|Singapore visit 1.
After getting through immigration and getting on a bus, you are immediately struck by the cleanliness and order of Singapore. We made our way to Kiran's aunty's place (while not blood-related to her , he's so close to her he might as well be) and it was great to see familiar places. Immediately immersed in the family environment and the banter it felt like we were back home again. Going from travelling all the time and being surrounded by strangers to being with Kiran's family friends was a little strange but we slipped right back into it. Hopefully re-conditioning back into life back home will be as easy as this.
The plan was to stay in Singapore for a few days, spend time with Kiran's aunty and family and then head off to Lombok with Neha's mum. Thereafter we would return back to Singapore and show Neha's mum the city state before she heads back home and we start the next stage of our trip in Australia.
We spent the first few days in Singapore meeting Rekha's (Aunty Uma's daughter) friends and seeing her sing in a Jazz concert staged to raise money for the Tsunami victims. She was very good by the way. It was being held at the Polo club in Singapore - oh very posh! It was bizarre to think that a month ago we were trying to cross manic roads in Saigon and here we were sitting back with Rekha's friends watching her sing Jazz!! To top the evening off we had a goodbye meal for Aunty Uma's cousin - Manoh - who was flying back to India after being in Singapore for 5 years.
The following day we picked Neha's mum up and spent the day with her and got ready for Lombok with her. It was ace getting presents from home and Neha's mum was given some items we had bought while travelling that were taking up a lot of space and adding weight in our rucksacks.
Singapore visit 2.
On return from Lombok it was sightseeing crazy time with Neha's mum. We had big plans to pack in lots of Singapore viewing and we did not disappoint on the first day. We went on 2 open-top bus tours and saw the main parts of the city - Little India (just as the name suggests), Boat Quay (the business and nightlife area) and the old Colonial area. Just when Neha's mum thought that she was due for a rest, we whisked her off to the Night Safari. There were literally hundreds of differing animals from various continents. It's a great experience and we recommend to anyone who has a few days in Singapore.
The following day was Sentosa, a small island just off Singapore. We spent half a day seeing the great aquarium, a dolphin show and travelling around the island by monorail and then took the cable car back offering fantastic panoramic views of the island state. We spent the following day in Chinatown, as the Chinese New Year was on - its the Rooster's year! With Singapore being mainly Chinese, the New Year is a huge festival and it was great to get a glimpse of the bright lights and celebrations during this time. Gong Xi Fa Choi to all our Chinese friends.
We spent the remaining few days doing what most Singaporeans do - shopping and eating!!! We left Neha's mum at the airport and got ready to strap on the backpacks ourselves to board the flight to Darwin.
The day we left for Oz made it 6 months since we left home. In some parts the time has gone ridiculously quickly and at other times (notably on long bus or train journeys) time has gone so slowly. Asia has been fantastic, a whole mix of everything you can think of. It's a continent fully of variety which we have tried to make the most of. It has given us a taster of other places in this huge continent that we would love to visit another time. Australia will be a real change with a common language, totally different culture and everything being extortionately expensive compared to what we have been used to!