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Singapore - Day 12 - Rain at the Botanic Gardens

Today was our last day in Singapore and we had done pretty much everything we wanted to. Our flight to Beijing was at 12:15am so we had a full day to spend. We were able to push the check out time at our hotel to 2pm so we could sleep in a little in the morning. We had some Kaya toast (toast with soft boiled eggs and extremely dark coffee) for breakfast. It's the traditional workers breakfast and was actually pretty good.

We did some research on Beijing and packed up then checked out and dropped our bags off at the front desk of the hotel. One thing that we hadn't done was to check out the Singapore Botanic Gardens. They were highly rated and it was a really nice day out (although probably the hottest and most humid of the trip). The gardens themselves were really nice. It was like a tropical version of Central Park in the middle of the city. Most of the park was free but we paid S$5 to go into the Orchid gardens. We were walking around for a while before some dark clouds started rolling in and a sudden extreme downpour opened up.

Fortunately we were pretty close to some shelters so we ducked under one with a bunch of other people and waited out the rain. The thunder and lightning started hitting really close by and it hit a so close a few times that we could feel the shockwave. It took about an hour and a half for the rain to die down enough that we wouldn't kill our electronics by venturing out into it.

We caught a bus back to the city and stopped at the Raffles hotel which is the hotel that invented the Singapore Sling which is a gin drink with a bunch of other flavorings and juices. Mike and I each got one but were pretty underwhelmed with it for being hyped up so much and being so expensive. All the sugar also got to our stomaches and made us a little queasy for a while afterwards.

We went into a foodcourt and I got some lunch to help settle my stomach. By now we had a couple hours to kill before we needed to be at the airport so we hung out at the hotel lobby for a while until we needed to catch the MRT to the airport.

The check-in process at the airport was easy enough and we had some time to wait around there before we could board. Rather than having one security checkpoint at the terminal each gate has its own security which made things take a little longer. Since our flight was going to be from 12:15am to 6:30am we both popped a sleeping pill and slept through pretty much the whole flight. I did wake up when they brought by dinner which ended up being some kind of chicken and rice noodles with a little salad and fruit.
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Botanic Gardens in Singapore
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Waterfall in Botanic Gardens
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Caught in a downpour
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Singapore Sling

Singapore - Day 11 - Day trip to Batam Indonesia

The plan for today was to head to Batam Indonesia since it's only an hour ferry ride away from Singapore. We hadn't really read much about the place but it would be fun to say we went to another country. We booked our tickets and got on board the ferry. We thought it would move pretty fast but it was extremely slow going. It was also raining the entire trip over there which was unfortunate since we wanted to spend some time on beaches.

We got to Batam and didn't realize we needed to buy a visa on arrival so we had to get back out of the customs line and get our visa then had to wait in line again. The next issue was figuring out what to do. There were some really good reviews for the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Monastery so we flagged down a taxi to take us there. We thought it would be pretty straight forward but the taxi guy said there won't be any other taxis there so he'd have to wait.

We ended up paying him to hang around with us for 3 hours while we toured the monastery and he'd also be able to drive us around some more. As we were walking around we saw that there was a huge vegetarian restaurant there that was packed. Since we hadn't eaten lunch yet we decided to eat there. It was a really good choice. They had a lot of good food and the sauces and spices used on the fake meat products made it taste really good.

We got back in the taxi and had the guy drop us off at Turi beach resort. It was also a highly rated place online so we figured it would be a good place to hang out and relax by the beach. Unfortunately when we got there they wanted to charge us S$30 per person to have access to the pool and beach area. We weren't about to pay that so we walked around to the next beach over and then cut back through it to the Turi beach area. The resort we cut through was absolutely dead and looked pretty rundown. The area was definitely not the tourist destination that people online made it out to be.

The beach itself was full of trash and wasn't very big. We hung out there for a little while then walked around and out to the pier at Turi beach resort before having the resort call us a taxi back to the ferry terminal. We were originally supposed to leave Batam at 8:30pm but there wasn't anything else to do so we were able to catch the 4:30 ferry back.

On the way back the ferry stopped due to blockage in the jets or something so we had to go pretty slow the rest of the way back to Singapore. Once we got back to Singapore and through customs we came back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We decided to check out another one of the huge hawker centers at Old Airport Road. This one was really nice. There were a lot of stalls with a bunch of different types of food. I got some black pepper chicken and a chicken curry steam bun and Mike and I split some fried wontons and beer.

It had been another long day so we came back to the hotel to do some work and relax before heading to bed.

For anyone who might stumble across this blog post and are thinking about going to Batam while visiting Singapore, I'd strongly recommend not going. Spend more time in Singapore or go somewhere else. There isn't really anything to do there that can't be done in Singapore 10x better.
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At the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Monastery
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All vegetarian lunch at the monestary
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Turi Beach
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Dinner from these guys at Old Airport Food Center

Singapore - Day 10 - Beaches and Pool

Today was a beach and pool day. We started off by hanging out at our rooftop pool for a while. The pool has some great views and a very nice atmosphere. Once we started to get hungry we went out and found some cheap yet very good sushi place. The waiter kept mentioning cowboys after he found out Mike was from Texas.

Singapore isn't really known for their beaches but they do have a few. We headed down to Sentosa Island next where they have some man made beaches. We hung out at Palawan beach for a while and went over to explore their little fake island which was built to block the view of all the freighters and tankers on the ocean.

Next up we had to do some MRT/Bus transferring to get over to East Coast Park beach with more views of tankers. The beaches were pretty clean and nice aside from the views. We'd been outside for most of the day so we came back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We jumped in the pool for a little while longer at night to see some of the night views of the city which was really cool.

For dinner we went to the Newton Food Court and got some fried rice and beer. All the reviews said this foodcourt was a little more touristy so we headed over to the Maxwell food court near Chinatown. While there we didn't really find any other food that looked good so we had another beer then came back to the hotel to call it a night.
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Our pool at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway
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Palawan Beach on Sentosa Island
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Palawan Beach
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Suspension Bridge at Palawan Beach

Singapore - Day 9 - Exploring

We left Kuala Lumpur early in the morning and got to Singapore on a TigerAir flight that only took about an hour. It was raining pretty hard when we landed which wasn't a good sign. Instead of using public transport we just hired a taxi to take us directly to the hotel for about S$9.

After checking in we decided to head out and see some of the city. We were pretty hungry so we went down to the food court of one of the malls where they all have a ton of food stalls set up. It sounds cheesy but in Singapore it's a really common and popular thing to eat in the mall. They used to have unregulated food stalls all over the streets but the country did a good job of moving them all into regulated areas and the natural progression was to end up in food courts in big public areas. We opted for a place where Mike got some curry noodles and I got some noodle soup.

After eating, we got a tourist card which gives us unlimited travel on the MRT and buses and then headed down to the harbor to see the Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands. The Gardens by the Bay were some pretty cool gardens with these tall metal tree structures you could walk between. They also had some huge greenhouses but wanted to charge some really high amounts to get in.

The Marina Bay Sands is a really expensive hotel that has a giant pool at the top of the place that overlooks the city. Originally we wanted to stay there for a night to use the hotel but it would have cost us several hundred dollars each. Instead, we went up to the bar and had a drink so we could still see the views. I had a martini and Mike had a Mai Thai.

Once done we went down and walked around the city. We ended up finding our way to the Buddah Tooth Relic Temple and walked around Chinatown for a little while. It had been a long day so we came back to the hotel to chill for a little bit before heading out for dinner.

I did a little research and found a Japanese place called Jibiru that was right down the street from us. It was a Japanese restaurant that had a huge selection of Japanese beers. The food and beer was a little on the pricey side so we only had one drink each and then called it a night.
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View of the city from our pool at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway
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Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
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Gardens by the Bay from the Marina Bay Sands
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Jibiru Japanese resaurant