A wedding and a funeral

Singapore was so much more than just an average holiday.  I experienced more culture than I ever thought could be crammed into one 9 day venture.  Let’s just take it day by day, shall we? We flew Scoot (a very budget airline) directly to Singapore, and I thought it would be a horrible flight however we were lucky enough to fly in a Dreamliner, which is (in my view) a much better experience.  My eyes don’t dry out and my hands and feet don’t swell as much.  I also don’t transform into a camel that suddenly cannot physically consume enough water.  I don’t know why flying is so dehydrating for me, but it is the most uncomfortable experience- and when flying budget, when you have to pay for everything you want, you really learn how to ration that one bottle of water you managed to get past security.  I’d fly with Scoot again, it wasn’t what I pictured a budget airline to be like.

Alright, Singapore! Daryl’s uncle lives out from the city, in a place called Yishin which is about 20-30 minutes our from the CBD, in what would be considered typical government housing.  His uncle’s house however, is so much more than typical, because its huge for Singaporean standards.  Now, in Singapore most people (i’d say about 80 percent or so) live in this government housing.  Because being homeless is illegal, they’ve provided everyone with a place to live.  If you can’t afford something, the government helps you out with that too (yay for governments that care).  Most of these government housing blocks are essentially little towns all equipped with markets, places to eat and shop and even schools.  Every morning we would go down to the local coffee shop (not what any western coffee shop would be like) but what contains heaps of tiny food stalls that everyone gets there morning fare from.  I only managed to take 2 not so great iphone photos of where we ate every morning, but you can kindof get the idea.  The food here is served in a very decent portion fast, its cheap, and man is it tasty.  When I say cheap, I mean max 2 or 3 SGD (1.50 -2.20 USD).  Now to get back on track.  We arrived on Friday afternoon, and went right to Daryl’s uncle house to drop our things off and freshen up.  After which, we needed to get food… after all I was told that was all we were going to do in Singapore was eat eat eat!  We went to a place called Clarke Quay, which is a historical part of Singapore, located next to a river.  Oddly enough, it is also where Daryl’s father grew up.  He showed us his old house, which hilariously has now been transformed into Hooters!  Dad shared stories with us from when he was growing up in what was very different Singapore for him, and we walked along the riverside.  We then went to a delicious vegetarian place for dinner, Zen Japanese which located in the Fortune Center- then after much feasting on delicious sushi type fare we returned home for sleep. Saturday After a cheap and filling breakfast at the coffee shop, Daryl his mom and I explored the local markets… wandering around the crowds of people all crowding around people selling all types of things.  And I mean everything!  My favourite find this trip was milk bubble tea- or basically just milk with tapioca pearls.  It was so cheap and easily found everywhere, and quite refreshing on those hot humid days.  I had to get a bubble tea whenever I saw one 🙂  We didn’t do much today, we spent the morning at the gym and the fun pool at the country club with the family, soaking up some sunshine and good times!

Sunday

After a morning workout at the Country Club close to Uncle’s house, we made our way to the city.  We checked into an AirBNB today, our first AirBNB experience!  We stayed with a lovely couple in the city center as we had a wedding to attend later this evening we wanted to be close to the city to explore during the day, and somewhere close to go home to at night.  We didn’t do much wandering however, as we got to our new home around 14:00 and then went and sat by the pool to relax and get some sunshine before the dinner.  We got ready and headed off to the Marriott around 6:00.  One of Daryl’s good friends from the army, Toh Zhi Hong and his soon to be wife, Michelle, were getting married tonight!  This couple was not religious, so they had a Solemnization ceremony before the big dinner.  This is where the couple signed the marriage certificate, and said “I Do” and exchanged rings.  The bride was beautiful and friends and family were in attendance. The ceremony only lasted about 20 minutes, and then if was off to the mingling before the dinner!  I had a chance to browse through the 3 photo books that the couple had displayed of their engagement photo’s, and how lovely they were!  They even went to Bali to have a wedding photo shoot!  They even had an photobooth, where all the photos taken that evening could be taken straight home by guests, so cute!  Dinner started at 7:30, and as we had saved room in our tummies for the meal that was about to take place, we happily headed inside to the feast.  We had a delicious 7 course vegetarian dinner (since we are vegetarians) and ate the evening away.  We made our way back to our airbnb house stuffed and full of good feelings.  What a way to spend a Sunday!

Monday

We slept in and made our way out to the kitchen for or lovely included breakfast with our AirBNB stay, it was only eggs, toast and a fresh juice, but it was the perfect way to start our day.  We then made our way into the city to walk around with mom dad and Derek.  On every corner there is a shopping mall, and every single one is full.  You’d think that one mall would be more popular than the other, and that some couldn’t possibly be as full as the last one you just walked through, but everything is packed!  Singapore is a city full of people, and they are everywhere, all the time.  We were at the mall around 11:00, and wanted to get a snack from the food court, and there was literally no where to sit down after we had placed our order!  I was shocked at the amount of people and walked around in a stunned state for most of the day, just overwhelmed from the masses. We just explored the city by walking today, and again- I was just overwhelmed at the amount of stores and shopping centers on every corner.  Daryl and I made our way back to our AirBNB around 4:30, to get ready for our evening at the Ballet!  We had the pleasure of seeing the St. Petersburg Ballet perform Swan Lake at the Marina Bay Sands MasterCard Theatre.  What a show it was!   It was a very long performance, about 3 hours but wow… what a show.  I don’t remember if I have ever actually been to the ballet, but it was spectacular.  I don’t know how people move like that but it was magical.  Daryl also enjoyed himself, which I didn’t think he would but we had a great time at the Ballet.  After the Ballet we went all the way up to the rooftop bar to catch an evening view of the city.  My ears popped on the way up to the top, but when we got there it was such an amazing view.

Tuesday

Today was spent mostly with family & friends at a funeral for a close family friend.  In Singapore, it is custom for people to be cremated, and that process is very interesting simply because everyone is able to go to the crematorium and essentially watch the body be taken away to be burned.  It is very different from what I am used to.  Everyone stands in a glass room and watches the coffin get taken down an aisle into the burner.  You don’t actually watch the coffin itself get burned, but the entire process up to it until the chamber doors close and all is set alight.  The funeral was also very different than the traditional western funeral.  It is believed that you can burn items that the person can take with them on their journey into the afterlife.  People purchase paper money, cars, electronics… anything really, and that is all burned with the person in belief that this will help them on their travels in what happens after this life.  What I found the most different was that everyone at the funeral walked with the hearse for a time.  This is to signifying walking with them on their last journey.  After all the prayers and such was said, the body was placed into the hearse, for transport onto the crematorium.  It was now that everyone slowly walked with the car down the road for about 10 minutes, as a song played.  It was a solemn day afternoon, we went to the gardens by the bay at night.  This is the ONE thing you have to do in Singapore I feel.  The gardens are massive, and some parts are open to the public, but we bought a ticket to allow us into the indoor gardens.  The gardens are separated by continents, and we enjoyed looking at the local and far away plant flora.  What I enjoyed the most were the vertical gardens that turned into a spectacular light show!  It was like a rave party in a forest.  I honestly don’t know how to describe it, It was like what I imagined the fairies from Fern Gully (the movie) lived in, from a child’s perspective.  I guess if the rainforest could have its own rave fest, that would be it.  Very visually entertaining, and a great end to the night.

Wednesday

Thursday

Today we went to Sentosa, where the theme parks and of course more shopping are located.  We didn’t go into any of these theme parks, but were able to walk around and enjoy the sights.  I managed to find a Starbucks reserve store (which, is very very nice) and ordered myself a delicious clover pressed columbian coffee.  I wish all Starbucks were reserve stores– the barista’s actually know what they are talking about, and the coffee is very much decent and not so stock standard.  You do pay a bit more, but it’s worth it!  On the island of Sentosa is a spectacular aquarium, which we spent most of the afternoon at.  I’ve been to quite a few aquariums, and this one was really something.  I usually move through these types of things really fast, I mean its just fish you’re looking at.  Somehow, however, this aquarium was different.  It was just visually so much more enthralling than other aquariums, and made it really worth it.  I always love the Dory and Nemo fish exhibits, even more now that I actually live in Australia where Dory and Marlin ventured to find Nemo.  It was a nice afternoon at the aquarium and we spent a total of 4 hours at the aquarium, and did SO much walking.  Later, I met the entire Teo family on Dad’s side.  It was so nice to meet all the aunties, uncles and cousins and of course, eat more food.  I also tried a Durian for the first time tonight.  I didn’t try a ‘good’ one, and honestly did not enjoy this fruit.  It SMELLED SO BAD (I can see why they outlaw it everywhere now) and was the strangest texture and taste… I can’t even explain what it is… which I understand now, everyone was telling me, “you just have to try it … and then you’ll understand”.  Well, I understand, but I don’t see what all the hype over this Durian is… apparently you can buy Durian that is worth hundreds of dollars and those actually taste decent… but who wants to spend hundreds on a piece of fruit…

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