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An evening visit to Singapore's Little India, and the Night Safari

Having dropped back to base after the gardens for a nice cool shower, it was time to make my way out to the famous Singapore Night Safari.

Dinner in Little India

Mmmm batura
Mmmm batura

First up, I needed some dinner, and as I was heading into Little India (see below), of course the local Indian places were a must-try.

The photo below is of my batura, which was a giant thin bready thing, that unlike a naan is crispy-crunchy (and yet still a little soft). It's hot, soaked in oil, and very tasty. It came with some curry sauce things and big enough that after eating it I didn't have room for the Dosai I also ordered.

I looked for a beggar or someone to give it to (I got it boxed as they took ages to deliver it) but of course, this being Singapore I couldn't find any!

En route to the Night Safari

Mystery Indian vege #1
Mystery Indian vege #1
Mystery Indian vege(s) #2
Mystery Indian vege(s) #2
Mystery Indian vege #3 (about 40cm long!)
Mystery Indian vege #3 (about 40cm long!)
Mystery Indian vege #3 (macro)
Mystery Indian vege #3 (macro)
Hindi temple in Singapore
Hindi temple in Singapore

I failed to hook up with the Brits I'd introduced myself to at breakfast, so we didn't go as a group as planned. My plan B was to go along to a particular mall pickup point not far from my hotel, from where the Night Safari runs a fairly quick cheap special bus service at particular times (see their website for details of the pickup points & times).

However, I hadn't really factored in the Singapore side of things. The mall in question was not far from my hotel, heading into the suburb Little India. As I started to walk down the road leading into the suburb, I was quickly engulfed in a giant crowd of people, covering the entire length of the sidewalk, spilling onto the road, and filling up the side streets leading off it.

I was completely surrounded by Indian males – only occasionally would I sight a woman or another pakeha (who were invariably tourists like me). I'm told we're supposed to feed scared being suddenly turned into a minority like that, but in fact it felt awesome!

I took a little video of the scene, though it's only available in WobbleVision™. Incidentally, they hardly turned a glance in my direction – Singapore's highly multicultural nature is really good!

The food stalls had all kinds of interesting stuff, including a few I'd never seen even in photos before – in particular three bean-like green vegetables. I suspect they're the whole, fresh form of something we only see dried beans from. If anyone knows what they are, I'd love to know.

Get on with it

Anyway, I was walking to this mall… walking to this mall… walking… er.. where is this mall? Why the hell I didn’t save the waypoint from Google Earth and use my GPS (which is how I found my way to Sim Lim Square, the Botanical Gardens etc. earlier in the day), I don’t know.

It turns out the mall was way back at the start, and I’d walked right past it because a. it was completely covered in people (I couldn’t figure out what they were doing, but there were sure a lot of them!) and b. none of the mall signage had the supposed name of the mall on it.

At this point I was running out of time to get to the pickup point, so had to give up on walking and get a taxi to get there… thankfully Singapore taxis are very reasonably priced.

The taxi also gave me a chance to ask about what was going on. Turns out that the huge crowd of people was because it was Saturday night, and on Friday and Saturday night the Indian factory worker population comes in from the outskirts to Little India to find their friends and keep in touch.

That’s why there were so many – and why I couldn’t figure out what they were doing (of course due to religion, they don’t drink or anything; they just want to meet up with their friends and relatives).

At the Night Safari

So anyway, finally made it out to the Night Safari, and headed in. The have all sorts of gimmicky animal shows and performances going on but I skipped all that and went straight for the tram ride.

It's not too big to walk around the park, in fact I did after the ride, but you'll want to go on the ride for the commentary – while much of it is lame melodrama about not getting eaten by the scary animals, they do throw out a few good tidbits and they are spotting the animals for you which is good as that can be surprisingly hard to do!

The thing that makes the Night Safari so good (aside from being at night, when the animals are actually up & active), is that they are often separated from you by things like moats, or fences hidden in the vegetation, so you feel a lot closer to them and can get a better view.

Unfortunately, the charge on my camera from the shop ran out soon after I got there (surprised it had any actually, come to think of it), so no photos to show here :(. But there was a good array of lions, hippos, deer, flying squirrels, and everything in between!

I'd recommend a visit to the Night Safari if you're visiting Singapore. Tickets cost $22 or a hefty $32 SGD including the tram ride around it, and the special bus costs $4 each way (but don't try and take it from Tekka Mall on a Friday or Saturday evening!).