Sunday, November 14, 2010

Getting ready for Christmas (in 30 C...)

(writen early november...)

It all started before Halloween. Decorations were going up, songs were appearing on the radio. It went through a quiet time the week of Hallowing, but now it is official, Christmas is just around the corner.
That has now become the norm in November around the world. The problem is that here it's still sunny, it's still 30C and people are still going around wearing flipflop (despite most European clothes shop trying to sell coats, boots and hats????)
So the purpose of this post is just to explain that for us, European people, it is very hard to get the Christmas spirit in what feels like summer but the Singapore government and all the shops of Orchard road are making a really big effort to convince us that it is Christmas and we should indeed be spending a fortune in presents!
And apparently Christmas has to be in winter so 30 degrees or not, there are snowmen, ice, frozen decoration etc
Here is a taste of it:fake Xmas tree being put together

Ice sculture imitation:

Merry Christmas preparation everyone!

Altitude: Highest bar in Sg

A while ago, we paid 20$ to get to the top of Marina bay sands. On Friday evening, we went to a higher point, we only paid 15$ and we got a drink for this price!
R had been turned down at this place before for wearing flip flop, so this time no flip flop, and after just a short queue we were 280m up at the top of Number 1 Raffles place.
Ok their queuing system is rubbish and the bar is not the best in town but the view is amasing!
You actually can not get any higher in Singapore, there is limitation due to the proximity of Changi airport.

Going around the platform, we admired Marina bay sands, the floating football pitch, the opera (durian looking roof), Sentosa and Jurong islands and all the boats waiting in Singapore harbour.

The other sky scrappers growing like mushrooms are also really close!
The place is definitely worth a visit! we even spotted our condo!

Meeting friends in Ko Lanta

French people have heard of this island, for the others, it's the one used to film the French version of Survivor and it is somewhere between Phuket and Krabi, not too far from ko phi phi (see one of the first post of this blog)
We are meeting 2 friends A and M who have been touring Thailand during this wonderful flooding time...
A trip around SE Asia wouldn't be the same without Tiger airways messing it up, so first they changed the time of the flight, making sure we were wasting more than 1/2 day of our 3 days week end and then the plane turned up late... Anyway after a difficult communication exercise at the airport, we finally manage to get into the minivan to Ko Lanta. About 60km including 2 small ferries (=3h) and then we finally made it to the lovely hotel!
By a certain miracle we even find M&A in a nearby bar and we spend the evening drinking cocktails, catching up and admiring the abilities of Thai people to play with fire (literally)

Saturday morning, we are up early,full of motivation for the activities ahead! Number 1 eating a huge breakfast! Activity 2 gets cancelled when we find out that we should have booked the diving the day before and anyway because of the rain the visibility is not great and the sites are pretty far... Keeping spirits high, we decide to have a look at kayaking. Once again according to all promotional booklets we are too late but it's Thailand so after a few phone calls we are on our way for a trip in the caves and in the mangrove.
The weather is not up to the usual Thai standard today (40C, blue sky and burning sun), it is foggy but not cold (for the people who associate the 2)! After a drive and a short wait, we take a longtail boat to get out of the mangrove towards the open sea. Very soon we start distinguishing the shape of the other islands of the Ko Lanta marine park. By now, we have also realised that the French survivor can not have been filmed on the big island of Ko Lanta but on one of the small one of the park. Anyway, it is time to get the kayak of the big boat and in the water, girls together, boys together, guide on his own but always with his camera!
The cliffs are very impressive, and we see different structures looking like elephant or snake. Talking about snakes, the guide thinks it is a brilliant idea to tell us about anacondas. I still haven't looked it up but I'm pretty sure they are only in south American jungle if only they are real snakes.... Anyway, true or not this is what I'm repeating to myself until i'm back in the big boat!

We get off in one cave and my 3 adventure partners decide to climb because that's what the locals do to steal the eggs of some birds!
Back on the longtail boat, we head to Bu Bu island (i love the name) where we get sun-burned (yes, even with the fog...), we have lunch, we make an attempt at snorkelling which comfort us in the fact that we are not going diving (can't see a thing!), we make friends with an hermit crab and then it's time to go back to the mangrove to feed the monkeys and see them fighting over water melon.
The rest of the afternoon is spent doing some very tiring activities: walk on the beach, drink at the bar, finding a good restaurant for dinner, going for a swim and getting a massage!
We even witness a wedding on the beach!
Anyway when dinner time comes, it's start raining but just lightly so we start our walk on the beach towards the restaurant. Very soon it is pouring down, we hide in a hotel for 5 minutes. Once it has calmed down we continue our journey only to be stopped a few hundreds of meters later by torrential rain, this time we are spot on in front of the bar we had a beer at the afternoon, good timing!!!
The electricity seems to have gone off on the island so there are candles everywhere. Lucky us, we are planning on BBQ tonight.
Once the rain has stopped (and we have finished our drink) we move on to the restaurant.
We spend a wonderful evening sitting on the floor (M's favourite thing in Asia...) of a little hut, drinking for a good 2h until our fish BBQ is finally ready but it was worth it! Red snapper and barracuda, it was delicious.
What we don't know is the delicious moments which are ahead of us...
The walk back:
Tide is quite high but there is still some space on the sand to walk on dry land. We do have a few fights with all the crabs around who obviously can't make up their mind about which directions they are taking!
And then arrive the moment when we have to cross the river, this tiny thing which was at ankle level on the way to the restaurant, so worse case, knee level now?
M starts very courageously and when he is in water fully dressed up to the neck than we start worrying... He is finally able to cross without attempting to swim but situation wouldn't be fun if R wasn't jumping around because he has stepped on a crab and A wasn't laughing (people who have by now figured out the identity of A know that we were now in deep trouble). As she was laughing so much, she couldn't stand up which is a bit of a trouble when you are trying to cross a river at high tide... We thought we were going to wake up the entire island looking at the noise we were making.
Handbag on the head, careful not to step on any animals, the 4 of us finally make it to the other side soaking wet!
Perfect end of a perfect evening.
Sunday morning is spent going around the island on a motorbike. We have a look around the old town where there is a Market selling huge amount of curry paste and where the sun is burning! It's also quite interesting to see all the evacuation signs in case of tsunami. Progress has been made since 2004.
Then it's time for a break and a good swim, playing like kids in the waves.
Just after lunch we have to abandon M & A as we have 4h drive to Phuket airport and they have to proceed with the rest of their Thai holidays!
Lovely WE, it's always great to have people visiting! Even if it's not really in Sg, it's near by...
A bon entendeur salut ...
(not sure how to say that very well in English, something around the lines "hope you got the message" ;-)