Borneo was not even on our itinerary on the trip but after recommendation and research we decieded to head there after Bali. We chose Kota Kinabalu to fly into and decided we would explore from there. We wanted to see Sandikan and visit orangutans in the wild but we decided the kids needed a break from fast travel and stayed in KK for our entire 10 days on Borneo. This happened last year when we slowed down our travel the last two months staying in each place for no less than 10 days to 2 weeks. We also were happy to have a kitchen and a proper refrigerator and freezer for the first time in months. We cooked our own food for most of the time while in Borneo.
After relaxing the first two days in KK and getting lots of school done we decided to explore. The city is wedged along the coast stretching along the coast with mountains and jungle as you go inland. Except for any buildings that were brand new construction, all the building were of the 1940’s-50 era because the city was heavy bombed by the Japanese during WWII. It has a nice waterfront although there was whiff of sewer at certain points evidently they still dump their sewage water into the bay.
On our second day in KK we visited the local mosque, we were able to tour the inside and take pictures but Maddy had to wear a veil to cover her head in accordance with Muslim tradition. Made for some funny pictures, the kids wanted to try it too.
The next days after that I scheduled my hiking trip to Mt. Kinabalu so Maddy finished school during the day and a half that I was gone. They went to a fancy hotel pool to go swimming with some water slides.
Maddy and the kids rented a car and came up the next day and toured the botanical garden and museum before I lumbered down the trail. We proceeded to the hot springs located in the park, which was kind of a dud, it had a few hot pools bath tubs and a cold pool but the larger pool was closed. It had begun to rain so we left after a hour. It took us 3 hours to get down off the mountain in a raging rain storm. Maddy drove the whole way down and did a great job driving, it was a pretty white knuckle ride.
The next day I woke up really sore, but not that sore I said to my self, except I kept getting more sore for like two days!!!! The down hills on anything were the worst, just a slightly down hill driveway I was screaming in pain. After lots of relaxing and a mostly chill day with the kids we took our rental car to the Lok Kawi animal wildlife sanctuary where we saw some of the worlds most endangered primates. The Borneo Orangutans!!!! The park had many other animals including birds, bears and other primates including the Proboscis Monkeys and the Mountain Baboon, which looked a lot like a very small Big Foot from America. We loved it, all the animals were incredible and although we didn’t see the Orangutans in their natural environment they were still really cool.
That night we went to the incomparable Hard Rock Café – Kota Kinabalu… who knew there were 188 HR café’s still operating in the world.
Our last day in KK we spent on one of the nearby islands, that were highly rated. We went to Pulau Mamutik and played in the gentle waves and laid on the beach. The Philippines and Maddy’s birthday await.
A long thin yellow burst of light was just beginning to peak over the horizon as I began my final accent to Low’s peak the highest point on Mt. Kinabalu. My timing was perfect to hit the summit at sunrise and despite my fatigue and fleeting regrets for even under taking this climb, I was only several hundred meters from the summit. The final climb was a tricky scramble up granite boulders, although not a very technical climb there was the familiar white rope to assist that followed most of the way up the climb. I labored in the thin air as the last few meters past, my mantra “slow but steady” served me well. Finally reaching the top it was too dark to really take good pictures of the sunrise or the peak but I flashed a photo of the sign at the top and congratulated some of my fellow climbers.
My hands were cold in the 10 degree temperature, the rain from the night before had not helped keep my gloves dry. Even though there was very little wind, I was keen to get off the summit and down to some place warmer. The sunrise was getting brighter, as new climbers made it to the summit and engulfing the entire sky with sunlight. The final peak was a 45 degree climb on one side while the other was a sheer drop so a fence had been erected to prevent any of the tired climbers from falling. Not many people could congregate at the summit at any one time so most people backed down the slope to find a better spot to photograph the sunrise. We were lucky to have a sunrise to photograph at all, the rains had stopped only hours before.
I started my adventure about 24 hours earlier catching a van with 11 other climbers, as far as I could tell I was the oldest by at least 10 years. We had a 2 hour ride west in the state of Sahba, Borneo to enter the Kinabalu National Park. We got fleeting views of the top of Mt. Kinabalu all the way up the road adding to the anticipation. Once at the park we registered and met our guides and headed to the trail. The first 0.5 km was a sloppy wet mess due damage to the normal trail, I grumbled as I descended in the valley knowing I would have to climb even higher.
After the first valley it was all uphill and the first 4 kilometer were exhausting but were quite enjoyable and very warm as I passed through several ecosystems including jungle, woodlands and up into alpine taiga. The trail was sometime fairly difficult to navigate due to loose rocks and boulder strewn trails.
There was quite interesting rock as I made my way up the path the first day gaining elevation up the mountain closer to the granite peak. There were deep sea sedimentary rocks, conglomerates, turbidities then meta-sedimentary rock such as Serpentine and slate indicative of contact metamorphism as you got closer to the granite. The final kilometer of the first day ended up being one of the toughest, I must have not been drinking enough water as I got quad cramps and had to guzzle water and push through until I arrived at the hostel for the night.
It took me about 4 hours to hike the 6 kilometers, it was a good thing it didn’t take longer because it started to rain and didn’t let up until around midnight. The rest of our group and about thirty others ate dinner in a festive atmosphere in the dining room. There was an anticipation of the summit the next day but everyone was in bed by 7pm or earlier.
Everyone was awake by 2am and we were allowed to begin hiking at 2:30 and headlamps were requisite. The hike took about 3 hours, and I reached the summit by 5:30. It was an amazing hike but I was cold and wanted to get off the mountain . I bonded with a few of the people in my group and hiked with them on the way down. We stopped at the hostel on our way down and had breakfast and a well-deserved rest before completing the final 6 kilometers down the hill to the park headquarters.
My knees were extremely sore by the time I was on the last kilometer and really my whole body was spent by the time I got to the end of the trail. It was amazing to see the kids and Maddy at the park headquarters as they had driven up to meet me. Overall it was an incredible hike but not one for the faint of heart. There were a few folks who didn’t make it up the hill but there were also some older folks in other groups who made it up. Maddy took me and the kids to a nearby hot springs for some well deserved soaking. My legs are still sore 4 days later but I am sure that will fade in time.
We arrived in Nusa Lombongen on a fast boat from Bali, the boat was packed with about 30 people and luggage. It was one of the bigger fast boats with about 5 outboard motors. Maddy and Mimi got a bit sea sick due to the big swells in the straight between Bali and Nusa, it was only 2-3 miles wide but it was pretty rough. We had to take our shoes off to get on and off the boat so we got our feet a bit wet but it fits right in with island life.
We checked into our bungalow on Scubby Doo beach, I kid you not. There was a famous surf break off the beach in front of our bungalows so we had fun watching some huge surf come in and some crazy surfers. The waves crashed on the reef about a ¼ mile of shore so many of the surfers got a water taxi out to the waves. The rest of the day we just relaxed played in the pool and got to know our new spot for the rest of the first day.
The next day we went snorkeling and stopped at three different spots, the first was Manta Point and it didn’t disappoint. It was a bit intimidating for the kids as there were lots of boats and crashing waves and deep water but Maddy and I jumped in without hesitation and saw 10-12 Manta Rays. Some of the rays were within arm’s length of us, I got some amazing videos with my GoPro. There were a couple times that the Manta’s were coming directly at me and had to move out of the way to avoid me. I know they only eat plankton but they really look like they were gonna swallow you up.
Our next stop was crystal bay, with some colorful coral and crystal clear water, I was the only one in our family who went in because everyone else was feeling a bit sea sick.
Our last stop was a very calm spot near the mangroves on the west side of the island and all three of the girls got in the water and enjoyed the snorkeling. Might be the first time this has happened. In fact it took a while to get the girls out of the water they were having such a fun time exploring new coral and finding new fish and playing with the GoPro.
The next day we rented two motor scooters and explored the island starting at Mushroom beach where we had lunch and played in the pool at a resort.
The beach area was overrun by Chinese tourists so we jetted out and went looking for the Devil’s Tear. It turned out to be a prominent rocky point consisting of uplifted coral that has been battered by the huge waves on the western side of the island. We were there at low tide so got some of the tide pools and missed much of the spray from huge waves crashing on the shore that we could see from our ferry on our way to the island.
The next day the kids arose early like usual at breakfast and since it was Saturday we took our rented mopeds to the neighboring islands of Nusa Ceningan we crossed over the yellow bridge that connects the two islands and visited the Blue Lagoon and Mahana Point a famous surfers spot and well known cliff jumping spot. The seas were too heavy so I decided against making any jumps.
For lunch we found our way to the secret beach, which didn’t seem so secret… there were a ton of people there. We had lunch at the restaurant on one side of the beach and enjoyed the view before heading home. The tide was out so we didn’t do any snorkeling but our way home we saw some cool ripple marks left behind by the tide.
We zipped up to the northeast side of the island before heading home but there wasn’t too much to see, just fishing boats and huts.
There was a party at our hotel that night but we all had to pack due to leaving the next day, so we had dinner and finished our reading for the day. Our next day was full of travel, including a boat ride (back to Bali), a van ride (to the airport) then two plane rides (back to KL then over to KK). Adventure!
Once we recovered or at least we thought we had recovered all of our wold schooling friends had left (this had been planned before we got sick) and although we enjoyed being with other families is was a relief to just have our family around. We began exploring Ubud, first by walking around; we visited the monkey sanctuary that was near our bungalows. The monkeys had free reign in this valley near the town with ancient temples hugging the small stream that had cut down into the rock. So what if the stream smelled like sewage, it was beautiful. We found someone who helped us feed the monkey as we had heard they can be very aggressive if you are not careful. We just relaxed the rest of the day so as to not do too much on our first day back in action.
We did feel well enough that the next day we scheduled a rafting trip to the Agung river. It ended up being a really warm day, perfect for the cool bottom of the river valley. We had to hiked down into the canyon, it was about half mile and mostly straight down. Once we got to the bottom we met our guide and got into our boat and once into the river we entered directly into rapids. The rapids were suppose between level 2 and 3 which was enough to get our blood pumping. We all had a great time navigating the pretty constant rapids; the girls did great. Our trip was about 1 hour and a half and then at the end we had to hike out of the valley, about half as far up as we hiked down. They fed us lunch afterwards and then we headed home.
The rest of the afternoon we finished up some school and had dinner at Clear Café. Clear Café had been recommended to us and had great food, very good kombucha and good prices. There was also a fireman’s pole that the girls made use of. After dinner we watched a traditional Balinese dancing show. I was really quite mystical involving lots of Hindu stories and rhythmic chanting and lots of fire.
The next day we completed school and then scheduled art class and went and created some Batik fabric. We all created a design by melting wax onto a pillow case size piece of fabric then painting the fabric with vibrant colors. I apparently picked a design that depicted the three deities of the Hindu religion (Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu). Caroline painted a lotus flower; Maddy a sea horse; Julie a Volcano and Mimi made a floating island with waterfalls. We all had a great time completing our art pieces and now we have some fabric for Nana!
The next day we went on a car tour of the surrounding area, touring a coffee plantation. The plantation is well known for Luwak coffee, which is coffee that has been eaten by the Luwak then once the coffee has passed through the animal it is collected and cleaned and then brewed. It is suppose to make it more mild although it didn’t seem all that different to me. Next the girls got to swing over rice terraces on these contraptions attached to palm trees, that cost about $10 for 15 swings, seems a bit pricey for Ubud. After getting our fill of tastings from the tea and coffee we took a hike down into the rice terraces. We loved the view although the kids were a bit whiny about hiking up and down the hills.
Our next stop was the spiritual springs temple, where you can be blessed in the spring water. We were told that the adults needed to wear sarongs and then you could enter the temple and submerge yourself into a pool where the spring water was entering. Julie and I were the brave ones, we had to enter in all our clothes, and the water was cool around 60 as the water comes out of the ground at that temperature. It actual felt nice on such a hot day.
We were able to enter the temple and see the source of the spring and witness some praying Hindus. There was a huge amount line of people waiting to take a plunge in the water and collect some water for other blessing purposes. It was amazing to see how another culture venerates a hydrogeological feature. We had a waterfall left on our tour but Julie started to get sick, and we cut all our activities short and headed for home. We laid low for the rest of the day and Julie just got sicker and sicker. She threw up all night but was finally feeling better by the morning and had started to drink and eat a bit, she stayed in bed for the whole day. We completed school for the other two kids and then I explored the city a bit more. I ended up having lunch with a French couple who introduced me to the local moonshine called Arak. It was distilled from rice and tasted a bit like a mix between sake and vodka. It was pretty potent but tasty when mixed.
The next day we just laid low again and packed up our stuff before heading out to Nusa Lombongen for our last 4 days in Bali.
We all were extremely tired once we got to Flores after our cruise and also very hungry, so we found a burger place especially to finally get the girls to eat something after four days of rice on the boat. The next day we completed school; it did not go well. None of the kids wanted to do school and Maddy and I got into a huge fight. I think we were starting to feel the sickness that would keep us in bed for the better part of the week. In the afternoon Maddy took the kids to a pool and I wandered around the city of Labuhanbajo it seemed a bit less tourist focused except for the dozens of scuba diving shops. Maddy and I made up and mended fences that night; like usual our fights are essentially about absolutely nothing. I do believe that the beginning of the sickness topped off by the stress of our cruise was getting to all of us. I think that Flores would be a great place for a dive adventure, next time.
We flew back to Bali the next day and took a car to Ubud, by then I was getting a massive headache and laid in bed for the next two days, with possibly a slight fever although not a bad one. By the time I was recovering two days later, Maddy and Caroline were incapacitated with the same malady. We were talking with Oma and Nana and conjuring up the worst possible afflictions in our heads…. Dengue fever, Typhoid, Malaria. Needless to say I think it was just some sort of virus that knocked us out for a while. We were staying at the same place as some of our old world-schooling buddies but we all just stayed in bed and avoided light and loud noises.
A couple days later we thought we were through the worst of it but then Julie started having a head ache, and after braving the first half of our tour for the day she started throwing up, we went straight home and she just didn’t stop puking…. until about 4 in the morning. I think she takes over the worst puking episode on our travels from my Brazilian illness from last year. We heard that our friends that went on our Komodo cruise, Karen and her kids, got the same sickness on their way home too and they also passed it on to our friend Kristen, sorry guys. Definitely the worst week of the trip for sure!
Our cruise started out on Gili Air at about 7:30 in the morning. We walked about 1/2 mile to the port in Gili Air to cross in a long boat to Lombok. It was quite warm even though it was early in the morning and of course lots of whining from the kids. Once the death march was completed, we got on our boat, it only took 15 minutes to cross the water to Lombok. We walked up to the office to register and of course we found out that we were 2 1/2 hours early. ugggg We made the best of it and did school for the day.
After a few hours they finally called us and lead us and thirty of our closest friends down to the boat. There was three cabins on board and then the other 25 people slept in the deck level. We were happy to have cabins at least for the girls. We were travelling with another family a mom (Karen) and her two kids. We tried share our space with them as much as possible as they had three deck spots. We were all pretty happy to have each other, the remaining passengers were twenty something travelers from various different countries and then two folks that were a bit older.
We settled in for our four days aboard the boat and got to know some of the people. Our meals were served in a family style type presentation on the floor with people grabbing food at the same time, it was a bit of a free for all, especially after a couple of days in when everyone was hungry. Caroline and the twins of course wouldn’t eat any of the food except for rice. We did get tempe, noodles and lots of cabbage. I think on day four we might have gotten some chicken. It was good food but to have it everyday it got pretty old.
The first day we spotted some dolphins an hour or so after departing, and we figured we would would see lots but we never saw any more. We took the route to the north of Lombok and Sambawa islands in the Flores Sea. The seas were very calm and only one person that I saw on the boat got sick and none of our family. We stopped before sunset to go snorkeling and get off the boat and stretch. After that and dinner we motored on into the night until about 2:30am in the morning, we were all fast asleep by then.
We were woken up by the sun the next morning for the second sunrise in a row. This one was equally amazing, we went for a swim and then set off toward Sambawa island. We stopped in the mid morning to climb up a water fall, it was another sticky falls, so the kids were able to climb to the top. It was actually very interesting spot where you could see stromatalites and close by there was pyroclastic debris. We hiked around for a bit saw some butterflies and then swung into a water hole. Afterwards we snorkeled around the boat, saw some amazing coral and a sting ray with blue spots.
We got back on board and headed out to the east; we motored on all afternoon and all night until arriving in the morning at Komodo Island. We ate breakfast and then went for a hike on Laba island just north of Komodo, the boat wasn’t able to get close to shore so we had to swim and put our shoes on at the beach which caused a lot of consternation from the girls but we finally got on our way. The hike to the top to the overlook wasn’t more than a half mile but it was very steep. After lots of whining from the girls we made it up to the top and took in the amazing views. We made our way down to the bottom with a feeling of accomplishment.
After our hike to the top of Laba island we putzed around in the bay and looked at the coral near the island. We also noticed that there was activity in the bay lots of fish jumping in certain areas and figured it was a bait ball with larger fish or dolphins rounding up smaller fish until they are trapped and start leaping out of the water. We weren’t close enough to see the aggressors but the fish were going crazy.
Our next stop was Manta point, a shallow channel where Manta Rays tend to congregate due to abundant food sources. Our boat moved to the middle of the channel and everyone waited until we saw one of the huge beasts, upwards of 10 feet across, they are other worldly; so amazing to see in the wild. Everyone on the boat jumped in and we all swam after the rays, they are deceptively quick and once they decided to leave they were gone, but after chasing a pair they decided to do a quick dance around each other. Back near the boat there were a few more Mantas and after about 30 minutes everyone had seen them and we decided to move on to the pink beach.
We stopped at pink beach which was located in a small cove just outside the main channel, it didn’t look altogether pink but it had some of the best coral for snorkeling that we have seen in a while. I swam over to the beach with Julie who has taken over as our intrepid explorer. I inspected the sand and it looked like there was lots of grains of pink and red coral that were giving the beach it’s slight pinkish hue. At least 4 people asked me what made the beach pink so I gave them my opinion. It certainly wasn’t the dark brown volcanic rocks surrounding the beach.
After a few hours of snorkeling we headed to our anchorage for the night just off Komodo Island, it was 1:30pm by the time we got there and we felt like it was way more than a full day. Since we were parked next to Komodo Island I was scanning the shore constantly for dragons, and at one point we saw a pig come to the water but no signs of dragons. Our last night on the boat is typically what they consider their party night, they put on really loud music but nobody was in the mood for partying after such a long day. The kids actually did the limbo for a while but no dancing. I also had a headache and convinced the boat crew to shut off the music by that time the kids were heading to bed.
The next day we went to Rincon island (part of the Komodo national park) to see the Komodo dragons. Our tour guides had lowered our expectations saying they didn’t see any dragons last trip, so we felt lucky when we saw a big one in the first 10 minutes of our walk. We continued on a several mile hike and saw 3 dragons, then as we were ending our trek we ran into a pack of about 13!! They were huge with really long tongues, they were very docile and never charged anyone but they were impressive. It is one of those places that you want to go since you were a kid and now we were there. The latest thinking on the bite of the Komodo is that their mouths are still full of bacteria that causes a deadly infection but they also have a gland in their mouth that produces a toxin that makes their bite especially dangerous. The kids liked seeing them although Julie had a massive fit in the morning, likely due to the limited food options, the twins also abandoned the longer trek for the short one.
Every body did great on the trip but being on a boat for four days with limited food options and being cooped up was tough for us, not to mention that I cracked my head no less than 5 times a day on the low ceilings. We loved the trip but we were glad to get off on Flores and needed some serious recuperating time.
We arrived at Gili Air which is one of a small group of islands off the coast of Lombok basically a tourist mecca, but the island is completely devoid of internal combustion engines. No cars or gas powered motor scooters just horse and buggy and the occasional electric powered scooters. Once we got off the ferry and got our luggage we grabbed the first buggy we saw and set off for our abode for the next week. We arrived at our chosen place of residence in style as our horse and buggy pulled up we jumped out and grabbed our bags. We settled into our two cabanas and hopped into the pool. We were just a block off the beach and the kids could run around the neighborhood and the pool was great. We enjoyed ourselves and grabbed dinner with the rest of the families once everyone had settled in.
The next day I took a jog around the island, I had heard an estimate of just over 2 km around, it ended up being about 5 ½ with parts through some heavy sand. I was spent by the end, it was good to get an idea of the perimeter of the island though. We finished school in the morning then hit lunch and pool time afterwards. The adults enjoyed the pool as much as the kids and we had a good party, we all seem to be getting to know each other and enjoying company.
The next day we did an organized snorkeling trip, we got all the families to partake and we rented our own boat and hit the water, we went to turtle point to see some of sea turtles on the island. We were successful and saw 2 or 3 turtles swimming and a few more resting on the sea floor. The twins seemed to be getting into the action although Caroline has a bit of fear about the sea so she stayed in the boat. Our next stop was a shallow beach with sea grass (sea turtles favorite food) and we were treated to some turtles in the shallow water and everybody got into the action there. We grabbed lunch while it was raining then headed to our last spot with about 25-30 of water over some great coral, not too many fishes but we had a great time free diving.
We were exhausted by the end of snorkel trip and relaxed at home. The new GoPro was working well, the only problems so far were making sure I got my subjects in the frame.
The next few days we explored the island and the families seemed to split up a bit which was good for everyone to get some space. Our girls were reticent to go to the beach all that much, I think they are worried about, sea urchins, sea lice and jelly fish all of which are not a problem on the island but what can you do. We did get some pictures on the famous swings they have on the island and we also had a bonfire. We also spent many hours in the pool and it was good to get some down time and catch up on school. Other than that we ate lots the food was great. We seemed to have ice cream and a beautiful sunset every night.
Nearing the end of our time some of the families were talking about a cheap 4 day cruise to Komodo island, we loved the sound of it and joined the planning. It ended up being a bit more expensive with the five of us in cabins but it was still a steal in my opinion. The owner of our hotel basically stiffed us on the last day of our 9 days there on the island, and charged us more than we expected on the cruise.
Our last organized activity was a dive trip and the girls even got to go out with us, they snorkeled while we were diving. We just ended up doing one dive each due to logistics with the kids but Maddy and I actually got to dive together. We saw some great stuff, lots of turtles, morey eels, great coral and tons of fish. I post a couple of videos including the second one with Maddy getting very excited about a huge turtle.
Caroline had been asking me to wake her up and go watch the sun rise over Lombok and I had been delaying because who wants to get up at 6:00am to watch the sun when you can see it later?? So I finally relented the last day, we had to be up by 7:30 anyway to meet our ferry to Komodo island. We got a beautiful clear sunny morning and a I got one of the best photos of the trip.
Mt. Rinjani is the subject of a recent NOVA episode called “Killer Volcanoes” it documents the catastrophic destruction of the volcano in 1257 creating a massive caldera and in the process causing a global calamity including deaths in London England. If you look at the middle of the picture and see the 4-5 craggy points and project them upwards, you can begin to get a sense of the size of the volcano that collapse in on itself. We packed up our stuff and headed to Lombok for our epic 4 day, 3 night cruise.
The next day we left Bali travelling overland to the Padang Bai port on the eastern side of Bali to catch a ferry to Gili Air. We had a large group probably 30 people the majority of which was children, this made boarding the ferry far more chaotic than normal which I am sure was crazy anyway. We threw in 8 families, an archaic ticketing process, a narrow pier, 95 weather and what could go wrong?!?! Actually everything was fine and we finally boarded the boat with aircon (air conditioning) which was a life saver, my shirt was completely soaked which is becoming a daily occurrence even when not doing much of anything.
To get to Gili Air we were required to cross the Lombok Straight which brought us across the Wallace Line. The imaginary line was drawn between the two islands by Alfred Wallace who noticed that the species on either side of the Lombok Straight were strikingly different. The species on Lombok are more closely related to animals in Australia while the animals on Bali are descended from Asiatic species. It was later theorized that the fauna could migrate along the chain of island until the Lombok straight because when sea level was lower exposed land allowed for migration except for the Lombok Straight which has a very deep channel and prevented migration. Wallace was a contemporary of Charles Darwin and came to similar conclusions about species and what was to be known as evolution. Yes, I totally bored everyone on the boat talking about it.
We arrived late in Bali the day before Easter and got picked up by our car that took us to meet up with all the other world schooling families south from Denpasar where the airport in a small town on the beach called Balangan it was primarily a surfer hang out but we overran it with kids for the Easter holiday, we met a ton of new families and the place was perfect for us. After we settled in we got to work as the Easter bunny and even supplied some of the other families with candy for Easter morning.
The next morning we got up and had a fun family celebration and then joined everyone for breakfast and swam to our hearts content until the afternoon when we had an Easter Egg hunt. Thanks to Jimi for putting together a video of the kids Easter egg hunt It was a very successful we enjoyed the relaxation and warm weather but missed everyone back at home.
The sunset that night gave us one of the most spectacular sunsets of the trip in an amazing location.
No chewing gum, no spitting, no being naked… we heard about all the rules in Singapore before we got there, so we fully expected a nanny state, but when we got there but really didn’t see a lot of violation attendants waiting to give out tickets during our stay. We did really like all the activities for kids that they had, between the super trees, the zoo safari and a harbor boat ride we kept quite busy. We were lucky enough to stay with our friend Arika, who Maddy knows from business school. She had a lovely home with a great space for us all to stay and was such a kind hostess. Thanks Arika!!! The kids got to play with her daughter Anjali and got to play with lots of different toys in their house. The girls were thrilled, as they don’t have many toys with them. Arika’s neighborhood was very interesting, lots of architecturally significant Peranakan houses.
We arrived on Wednesday from KL and got situated in her house and chatted with her a while before heading off to bed. The next day we completed school in the morning; Caroline was having a hard time concentrating, especially on writing, so she and Maddy stayed in and finished her work while Mimi and Julie and I went to investigate the Singapore river and the old shoreline. We learned that the island has been expanded by 23% from the original island especially around the main port area. In fact the spot where Sir Stamford Raffles landed and founded Singapore is now a freshwater reservoir completely cut off from the ocean. We walked around the river area and saw the merlion (half lion, half mermaid) that is the symbol of Singapore and the raffles statue and a dozen other beautiful buildings, I even tried a Singapore Sling while the kids got some ice cream. We grabbed an Uber back to meet Maddy and Caroline before dinner.
That evening we went out and explored the Gardens by the Sea, where they have two huge biodomes and lots of Supertrees. The Supertrees are water reservoirs as well as solar power generators. We enjoyed watching the lights come on at night before heading home to bed.
School was a bit better the next day then we all went out for a cruise on the Singapore river (the before mentioned freshwater reservoir). We learned even more stuff about the city and got great river views. After the cruise we stopped of and got a snack and a beverage before dinner and the girls played in some fountains and got totally soaked but they dried out quick as it was so hot.
On Friday we took the day off school for good Friday and headed to the River Safari with Arika and Anjali and had a wonderful day exploring all the animals, including a pair of Pandas, a jaguar and a bunch of manatees.
The next morning we had brunch with Arika at a fun place which had an Easter egg hunt, a bouncy house, and face painting. We then packed our bags before heading out to the airport. Our immigration exit from the country was a taste of the future, we walked up to a kiosk and scanned our passport then a camera attempted to identify us through face recognition, it was interesting but didn’t work for Mimi but they let us go anyway. Off to Bali and Easter with the worldschoolers.