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Tuesday 24th August - Singapore
By Claire
Wednesday, 25th August 2004 13:51

Mikey woke me up at about 8am, saying I could sleep at any other time, and we should go for a swim. Reluctantly I agreed, and we headed up to the spa where we were greeted by name again. We had a leisurely swim as the sun was rising over the skyscrapers and then sat in the hot tub for a bit, before getting changed and going back to have a shower and get dressed for breakfast.

Breakfast was impressive, we were shown to our table and not allowed to do anything for ourselves at all, which was disconcerting, as was being called Miss Claire all morning, but that was sort of nice. One of the several waiters, who appeared the moment we took a drink to top up the juice or tea, helped me make an informed choice of fruit because there were so many to choose from. I had rambutan, which I think might also be called mangosteen, with my strawberries. Rambutan looks like a lychee but tastes a bit like a very sweet mango, and it was a very familiar flavour, a taste of my childhood, from one of the tins at the back of the cupboard that had a price sticker of 13.5p and the old Sainsbury's logo; probably from when my dad went out shopping on his own. Anyway, it was a fantastic breakfast, about six courses, I think, but I was still so full from the steak last night that I couldn't really do it justice.

Unfortunately it was coming close to checking out time. We left the bags in the room and wandered down the corridors looking at the photos taken in the '20s and '40s and we took a few more pictures. Then, sadly, we checked out (Mikey would have let us stay another night but then we probably would have had to come straight home, and we thought we ought to see a bit more of the world first) and left our bags at the hotel while we did a tiny bit of shopping. When we got back, we picked up our bags, a turbanned doorman called a taxi and we checked back in at the Mackenzie Hostel in Little India again. Our stay in Raffles was over, but it was an experience we have every intention of repeating.

We had to buy some train tickets to get us to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, and the train station is at the other end of the country. It poured when we got off the metro, so we stayed under cover until most of it had passed. The water was running in torrents down the roads for about ten minutes and then the heat of the ground started drying it out and the air just got more humid. We bought second-class train tickets to KL, the first class ones weren't too much more but we can't get too used to all this luxury, and then wandered around town again hoping to find cinema times for our last chance in an English-speaking country, but we had no luck. The trip back involved a lot of walking and MRT rides, and then we had about an hour to cool down in the air conditioning of our room before heading out to the Night Safari.

Singapore Zoo runs a trip round a nocturnal animal park from about 7pm until midnight, which is a very well laid-out and organised walk and tram ride. All the animals that are usually sleeping during normal zoo times are up and about, foraging and rolling in the mud and enjoying themselves. We saw red pandas running up and down trees, and lions and tigers and leopards prowling. The hyenas looked particularly menacing and the tapirs and otters were just playing. There were mouse-deer too, but I might be getting immune to their effects, and as long as they don't stand up, I'm fine. The civets were hunting small things, and I met one, a bear cat, which had really coarse fur, like a pig's bristles, and a very stong tail for climbing. It also had sticky paws as it had just been fed fruit. It poured with rain for most of the evening, although with umbrellas it was only our legs that got wet.

There was a little tram to take us round all the things we couldn't see on foot, and the we got the last bus back to the last train, and we were home by midnight.

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