Singapore and Bali

View the full set of Singapore and Bali photos

We stopped over in Singapore for a few days to meet up with my sister Rachel, my brother-in-law Tony and their two kids, Grace and Harry, who just happened to be on their way to France for a holiday. It was great to see them.

Singapore was a lot less hot than the last time we were there so we spent less time sheltering in air-conditioned malls. We went along to the famous zoo which we had missed last time. It was nice but after you’ve been on safari the zoo has less of a thrill. The orangutans have a great enclosure because it’s actually not very closed in. They ramble in the trees that hang over public paths so you really walk through their habitat. The big hit with the kids was the water park within the zoo grounds which has a cornucopia of watery delights, the most scary of which is the giant elephant bucket which at periodic intervals tips over, dumping an enormous amount of water everywhere. It’s startling even for an adult the first time you experience it, so Harry did pretty well not to totally freak out when he was innocently inspecting something and suddenly his whole world turned into flying water. Luckily the water landed all around him without taking him out but he avoided that area from then on. Grace and Sarah took a few water beatings while I nursed my cold on the sidelines.

While the kids were being babysat at the hotel and the girls were getting a beauty treatment Tony and I wandered down to Gardens by the Bay, a new park built-in typical glittering Singaporean style which has these incredible looking solar trees. I have no idea what they’re for but they look very nice with their fern covered metal trunks and bright leaves.

When we bid farewell to the family and got our own flight to Bali it was with the intention of relaxing rather than exploring. While Bali is undoubtedly an interesting place, a lush island with one of the most religious populations in the world practising a brand of Hinduism, we figured we could come back at some point when we had more energy. We threw ourselves into India and China but before heading back to Australia we just wanted to unwind.

And what a place to do it. A villa among the rice terraces 15 minutes outside the town of Ubud was perfect. It was private and overlooked a lush valley. It felt like we were sleeping in nature and most nights we ate in our private pavilion and took it easy. Our one big excursion was a bicycle tour where you ride down a volcano, although it’s an old volcano with lots of villages and farms rather than one spewing lava over a denuded landscape.  Before the ride they show you a nearby active volcano that, judging by the scarified slopes, erupts reasonably frequently. The ride itself was great. Bali really is a beautiful place and gliding down the narrow roads, with rice terraces on either side and little statues marking shrines, was a marked contrast to our last big cycle in Gokceada. There are a huge number of temples in Bali and it seemed like the hotel needed a huge number of staff to cover people popping off to the temple a few times a day. The temples feature ornately carved stone gates and towers depicting Hindu gods, dragons and lions. Most of the houses seem to have their own small temples and the homes are compounds that house the entire extended family.

The first part of the tour took in a spice and coffee farm where we bought up big on civet coffee, that famous brand where the coffee bean is refined in the bowels of this weasel-like creature.  We don’t drink coffee anymore but Sarah gave it a sip and declared it smooth.  Our coffee drinking parents seemed initially less keen when we presented the gifts back in Australia but after a bit of coaxing they too have declared it an excellent coffee.

Soon enough our Bali jaunt was over and very nearly our world trip, if not for a stopover in Perth which was lovely.  As I had never been before I’m counting as part of the journey.

View the full set of Singapore and Bali photos

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