Wednesday, December 24, 2008

First Days in Singapore

It's great being here with Joe and Jill, and the girls are happy to have time to spend with their cousins Martin and Oliver. Joe and Jill have the Christmas tree and decorations up and are planning the traditional turkey dinner, even if there's no sign of snow here. We're all excited about Santa Claus's arrival tonight, though we're not sure whether he'll be in his heavy red coat or just T-shirt and shorts.

The weather was terrific the first couple of days. Well, truthfully, it was very hot and extremely humid according to our Canadian standards, but we're told that it was milder and more pleasant than usual. In any case, it did not rain, and it was always possible to escape to an air-conditioned area or cool off in the pool.

Given the good weather, we decided to spend our first day at the Singapore Zoo, where we saw many interesting sights. Those included animals unfamiliar to us, like the proboscis monkey below, and old friends in different circumstances, like the polar bear munching on a watermelon. The following night, we returned to the Singapore Zoo's "Night Safari", where we took an hour-long tram ride and got a close-up look at the nocturnal animals subtly lit up with an eerie glow.

On our second day, we took the subway into the downtown area. To our eyes, the subway was much like the other parts of Singapore that we'd seen so far: clean, well laid out, efficient, and existing to support the national obsession with shopping. We spent the morning at the Asian Civilization Museum which has a very good collection of artifacts from the countries surrounding Singapore. We then stopped at a pub at the picturesque Boat Quay for a leisurely lunch, and we finished the afternoon with some last-minute Christmas shopping. It's not difficult to find a mall in this city!

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