Susan and Ron Burton at Jurong Bird Park (Harry inset)

March 19-20, 2010

This two-day stay in Singapore was a return visit for us, so we elected to plan our own events.  Our primary goal was to return to the Jurong Bird Park, which we had both seen two years ago, and to see everything we wanted to see, at our own pace.  We got off to a some-what slow start, because Ron and Sheila, our trivia teammates wanted to go with us.  Our group decreased to three when we were having trouble getting our MRT (train) tickets.  Sheila decided not to go.  We did finally get the ticket machines to work, and after a long train ride and a bus ride, we arrived at the park.  There is so much to see that one cannot do it all in just a few hours.  We wandered through many exhibits, and actually discovered a new species of bird, pictured above - the Flamibis, which has the body of a greater flamingo and the head/neck of a scarlet ibis.  This one is so new that the park doesn’t even know about it!

We went to the “Birds and Buddies” show, where Ron got chosen to hold the hoop for one of the parrots to fly through.  This photo was taken just after the bird passed through the hoop.  The birds demonstrated their personalities very well.  This pelican decided that if it could hang around longer it could get more fish.  Doesn’t it look innocent?

A bit later we went to the raptor show, which introduced us to a number of birds of prey.  There were some beautiful birds in the show - even the vultures.  But the one with the most personality was Sheila, the Secretary Bird.  Gonzo, the American King Vulture was another good one.  He is 40 years old!  

One of the funniest demonstrations was with a group of Brahminy Kites, who were flying around taking meat off a plate the emcee had.  The audience was supposed to warn her when they were coming, but of course we couldn’t do so fast enough.  One of the birds took the plate as well as the meat, which the audience loved.  Once the raptor show was over we headed for the bus for the return trip to the ship.  There was a bus waiting for us as we exited the park, and we also were able to catch the trains with very little wait.  Singapore has a wonderful transportation system, that is well organized and easy to use.  They issue tickets which require you to pay a deposit; once you are through with the ticket you can get your deposit refunded when you let the ticket machine eat your ticket.

For our second day’s activity we decided to go to the very famous Raffles Hotel (photo below) so Susan could have a Singapore Sling.  Word has it that this is something everyone must do when visiting Singapore.  The Long Bar, where they serve the drink is very nice.  The bartenders are pretty much on the run all day trying to keep up with the demand for the drinks.  Before going for drinks we went to the top floor to see the hotel’s museum, which has many artifacts on display relating to the hotel’s history and its famous visitors.  This photo shows off the beautiful marble staircase between the floors.

Even with everything we had learned about the MRT the day before, we still ended up with a little confusion.  We figured we should get off at the Raffles station, but then couldn’t find any familiar streets on the map.  A compassionate woman realized we were confused and told us that the best thing would be to get back on the train and go one more stop to the City Hall station.  Once we got off there another compassionate woman walked through the mall with us to show us how to get to the hotel, which was just across the street from the mall exit she took us to.  

The people of Singapore were very good to us on this trip.  We also stopped at an electronics shop in the mall located between the cruise terminal and the MRT terminal, where we were able to find a nice, reasonably priced replacement for Susan’s poorly functioning external hard drive.

One’s impression of a country like Singapore changes when one mingles with the population, using their transportation system.  It gives a much clearer picture than one can get when staying under the shelter of ship-based excursions.  There is much to like in Singapore, and we could easily go back to the bird park on another visit.

One of the crowning glories of the Jurong Bird Park is their display of what pigeons can be.  They don’t look much like the pigeons we’re used to until you see them walk.  Then you know that they are indeed pigeons.  The Jurong Bird Park is a good place to start and end our description of our time in Singapore.

The Raffles Hotel

© Susan L. Stone 2015