Many apologies for the delay in posting this blog. Firstly, an important visitor took precedence, then an Internet problem scuppered my best efforts to post.

Anyway, just over a week ago, we took the aforementioned visitor on a day trip to Singapore Zoo. We had heard good reports of it and, although we were unable to stay late enough to experience the Night Safari, were not disappointed. Getting there was easy – it is well signposted from JB and it took us less than an hour door-to-door. Gaining access, however, was more problematic. Despite the automatic barriers telling you to use your Autopass card to get in, they don’t work. The alternative (your Cashcard)  must be something for Singaporeans only – I am still investigating this – as we had never heard of it. Eventually we pressed the ‘help’ button and the barrier was raised. We had then to go to Membership Services  (next to the entrance) and buy a coupon which would let us exit at the end of our visit.

We had not been organised enough to buy our tickets online, but the queue moved quickly and it was a painless process. Tickets cost SD22 for adults, SD14 for children 4-12 years old,under 3s are not charged. Opening hours are 8.30 – 6pm, with the last ticket being sold at 5.30pm. Hungry? I’d recommend you take your own picnic. The KFC, Ah Meng and Wild Deli franchises are, as one would expect, hugely overpriced by anyone’s standards and the food is adequate at best. The toilets here are fine, btw.

Having grabbed a bite to eat, we headed into the zoo itself. We tend to avoid organised feeding times and shows, finding they are usually over-subscribed, so we used the map provided and wandered from area to area, viewing whatever took our fancy. I would recommend you buy a SD5 (adult), SD3 (child) unlimited tram ride ticket, which allows you to hop on and off the little trams at any of their 8 stops, with a commentary explaining what there is to see in each section. The zoo is divided into areas: Australian Outback, Primate Kingdom, Ethiopian Great Rift Valley, Bornean Marsh, Orchid Garden, Frozen Tundra (honest!), Rainforest, Elephants of Asia, Wild Africa, Treetops Trail, Reptile Garden, Critters, Cat Country, Tropical Crops, Reptile Garden, Free range Oran Utang Boardwalk … plenty for all tastes. It is very humid there, so take plenty of drinking water and rest along the way.

Highlights for us: well, the white tigers were truly spectacular. You are able to get quite close to them, across a man-made chasm. The zoo has only two or three cages, and the tigers are not in one of them, so very exciting. Orang Utans swinging freely in the tree canopy, romping around in their own playground, hanging from lamposts: fabulous. The Hamadryas Baboons got up to antics Singaporeans would be arrested for, (most of which involved their VERY large red bottoms), and we particularly enjoyed the white rhinos. A somewhat disheartening note was struck when we read that the lone polar bear is the only one to have been born in Asia – and he really did look out of place, stretched flat out on the ‘ice’ in his temperature-controlled realm, coat a mucky yellow. We would have happily forgone seeing this animal. Just wrong.

There is a ‘Kidzworld Zone’ we hurried past, where younger visitors can have KFC and Ben & Jerry’, stroke a few animals and lark around on various rides. It looked to be quite popular, but crowded and very noisy. If you want to ride elephants, take a boat trip etc., buy your tickets asap as they stop selling them once the quota has been reached. The souvenir shop is rammed with soft toys, glow-in-the-dark T shirts and knick-knacks, with one or two more expensive items scattered around.  It’s as you would expect.

Would we go again? For sure: we missed out on the chimpanzees! I would recommend this zoo to anyone – spacious, well maintained, no stressed-out animals (well, maybe the polar bear), educational without preaching at you and friendly staff. We hope to manage the Night Safari very soon, so I will report back on that at some point.

On an entirely different note now. After three or four days of super weather, by 8.10am today clouds were rolling in across Singapore like something out of a sci-fi film. Almost black, resembling horizontal rolled-up carpets, fast moving and rather ominous. Apocalyptic? Certainly give you pause for thought! Now a light rain is falling and mist hides the Singapore high-rises that I can usually see from our balcony. The birds are hunkering down, our resident gekko has sought shelter, the ambient temperature has plummeted, first crack of thunder vibrates through the apartment … OK, so a/c and lights off … free entertainment on an epic scale begins ….