7.26.2009

our year-and-a-half-moon part 2

Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, and Jurong Bird Park have a special deal where you get a discount on tickets if you buy all three at the same time. Since we heard the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari were can't miss attractions, we planned a "wild" weekend.

Saturday morning we stopped on Orchard Road to observe the shopping district before heading to the zoo in the afternoon. I say observe, because Orchard Road is filled with lots of high-end brands. The street is lined with mall after mall, and in each mall is a Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, etc., and in each store is lots of people. It's mind boggling to think their economy can support such expensive habits. Of course there were a few cheaper malls mixed in, each containing a creepy grown-ups-only store or two (we avoided these malls). And what city would be complete without a McDonald's McCafe stand?

mcdonald's

Shopping, however, wasn't our main objective on Orchard Road. We were in search of Din Tai Fung, a Chinese restaurant famous for steamed dumplings and ranked as one of the WORLD'S top 10 restaurants by the New York Times. With some pleasant assistance from a mall's information desk, we found the restaurant, packed, in the basement. Seeing the line, we wavered, thinking the wait time would be astronomical. But after overhearing the expected wait was only 15 minutes, we put our name on the list and received our order sheet. As you wait, you fill out your order and hand it to the staff after they call your number to seat you. In the meantime, you can watch the kitchen at work.

dumpling making
dumpling making

Flawless and efficient, these highly trained chefs churn out countless dumplings. I'll be the first to admit I'm not a huge fan of Chinese food but it smelled incredible, and tasted even better. The tiny dumplings are filled with flavor and explode in your mouth with delicious juices and our noodles were cooked in beef broth that took 6 hours to prepare. If you ever get a chance to eat at a Din Tai Fung, DO NOT PASS IT UP!

And in addition to the great food, we ran into some great company. A guy from Texas noticed us taking photos and asked if we were American. We ended up seated next to him and had great conversation over lunch. He is employed there for a few years, and he and his wife (visiting family back home at the time) are enjoying life in Singapore. It was fascinating to get an American, yet insider view of the country.

After lunch, we headed to the Singapore Zoo. I haven't been to many zoos, but I'm guessing this has to be one of the best in the world. It's clean, packed with animals — including free-range orangutans — in very realistic exhibits.

white tiger
monkey silhouette
feeding the giraffes

The zoo closed at 6, and after a quick meal at KFC (they had tasty pineapple pies there) we headed down the walkway to the Night Safari. We arrived in time to catch the Indonesian tribal show, involving blow dart demonstrations and fire eating.

fire

Continuing the good luck of our overall vacation, Ian was selected to join the performers on stage for fire eating. They had him on stage and pulled his shirt off before either one of us really realized what was happening. They had him drag a torch across his bare chest and feed the torch to one of the performers, with lots of pranks all around.

ian - part of the show

The Night Safari was an amazing experience — when else do you have the opportunity to see nocturnal animals so active? You hop on the tram to view most of the animals up close. They have special night lights so it doesn't disturb the animals. However, when our tram went past the elephants, the bull decided we were invading his space and threw a trunk full of dirt that showered the tram. We were shaking it off us the rest of the night! We managed to see all the animals on the walking trails as well as the predators of the night show, before we had to leave to catch the last bus back to the business district.

anna & ian

Sunday was more relaxing, as we had been up so late for the Night Safari. After sleeping in, we took the MRT to a really nice bus terminal that would take us to Jurong Bird Park.

bus station
ian & anna

Jurong Bird Park was much smaller than the Singapore Zoo or Night Safari, but they had some pretty incredible birds.

flamingos
african crowned crane
the pelican show
crowned pigeon

That evening, we headed back to the Esplanade for the Singapore River Cruise in restored bumboats. I can't express how beautiful Singapore is at night.

marina bay

Don't forget, there are more photos on our Flickr site!
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