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 5

Monday 12th September

Today was an exciting one, we had an early start with a scratch breakfast then on to a shuttle bus to the Port Douglas marina to board Quicksilver VIII, a fast wavepiercing catamaran, out to the the Agincourt reef located 75 nautical miles off the coast of Port Douglas. This reef which is reputed to be one of the best diving and snorkeling sites in the world, is located at the very edge of the Great Barrier Reef and provided us with some of the spectacular vibrant aquatic animal and plant life unique to Australia’s coast.

On boarding we had tea/coffee and biscuits before departure then a nice relaxing 1 1/2 hour cruise out to the reef listening to all relevant safety briefings, on arrival at Quicksilver’s activity platform we enjoyed all of it’s facilities, we loved watching the marine life from the underwater observatory, took a cruise in one of the semi-submersibles, Jim liked that so much he did another while I got suited up and went for a snorkelling session from one of the platforms, we didn’t feel brave enough to try the ‘oceanwalker’ helmet or scuba diving.

We had the opportunity to watch the crew feeding some of the many types of fish, Jim even spotted a great view of a Green Backed turtle while out in the semi, quite a rare experience he was told, all of this kept us busy and once we had seen and done everything we realised how hungry we were so we availed ourself’s of an excellent buffet lunch. Later in the afternoon we had a beer from the onboard bar before we headed beck to port. It was great fun sitting on the foredeck being buffeted by the wind and spray at 35 knots.

Once back in Port Douglas we did a bit of shopping before returning to the hotel tired but happy to have had another smashing day out.

Tuesday 13th September

A fairly lazy day today, we first went to the Four Mile Beach next to our hotel and paddled and frolicked in the lovely warm Coral Sea. On our return to the hotel, we put on our laundry then lounged by the pool reading our books catching up on some relaxation time. In the evening, after packing our cases, we took the shuttle into town for a last look around and a lovely Thai meal in the extremely popular Star of Siam restaurant, a final beer in town before returning to the hotel for an early night.

Wednesday 14th September

An other early start for us this morning, as we had a 3:40 am pickup arranged to take us down to Cairns sirport. We got to the airport in good time, the road was deserted at that time in the morning, and everything went well with our flight etc.

We arrived in Brisbane and were met by our driver who quickly got us to the Grand Chancellor Hotel, our home for our week here. After dropping off our luggage we headed into town for a look around and to get our bearings followed by a nice lunch from one of the vendors in the local Wednesday city market. During our tour of the city we managed to meet what we call “Dan’s Challenge”, although we couldn’t quite find a certified Lego store, we did, however find Jimmys On The Mall, a great place to get our bearings when in the city.

We then popped over to the south bank to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre to book tickets for a show on Thursday before returning to the hotel on one of the free City Hopper buses to check in. Our room, although smaller than we have been used too, suited us fine, and we then spent some time on the Internet researching Brisbane and surrounding areas before heading out for dinner. This proved the only disappointment of the trip so far, we had chosen a local Mexican restaurant where the meal and especially the service was dreadful so much so thst I sent in an email, to the company, complaining, a first for me. After our early morning start we were quite pleased to return to the hotel for an early bed. Another good day in Australia.

Thursday 15th September

The sun was shining so off we went after breakfast for a trip down the river. Using the local free bus service to get into town we crossed over to the south bank where we found many activities and installations as part of the currently running Brisbane Festival, which for us is quite fortunate. The area was extremely busy with families enjoying themselves in the sun, and it was really good to see how much the city utilises the river, with pleasure craft and ferries plying their trade, there are many new interesting building projects going up and the installation of a new bridge, the Neville Bonner Bridge which looks like it will be pretty funky.

On finding the ferry terminal we went for a trip, on one of the City Hopper Kitty Cats, down to Howard Smith Wharves, the last stop, to find that was at a large riverside complex that included Felons Brewery, we enjoyed our time here, the large Barrel Hall, crammed full of barrels painted by local artists, had tons of room for diners and lots of seating on huge bean bags outside facing the river. After an obligatory beer we returned back upriver where we had lunch, a wander round the festival installation of giant spheres before relaxing in the sun on some more of Felons bean bags, when I touched the spheres my hair stood on end, it didn’t have quite the. Same effect on Jim.

We returned to the hotel, after a bit of shopping in town, to get ourselves ready for our evening outing. Yesterday we booked tickets for the musical “Girl from the North Country” featuring songs from Bob Dylan, the show, held in the impressive Lyric Theatre, a part of the Queensland Performing Arts Centrehttps://qpac.com.au/, the show was very entertaining and certainly a different way to listen to Dylan’s music.

Friday 16th September

We decided to search for some Brisbane street art today, we had asked earlier in the tourist information office and they couldn’t help, so armed with a couple of maps and a phone app off we set, it was extremely frustrating as we couldn’t find anything mentioned in the app. By the time we reached the Howard Smith Wharf we had given up. After stopping there for lunch, we caught a Kitty Cat back to the south bank, where, with a lovely ice cream, we lounged near the bandstand listening to a good set by Felicity Kircher, a local singer/songwriter.

As usual we did a bit of shopping on the way back up to the hotel, in the evening we had a takeaway meal in our room whilst Jim watched his new favourite of AFL, he is becoming hooked on it, it’s finals season and always supports the winning team, he is really forward to the Grand Final next Saturday. During this time I reached out to a local street art blogger who provided some hints of where to look, holding out more hope for tomorrow, despite the frustrations of the morning we still had a great day.

Saturday 17th September

With the information provided by @dkjstreetartphotography we set out again to find some of Brisbane’s street art, this time much more successfully, our walk took us through Fortitude Valley back again to the Howard Smith wharf next to Felons Brewery where we intended to take the ferry back to the south bank, however due to the lovely weather, we chose to walk the 800 metres across the impressive Story Bridge towards Kangaroo Point, once we had reached the Queensland Maritime Museum on the riverside walkway and had a look around, we stopped for a coffee at this point we thought it was now a good time to try out a Neuton e-scooter, once we got the hang of them we scooted along the remainder of the riverside drive towards the Merivale Railway Bridge to look at the Pillars Project, a series of murals painted by leading artists on the pillars supporting the bridge, they certainly were impressive. Whilst in the South Brisbane area it was easy to visit Fish Lane for more street art and a beer, the scooter ride was great fun and something we will do again,

The sunshine then took us back to the Brisbane Festival site on the South Bank for another of the nice ice creams, and a bit of relaxation listening to some live music, before returning to our hotel for dinner, despite wanting to do it by scooter we thought it better to go by bus to avoid the city traffic.

Hot Wheels Holmes

Sunday 18th September

Whilst Jim went to scope out a local laundrette I met with Mike and Donna Holmes, distant relatives of mine in our hotel, although I had never met them previously, I have been in contact with Donna over a great many years in connection with our respective family history research, it was nice to finally meet with both of them and to put faces to the names, since they had both lived in Singapore for a while it was also good to get some tip for our visit there.

After our meeting Jim & I made our way into town where we topped up our phone cards then purchased a Go Card for the very good Brisbane transport system, and to buy some things for lunch. We then revisited the South Bank to take one of the larger City Cat ferries further down the Brisbane river. This was a great way to spend an afternoon seeing how the city is built around the river. We stopped off at one point to have our picnic lunch before travelling further down river visiting places such as Hawthorne, Tenerife and Bulimba before getting off at Northshore Hamilton, our last stop, after a walk around the area and some chill out time in the park, I love how the council provides plenty of picnic tables & benches, they even provide free electric BBQ’s for families to use, all of which are spotlessly clean.

We returned back up river getting off at the Eagle Street Pier where the are developing a new riverside complex, after a look around and the capture of some good street art we walked back to Queen Street to catch a bus back up to the hotel.

In the evening we walked into town for a meal in Hot Star Large Chicken, a place we had wanted to visit since we spotted it in Sydney, the food was very good and worth a visit, it certainly lived up to it’s name, the chicken pieces were huge. A pint in Brew Cafe & Wine Bar in Lower Burnett Lane, with it’s great murals by Drapl, before our walk up the hill to the hotel finished off the day nicely.

Monday 19th September

What would seem to becoming a regular for us, was a bus into town, buy something for lunch then walk over to the South Bank. This time we took a ferry upriver, there were limited stops on this route due to wharves closed due to damage caused by flooding earlier this year. We stayed on the ferry for the return trip, stopping at New Farm Park to visit the Brisbane Powerhouse, an old power station converted into studios for Brisbane’s creative, we managed to photograph a couple of good murals in the space.

The nearby park was a lovely place to have our picnic lunch and for Jim to have a post lunch snooze.

Once back on the South Bank we decided we would try riding an e-bike and eventually could find only one nearby, Jim had a trial ride and found that he didn’t like it too much, so I took the bike and he picked up an e-scooter, which we then used to go along the river bank for a while. Back in the CBD we pick up some things for dinner then returned to watch the Queen’s funeral on TV.

Lewars Hamilton burnin’ rubber

Tuesday 20th September

Our last full day in Brisbane started quietly with us sitting in the sun reading the papers with a coffee whilst our laundry was being done using facilities in the hotel.

We then went for a walk downtown via the nearby Roma Street Parkland and spent some time in the beautiful gardens, stopping off for an hour or so to read our books, it was so pleasant to just sit and relax without any hustle & bustle. Once in town we visited the Brew cafe again for a refreshment, and after chatting to the barman there, he directed us to Urban Climb, a climbing centre, where we could view some good murals by local artist Sofles. Fully refreshed, off we set by bus to find it, it certainly was worth our while as the place was fabby and murals were very good too.

We then used up the last of our travel credit returning to one of our favourite spots on the South Bank where we had lunch and another relaxing time watching the world go by and doing a bit of reading before returning to the hotel to pack our bags ready for our morning departure.

In the evening as the sun set we went for our last meal in Brisbane and visited Bishamon Japanese Restaurant just around the corner from the hotel, for a wonderful meal, we were lucky to get a table as the place is so popular, it would have been a shame to have missed it. This topped off a great time in Brisbane, Perth here we come.

[Return to Australia 2022]

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DZIA

Whilst in Glasgow at the weekend for the Merchant City Festival, I popped into the Tontine Lane, off Bell Street, to see if anything new had been added to the little collection of street art there. Nothing new had been added but I was pleased to see that the pieces created by Dzia were still there to be seen.

Dzia, originating from Belgium, is a multi-disciplinary artist who creates drawings, sculptures, and murals. A common theme in his work is animals, usually made up of complex graphic lines in which he establishes a recognisable style that evolves in his species.

The three pieces in Tontine Lane were created in one day in 2015 when he was invited by the Heverlee brewery invited him over when they were setting up a pop-up Belgian beer bar.

The giant Sea Eagle created by him I found in The Norwegian town of Bodø, just north of the Arctic Circle, it was created in 2016 for the Up North street art festival

Bodø – 2016

Berlin Day 2

I had a leisurely stroll into town for breakfast before heading to the meeting place for the street art walking tour I was going on, on the way I decided to go on one of the bike tours of the city, so I booked a 3hr one for Saturday morning.  The street art tour was very good and the workshop which followed was great fun, we got a chance to create our own stencil then used a few different techniques to create our own piece of ‘art’, our guide Alex was very knowledgeable and entertaining.  In the evening I visited the East Side Gallery where there is a graffiti painted stretch of the wall,  usual I took a great many photographs, these and more details of my day will be found on the relevant sections later.

Iceland Trip

I’ve just returned from a trip to Iceland with my friend Jim Lewars, we had great fun exploring the city, visiting many of its famous sights. We also went on a couple of tours, one around the golden Circle and another out to see the Northern Lights.  While there I also took many photographs of the Street Art in the city, so much that it will take me a little longer to post the images on the site.

You can read about our trip and see our photographs here.