too & it allowed us to see right into Malaysia & Indonesia! Santiago pointed out all of the landmarks & gave us a wonderful overview of the history of Singapore plus some tips on where to go & what to experience. It was facinating & insightful.
    Once we were armed with all of this new information we headed off to Chinatown to experience "the best chicken rice in Singapore" at a little store called Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, hidden within the Maxwell Food Centre (Hawker Centre). The queue was 30 deep (a good sign that the food is good) but moved quicky & it was essentially our first time trying an authentic Singaporean dish - it wasn't bad, although the little dipping sauce on the side incinerated our tastebuds - hokey smokes it was hot!!!
    After lunch we wandered around the corner for a quick photo opportunity, capturing a shot of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum.
    Next stop was Arab Street - an eclectic mix of old & new world charm & plenty of arty boutiques & cafes with a Middle Eastern flavour - we stopped at the Selfie Coffee shop in Haji Lane for a, you guessed it, Selfie Coffee!
    From here we walked to the famous Raffles Hotel where we ducked in for a refreshing Singapore Sling (as one does in Singapore 😁) - it was pretty good, although for $31SGD, it should be! This was our final experience in Singapore & we wouldn't have done anything different. Next stop - Istanbul!
    Read more

  • Day5

    Turkey

    October 11, 2017 in Turkey ⋅ 🌙 14 °C

    We arrived in Turkey from Singapore at 5.20am, with a flight time of just under 11 hours. There was approximately 90 of us (Australian Light Horse Assn. members) on the flight - a really diverse bunch with ages ranging from 8-90! The rest of the ALHA group (approx. 90 more) will connect with us in Israel in a week or so.
    Once we had cleared customs & collected our bags, the group was split into three & we were allocated to Bus 2 with Kelvin Crombie; historian, guide & author (amongst many other talents).
    We were on the road by 7.30am, with our first stop being the famed Spice Markets where we were swindled out of an obscene amount of money for authentic turkish delight, tea & spices! It is here that we learnt a number of valuable lessons, best summarised by the Penguins of Madagascar "just smile & wave boys; smile & wave" 😁. Needless to say we will be enjoying authentic turkish tea & delights for the next 6 months!
    With our wallets markedly lighter, we were back on the bus & heading to the ancient Hippodrome, home of the beautiful Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia. The photo opportunities, architecture & history here were incredible! After lunch we boarded a boat that took us on a two hour cruise on the mighty Bosphorous River where we learnt so much about this ancient & diverse city.
    We were well & truly ready for a shower & a good night sleep by the time the cruise finished. Thankfully, our accommodation (Akgun Hotel) in the old part of the city had both bases covered.
    Sitting in bed reflecting on our first impressions of Istanbul, the word that keeps popping up is Wow! It is an incredible city of approximately 20 million people spanning two continents - Europe & Asia! Essentially, the centre of the world, quite literally, for Millenia. It is nothing like what we are used to at home in Australia - in every way, both good & bad. We found survival instincts we never knew we had (or needed) - they kick in pretty quickly, as it is an "eat, or be eaten" way of living.
    We witnessed everything on extreme ends of the spectrum - poverty & wealth; humankind at its best & worst; ancient architecture & relics alongside contemporary & modern structures - even a Synagogue, Mosque & Church built alongside of each other & sharing the same common wall! We fell asleep thinking about how blessed we are to have been raised & live in a country as wonderful as ours.
    Read more

  • Day6

    Turkey

    October 12, 2017 in Turkey ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    Today we visited the beautiful Topkapi Palace, built in the 15th Century. We spent the morning taking lots of photos as the location is stunning; perched on a hilltop overlooking both the Asian & European continents & the Bosphorus River. In addition, the palace buildings & grounds were exquisite and meticulously maintained. It was Instagram gold!
    Lunch was organised for us in the same precinct & involved a private showing of handmade rugs & the silk rug making process. Of course, then came the hard sell - only this time we were prepared! 😁
    The next stop was the Turkish Military Museum before we headed to the Grand Bazaar - & boy was it grand! 5000 stores; 19 entrances & 22 exits - it was a maze you could get lost in for days!
    Read more