The day of departure came, and all went to plan. House paperwork done, house packed, luggage packed, waiting for pickup. Then a phone call from the shuttle. 'Is your house the one with the gates?' Oh dear, the message to the shuttle company asking to pick us up elsewhere hadn't got passed on. Oh well, a few phone calls later and it was all sorted. We would be getting to the airport on time.
It was an uneventful journey to Singapore. The kids either watched movies, played games, or slept. Meals were served and picked at, and then we arrived. Singapore Airlines do a very fine job of getting you from A to B with the minimum of fuss. Ferg will one day forget that I managed to choose him the only window seat on the plane without a window, and Julia might disagree that the kids were no hassle, probably because I sat next to Ferg, and she had the girls.
Likewise Singapore Airport is an easy place to get around. Julia had a slight hiccup at passport control where her passport wouldn't scan right, but other than that the process was great. Left Lugguge Guy in B2 of Terminal 3 is to be recommended for somewhere to leave luggage. Such a character - he talked me into leaving our luggage there for 2 hours less to save us some money. How often we we find service like that in New Zealand?
But then we found a taxi driver who seemed to have little English (OK, we were prepared for that - we had printed instructions on how to get to The Mitraa where we were staying), but also had less eyesight than he had English. Race Course Road I said a number of times, pointing to the address on the paper. Little response. Eventually 'Ah, horse race' he said. Would we end up getting taken to the races? Who knew. Well, he found the hostel in the end. Nice guy, wouldn't fault him anything. Just goes to show how some patience, and a lot of faith will get you to your destination in the end.
Great people at The Mitraa too. It's a small hostel, and we arrived at 8am, well before our 1om checkin time. They were happy to store our bags, so we headed off to the zoo. If you're visiting Singapore with children, the zoo has to be your number one destination. We visited the zoo and did the Night Safari last time we passed through, but it's still an amazing place. Generally fantastic exhibits, and some have been upgraded/added since 2006 when we were last there. Not too sure about the leopard, he looked a little bored, but the rest were great. The kids of course, enjoyed the water play area in the KidZone. If you are headed to the zoo with kids, pack togs, and maybe a towel (but they will dry in the heat anyway). (Oh, and if the kids are under 12, avoid the Baboon rift-valley exhibit - it needs an R18 rating - enough said).
Have to say that the kids were coping well. We'd left Auckland at midnight, arrived in Singapore at 6.40am Singapore time, and they survived the day until 7pm at night. Very impressive. Dinner was interesting. Tekka mall was the place we were headed to. We've eaten there before. Good food, and a greast fresh-juice bar. It was on the maps in the hostel, the maps in the MRT, and noted in the guidebooks. Off we headed, looking for this fantastic place. But where had it gone? Turns out the Tekka Mall is now 'The Verge' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Verge. Still under redevelopment, they've turned what was a slightly authentic food market, into a typical western food court, straight out of a Westfield/Carrefour design handbook. No character whatsoever. Well, we ate, we drank, we left, we staggered back to the hostel exhausted at the end of a long, but great family day. Now out in the street there's a shop across the street teaching music (or maybe it's a pots and pan sale) - lots of claves and cymbals involved, it's a little hard to know what's going on. Sleep beckons. Tomorrow brings who knows what. I'm keen on the Science Centre, but may get outvoted in favour of Wild, Wild, Wet. We'll see.