Free Day: 2/15/10
by Vanessa Meer -- February 18th, 2010
Description of the day’s activities while most of Singapore was shut down for Chinese New Year
Today was a free day – probably because the city was mostly shut down for New Year. Annabelle (CEM ’09) had tipped me and Dr. Dan off to a very special event: an open house at Istana (the Singaporean equivalent of the White House.) So, after breakfast, Mike, Tiff, Casey, Jazmin, Will, Nick, Claire, and I all ventured to Istana. Apparently, so did more than 16,000 other people (http://sg.news.yahoo.com/cna/20100215/tap-635-istana-open-house-attracts-16331-231650b.html). There was a long line, but it moved quickly. We were able to explore the beautifully landscaped grounds (complete with golf course and historic home) and for an extra S$2 see gifts of state given to the President and Prime Minister. There were gold and silver pieces (boats, animals, and plates most commonly), glass, enamel, porcelain, and combination pieces. My favorites were a boat from Timor-Leste, plates from Morocco and Egypt, and a bowl from New Zealand. (If you’re wondering, the US gave Singapore a white porcelain dove in 1988 – you can see the bird’s mussels rippling underneath the porcelain wings.)
We all split up for lunch, but made it back to the hotel to meet Dr. Dan for a night snorkel at Big Sister Island with Ria, Siva, and other wonderful individuals affiliated with the National University of Singapore. On land, we saw a primate (monkey? not my area of expertise) steal something blue from a bench and get chased up a tree by a very angry man in a bathing suit mimicking the animal’s shouts. In the water, we had to lookout for rockfish aka stonefish (which are poisonous and potentially fatal fish that look like rocks and have spines on their back that can easily puncture shoes). There were also poisonous corals, giant clams, octopi, false clown fish hiding under anemones, and two different types of sea slugs (nudibranchs and sea hares). It was a good night to have dive booties and long pants… After dark and the tide came in, we headed home for dinner and welcome rest.
Ria blogged about this adventure too: http://wildshores.blogspot.com/2010/02/return-to-sisters-with-dr-dan.html