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South East Asia trip: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand

We had been talking about visiting South East Asia for a while; my husband had amazing memories of visiting some 20-odd years back. We finally found a week where the timing was perfect and we had the most amazing week discovering Singapore, the Malaysian jungle and Bangkok. It was definitely a short trip and I found out I loved Bangkok, so we hope we will come back soon and continue our exploration of Thailand.

After an overnight flight with layover in Taipei, we landing in Singapore in the early afternoon. We were tired but excited; and happy to have left the cold winter weather behind to find warm temperatures. We checked into our hotel, the Marina Bay Sands, which was nicely located right by the Gardens by the Bay, an attraction we had planned to visit. (By the way, the view of the gardens from the hotel at night is amazing!) We changed to shorts and t-shirts, and went out for our first sight-seeing of the trip. We enjoyed the Gardens a lot. It was a good first introduction to tropical nature.

Gardens by the Bay

After our fun walk, we came back to the hotel and had to check out the rooftop pool. The hotel is famous for the high pool and thee beautiful views, so we had to take a mandatory swim. It was nice and refreshing and I was impressed that the kids still had so much energy for swimming after such a long day. However, the swim wore them out quite a bit. By the time we met up with friends for dinner by the nearby market, they were exhausted. They still had enough energy to check out the different stands of local foods and enjoy the variety of yummy juices. But by the time real food came, 2 of the 3 kids had fallen asleep. Oh well. They had made the best out of a first day in Singapore.

Loving the refreshing juices... before falling asleep during dinner

The next morning, we woke up early (Thank you jetlag), which was convenient because we had made an appointment to go have breakfast with the orang-utans at the zoo. We enjoyed a nice buffet of Eastern and Western food, an educative lesson about orang-utans that culminated in a photo opp closeby. Needless to say the kids were excited.

Photo opp with the orang-utans

We spent the rest of the day visiting the zoo and the nearby River Safari. It was a nice introduction to wildlife, in preparation for our upcoming trip to the jungle. By late afternoon, we headed into the airport to say Good Bye to Singapore and head into Malaysia. We flew into Kuala Lumpur (quick flight) but didn't spend much time there. We took a van that drove us to the entrance of the Taman Negara National Park,  where we would spend the next few days. While the drive was 3-hour long (we arrived in late evening), we were able to get some good rest in the car and we enjoyed seeing the jungle for the first time at night. The temperature was cool and we could hear the jungle noise as crossed the Tembelling River to our hotel by boat. What an interesting welcome.

The next few days were spent exploring the jungle by foot and by boat. Without going very far around the hotel, we enjoyed watching monkeys (some of them liked to steal the food at the restaurant) and the resident toucan. We hiked to the top of the peak Bukit Teriset, which involved hanging bridges and a decent altitude change... in the heat. But it was fun to be at the top of the jungle!

Hanging bridges

Climbing up in the jungle

We also enjoyed taking the boat up and down the Tembelling River, with its "rapids" and access to a nice swimming hole. 

Enjoying the "rapids" on the Tembelling River

On our last night, we enjoyed a night hike, which allowed us to see a lot of night critters upclose.
We spent the next day essentially transiting from Taman Negara to Bangkok. This included returning to Kuapa Lumpur by car and a 2-hour flight to Bangkok (+ a pretty long line for passport control at our arrival in Bangkok). But once we arrived, all the travel exhaustion was forgotten. Bangkok was so welcoming and interesting, and warm but not too warm. We felt at home right away. We enjoyed a nice dinner at a restaurant by the Chao Phraya River and couldn't get enough of Thai food.

On our first full day in Bangkok, we had to start with the obligatory sightseeing tour of the Grand Palace, which was nice although a little crowded. We got there by boat, which was a great way to discover the banks of the city. After visiting the Grand Palace, we walked back to our hotel, and this was another great way to interact with the locals. We visited a temple where you can feed turtles bananas on sticks. Kids loved it!

Grand Palace

Feeding turtles bananas

As we walked, locals seemed to enjoy seeing a cute, 3-year old blond boy walking through their neighborhoods. He got so many high fives and some hugs; and he didn't quite understand his newly found popularity!

When we came back to the hotel, we took a few hours break (which meant snacks and smoothies by the pool while the kids swam and played, with their endless energy). Right before dinner, we went for a short walk again to visit the flower market, very typical for Thailand, and enjoy another wonderful dinner.

The following day was our last full day before heading back. We spent the day visiting the Ayutthaya Historical Park, which was really enjoyable. The grounds are vast and expensive and it was not as crowded as the Grand Palace. We got to see a variety of temples and sculptures and get some exercise before the long place ride home.

Ayutthaya Historical Park

Last look at Thailand's wonders

We wrapped up our visit with a nice leisurely lunch by the river (same river as in Bangkok but a lot less crowded with transportation!), and started heading back to the airport. Later that afternoon, we were checking in for our flight that would bring us home. We changed back into our warm weather clothes and took a last meal of Thai food at the airport before saying "See you soon." We didn't want it to be Good Bye and we certainly hope we will come back again soon.


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