Singapore 2022

Wednesday 28th September

Another early morning rise to get ready for our pickup for the airport, once we had checked out of the hotel we took off with what seemed like a new driver to the route, she mistakenly took and left us in Terminal 1 when apparently we should have been taken to terminal 4, fortunately, there was an airport bus just outside that was able to take us on the 30-minute journey over to the other side of the airport. Once in terminal 4, the confusion continued, our flight turned out to be with Qantas and not Emirates as expected. Once airborne everything went well and we both had a pleasant flight into Changi.

When we arrived it took us well over an hour to clear immigration and customs before being picked up by our driver and driven to the Furama Riverfront hotel, our home for the next week. After checking in and exploring our room, which we found to be perfectly adequate for our stay, we went out for a walk around to try and get our bearings. I had stayed in this hotel 4 years ago and had some idea where things were, so we went along the road towards Clarke Quay where we found a nice Thai restaurant to have some dinner before returning to the hotel ready for bed after a long and tiring day.

Thursday 29th September

After our breakfast in the hotel, we went along the main road into town heading for Chinatown. This is one of the city’s bright, colourful and vibrant areas and we were happy to wander the streets soaking in the sights.

Our main reason for visiting Chinatown was to go to the visitor centre, next to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, to buy some phone SIM cards and to scope out tickets for some of the attractions of the city, on reaching the riverbank on Raffles Place, where we sat for a while watching the world go by, we decided to head towards the Merlion Park at Marina Bay, we got there easily and stopped for lunch, Jim loved the large Merlion and Unicorn Elephant statues we found there.

In the Marina. Bay, we could see the grandstand for the F1 GP we have tickets for Sunday’s race and decided to see how and where we could get there, we found the entry point easily, so we thought it would be a good time to visit the Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Sands Hotel. This is where all our problems began, almost all the streets in the area were closed off and no matter how many ways we tried, we just couldn’t get to them. Feeling a bit frustrated we returned to Chinatown to the Maxwell Food Centre, a typical Hawker food court, after passing through the colourful night market, to see what was on offer, and after a couple of most refreshing Tiger beers, we had a lovely meal from the Michelan rated Tian Tian Chicken Rice stall, we both agreed that it deserved the plaudits, afterwards, I just couldn’t resist sampling one of the delicious Fuzhou Oyster cakes again it was worthy of the praise. From Chinatown, we slowly made our way home after yet another warm and tiring day, the heat and humidity really sap your energy so it was nice to return to our air-conditioned room.

Friday 30th September

We had a bit of a lie-in this morning after yesterday’s long walks, but we were still in time for a good breakfast before heading out to find the Fort Canning MRT (metro) Station to take us up to Little India, this area of Singapore is where it’s mainly Indian population lives, when wandering the streets there you could be forgiven for thinking that you really were in a part of India. This week sees the festival of Deepavali being celebrated so the streets were decorated with colourful banners and lights and there were many flower sellers on the streets selling colourful garlands.

After a refreshing sugarcane juice drink to cool us down, we took the metro to Bayfront, intending to go up the Marina Bay Sands Hotel observation deck, but due to the F1 race, it was closed. We took a stroll around the shoppes in the arcades in the hotel in search of a coffee and to say that the place was a world apart from Little India would be an understatement, despite them only being 15 minutes apart by metro, there is even a mock canal with gondolas running through it.

Now that we were in the Bay Area, we crossed over to the Gardens by the Bay, where we decided to see it all if possible, this included the Double Conservatories of the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest with its 35-meter waterfall and the aerial Cloud Walk. We were stunned by both of them, but especially the Flower Dome, with plant species from the Mediterranean, the African Savannah, and Australia, all in a massive structure. From there we had a stroll through the gardens to the Supertree Grove, the Supertrees are 18 tree-like structures 25 metres to 50 metres tall, they are vertical gardens that are home to enclaves of unique and exotic ferns, vines, orchids and also a vast collection of bromeliads.

We then went up to the elevated walkway, the OCBC Skyway, a viewing platform between two of the larger Supertrees to enjoy a panoramic aerial view of the Gardens, we had also purchased a ticket for the Supertree Observatory, an observation platform at the top of the tallest of the Supertrees, which provided an even more spectacular view of the city and the bay.

We stayed in the park for dinner in Satay by the Bay, a hawker-type outlet before going back to Supertree Grove to see the evening’s light and music show known as the Garden Rhapsody. The music played tonight had a retro pop theme and was well coordinated and it was great fun lying on our backs watching it all.

Garden Rhapsody

We made use of public transport a lot today, using both the MRT and buses in getting about the city, mainly to avoid the restrictions due to the Grand Prix, but we still managed to put on a few thousand steps on the way. Again we returned to the hotel very tired but happy after yet another great day.

Saturday 1st October

This morning we jumped a bus down to the harbour front to get the Singapore Cable Car, a cable car ride north to Mount Faber, one of Singapore’s highest points, when we got there we were slightly disappointed as, apart from a walk through yet another rain forest, there didn’t seem to be much to do or see, perhaps. Perhaps we have just become a bit rain forest jaded.

We went back on the cable car which then carried us south to Sentosa Island, an island resort off Singapore’s southern coast, from what we could read about it, it looked like a super place to visit, with beautiful beaches, plenty of bars and restaurants and loads of activities such as zip wires, bungee jumping and what we fancied doing was a few runs on the Skyline Luge, a thrilling gravity fuelled ride downhill that I had first tried in New Zealand. We booked 3 runs intending to create our own Singapore Grand Prix, the first 2 runs went well, with each of us gaining a victory as we rode down the purpose-built tracks with their hairpin corners, tunnels and downhill slopes through the forest, however, it all changed on the last run, it had started with light rain as we took off, but by the time we reached the bottom we were in the middle of a tropical monsoon and thunderstorm, soaked to the skin, we shared the victory, the championship was drawn.

A Sentosa Saturday

After waiting for the storm to abate, we returned to the cable car to take us back to the mainland where we eventually made our way to Chinatown for a late lunch/early dinner and a well-earned beer in the Maxwell Food Court, which is becoming one of Jim’s favourite places where he likes to sample something different every time we visit.

While we were there the rain started again so we agreed to return to the hotel to dry off a bit, before going out for a snack and a beer in nearby Tiong Bahru, one of my favourite areas in Singapore, this area has a really cool vibe with its 1930’s Art Deco styled housing complexes, the suburb has become famous for its trendy cafes and independent shops. There’s also a local park and a traditional food market. There is also plenty of high-quality street art by a local resident, Yip Yew Chong, I first saw them when I visited in 2018 and they remain among my favourite murals. A 5-minute walk took us back to the hotel tired after yet another interesting day. (Expect to a page devoted to Yip Yew Chong’s work coming soon to my Street Art section)

Sunday 2nd October

A big day today, we have tickets for the Singapore GP, which is undoubtedly the potential highlight of the trip for Jim (and me too). We thought that although the gates open at 10:00 we would wait until later to go to the track.

We started off after breakfast by going back out to Tiong Bahru to capture an image of a mural by Yip Yew Chong that I had missed during my earlier travels, we stopped off at the food court there and had some Kopi, (also known as Nanyang coffee) and a Singaporean version of a Portuguese custard tart, they were both very good. In order to see another of his wonderful murals we then went to the Amoy Street area to see his wall, describing some of Singaporean history on the wall of the Thian Hock Keng temple, since it was quite close we returned to the Maxwell Food Court for lunch before heading to the Bay Grandstand and our seats for the race.

Our seats facing the Sands Marina Hotel are very good with a great view of the track with one of the giant screens directly in front of us. The preamble to the race proper was very good, we had a W Series race, which is a fairly new series designed to encourage women into the sport, and then we saw the Formula 1 drivers parade where the drivers were taken around the track in a collection of historic vintage cars, this was when things changed a little.

At this point, the heavens opened and we had a massive rainstorm, despite cagoules and ponchos, we couldn’t stay dry and, in addition to almost everyone there, we retreated to the area under the grandstand to shelter from the rain in the hope that it would eventually stop and the race be allowed to start. After a nail-biting hour, the rain stopped and the decision was made to start the race, so following the Singaporean National Anthem, it all got underway.

It was brilliant, the sound of the cars, the vibration in our seats as they passed and the additional visuals provided by the giant screen opposite all added to the once-in-a-lifetime event, after a fabulous fireworks display, we left the area on a high and made our way back to the hotel after a fAntastic day, the potential of the day was fully realised, it was a highlight.

Race Day

Monday 3rd October

This morning, now that the road closures and the restrictions placed due to the F1 were lifted, we made our way to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and its observation platform on the 57th floor, the views over the city were spectacular, it was good to see many of the places we had visited and the F1 track from above, however, being up so high it felt extremely warm so we were glad to return to ground level and the air-conditioned comfort of one of the malls in the hotel.

Our afternoon trip was one we had always planned, a river cruise on one of the city’s Bumboats from Clarke Quay, this trip around the river was very relaxing and enjoyable, providing yet a different viewpoint of the sights seen earlier.

With time to spare after our cruise we thought we would visit Kampong Gelam, a neighbourhood known as Arab street, to see some murals by Yip Yew Chong, one of my favourite ever artists, again, nature took over with yet another rainstorm, this time, unfortunately, we were in a predominantly Muslim area so we couldn’t take solace in lunch or a beer in one of the malls, we sat it out as long as we could before trying a sprint to the nearest MRT station, we thought we had done well staying reasonably dry until a passing motorist going through a puddle completely drenched us. The murals did make the trip worthwhile though, and I did find a quirky camera shaped building that turned out to be a camera museum, unfortunately it was closed, which was a shame as it would have been a great place to shelter from the rain.

We made our way back to Clarke Quay to have an enjoyable dinner in a Hawker Centre we had seen earlier before returning to the hotel to pack our cases ready for our departure tomorrow night, stopping off in Boomerang, an Australian bar across the river from us for one last round of drinks.

Tuesday 4th October

For our last day in Singapore, we decided to visit Everton Road, #33 on the Time Out list of the coolest streets in the world at the end of our trip, it was a pretty cool area, but we couldn’t see what made it stand out over other places, perhaps we needed to see it at night. The area did have some pretty cool murals by Yip Yew Chong so the journey wasn’t wasted.

On my last visit to Singapore, Raffles Hotel was closed and undergoing refurbishment and was covered in scaffolding, so I couldn’t see much, this time, however, we saw it in all its glory. We thought that it would be very exclusive and that we wouldn’t be allowed in, how wrong were we, the staff couldn’t have been more helpful, offering to take photographs and guiding us to the best spots, it really was a special place to visit.

With loads of time to kill, we visited the Newton Food Court for lunch, this Hawker centre is a bit further out of town, and although it had been recommended to us we much preferred the Maxwell Food Court which we visited frequently.

An MRT ride back into Chinatown’s Mohamed Ali Lane led us on a hunt for more murals by Yip, which was a great way to revisit some of the places we had visited earlier and to see them with fresher eyes, it is strange how all of our walks in the area takes us back towards the Maxwell, where we had to stop for a refreshing beer before returning to the hotel to rest for a while before being collected for our travel to Changi Airport.

Unlike Perth and Western Australia, we managed to meet Dan’s Challenge by finding A Starbucks (it wasn’t hard, there are 130 of them in Singapore) and a Certified Lego Store (there were only 7 of them).

We both fully enjoyed Singapore and its many attractions, especially the F1 Grand Prix, which was very special, amongst our highlights were the Gardens by the Bay, the view from the Marina Sands hotel’s observation deck, Sentosa Island with its cable car and Luge run, plus of course the hawker food courts, especially the Maxwell. I enjoyed seeing as many of Yip Yew Chong’s murals as possible, they really tell the story of his Singaporean life in vivid colour. The photographs shown above are only a sample of the many hundreds taken by both Jim and I, but I’m sure you will agree that they show just how wonderful a time we had there. I certainly would like to come back again.

[Return to My Trips Away]

Australia – Part 2

Sunday 21st August

For our our first day in Australia we headed out for a walk along the beach to G&B’s local town of Mordialloc where we stopped off for a nice lunch in the Bridge Hotel before having a stroll around town and picking up some shopping in their local Woolworths.

In the afternoon, Briony’s parents Pat and Kay came over to visit with Briony’s nephews Jensen and Ollie, it was good to catch up with them again.

In the evening, after a nice meal we sat and watched one of the Aussie Rules Football games on TV, and enjoyed learning all about the rules etc, it was great fun. At this point jetlag started to hit us, so we opted for an early night. This was a good first day in Australia.

MONDAY 22nd August

This morning we took the train from Mordialloc to Flinders Street station in the city centre, we intended taking the city circle tourist tram to see the sights, there seemed to be a problem with it so instead of waiting for it to arrive, we took another one down to the Docklands area, it certainly was interesting to see all the pleasure boats instead of the large cargo ships that I visited on in the 1970’s.

Back at Flinders Street we gave up waiting for the tourist tram and went over to the Timeout cafe in Federation Square for lunch instead. The meal was made all the more memorable by the waiter spilling a whole pint of beer over Jim, soaking his trousers, they then had the nerve to try and charge us for the beer. We visited an Optus store to get our phones to connect to the internet correctly before setting out on Jim’s quest of finding the Lego Store and a Starbucks, we were successful in this and managed to track them both down. After a nice refreshment break (tea and coffee) we caught the train back to Mordialloc.

We had another nice night at home with G&B chatting and watching some Aussie TV, Jim is certainly getting hooked on some of the shows over here.

Tuesday 23rd August

Another trip into town after breakfast saw us heading down through St Kilda Road where we stopped at the National Gallery of Victoria to see an augmented reality exhibition, the technology was a wee bit flakey and it was difficult to find all the installations, perhaps it was a case of first day bugs and it will be set out soon.

After visiting the NGV we carried on down the St Kilda Road to the Shrine of Rememberance, an impressive memorial to Australian Armed Forces lost in the many and varied conflicts over the years, the memorial and surrounding gardens were a fitting tribute and a nice place to visit, we then went on further down the road to Gentlemans George’s where we met Graeme for lunch, it being close to his place of work. After lunch Jim had us make a pilgrimage to the nearby Albert Park, the home of the Australian grand prix, it was fun to walk on part of the circuit.

Once back in the city we had to visit a station to sort out Jim’s travel card, unfortunately the station was inside one of the giant malls and we found getting back out onto the street a wee bit difficult, by the time we reached the street and arrived at the Queen Victoria Market where we want to go, it was closed. We opted instead to pay a visit to Melbourne’s St Paul’s cathedral, which was very impressive with some spectacular stained glass windows. To finish off our day in the city we stopped off for a pint in the Duke of Wellington pub on Flinders Street before catching the train home, this was another interesting and fun day.

Wednesday 24th August

After our train ride this morning we went to the north of the city to get to our hotel, Brady’s on Jones Lane, which we had booked into for a couple of nights, fortunately our room was ready so we were able to check in and leave our bags before going back downtown to visit the Eureka Skydeck 88 floors above the city, although there was a bit of rain, we were still presented with some spectacular views of the city and the surrounding area.

We experienced what they call ‘The Edge‘ a glass box which moves out of the building leaving you suspended above the streets, it wasn’t as terrifying as they described it but good fun nonetheless, we were not brave enough though to try the ‘Plank Walk’, a virtual reality zip line over the city.

After lunch on the Skydeck we went uptown again to visit the Old Melbourne Gaol, unfortunately due to some flooding part of the tour was cancelled but what we saw was very good and gave us an insight into life in times gone past, we were amazed at the things people, children included, were imprisoned for, apparently you could get 6 months for swearing in public, if that happened today the prisons would be crammed.

Having missed the Queen Victoria Market yesterday, we were lucky that there was a Winter Night Market every Wednesday. This was ideal for us with a wide and diverse selection of stalls and food from all over the world, after wandering around we both decided to try the devilled chicken and rice from a Sri Lankan outlet, this was a great choice. A bottle of wine purchased on the way back to the hotel finished off the day perfectly.

Thursday 25th August

Our hotel was a great place to spend the night prior to our tours, the first of which was the Philip Island Eco Tour, after being picked up by our Go West (formerly Bunyip) guide and driver, Hilda, we headed of to our first stop at the Brighton Beach Huts, a row of colourful iconic huts, before heading to the Moonlit Sanctuary where we came face to face with kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and various other wildlife, it was great fun feeding the kangaroos and wallabies.

Next stop was at the Nobbies, overlooking the Bass Strait, the Nobbies boasts spectacular clifftop views., which we explored on the winding boardwalks, looking out to Seal Rocks, the home of Australia’s largest fur seal colony.

Philip Island Penguin Parade

It was then on to the largest Little Penguin colony in the world. We experienced the magic of watching these amazing little seabirds waddle home from the ocean to their burrows from the viewing platforms and boardwalks. Unfortunately you are forbidden to use your camera after sunset, but this video from Bunyip Travel lets you see some of what we experienced. A 2 hour journey back into the city meant thst we were a bit late for most of the restaurants, so a Chinese takeaway and a glass of wine in our hotel room finished the day off perfectly, It was certainly an interesting and fun day.

Friday 26th August

An early start today for our trip down the Great Ocean Road, we were picked up outside the Marriot, this time by Sheridyn from Go West and once all the other hotel pickups had been made off we set.our first stop was in the coastal town of Torquay, the traditional home of surfing in Australia, it was nice have some cake and coffee at this stop. Our next stop was at the memorial arch, commemorating the returned WWI servicemen who built the Great Ocean Road, we made a quick stop at the Kennett River where we were able to see Koalas and many colourful birds in their natural habitat.

After stopping off for a welcome lunch of a pie and a pot of beer, in the nice town of Apollo Bay before heading to Maits Rest for a walk through the rainforest to see the magnificent trees and ferns.

Next on our trip was the 12 Apostles, Gibson Steps and The Loch Ard Gorge, all equally impressive. We topped it all off with a stop at a noodle bar in Colac for dinner before returning to Melbourne. A quick well earned pint in a pub near the station were we were to catch the train to Graeme’s topped off a great couple of days.

Saturday 27th August

This afternoon we met the rest of Briony’s family when we went to the nearby Chelsea. RSL, a club for returned servicemen similar to our British Legion, we were there to celebrate Kay’s, Briony’s mothers, Birthday, it was nice to meet her brothers Sean his wife Moni and their children, her brother Andrew was there with his children but unfortunately his wife Sheree was unable to attend. The club was quite a special place and the food was very good, some of the portions were enormous, especially Andrews’s lamb shank.

After lunch came what must rank as one of the highlights of the trip for Jim, Briony took us for a drive around Melbourne’s Grand Prix circuit and he was stunned when she gave him the chance to drive around a section of it himself, his face was a picture to behold.

After the excitement of the afternoon we returned home, picked up Joffrey the dog then went to a local food court in a venue called Urban Ground, the pizzas there were pretty spectacular. After dinner we went round the corner with Graeme to a local brewery, Braeside Brewing for a couple of ales, this was a great way to finish off a very special first week in Australia

[Return to Australia 2022]

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Amsterdam Updated

I have eventually caught up with two of my outstanding blog posts, the first is the one for the STRAAT Museum in Amsterdam which I visited recently.
The collection held there is very impressive and extensive as can be seen by the photographs on the page, there are a lot of them.
They can be viewed here:

I have also uploaded a page showing the murals spotted while wandering the city, this includes the 10 murals created for the “If Walls could talk” festival in 2019. For me, the highlight of this set of murals was one by Smug of our very own GazMac, it is spectacular as usual.
They can be viewed here:

Lockdown Blues

Being in the midst of the lockdown with not much to look forward to in the near future, I decided to take a look back over the last few months. January was pretty much taken over by my volunteering role at this year’s Celtic Connections, which has become an excellent start to my year and one I hope I am able to continue with.

February was a bit of a mixed month, I became involved in volunteering at athletics events and spend a great deal of time at the Emirates Arena helping out at events for European, British and Scottish Athletics. Again this is a role I would wish to continue, at the Scottish Athletics events I was allocated a variety of roles designed to provide me with the skills to enable me to become a member of the Scottish Athletics support network, some of it was a wee bit strenuous for me, but it was all great fun and very rewarding, I especially loved being up in the gods with the photo finish team.

02 2020 Emirates Stadium

The last week of February and the first week of March found me volunteering at the Glasgow Film Festival, a new one for me. This was great fun, I got to meet a great bunch of people and managed to see some great movies (and a few I wished I hadn’t seen), I really loved Michael Caton-Jones’ “Our Ladies”, an adaptation of Alan Warner’s The Sopranos, telling the story, set in the 1990s, of a group of schoolgirls who get an opportunity to go into Edinburgh for a choir competition, but they’re more interested in drinking, partying and hooking up than winning the competition.  A real fun-filled movie with some great music.  Another favourite this year was “5 Is the Perfect Number” an old fashioned Italian gangster movie, again with a good score. Another music-themed movie was This World Won’t Break it was good to meet Josh David Jordan, the Writer/Director and Greg Schroeder the Actor/Musician who played the main character.  One of the strangest events of the festival though was the concert in the CCA, the Glasgow Percussion Collective Plays Bjork, 3 guys playing various percussion instruments, a Double Bass, and the talented Rachel Lightbody providing the vocals, a weird combination for a film festival, but good nonetheless.  This is another event I think will be added to my rota of annual events.

Film Festival

Following the Film Festival it was straight into Aye Write, Glasgow’s Literary Festival, I managed one attend one event before the festival was cancelled due to Coronavirus, however, I enjoyed my one night with the authors and look forward to next year.

Aye Write

I had many things planned for April, May and June, including foreign travel, a return trip to Orkney, and a couple of street art festivals, all now cancelled or put on hold.

One positive of the lockdown was the time to sort out my collection of photographs from my many travels of the last few years, during which I discovered that I hadn’t posted the photographs of the street art I discovered during my trip to South East Asia last year, I will pop them up online soon.

Norwegian Art

As promised, I’ve eventually put together a couple of pages showing the street art I found during my recent trip to Norway, they are just a couple of clicks away.

[Arctic Art]  –  [Urban Art in Bergen]

I have been informed that some people are finding it difficult to navigate through my website, so over the coming weeks, I’m going to redesign it to make things easier. I would welcome your comments and thoughts on what improvements you would like to see.

I would also like to update the Glasgow Street Art section of the site to make it more prominent, again I would welcome your thoughts.

North Norway – Completed

Since Jim & I returned from Norway, I have been busy volunteering at the LEN European Short Course Championships at Tollcross so I haven’t been able to devote much time to the blog, now that it’s over I have eventually worked my way through the many photographs we took during our time there.  Rather than starting a new page, I have appended them to the page for the first half of the voyage, the completed page can be seen here.

I took many photographs of the Northern Lights and the street art I found whilst we were away, I will add further pages at a later date.

Our Nordic Adventure

Many of you will know that my mate, Jim Lewars, and I have been on a Nordic Adventure cruising up the Norwegian coast on one of Hurtigruten’s postal boats, the MV Finnmarken.  This is a 12-day voyage along the Norwegian coast, spending 6 days travelling North, reaching Kirkenes before turning South for the return voyage to Bergen.

I have completed the journal, with photographs for the first stage of the trip, which can be seen here, the journal will be added to on completion of the return leg.