After visiting The Battle Box, our Friday in Singapore was just getting started. We had an early lunch at a hawker center in Chinatown. Hawker centers are food courts with a flea market sort of feel, and they’re mostly patronized by locals. After seeing one of the food vendors featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations,” we made our way to the booth selling chicken rice. This national dish of Singapore is simple but delicious, and the long line was well worth it. For $2.80 (in Singapore dollars), we ate the best meal of our entire vacation.
After a heavy rainstorm, we went to the Singapore Zoo for a couple of hours. The rain held off until the final half hour, but by then we’d seen all the monkeys and the cute “little” pygmy hippos, so we took shelter in an aviary. This aviary featured the usual birds, but there were also free-ranging mice deer (which are the size of house cats), bats, lemurs and even a sloth. On the whole, the Singapore Zoo is probably the best zoo we’ve ever visited.
However, the adjacent Night Safari was every bit as good, and a unique zoo experience. Night Safari opens at 7:00 p.m., and seeing animals in the near-dark adds a whole new dimension: it’s so dark that you often can’t see the barriers between you and the animals. Of course, plenty of the zoo’s inhabitants are free-ranging, but the ones that would like to eat small children are kept out of reach.
Ed had visited the Night Safari once before, so this time we signed up for the VIP tour. We got dinner and a tour on a golf cart. Most visitors board trams that wind past exhibits and stop at trails featuring more animals. The golf cart was definitely the better choice. We were the only people who had signed up for the VIP package that night, so after seeing a show featuring nocturnal animals, we climbed aboard our cart with our very own tour guide. It was amazing, but the absolute highlight was getting to feed elephants. We fed bananas and apples to two elephants. One was close enough that I just reached out with the fruit, and she took it from me with her trunk. The second stood out of reach, but she’d lift her trunk and open her mouth when she wanted us to toss a banana to her. It was such a neat experience!
We finished our Night Safari around 11:30, so we were ready to get back into the city for some sleep.