Megan and I took a two-week tour of Southeast Asia during our honeymoon in August/September of this year. Here’s the Trip Report Index:
- Booking the Honeymoon
- Asiana Airlines Business Class (SEA-ICN, HKG-ICN, and ICN-SEA)
- Seoul-Incheon Airport and Singapore Airlines Business Class (ICN-SIN)
- Singapore Zoo
- Singapore Airlines Business Class (SIN-DPS)
- St. Regis Bali – Part 1
- St. Regis Bali – Part 2
- Day Trip to Ubud
- Thai Airways Business Class (DPS-BKK and BKK-HKT)
- St. Regis Bangkok
- Westin Siray Bay Phuket
- Day Trip to Phi Phi Islands
- Thai Airways Business Class (HKT-HKG)
- Conrad Hong Kong
When we booked this trip, we wondered if we should head straight to Bali or take the opportunity to do a long layover. After all, one of the benefits of international travel is that a layover counts as anything less than 24 hours, while you’re only allowed 4 hours on domestic layovers. Some people like Wandering Aramean have visited several cities on the same award ticket just by keeping each stop under that time limit.
On our previous trip to Singapore, we spent my birthday at the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo. That was one of the highlights of our trip because we got so close to the animals, and there were view visible barriers between us. (Probably no surprise for someone trained as a biologist.) It seemed like a shame to miss a chance to see the daytime zoo the next time we passed through the city.
After arriving around 5 AM, we spent two to three hours in the SilverKris lounge taking showers, eating breakfast, and generally fiddling with the computer to figure out why it was not booting up. I was pretty sure it was a goner but really did not want to go without a connection for the next two weeks. I’ll give Megan credit, she hid her glee quite well. Eventually we passed through customs around 8 AM and hailed a taxi to the zoo, leaving our carryon bags airside at the checked luggage desk for a very reasonable cost.
I love the taxi drivers in Singapore. There’s no bull, no haggling, and they all speak English. Usually they speak it quite well, in fact, and rather than grumbling about the weather or some nonsense they want to discuss global politics and economic policy. It’s as if The Economist decided to branch out of publishing, and it certainly made the rush hour traffic pass by more quickly. Singapore isn’t that big, so we were soon at our destination, and I left the driver a nice tip as an apology for the lack of return customers so early in the morning.
While I think the Night Safari deserves a lot of credit for being so different (how many zoos do you know that open at night, when the animals are most active?) the day zoo did not disappoint. We headed straight for the tigers, which we saw pacing back and forth and climbing up and down from the river pool to their cliffside perch. It was pretty awesome, and there was no one to distract us so early in the morning. (I have a few videos, which I will try to piece together and post on YouTube eventually.)
We then passed on to see the gibbons and howler monkeys, which were made a fuss for over an hour as they were fed. We could still hear them over at the polar bear exhibit, which we were told was closed but apparently was still open for business as the school children pressed up to the glass before running away screaming when the polar bear swam up to greet them. This cycle repeated itself about every three minutes. Boy am I glad I’m not a chaperone.
I’m usually a fan of underwater animals as you don’t get to see much of that as a landlubber. Here’s a cool turtle, as well as a hippopotamus that clearly enjoyed his pool. Most hippo exhibits include a pool but not the Plexiglas window, so this was a treat.
It took all my effort to get Megan to join me in the aviary. She has a real issue with bats, and it didn’t help that the giant fruit bats were flying all over the place when we visited the Night Safari. This time they mostly stuck to the upper elevations, so they weren’t an issue. At least not for me. Megan didn’t even like being able to see them.
Personally, I think bats are awesome. Most animals are awesome. The only animal we didn’t see here was an ocelot. I dragged my friends from college to the San Diego Zoo to see an ocelot and was disappointed there, too. My life resembles Sterling Archer’s a tad too much. I love ocelots.
The other cool thing about the zoo — and this is true about most of Asia — is that monkeys are everywhere. You just see them in the streets, on top of buildings, walking down the street… It’s not like in the U.S. where they MUST BE KEPT IN A CAGE because they will CLAW OUT YOUR EYES and possibly INFECT YOU WITH HORRIBLE DISEASES. At least this is how it felt when I was visiting American zoos or working at the National Institutes of Health. Seriously, I spent three months that summer worrying that every itch was the first sign of infection by simian immunodeficiency virus.
Nope, in Asia there are monkeys everywhere, and you can even get your picture taken with them if you wish! I didn’t, but there will be many amusing pictures of me getting involved in some monkey business coming up soon.