Archive for the ‘Singapore’ Category


March 3, 2018

There were emotional farewells at Heathrow, it does not get any easier to say farewell no matter how many times we experience it however with tissues deployed we were soon on the plane ready for our journey home. This time we were breaking the journey with a three night stop over in Singapore.

We were met at Changi Airport by our driver who took us into the city and our hotel, giving us a great running commentary along the way pointing out interesting views, buildings and facts.

first glimpse of the Singapore Wheel and Marina Bay Sands

Along one section of road he pointed out that the road was in fact very straight, had we noticed this? No, we hadn’t, then he pointed out that the median barrier between the dual carriageway were in fact large planters, which are in fact removable. It turns out that Lim Chu Kang Road can be used as an emergency runway if required in case of disaster. The large trees lining each side of the 6km motorway can be removed, as can lamp posts as well as the centre planters by the Army in hours to create a large runway. It was used in 2016 as part of a military exercise and as a practise.

Now that is clever.

After settling into our hotel, we found our way to one of the many hawker markets for a bite to eat before heading back for a good nights sleep.

The following morning we were off and out for a tour around the city taking in some of the many highlights and attractions.

the famous Raffles Hotel, closed and completely covered whilst major renovations are undertaken so no Singapore Sling here for us this time.

looking across to the Marina Bay Sands shopping and hotel complex with its rooftop gardens and pools and the lotus flower shaped building in the foreground.

and to prove I was there.

a selection of interesting sculptures on the road sides

plant covered sculpture to hide these vents

this one shows the vent, which is for underground parking, with the plants just starting to climb up the framework.

Next was a visit to the National Orchid Garden with its impressive collection of orchids, I’ll let the pictures tell the story

Then it was off to see the Merlion, the National symbol of Singapore, it’s a mythical creature with a lion’s head and the body of a fish.

To prove that our selfie skills are not getting any better

There was visits to markets, Chinatown, and Little India where we neglected to take photos, and also a visit to Changi Prison to the museum located there. This required a trip on the MRT, Singapore’s excellent (and cheap) train and underground.

Changi prison was built in the mid 1930’s by the British and was designed to house around 600 prisoners. However, during the Second World War the Japanese took control of the island and prison. Following the fall of Singapore in February 1942, the Japanese military detained about 3,000 civilians in Changi Prison. The Japanese used the British Army’s Selarang Barracks, near the prison, as a POW camp, holding some 50,000 Allied soldiers, predominantly British and Australian; and from 1943, Dutch civilians brought over by the Japanese from the islands in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). POWs were in fact rarely, if ever, held in the civilian prison. Nevertheless, in the UK, Australia, The Netherlands and elsewhere, the name “Changi” became synonymous with the infamous POW camp nearby.

Photography is not allowed at the museum and prison area.

Back at our hotel, these impressive glass art works were displayed in the lobby

Soon enough our time in Singapore came to an end, and to be honest, we just wanted to get home. Our flight home was uneventful and we arrived in the early hours of the morning NZ time, where Antony was waiting to pick us up. Although he had left London a day after us he took a more direct route home and arrived the day before us.

It was nice to be back in NZ again after our four months away. Looking back we did manage to pack a fair bit into our time away and we can now look forward to planning the next trip.


Landed in London

September 30, 2017

Oops I did it again, I accidentally swiped the publish button on the last post before I had finished writing it.

We eventually landed at Heathrow 30minutes later than scheduled, by this time we were both exhausted and restless but ready to disembark. We were one of the last off the plane as everyone else was in a hurry and blocking the aisles for a good 15minutes before we were able to retrieve our hand luggage and disembark. Then it was off on the long walk to immigration and customs, why is it that all our flights seem to end up at the gate farthest away from our next point of departure? I know we need the exercise but by this time we were shattered. Next we were to face the long queues of people lined up at the “other” passport entry, fortunately I travel of my British passport so it was straight to the UK & EU line where there was just one couple on front of us. A cheery passport control man welcomed us to the UK where we chatted about the length of our flight and the prospect of a good cuppa before we were through and off to collect our bags, then straight through the green exit line to where Alex was waiting for us.

It was close to 5pm by this time and the traffic on the motorway was a bit slow at times but it wasn’t that bad and we were soon on our way to her lovely home in Erith.

Erith is circled in red in the above map.

Erith is just a 40minute train ride into central London, and is right by the Thames. A very pretty area that we shall enjoy exploring over the coming weeks.

Alex and Ian have bought a lovely home which they moved into earlier this year and they have already done some decorating to put their stamp on the place. That evening we managed to stay up until around 8pm before bed was calling out for us to sleep. Oh what bliss to be able to lie down. The following morning Roy and I managed to get the bus into the village (well, I say village but the population is around 68,000 people) the bus goes right past the house and even though there is no official bus stop in the street you just hail the driver and they stop for you. Assisted by a very friendly and helpful bus driver, we got into the centre of the town where the bus driver told us this was where we got off then she made sure we knew where to catch the bus home again and which number bus we needed, extremely helpful.

We wandered around the local supermarket, Morrison’s, where we were like kids in a sweet shop as everything was so cheap. To top it all off, we got free wifi in the store so we could chat with Alex about various matters (getting UK/EU SIM cards for our phones tomorrow). We could not believe the price of food compared with NZ, especially the price of fresh produce, the store even has cheaper versions of fruit and veg if they are deemed “wonky”. The wonky veg looked perfectly fine to me, as well as the price the range and quality was good as well. For example, baby gem lettuces were two for 50p, raspberries were two 250gm containers for £1.50, tomatoes were similarly priced. They even offer a pack of wonky veg for £3 which they say is enough to feed a family of four for a week. We had to restrain ourselves from buying too much as we knew we had to carry it back with us so we just got the essentials…….including Melton Mowbray Pork Pies!! Of course essential supplies included rum and gin, all available at the supermarket and at prices cheaper than Duty Free!

and the variety of different brands was extensive and impressive.

We headed back home with our bags of goodies, again with the help of a very kind bus driver who stopped the bus practically outside the door advising us this was where we should disembark.

We have tried to reestablish our sleeping patterns with the time difference, it has taken a day or so but we are pretty well sorted now. I have to admit that I take the No Jet Lag tablets available at New Zealand airports, which does help me as I have suffered jet lag (nausea and disorientation) previously on one long haul flight when I forgot to take them.

Alex & Ian have of course been working all week, so now we have the weekend together to do some sightseeing and some shopping. This evening we are going to a curry house, a typical English thing to do apparently, for dinner and to meet Ian’s family which we are really looking forward to.

PS. The weather has been very good to us so far, quite warm with very still days. Let’s hope it continues.