After so much traveling before we came back to Bali this last time, we decided we wanted to keep our visa run as short, sweet, and simple as possible, while also acquiring a social visa for Bali. This way we are able to stay put for a while and also continue the finishing touches and organization of settling into our new home. So, off to Singapore we went.
Since this was our second visit to the country, we decided to do some things we missed last time, like the Singapore Botanic Gardens. We also spent a day at Adventure Cove Waterpark on Sentosa Island with some new friends, who also happen to be on their own grand adventure traveling as a family. And, of course, we made the obligatory visits to the Indonesian Embassy in order to take care of the visa business.
We did about as much shopping as we could handle, buying such necessities as three My Little Ponies and a crown headband for Aysia, an ergonomic office chair, miscellaneous electronics, and silverware. We also bought some drawer and closet dehumidifiers and Scotch Guard, due to the ambitiously wet climate here in Bali, which is so great at keeping things all damp and mildewy.
As luck would have it, we chanced to stumble upon Tanglin Mall, due to it being the closest ATM run from the Indonesian Embassy, as we didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay for our visas. That mall was like a one stop shop for everything we needed (minus the chair and silverware). Thankgoodness, because none of us wanted to spend our time and energy driving to lots of different places around the city looking for things we needed, anyway. We had better things to do, like the aforementioned activities, and also the NOX Dine in the Dark restaurant.Speaking of which, what an interesting experience! While Aysia was playing with the sweet family we were renting our apartment from, the rest of us ventured off to eat in a pitch-black dining room, not even knowing what would be on our plates. The food was to be served by blind or visually impaired individuals, and we were to have a different type of sensory experience than we’ve ever experienced before. We were feeling pretty brave.
When we arrived at the restaurant, they explained what would be happening and served us a delicious octopus appetizer, while we waited for our table in the dark to be ready. We also had the opportunity to order a drink, and since Pisco Sour was listed as an option, we of course decided to partake of one. Delicious! It took us nostalgically back to our days in Lima, Peru, where we sampled our first taste. Fond memories, for sure. :)
When it became time to move into the darkness, we made a human train by holding onto each other’s shoulders, as our blind guide led us up some dark stairs to our table. I felt very insecure at first, not being able to see a single thing, not even my hand in front of my face.
There were three courses (appetizer, main dish, and dessert) with four small dishes of food for each course. I even poured water into our drinking glasses in the dark! The waiters in this section of the restaurant were all blind or visually impaired, and everything was served, eaten, and cleared away under cover of deep darkness.
We were served such things as: salad, wasabi, eel, beef with caviar, Abalone with seaweed, pigs ears, duck with lotus seeds, suckling pig, mango sorbet with passion fruit sauce, green tea ice cream and chocolate cake with cherry, panna cotta, and macaroon cookies in lots of delicious flavors, like chocolate, raspberry, coffee, and lemon, among some other things I can’t remember. Overall, I was rather surprised by my lack of discernment about what I was eating. For example, I was just sure the duck was some kind of pork. Ah, well.
We didn’t find out what we ate until afterwards, once we were back in the lighted room again, where they showed us beautiful color photos of all the mystery food and explained the ingredients in each.
I wish Aysia would have been old enough to come along with us, especially since I would have liked to see if her palette would be expanded by the experience. She is normally very picky about the food she’ll eat, largely based on visual cues. Suggesting she sample a taste of something is usually a pointless endeavor, especially if the look of it happens to be green, or meat-like, or in any way resembling a vegetable. Not only will she refuse even a teeny weeny little taste, she will also growl at the mere thought of it, like it or not.
The day we went to the botanic gardens, was rainy and overcast. Lucky for us, it rained in the morning and we went to the gardens in the afternoon. The colors and temperatures were enhanced by the weather and we really enjoyed walking around to see all the beautiful plants, trees, and flowers. Absolutely gorgeous!
Upon our arrival at the gardens, we headed straight to the Halia Restaurant to have lunch. Might I just add here, that all the food in Singapore is very, very expensive. I feel a tad bit anxious when it takes like sixty or seventy dollars, bare minimum, to feed our family of five for just one little meal. Oddly enough, we figured, we’re already paying too much for food, let’s just splurge, shall we? See how our strange little brains work?
After lunch, we started in the orchid garden and then went in order of what sounded most interesting from there. Unfortunately, we never made it to the children’s garden which was on the other end of these enormous grounds. We had no idea how much time and energy it would take just to walk around them. So, I suppose we will save that section for another time.
By the way, a very strange thing happened while we were exiting the Evolution Garden (which displayed the plant life existing during different periods of earth’s history). From seemingly out of nowhere, a squirrel must have jumped or fallen from a tree branch, after which he abruptly landed (crashed) squarely on top of Emily’s feet. Shocked and stunned, he didn’t move for quite a few seconds, before finally running off into the bushes. Poor little guy. It gave us all quite a jolt! What are the chances?
After leaving the gardens we walked (in a very tired fashion) to a place where we could hail a taxi. After waiting a while, a couple of available taxis drove by and we tried to flag them down, American style. Oops, it wasn’t working.
A very nice Singaporean woman noticed our dilemma and demonstrated the proper gesture to use, as the next available taxi rolled towards us. Apparently, waving a hand over your head is no way to get the job done here, you must step onto the side of the road a bit, hold out your hand at thigh level, palm down, about 18 inches from your leg, and move your hand toward you. Repeat as many times as necessary. The driver will usually stop for you immediately. Showing the raised palm of the hand is considered an aggressive gesture. Now we know, and so do you.
Speaking of taxis, we rode in quite a few this trip, and I couldn’t help but notice a surprising number of our drivers seemed to be downright jovial! How pleasant. :)
For example, upon hearing Aysia singing an impromptu and unbidden rendition of “The Wheels on the Bus,” one of our drivers requested that she also sing “Let it Go” from Frozen. She was only too happy to oblige, as she began singing all the words in a very belty tone. He was quite delighted, as were we all. So fun!!
One day, while enjoying the really lovely pool at our apartment complex, we met a nice German family who lives there. They have two daughters, who Emily and Marie played with for the afternoon. They were all jumping into the water together from a high wall next to the pool. I wondered if it might be against the rules though, and in fact, they were told as much by the security guard at the same instant they were getting ready to leave. Good timing! The apartment we stayed in was relatively inexpensive compared to what’s available closer to the center, and it turned out to be a special experience as well. The complex was directly adjacent to a very lush and tropical nature reserve, so the views were simply breathtaking. There is something so life-giving and nurturing about that type of natural beauty. It was nice to be close enough to the city, while also being surrounded by all that greenery. Even downtown Singapore isn’t devoid of plant life though, as there are very graceful-looking tropical trees, flowers, and plants stylishly integrated throughout. The grounds of our apartment complex were elaborately landscaped and included a playground and two inviting, large swimming pools.
We also had a super duper, high speed, fiber optic internet connection (over 100mbps)! So, we took advantage of the opportunity to do a couple video chats during our stay. One of them was when I was interviewed by Lainie Liberti from ProjectWorldSchool.com and RaisingMiro.com. If you haven’t had a chance to see the interview yet, please feel free to tune in below :) We enjoyed a fun conversation, where we talked about how our traveling lifestyle has influenced our learning in the world, both individually and as a family! Here is the direct link, in case you’d prefer that instead.
As I mentioned, we went to the waterpark on Sentosa Island during our stay, and shortly after we arrived there and met our friends, Aysia fell and skinned her knee. Just then, seemingly out of nowhere – Poof! A park worker with a fanny pack first aid kit immediately materialized upon the scene and came to her rescue. We were all very impressed!
Aysia wasn’t too cheerful for the next few hours after that though. Dare I say, she was downright grumpy? So, I hung out with her while trying to get her interested in some mild diversions, while the rest of the group took off for the water slides and such. Everyone had a great time, and Aysia eventually cheered up as well. She even managed to have just a little bit of fun in the lazy river and wave pool before it was time for the park to close. We went to dinner with our friends afterwards at Din Tai Fung – the affordable michelin star wonder. :) We sampled some delicious food, such as: steamed pork dumplings, sliced duck in crispy spring onion pastry, special braised beef noodle soup with beef brisket, stir-fried dou miao (vegetable shoots) with garlic, vegetable and pork wontons, oriental salad in special vinegar dressing, steamed red bean paste buns, steamed yam paste buns, and truffle xiao long bao (chocolate truffle dumplings).
Afterward, on the way to the taxi, we couldn’t resist a stop at Candylicious, where we purchased some dark chocolate french truffles. Wowzers, they were delectable!
Since the food is so expensive in Singapore, and much of it is very remarkable as well, we can’t neglect to make a record of any favorite items. So, here I go with more food delights; we went to Riders Cafe for brunch one day, and the food was especially noteworthy. Aysia and Marie were overjoyed with their French toast with applesauce and marshmallows on top (yep, they know what kids want, for sure). Emily smartly ordered the spaghetti bolognese, but later regretted it when she saw her sisters’ marshmallows. Brandon ordered smoked salmon and creamed eggs with avocado on Turkish pide. I ordered creamed corn polenta with Portobello mushroom, poached eggs, tomato and sourdough.
I should also mention a special treat we stumbled upon during a shopping day at Takashimaya. It was a Taiwan ice cream peanut roll, with a layer of crushed peanut brittle, three different kinds of ice cream (red bean, mango, and yam), and a bit of fresh cilantro, all rolled up in a large crepe wrapper. It was very delicious! Here’s a photo of them making it for us:
On our last night, we tried to get to bed early for our insane wake up time of 1:30 am, so we could catch our very early flight back to Bali. Please enjoy our photos and video!