Day 83/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise
We had an early start this morning because we had a tee time! We had a few loose ends we needed to take care of too, so because of our loose ends, we left the ship at 8:15am. One of the loose ends was the length of the immigration line which is unpredictable at best, because there were so many Viking tours leaving early from the Harbourfront cruise terminal. We wanted to make sure we got through immigration as soon as we could to avoid being late for our tee time.
Immigration it turned out was quicker than the day before when everyone was trying to get off the ship, but there were still about 20 people ahead of us. We got through immigration in about 15 minutes and after immigration went through security with both sets of golf clubs into the Harbourfront cruise terminal. We needed to find a taxi, and luckily everything was extremely well signed, so we exited the terminal and a taxi arrived immediately at the taxi stand. Most of the taxis are Hyundai’s hybrid vehicles.
We drove for about 20 minutes until we arrived at the only public golf club in Singapore; Marina Bay Golf Course. Dave, our Ozzie friend who had booked the golf was already there and waiting for us. Dave had paid for us, as he was the lead golfer, and that is how the Marina Bay Golf Course does things. We were then asked for our handicap cards to prove that we could golf. Luckily Richard remembered that we had our Florida State Golf Association handicaps emailed to us on a regular basis so we could search back through recent emails to get access to our handicaps. Without wifi, we could not pull up our Golf Canada handicaps (which under the new World Golf Handicap system are the same, since my Florida State Golf Association handicap and Golf Canada Handicap are cross referenced).
Handicap proof for the starter.
Dave did not have a handicap card, but he did have his clubs with him on this trip, so he was asked to go to the driving range with a pro, pay $10SGD and the pro then certified that he knew how to golf. Yeesh! I guess they really take their golf seriously in Singapore to allow public play on a golf course.
We grabbed our golf cart and went down to the very nice short game practise facility.
A view of the 6 hole Marina Bay putting course. We couldn’t understand what this facility was, since we’ve never seen a dedicated putting course before. The club promotes the putting course as a great place to run team building events, or to bring friends and families for a night out as the entire golf course, including the practise area is lit at night! The hotel in the background with what looks to be a surfboard on top, is the Marina Bay Sands hotel. More on the hotel in tomorrow’s blog.
The large lit and fenced driving range at Marina Bay Golf Course.
1st hole selfie.
There were a lot of large pot bunkers on this golf course. I was not in any of them on the front nine. The course was designed by South African Phil Jacobs on reclaimed land and opened for play in 2006. The golf course is on leased land and with the value of land in Singapore, there is talk that the golf course will be demolished and condos will be put up starting next year. Like anything else in Singapore, a 40 page study was done by the R&A, Singapore Golf Association and Golf Business Advisory Services Asia Pacific in 2018 on the state of golf in Singapore, so perhaps the Marina Sands Golf Course will not close next year because of the benefits a public golf course brings to Singapore and its citizens.
You can see how close the development is to this golf course, so it makes sense that the land is so very, very valuable for other purposes.
As we were playing the 8th hole Richard said, “Hey look, behind the green there is a monkey sitting there.“ As we played our shots into the green, I was on the green and Richard was going to be chipping. He pulled the cart up behind the green, behind Dave’s cart and I was walking up to the green. At that point I saw the monkey start to make a move towards to the golf carts. I yelled to Dave and said “Stay with the carts please, I’m coming!” I ran towards the golf carts so Dave and Richard could play out the hole. At this point I grabbed my sand wedge and my putter and got into a staring contest with the monkey who would not budge! The monkey started making a move towards Dave’s golf cart so I banged the front of our golf cart with my sand wedge to try and scare the monkey off. At this point the monkey stopped, bared his teeth at me and hissed at me. Now I’m getting scared that this monkey would not back off, so while the guys finished up the hole, I finally got the monkey to back off and he ran off into the bushes.
Macaques Monkey who hissed at me! Just look at the face he is giving me!
Here he comes, he’s going for Dave’s golf cart! These are the same variety of monkeys we had seen in Bali, (Macaque) which grab glasses, cell phones etc. And of course all of our cell phones and my reading glasses, as well as my purse were sitting out for the monkey to grab! Yeesh, I’ve experienced pesky chipmunks who steal food out of golf carts back home, but never monkeys! This guy seems to be an old pro at terrorizing golfers!
This golf course was also very unique besides the terrorizing monkey, in that it had a par 6 hole! I was able to par the hole, with a good, downhill one putt. It felt weird writing down a 7 for Richard on the scorecard and then saying”good bogey”, when it was a 7!
We finished up in around 4 hours 15 minutes waiting on most holes for the foursome in front of us. Our fourth never showed up from the Neptune, so we played as a threesome. We had a foursome behind us who hit into us twice, and did not yell ‘fore’ or apologize either. Quite annoying actually to see a ball land right over Dave’s head as he was hitting on one hole. That same group also hit on #10 off the tee ahead of us, when we went to replenish our drinking water supply after 9. They did ’fess up to what they had done and let us play ahead of them, but still proceeded to hit into us twice on the back nine. Yeesh…even in Singapore with all of their rules, there are rude golfers!
The course was a bit strange, with pot bunkers everywhere, yet no fescue like a typical links style golf course. The fairways had strange mounding which were artificially created, and the bunkers did not match the mounding on the fairways. I played well shooting 83, but the course was not my favourite. I am glad we had the chance to play though at Singapore’s only public golf course, because who knows for how much longer the golf course will be open in Singapore!
We all crammed into a taxi for the ride back to the Harbourfront Centre. The cost of a taxi each way was $20SGD. There were hardly any cars on the road either. Singapore has huge disincentives to buying a car. For example to buy a car in Singapore the following costs must be incurred:
Certificate of Entitlement which costs between $73,000-$99,999
Open Market Value: depending on the cost of the car. The first $20,000 is paid at 100% and the next $30,000-$50,000 is paid at 140%; $50,001-$79,999 is paid at 180%; and above $80,000 is at 220%. So for instance if a car is priced at $36,000 your costs for Open Market Value would be ($20,000 X 100%) + ($16,000 x 140%) = $44,000.
Registration fee $220
Additional registration fee 100% to 220% of Open Market Value
Excise Duty 20% of Open Market Value
Road Tax $425
Car insurance $690 a year
6 month road tax which ranges from $200 - $1,525
A Toyota Corolla Altis would cost on average $105,160 SGD. In Canada a comparable Toyota Corolla would cost $23,350CAD and the Canadian dollar and Singapore dollar are pretty comparable. That’s why there are not many cars on the road, and based on the access available with the Singapore MRT, there is not much reason to want to own a car.
We spent a bit of time resting after golf and doing laundry. Dirty Laundry does not stop, despite the fact we have 7 ports in 7 days, the laundry must be done!
We knew we wanted to go back out for some more exploration so where should we go? We realized that the next day, our last day in Singapore, we would need to be back onboard by 1pm, so the smartest thing to do would be to go to our furthest destination, which would take the most time, tonight. Right. We have a plan!
We headed out through Immigration around 5pm and there was hardly anyone in line. We jumped on the MRT purple line at Harbourfront, to Chinatown where we caught the blue line, which we knew we would be taking to the end of the line. Despite it being ‘rush hour’, we were still able to get seats and sat comfortably in the nice air conditioned MRT until we reached EXPO station. We were heading to the Singapore Changi Airport, but we could not figure out from the MRT map if we needed to change to the Green line, to get to the airport, but we figured, get to EXPO and then figure it out or ask someone.
Singapore MRT. Look top right to see where Changi airport is located.
We got to EXPO station and then we started to see smallish looking signs which pointed us to the Green line to take to Changi Airport. The green line train came after about an 8 minute wait, and the train was more light a Light Rail Train, which was above ground, instead of a MRT, below ground train.
When we got off the LRT at Changi, we just followed the crowds up a few very long escalators to Terminal 3, at which point once we were in Terminal 3, we started to see signs to ‘JEWEL‘. We knew that we wanted to see the new fountain at the Changi airport, but we had no idea that it was called JEWEL, so we asked a security guard who told us to in fact follow the signs to JEWEL.
We walked along what felt like 6 or 7 moving sidewalks, which in Singapore airport they call the ‘travelator’. Finally we reached JEWEL after about a 10 minute walk.
The entrance to JEWEL!
We were very excited to see JEWEL because we had heard so much about it.
When I walked into JEWEL my mouth just dropped open! I didn’t know where to look because everything in front of me was sensory overload. Richard felt exactly the same as me.
The ‘Rain Vortex’ surrounded by a terraced forest setting in JEWEL. Jewel includes gardens, attractions, a hotel and 300 retail and dining establishments as well as early baggage check in facilities. At 1,461,000 square feet and spanning 10 stores, JEWEL includes the Shiseido Forest Valley an indoor garden spanning five storeys and the Canopy Park at the topmost level featuring gardens and leisure facilities. JEWEL receives 300,000 visitors a day and was designed by a consortium led by Moshe Safdie, the Israeli, Canadian and American architect. Safdie also designed the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore (again more on this one in the next blog) and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada as well as Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville Arkansas, among many other very notable worldwide projects.
We had to wander round because JEWEL because it was so jaw droppingly gorgeous!
Trying to take it all in. There was so much to see!
Besides the huge Rain Vortex in the centre of JEWEL there was this other rectangular water fall that was all lit up that seemed to be coming down from the forest.
Disney had an installation of various pieces throughout JEWEL celebrating 100 years of Disney in 2023.
Of course my favorite the iconic Mickey Mouse!
Snow White meet the golferprincess!
By now we were pretty hungry, since it took quite a long time to get out to the Changi on the MRT, and we had walked around the Rain Vortex for awhile. When we had entered JEWEL I had seen a Ramen joint whose claim to fame was they were a 1 Star Michelin Rated restaurant, so we decided to go back and see if we could get 2 seats for our dinner.
TSUTA Japanese Soba Noodles.
We both ordered the same thing since we both wanted the Chicken Ramen and salads with sesame dressing, and peach ice teas. Yum!
This sign brought us in to try the food for dinner!
A beautiful presentation of chicken ramen with corn. I was able to order a low sodium version of the ramen for Richard and the broth was absolutely delicious. It was so rich and creamy and tasted amazing!
The broth had lots of soba noodles and the salad was huge and very fresh, plentiful and tasty! The peach ice tea was a wonderful treat too!
Dinner was $55 which for the taste, quality and presentation of the food, we thought was a good price, especially since we were in an airport and typically airport food is way more expensive than anywhere else!
After our delightful meal, we wandered around the mall at Jewel. With 3 floors of shops, restaurants and services, we had lots of places to shop. Some of the stores that were at the mall were: Ecco, Zara, MUJI, Mothercare, Nike, a grocery store called FairPrice Finest, and Marks & Spencers. Etc etc. After wandering around the shops at JEWEL for awhile we wanted to see what the Rain Vortex would look like after dark, since we had only seen it when it was still daytime. Here are some of the stunning photos of the Rain Vortex at Changi Airport, Singapore.
AND HIS SHIRT MATCHES TOO!
We really enjoyed venturing out on our own to Changi airport to see the Rain Vortex in Jewel. We don’t know of any other passengers that we have spoken to on the Neptune who did this self guided excursion, but it was well worth the long MRT ride to go and see JEWEL. I never would have believed an airport could be so beautiful and that is why Singapore’s Changi airport is now the #1 airport in the world!
We took the green line back from the airport all the way to OUTRAM PARK station and then transferred to the purple line to take us back to Harbourfront where we arrived about 10:15pm. We think we should have taken the green line out in the first place to save some time, but hey!, we got to see another metro line and it was an adventure!
We bumped into Lyle and Linda coming into the Harbourfront cruise terminal. They had just got back from their 5:30pm excursion called ‘Singapore After Dark’ where they never got fed a meal! Imagine going on a nighttime excursion at 5:30pm and not getting fed! Anyway, they were heading to either McDonald’s or Pizza Hut to get some late dinner after being out for almost 5 hours! Crazy. And that is why you have to read the description of the tours very carefully and if your not sure if there is a meal provided, you have to either ask or find food along the way somehow. In Singapore we were not allowed to bring any food from the ship to the land. Not even a granola bar!
We took the escalator up to security and immigration and found that the bus tour that Lyle and Linda had been on, had filled up the immigration line, so we had to wait in line for roughly 20 minutes before heading back to the ship. Singapore is really a pain with their immigration and security lines, but the annoyance of lining up every time we left and returned to the Neptune was far outweighed by the neat stuff we saw in Singapore when we went out exploring.
What a day! Day 2 in Singapore and our step count was over 15,000 steps! Even with all of the MRT rides and the golf cart today on the course, we still put in a huge day. Comfortable walking shoes are mandatory on this World Cruise, because there are not enough hours in a day to rest our feet, and see everything we want to see…especially in an amazing place like Singapore. We think Singapore is a spot we would like to explore more. So far on our explore more list are: Napier, N.Z., Bali, Indonesia and Singapore. That is what we are using this World Cruise for…to see what comes next, by taking a nibble at the countries we are visiting on this cruise.
Now I still owe you Singapore Day 3 and Kuala Lumpur, but I’m tired and we are on the Island of Langkawi, Malaysia tomorrow with a very busy day planned, so I will see if I can get Day 3 of Singapore written tomorrow, before we take the tender to shore. We are anchoring at 10am, so we will see how the internet co-operates, to let me get some blogs written.