We went down to breakfast in at 7:00. The breakfast buffet, while not huge is great. This is the first one to have lox and also corned beef for breakfast. Hey, it's the small things that make you happy sometimes, right?
The Rendezvous is only a three star hotel, not like what we had on the Taiwan tour, so no wash cloths, no minbar, no heated toilet seats (Jean loves those), only one restaurant, etc.
Today we had a Singapore City Tour with World Express again. We had a 8:30 pickup to take us to the tour center at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel. Our tour was a group of 21 from all over the world. Our guide was Siwa, a 75 year-old (he kept repeating his age throughout the tour) Indian man born in Singapore. He has been working as a guide for 9 years, and was very humorous as he led us around the city. Now we had a chance to see the city in daylight.
Our first stop was Esplanade Park, where a lot of tents, barriers and other things for the big celebration were in place there. The area was super crowded with bus load after bus load of other tourists all looking at the same things we were visiting. We were there mainly to see the marina area view. We disembarked in front of the Cenotaph, which commemorates those who lost their lives during the two world wars. We were given 30 minutes and then we had to be back at the bus.
Jean & I walked through the park over to the marina area. We were near the Esplanade - Theaters by the Sea complex. We looked out over the water towards the same sections we saw last night during the fireworks towards the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. After I took several pictures, we then walked back through the park, seeing the kids area, and "Our Singapore" tents for the celebration and other "Our Singapore" items.
Singapore is a very multicultural country and proud of it. The population is 75% Chinese, 15% Malay, 7% Indian and the rest other cultures. There are four official languages for Singapore: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. This is reflected on some of the signs throughout the city. The street signs and direction signs are in English.
We then drove over to the Chinese section of the city to visit the Thian Hock Keng (Temple of Heavenly Bliss) Chinese Temple built in 1839 and dedicated to Ma Zu, Goddess of the Sea. Siwa took us through the temple explaining the architecture, the gods and goddesses, and the Chinese traditions. The temple is Taoist, and many come to prayer to Ma Zu in the main hall. There were side alcoves outside the main temple area with 11 other gods and goddesses.
Our next stop was the National Orchid Garden, one of many in the gardens in the Singapore Botanical Gardens. On the way to the Orchid Garden, Siwa pointed out a camphor tree that was donated to Singapore by the people of Japan. It was grown from a camphor tree that had survived the bombing of Hiroshima. After Siwa got us our tickets, we were given 45 minutes on our own to wander through the garden before returning to the meeting spot. The garden flowers were very beautiful, and exotic. There were arches, a checkerboard, fountains, etc. all made from various types of orchids. The weather was cooperating with us, a hot, sunny, summer day.
Our last stop was in the Indian section of Singapore. Siwa walked us around looking at the architecture, the shops and finally after a demonstration of how it is mixed, we were given Chai tea. We then had 30 minutes before we had to return to the meeting point, where we were then returned to our respective hotels, some went in vans, others, including ourselves, stayed on the bus.
We returned to the room about 12:30 and prepared for our afternoon on Sentosa Island. We went downstairs to the lobby to catch a cab at 1:00 over to Sentosa Island. Once on the island, we went up the stairs to the Universal Studios Theme Park. We paid the senior rate which was only $82 SGD ($60 USD) for the two of us, which is actually lower than the children's rate. Go figure.
The park is divided into 7 areas. We entered through Hollywood section along a street where the Muppets played a big part in the area. We decided to see the park counterclockwise and started in the New York section with Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase (space mission with Elmo, similar to the Peter Pan ride in Disney). We followed that with Lights, Camera, Action! Hosted by Steven Spielberg which was being blown away on a sound stage as a major hurricane hits a boat house in New York City. Of course with the way the weather has been lately, this was just a normal day for NYC.
Next we walked into Sci-Fi City to TRANSFORMERS The Ride : The Ultimate 3D Ride. If you have done the Spiderman ride in Orlando, then you know this ride. You are in a car and become part of the battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons, being tossed around, almost being hit numerous times, etc. Jean didn't want to do the Accelerator ride, which is a sci-fi teacup ride, or the Battlestar Galactica HUMAN roller coaster.
We only walked through Ancient Egypt, skipping the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster ride and the Treasure Hunters, which was a ride for kids steering their own jeep through an abandoned Egyptian excavation.
However, we did the Canopy Flyer where we enjoyed "a prehistoric bird's-eye view" as we soared over the Jurassic Park section of the park. We passed on the Waterworld show, the Dino-Soarin' ride (think Dumbo ride at Disney), and the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure since I didn't wish to get wet. We were going to dinner after the park.
In Far, Far Away land (think Shrek come to life) we did the Shrek 4-D Adventure. This is where the audience goes into a room for the pre-show narrated by the Magic Mirror, Pinocchio and other Shrek characters. Then you go into a large auditorium where you sit in seats that have motion activators along with water spritzers, and air holes. The story was Lord Farquaad is now a ghost and had someone kidnap Fiona to have her join him in death as his bride. We join Shrek and Donkey in the chase. It was fun, but the cart ride was a little jarring. Apparently, unlike the Japanese and Chinese, Singapore patrons who were mostly Indian today, enjoy their rides a little rough. We also did the Enchanted Airways, a junior roller coaster which was like Runaway Train. Most of these rides on which we rode were quick.
In Madagascar, we did the Madagascar : A Crate Adventure, which was like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. You ride along in a boat going through the basic plot of the movie. At the end of the ride, Jean and I both looked at each other and said we need to see the movie again. It has been a while and it seems we have forgotten most of the the story. A cute ride nevertheless. Also in the same section, we did a merry-go-round ride, King Julien's Beach Party-Go-Round on Madagascar characters.
Although there was a lot more to do in the park, we only had the afternoon to explore and we felt we had done well. Then as we walked down the Hollywood street to exit the park, we stopped in the shops for some souvenirs. It was about 5:30 when we left the park and went to find the Hard Rock Cafe (HRC). First we found the Hard Rock Hotel where I bought a pin, then we found the cafe in the mall area.
We got a table right away and had a cute waitress named Angel. I ordered the Strawberry Cheesecake Milkshake that has alcohol. Angel pointed this out and wanted to know if I was sure. I was sure I wanted a milkshake. We shared some spring rolls as has been our tradition at HRCs. I then had the rib diner with a Caesar Salad. It has been some time since we have eaten a regular dinner. Jean had some hamburger sliders as her entree.
After dinner, I stopped in the Rock Shop for another HRC pin. It was now about 7:15 and time to go. We found the taxi queue, which was just as long as one of the rides in Universal Park. It took us about 15 minutes to get through the taxi line. Mind you, there were taxis coming all the time. As soon as two were filled, two more appeared. We caught ours at 7:30 and were dropped off at the hotel at 7:47 according to our taxi receipt. You are encouraged by the hotel concierge and by our guides to get a receipt in case you forget something in the cab. The receipt has the cab company, the trip number and cab so when they call they have the needed information.
It had been a long day. Jean and I both showered to remove the sun lotion and grime. Then we relaxed before hitting the sack.