Monday, August 21, 2017

Sun Spotters

We drove down to Nashville the weekend of Aug 19 to see the "Great American Total Eclipse of the Sun".  We stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Resort along with some friends and enjoyed a nice weekend getaway including a bar crawl on Broadway in downtown Nashville.

Of course the purpose and highlight of the trip was the solar eclipse on Aug 21. The sky stayed clear for the important parts of the eclipse, clouding up a little after totality. The total eclipse was as awesome as it was anticipated to be. I hope to do it again in 2024.




video


Monday, March 27, 2017

Singapore Farewell

Monday was an early riser in order to get checked in and clear security in time for our 6 AM flight. I'm writing this long after the fact so I don't remember the details as well. We had treated ourselves to a business class upgrade on this trip so the flight was very comfortable.  The route was the reverse of the one coming and so included a stop at Hong Kong a few hours after takeoff. At Hong Kong we had to exit the plane, make a loop through security, then head to the boarding gate to re-board the same plane. As we were clearing security I realized I left my souvenir Singapore hat on the plane. I notified the first United agent I encountered and they said they'd call the gate to see if it was turned in by the cleaning crew. Unfortunately when we arrived to the gate I was told it was not found or turned in. I searched for it myself after re-boarding but to no avail.

The rest of the return trip was uneventful until we arrived at the gate in O'Hare. As we were making our way down the aisle to the exit door I realized I didn't have my wallet.  I went back to my seat and began searching the area and discovered it had fallen behind the seat when it was reclined. I could see it but I couldn't reach it. A helpful flight attendant came to my aid and was able to retrieve it for me.

We had a great trip to Singapore and Malaysia with lots of pictures and no real mishaps except for a lost hat. 😡  We both liked the city and would consider returning someday so maybe I'll get a souvenir eventually.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Singapore Day 4

Sunday we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel, then decided to take a look at the hotel pool. When we saw it we were kicking ourselves for not investigating it sooner. The pool is on the 18th floor and is in an open air setting that overlooks the Singapore skyline. There is a bar there and tables that are actually in the pool ( a flat section that is a few inches deep). We wished we had come up the night before.

We stayed around the hotel until checkout time, then made our way back to the airport via Singapore's excellent train system. Changi airport enjoys the reputation as being the #1 airport in the world, and it certainly deserves it. There are many interesting artworks to see as well as many floral exhibits. If you have a long layover, you can even take a free tour of Singapore. We wandered around a bit to make sure we had our bearings for the next day's departure, then checked in to our room at the airport Crowne Plaza hotel. Our flight home was scheduled for 6 am Monday, so we turned in early.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Singapore Days 2 & 3

Friday we woke to heavy rains falling in Kuala Lumpur. We checked out of the hotel and took a taxi to KL Sentral train station. From there we took the KLIA Express train to the airport. We had an 11:20 flight to Singapore but it was delayed by the heavy rain. We got back to Singapore about a half hour late but at least the weather was clear there. We stayed around the hotel until it began to get dark then walked to the Marina Bay area to visit the super tree groves and see the iLight exhibits.

The Supertrees are giant treelike metal structures that are covered by live growing vines and plants. At night they illuminate and glow with shifting colors. They were quite amazing to see.

iLight is an annual free exhibition of outdoor art using light in unusual and creative ways. The exhibits are located along the Marina Bay waterfront promenade and include special projected displays on the outer walls of the Art Science museum and on the Merlion fountain. We walked the entire promenade and enjoyed almost all of the exhibits. Then we walked back to the hotel. It was a more than 23000 steps day. We got back to our hotel room after midnight only to find the main circuit breaker for our room had tripped and our room was without lights or A/C. We called the desk and they sent maintenance to fix the problem.

Saturday we had breakfast at the hotel and took the MRT to Chinatown. We browsed through the crowded streets packed with shops and restaurants and found a few things to buy and take home. We also toured inside a Hindu temple that is located on the edge of Chinatown.  It started to rain so we headed back to the hotel.

Later on after the rain let up we returned to the Gardens by the Bay to visit the Cloud Forest exhibit. The Cloud Forest is an indoor 7 story botanical garden whose centerpiece is the worlds tallest indoor waterfall. It is all built on a mountain shaped structure that you ascend to the top of, then follow a walkway to the bottom. After the Cloud Forest we returned to the super tree grove to see them in daylight. We consider sticking around for an hour and a half to see a laser light show we read about but we were tired and decided to return to the hotel. Tomorrow we will check out of the Marriott and change to a hotel near the airport to facilitate our 6am departure flight Monday morning. Some pictures follow. Note, it's difficult to caption pictures when writing blog posts on my iPad so I'm leaving the pictures uncaptioned until I get back home.

Art & Science Museum

Helix Bridge
Supertree Grove

Supertree Selfie

Supertrees with elevated walkway



Metal Dragonfly Sculpture

Supertree reflections
iLight exhibit
iLight exhibit "Northern Lights"
iLight exhibit made from Evian bottles


iLight Butterflies

iLight Giant Flowers
Illuminated Merlion

Merlion and Singapore Flyer

Chinatown - Year of the Rooster
Chinatown Shopping
Hindu Temple

Temple Entrance

Inside the Cloud Forest
Cloud Forest indoor waterfall

Orchid sculpture

Botanical gardens in the Cloud Forest
View from above
Supertrees in daylight

Dinosaur exhibit

Supertree sunset
Supertrees, Flower Dome (left) and Cloud Forest (right)
Supertree grove
Cloud Forest dome

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Day 1 continued

We returned to the hotel to cool off (did I mention how hot it is here?) and then headed to the airport by train. We allowed plenty of time for travel mistakes but didn't make any so we arrived with time to spare. We finally boarded our Jetstar Asia plane for the 65 minute flight to Kuala Lumpur. In KL we took trains to our hotel near City Center. After getting checked in we walked to the Petronas Towers and signed up for our tour. The tour takes you to the sky bridge and also to the 86th floor observation level. After the tour we stayed around a while waiting for the tower lights to come on. Then we headed back to the hotel for the night. Tomorrow we go back to Singapore.

Petronas Towers
View from the sky bridge

Top of the tower



Towers are lit up at night

Bottom of the Towers


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Day 1 in Singapore

We had some time after breakfast before we needed to go to the airport so we explored the area near the hotel. It is a short walk to Merlion Park so we went there. It is HOT and humid here. Here's a few pictures from our morning walk. 

This is actually Hong Kong airport from our stopover last night. 

The JW Marriott 

Singapore skyline
The MerLion at MerLion Park

MerLion Park

MerLion selfie

Singapore Sling

Singapore Trip 3/21/2017
Our flight to Singapore scheduled for 2:15 pm was delayed until 4 pm. We used miles to treat ourselves to a business class upgrade on this trip so we used the extra time to enjoy the new Polaris lounge at O'Hare. It was quiet and comfortable, and uncrowded which was a nice change from our recent experiences in the United Clubs at O'Hare. After boarding we learned there would be an additional delay but fortunately it was brief. We took off about 4:30 pm. Janet and I each watched a movie before dinner then after dinner settled in to sleep. After 16 hours of flying we landed for an hour and a half scheduled stop in Hong Kong then re-boarded for the continuing flight to Singapore. Customs and immigration were a breeze at 2:30 am, and the 20 minute taxi ride to the hotel was traffic free. We checked in to a nice JW Marriott with a very reasonable rate thanks to Jennifer and Paul. Tomorrow we are making a day trip to Kuala Lumpur to check the Petronas Towers off my bucket list. 😄 I'll try to have some pictures for the next post.