Adventures in Singapore – December 2015

Happy New Year everyone!!!  Sorry our monthly post is one week late, but my holidays were busy, busy, busy – and last weekend I was still trying to “recover.”  I feel like December was a complete whirlwind!  I probably should have done 2 separate posts –  pre-holiday and post-holiday – but I didn’t have time.  So…buckle up…this month’s post is going to be a wild ride 🙂

The very first weekend in December, our church put on a live Nativity at our church building.  I thought this was especially cool since so many people in Singapore are not Christian and are curious about Christian beliefs.  I felt like it was really well done and so cool to hear the stories of the Nativity spoken in so many different accents.  I especially loved the room they set up to display Nativity sets from around the world.  It was awesome to see how different countries depict this sacred event.  Great way to start off the Christmas season.

LOVE the elephants!

LOVE the elephants!

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One of my faves

One of my faves

Like last year, we had the opportunity to go see the awesome Christmas lights on Orchard Road in an open-top, double-decker bus.  It was so fun to get together with friends and sing Christmas carols while viewing the spectacular display of lights and decorations.  Singapore is all about Christmas bling!

My favorite tree of the year. It was 4 stories high!

My favorite tree of the year. It was 4 stories high!

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I love that the decorations on Orchard change every year.

I love that the decorations on Orchard change every year.

"Winter" wonderland

“Winter” wonderland

 

On the 15th, we were FINALLY able to hike MacRitchie Reservoir!  I say finally because we have been trying to do this for many months.  Every time we had it planned on a Saturday, it was either too hazy, or too rainy, or we were just too lazy that day.  MacRitchie is Singapore’s oldest reservoir (completed in 1868).  It is surrounded by the beautiful Central Catchment Nature Reserve.  There are boardwalks and trails that take you through the pristine forest and vegetation.  We were able to hike up to and cross the stunning TreeTop Walk – a 250 meter (820 feet) aerial free standing suspension bridge which spans Bukit Peirce and Bukit Kalang (the two highest points in MacRitchie).  The TreeTop Walk is 25 meters (82 feet) high (at its highest point) and offers hikers a gorgeous panoramic view of the surrounding rainforest.   Thanks to our awesome friend and tour guide, Alison Jensen, none of us got maimed or lost along the way.  Toward the end of the hike, we saw several monkeys just hanging out and posing for pictures.  We had so much fun – truly an awesome experience!

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Gorgeous view!

Gorgeous view!

Hello Mr. Monkey!

Hello Mr. Monkey!

Looks like he's smoking something :)

Looks like he’s smoking something 🙂

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After the hike, our friends invited us to come over to swim and decorate gingerbread trees.  Dylan had so much fun…and I find it so amusing that the kids are at the pool…in swimsuits…in December…decorating gingerbread trees 🙂 Definitely the way to go though!  So much less to clean up!

Gingerbread trees at the pool. What could be better?

Gingerbread trees at the pool. What could be better?

Friday, December 18th, 2015, will forever go down as one of the most awesome days of my life!  On that day, a life-long dream was finally fulfilled, thanks to my awesome hubby.  I, Carrie Wright, got to see the one, the only, Roger Federer play tennis…live and in the flesh!!!  I have been a Federer super-fan for many, many years and when I found out he was coming to play in Singapore (for the first time ever) I knew I had to go, no matter what!  So, for our birthdays, Dave bought Dylan and me 3-day passes to the IPTL Finals.  As you can see by the picture…I was an absolute emotional wreck from the minute they called his name and he walked out on court.  It truly was a dream come true and something I will never, ever forget.  To watch him play live was absolutely amazing!!!  You can’t truly appreciate incredible tennis until you’ve seen it “up close and personal.”  It was an amazing 3 days!!!  We not only got to see the greatest tennis player of all time…but also Stan Wawrinka (one of Dylan’s favorites), Carlos Moya, Goran Ivanisevic, James Blake, Bernard Tomic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Marat Safin, Ivo Karlovic, Marin Cilic, Kristina Mladenovic, and many others.  And to top it all off…the Singapore Slammers took home the IPTL trophy!!!

OMG!!! OMG!!! Here he comes!!!

OMG!!! OMG!!! Here he comes!!!

Tears of complete JOY!

Tears of complete JOY!

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Most awesome night ever!!!

Most awesome night ever!!!

Oh...there were other players there too :)

Oh…there were other players there too 🙂

Lovin' it!

Lovin’ it!

Stan the man!!!

Stan the man!!!

And the Singapore Slammers win it!!!

And the Singapore Slammers win it!!!

Very late in the evening on December 20th, Dylan’s Christmas wish came true.  Micaela and Jace finally arrived in Singapore.  He’d been counting down the days for months…and they were finally here!!!  As you can see by the pictures…he was so happy to see his sister.  Luckily, there were no problems and their flight arrived on time, because we were booked on a ferry bound for Indonesia at 9:00 the next morning.  With very few hours sleep, we made it to the ferry terminal and took a short 2 hour trip (which included ferry, taxi, and private chartered boat ride) to the incredible Nikoi Island.  Nikoi Island is a pristine 40 acre private island just 5 miles off the east coast of Bintan, Indonesia.  The resort has 15 beautiful Indonesian style beach houses – each with a stunning seafront location (and bonus – there are never more than 50 guests max on the island at a time).  The beach houses are truly unique and beautiful – what I would call “Robinson Crusoe Chic” and/or “barefoot luxury.”  The island is surrounded by white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, beautiful coral reefs, and magnificent white granite boulders that seem to shoot up from the sea in just the right spots to make your views and photos even more amazing!   Of course, being on the equator, the island was its own tiny little rainforest – huge Banyan, palm, mangrove, and coconut trees were everywhere; beautiful flowering plants and thick, unspoiled forest areas; tons of wildlife including HUGE monitor lizards, geckos, butterflies, and birds, to name just a few.  We LOVED the island’s super laid-back atmosphere – no dress codes, no set dining times, no crowds, no noise, all activities at your leisure.  It was seriously a little slice of heaven!  One of my favorite features was the white sand “floors” in the dining rooms, the game rooms and the lounge areas.  Like I said…a complete secluded island experience.  They have an all Indonesian staff who were FABULOUS!!!  They were the friendliest, kindest resort staff I have ever experienced.  They always tried to remember what we liked to do and eat and were so sweet to Dylan – always calling him by name.  The food was AMAZING too – everything was super fresh and locally sourced.  Very simply prepared…but absolutely delicious!  We got to see and do some really fun things.  Highlights were: snorkeling, swimming, boogie boarding, the floating water trampoline, tennis (on a natural GRASS court), beach front massages, sun worshiping, rock climbing (on REAL rocks), nature “walkabouts,” monitor lizard stalking, treasure hunts, ocean front naps, and (of course) eating, eating, and more eating.  We sooooooo didn’t want to leave our tropical paradise after 4 days…but I guess all good things must come to an end.  So we packed our bags and made it back to Singapore on Christmas Eve.

Sooooooooo happy to be reunited!!!!!

Sooooooooo happy to be reunited!!!!!

Our first look at the island from the boat.

Our first look at the island from the boat.

The awesome view from our "living room"

The awesome view from our “living room”

A view of our hut from the beach

A view of our hut from the beach

Our happy hut

Our happy hut

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View of the 2nd bedroom

View of the 2nd bedroom

Master bedroom - and no...the mosquito net was NOT just for show.

Master bedroom – and no…the mosquito net was NOT just for show.

Gorgeous view from our bedroom.

Gorgeous view from our bedroom.

A great place to take an afternoon nap.

A great place to take an afternoon nap.

Love the blackboard menus

Love the blackboard menus

The food was sooooooo fresh and yummy!!!

The food was sooooooo fresh and yummy!!!

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Making my mouth water even now.

Making my mouth water even now.

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Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

These monitor lizards were HUGE!!!

These monitor lizards were HUGE!!!

Lizard crossing

Lizard crossing

Just chillin'

Just chillin’

Sooooo relaxed!!!

Sooooo relaxed!!!

The library/game room

The library/game room

Just strolling down the jungle path

Just strolling down the jungle path

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The trees' roots grow right over the rocks

The trees’ roots grow right over the rocks

So cute!

So cute!

Mangroves

Mangroves

Low tide

Low tide

Goooooo Jace!!!

Goooooo Jace!!!

Climbing on real rocks...for the first time!

Climbing on real rocks…for the first time!

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The rock formations were so beautiful!

The rock formations were so beautiful!

Playing on a natural grass court was fun...and interesting. No shoes allowed.

Playing on a natural grass court was fun…and interesting. No shoes allowed.

Tennis anyone?

Tennis anyone?

After arriving home and taking a much needed nap, Micaela and Jace really wanted Thai food for Christmas Eve dinner, so we went to our favorite local spot.  YUM!!!  We were still pretty wiped, so after a few rounds of Yahtzee, and some Christmas morning “set-up,” we all crashed.  It was so fun to have Micaela and Jace here for Christmas morning!  We opened gifts and stockings, ate a super yummy breakfast and just sat around and talked for most of the morning.  Christmas afternoon we FINALLY all went to see the new Star Wars together.  (Micaela made Dave promise not to see it until we could all go together.)  It was so good…we all loved it!  And Christmas dinner…ramen of course!!!  Not just any old ramen…but the BEST ramen we’ve found in Singapore!  I think this should become our Christmas dinner tradition from now on. So slurp-a-liscious!!!  The rest of the evening was spent building Legos and watching Netflix.  I LOVE a chillax Christmas day!  Besides…we were saving up our energy for the next week of “Fast and Furious – Singapore Style.”

Happy Christmas Eve Thai food dinner. YUM!!!

Happy Christmas Eve Thai food dinner. YUM!!!

Kinder Eggs!!!

Kinder Eggs!!!

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During the next several days we tried to pack in as much sight-seeing and Singapore activities as we could.  This included:  Lau Pa Sat Hawker Center, Merlion Park and the Helix Bridge over Marina Bay, Little India and the Hindu temple, Chinatown and the Buddhist temple, Arab Quarter and the Muslim mosque, the Noodle Man, Muthu’s Curry, the Botanic Gardens, Mr. Prata, Christmas lights/trees on Orchard Rd., the Asian Civilizations Museum, the SEA Aquarium, Sentosa Island, the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari.  Whoa!  My head is still spinning just thinking about it 🙂

Helix Bridge

Helix Bridge

Gotta love a cold ice cream on a hot day!

Gotta love a cold ice cream on a hot day!

He was spitting water this time :)

He was spitting water this time 🙂

Indian Dosai – double yum!!!

Symphony Stage at the Botanic Gardens

Symphony Stage at the Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens

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Lovebirds on the train

Jace had to wear a skirt into the mosque…because his shorts were too short 😀

Mosque prayer hall - so beautiful and so peaceful

Mosque prayer hall – so beautiful and so peaceful

Sultan's Mosque

Sultan’s Mosque

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown

2016 is the year of the monkey. Jace and Dylan are both born in the year of the monkey also (1992 and 2004).

Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu Temple in Little India

Love the aquarium themed wreath!

Tank presents

Since I have talked about most of the places we visitied in my previous posts, I thought I’d focus mainly on the zoo and safari, which were firsts for all of us.  During the day on the 28th, we went to the Singapore Zoo.  It was AWESOME…FABULOUS…AMAZING!!!  Seriously, we LOVED this!  This is a gorgeous, award-winning (recognized as one of the most beautiful wildlife park settings in the world) zoo, where (for the most part) the animals roam freely in spacious, naturalistic, open exhibits with hidden barriers (mostly moats).  The moats are even concealed with vegetation or have been dropped below the line of sight, so the effect is truly realistic.  You feel like you’re standing right there in the jungle, along with the amazing animals!  It houses more than 2,800 animals (over 300 species) and has the largest captive colony of orangutans in the world (it’s also the first zoo with a free-ranging orangutan habitat).  The most spectacular thing about this zoo, in my opinion, were all the incredible monkeys/primates!  So many different types!  And throughout much of the zoo, they’re just hanging out and swinging over head with no apparent enclosures.  They’re everywhere…and so friendly…so willing to show off and get your attention.  This truly was one of the highlights for me. (I’m sure the fact that they’re living in an actual rainforest doesn’t hurt morale either.) Other highlights of the zoo included:  an ADORABLE baby giraffe, a very cool elephant show, the chimpanzee and orangutan exhibits, the visiting koalas, the beautiful lions (who were actually awake and putting on a show), the funny lemurs, and, of course, photographing zebra butts in honor of my dad.  It was truly a spectacular day!

Pretty good balance

Pretty good balance

Micaela’s “spirit animal” (because they love to sleep so much)

In honor of my dad

Hear me roar!

Hear me roar!

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Sometimes it's hard to get a drink

Sometimes it’s hard to get a drink

Silly lemurs

Fruit bats

Fruit bats

Hello Mr. Orangutan

Hello Mr. Orangutan

So precious

So precious

These guys greeted us on our way into the park

These guys greeted us on our way into the park

So close you could almost touch them!

So close you could almost touch them!

Just hangin' out with their new buddies

Just hangin’ out with their new buddies

After the zoo that evening, we went on the Night Safari – the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals.  The Night Safari features over 2,500 animals in their naturalistic nighttime habitats.  To start things off, we watched an awesome fire-breathers show (which unnerved Dylan a little bit).  Then we started on the very dimly lit walking trails that zig zagged through the park showing us everything from Fishing Cats (we literally witnessed a medium-sized wild cat perch on the edge of a river for several minutes, and then full on dive in, catch a fish in its mouth, and then spring out to enjoy its meal), to HUGE cat-size fruit bats (which were in a dark, creepy, unprotected enclosure and flying/hanging over head very ominously), to beautiful Siberian tigers (one of which was not too happy that I put my face so close to the glass), to ADORABLE squeaking otters (who were desperately trying to see if we had any food to share), to bearded pigs and, of course, monkeys.  Then we hopped on the 40 minute guided tram ride that takes you all through the park and across 7 geographical zones of the world –  Himalayan foothills, Indian subcontinent, Equatorial Africa, Indo-Malayan region, Asian Riverine Forest, Nepalese River Valley, and Burmese Hillside.  This is where we saw (engaged in their “nighttime rituals”) elephants, hippos, giraffes, Himalayan tahrs and bharals and wild goats, lots of different kinds of deer, hyenas, sloth bears, wild cats of all shapes and sizes, zebras, many species of wild pigs/hogs, rhinos, wild cattle (who reminded us of longhorns), and last but not least (and MY personal favorite) Malayan tapirs who appeared, several times, within arm’s length of the tram.  This after-dark wildlife adventure was truly one-of-a-kind and so unique to Singapore.  We are so happy we were able to experience it with Micaela and Jace.  Sorry there aren’t any pictures of this adventure – it was WAY too dark, and they didn’t allow flash photography 🙁

On New Year’s Eve, we had a even MORE special event to celebrate – Jace’s birthday!  Yep…he’s a New Year’s baby.  We let Jace decide what he wanted to do, so we had a relaxing day looking at super fancy sports cars (Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi, Maserati, Rolls Royce, Bentley, McLaren (Dave’s new favorite), and Jace’s personal favorite – Aston Martin!), eating SUPERB dumplings, chilling at home, and (la piece de resistance) first-rate, top-notch, sushi for dinner.  (Jace says we’ve spoiled all other sushi for him now.)  After dinner, we watched movies and celebrated at midnight with some extremely loud confetti poppers. All in all – a super fun day.  Thanks Jace!

Wipe the drool off, Jace ;)

Wipe the drool off, Jace 😉

Happy Birthday Jace!

Soooooo loud!!!

On the last night of their visit, we went down to one of my personal favorite spots in Singapore – Gardens by the Bay.  We walked around and saw the beautiful gardens, the SuperTrees, the garden domes, and all the fun Christmas lights/decorations that they still had up for the holidays.  We had a super yummy dinner at Satay by the Bay and got some really good pictures of Micaela and Jace in their “Pimpin’ Joy” shirts (which were re-tweeted by the Bobby Bones show – mission accomplished).  It was soooooooo hard to say goodbye the next morning, but we were truly grateful to have had such an awesome two weeks!  Dylan especially loved being the official Singapore Tour Guide!  We really had an awesome holiday season and hope that all of our friends and family had a memorable and happy one as well.  We wish you all a very Happy 2016!!!

Pimpin' Joy in Singapore!

Pimpin’ Joy in Singapore!

Sibling love

Sibling love

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Laser light show at Marina Bay Sands

Laser light show at Marina Bay Sands

 

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