Afternoon Tea @ the Mandarin Oriental, Singapore

Go to a former British colony and not take enjoy one fabulous afternoon tea?! Not me!

As I’ve blogged about in the past, one of our little travel goals is to enjoy afternoon tea in ever country we visit, and Singapore was no exception. This trip’s tea was at the Mandarin Oriental and was an incredible five courses of treats centered around the calamansi lime. The tea menu itself was also very impressive, featuring the exquisite tea blends of the TWG Tea Company. The choice was tough but I opted for the Passion Fruit blend and Rose ordered the Sacred Water tea. It was the best afternoon tea we’ve enjoyed by far, and one I wish was a bit closer. Why can’t be have such a perfect tea experience available to us a short train ride away in Seoul? Please tea goddesses, hear my cries! ha! 

Our waitress advised us durian will be the featured ingredient come August. A shame I can’t justify going back to Singapore for that menu! (She also invited us to tour the pool and spa level, as if we needed any more inspiration to desire a stay at this hotel. ;) )

                            

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River Safari: Traveling the World’s Greatest Rivers

River Safari was the third park at the Singapore Zoo’s main property (Jurong Bird Park is located elsewhere on the island) and just as lovely as the other two zoo parks. Centered around a concept of visiting the world’s largest and most famous rivers, River Safari provides a glimpse into numerous important world ecosystems, the animals who call each respective river region home, and the people for whom the particular provides sustenance, transportation, religious ceremony, and historical accounts & myths.

Seeing a vast amount of river regions at once allows for an interesting comparison between species from similar family groups and I found this to be especially true for the crocodilians, alligators, and cousins. Rationally, it is not a hard concept to grasp that a pygmy crocodile has a different nose shape than does an Indian Gharial but seeing two in exhibits not too far from each allows a different sort of insight entirely. It was also fascinating to see in person for the first time a number of animals we had learned about years ago on the River Monsters television program. The (alleged) man-eating catfish on the Ganges being a prime example.

Two exhibits stood out as being especially well done: the exhibit for the pandas, red pandas, and golden pheasant, and the Amazon flooded forest ecosystem. In both exhibits, the themeing was brilliant, the grounds especially gorgeous, and the educational materials top-notch. I felt as both Rose and I came away not only with a plethora of new information but also with some new learning desires kindled and project work to enjoy in the weeks and months to come. River Safari provided an “intellectual refreshment” of sorts through its unique concept and fantastic exhibits.

Before I close this post, I must also mention the food. The food at the zoos was quite tasty, but River Safari took the prize for cute food with the koala-ity breakfast and the panda-licious steamed bun. Sorry, I couldn’t resist some cheesiness there. ;)

If you ever have the chance to venture to Singapore, I highly recommend checking out at least one their beautiful zoos. I cannot think of a zoo that comes close to the beauty of the Singapore Zoological Parks…and I’ve been to zoos all across the United States!
                                  

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Night Safari: The World’s First Nocturnal Zoo

Singapore is home to Night Safari, the world’s first nocturnal zoo. Here you can find an assortment of night loving creatures from bats and sugar gliders, to big cats and crocodiles, to  hyenas and human fire dancers. ;)

Lushly landscaped with a wide assortment of native plants, the walking paths envelope you in a rain-forest world where you can easily imagine yourself coming across these amazing creatures in the wild. The roar of lions ran through the park, the moon lit up the night sky, and the smell of tropical fruits on the menu for many creatures perfumed the air. All of the exhibits were fantastic, just like the main zoo, but a few stood out. Walking through an enclosed forest with Malay flying fox fruit bats–one of my favorite animals–was one of these moments, and seeing a fishing cat stalk its prey was another. The sight of the hyena, so close, so intimidating, yet safely away was breathtaking. Perhaps most special of all was witnessing Rose’s delight at seeing one of her best loved animals, the pangolin, in person for the very first time.

We ended the night with the fire dancers show and vowed that one day we will see such a show properly somewhere on a tropical beach.
              

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Gardens by the Bay

What can really be said about Gardens by the Bay? It’s breathtakingly beautiful and these pictures do not do it justice. That’s all that can really be said over this fantastic attraction.  :)
                                

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Sentosa’s S.E.A. Aquarium

Having been to many exquiste aquariums in the U.S., I was honestly not looking forward to a morning at S.E.A. Aquarium on Sentosa Island. Immediately upon walking in however, I spotted this large ship with a lion guardian and realized this was an aquarium unlike any other I’ve ever had opportunity to visit. The lion roars and breathes smoke as a video explains the story of the nautical trade routes during the glory days of the Silk Road.

After the ship, visitors walk down the entrance corridor featuring the various ports along the trade route. At each “port” can be found information about trade goods from that particular country and geographical information. It was an informative exhibit and beautifully done.

Following this walk, we began to enter the proper aquarium where we were greeted with creatures from countless marine ecosystems around the world. As with the zoo and maritime exhibit, the information signs and educational materials were flawless and information, providing insight into matters of conservation efforts and animal habitats, and also fun riddles for children to solve as they enjoyed their walk through the world’s oceans.

            

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