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Wounds won’t heal the way you

want them to, they heal the

way they need to.

Dele Olanubi

  • Writer's pictureConnard Hogan

A Few “Lesser Known and Obscure” Facts I Learned While Visiting Singapore, Indonesia & Australia

Bottom line: Nothing ventured ... nothing gained.

Janet, my wife, and I enjoyed our recent trip to these three countries and wished we could’ve continued on. Perhaps, these facts will encourage you to consider a visit to one or more of them.

1) Located at the southern tip on Malaysia, and only 85 miles north of the equator, Singapore, clean and modern, is a forested city and island nation (hot and humid while we were there).

A limited view of Singapore's waterfront from Gardens by the Bay.

2) Singapore is one of two cities, the other Rio de Janeiro, to have a rain forest within it’s city limits, though it is modern and clean.

Noah’s Ark found in Singapore?

3) The second largest exporter of used cars, behind Japan, Singapore heavily taxes vehicles after ten years, which encourages purchase of new cars. That’s one way to cut down on gas consumption and pollution!

4) Singapore hosts several great tourist attractions. We visited Gardens by the Bay and Botanical Gardens.

An elevated view of the Supertree

Grove at Singapore's Gardens

by the Bay.

We toured the Cloud Forest, also part of Gardens by the Bay, where we enjoyed the Avatar Experience.

Here’s the Pandoran Mountain Banshee

that greets visitors to the Cloud Forest.

5) Singapore wants to strengthening it’s position as the hub of shipping (commerce) between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

6) The current largest super cargo ships can carry more than 24,000 TEUs (standard 20-foot shipping containers). Even larger ships are in planning or construction, and they’ll be able to load and unload in Singapore docks.

7) Street vendors of the past have been relocated to one of a number of Hawker Centers around the city, AKA food courts. We stayed in the heart of the financial district, where we discovered the nearby Hawker Center.

Hawker Center in the historic Lau Pa Sat

(wet market), reportedly housing 200

vendors! (I didn’t count them, however.)

8) With Asian food-selection galore, we enjoyed satay (BBQ skewers of shrimp, beef and chicken with peanut sauce) … and beer.

Janet takes a break from enjoying our

meal at the Lau Pa Sat Hawker Center.

9) Having grown up in Kentucky, I confess my skepticism of some food choices, however.

Dessert made from green beans?

Yeah ... no!

From Signapore, we flew to Bali, one of many of Indonesia’s islands.

10) Indonesia claims to have over 18,000 islands. Some may say more. Some may say less. But what’s a few thousand among friends?

11) Though other Indonesian islands are primarily Muslim, Bali is primarily Hindu.

12) The Balinese perform and enjoy magical and colorful reenactments of religious stories.

The gist? Two male gods fight over a female god!

13) The Indonesian currency exchange rate is approximately 15,000 Rupiahs to US$1. Though I felt rich, I couldn’t keep track of exact prices in dollars. What’s a few Rupiahs here or there?

14) Balinese roads were generally clogged with traffic as the island, about the size of Delaware, has about 4.2 million inhabitants.

15) While there we visited their Monkey Forest, a great source of curiosity … for humans.

I suspected this resident was brushing

up on his/her tool making skills.

A Shakespeare play coming soon?

We boarded a cruise ship in Bali and from there sailed east and south, destined for Sydney via Australia’s Sunshine Coast. However, still in Indonesian waters, we stopped at Lombok Island where we took a short bus ride to a beach, consumed a cocktail, then sailed onward to Rinca Island.

16) Komodo dragons currently occupy five islands, though only Komodo Island is inhabited by humans. Now and then, someone gets bitten. From 1972-2012 twenty-four attacks have been reported, five fatal.

17) Though Komodos can climb trees while young, they loose that ability as they grow in size and weight.

Two smaller Komodos fled up a tree to avoid a larger one.

We sailed past East Timor before stopping in Darwin.

18) The name East Timor can be considered redundant, as Timor can be translated as “east.”

19) Aussies refer to Darwin, in Australia’s Northern Territory, as the “top end.”

20) Darwin was a frequent bombing target by the Japanese during World War II. As result, fuel storage tunnels were built underground, though not used a result of leakage.

This is one such storage tunnel accessible to tourists.

21) BTW, in case you’ve ever wondered, QANTAS (airlines) is an acronym of Queensland And Northern Territories Aerial Services.

22) Did you know that there are more camels in Australia than in Egypt? So many that Australia exports camels to Saudi Arabia. You might ask, how did camles get to Australia? Before the arrival of motorized vehicles, camels were used to haul cargo across Australia’s outback. When motorized vehicles replaced them, some camels were set free to roam. Since then, they've multiplied in the desert like rabbits, I take it.

We stopped at Thursday Island, an area of significant past pearl harvesting, before continuing eastward through the Torres Straits.

A WWII gun emplacement at Green Hill

Fort on Thursday Island. Never used, I believe.

23) Torres Strait is thought to have been a land bridge to Australia during previous ice ages when sea levels were lower. Hence, allowing the settlement of Australia by the Aboriginals. Now a shallow sea, its home to numerous corral reefs, which comprise the northern portion of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

A map of Torres Strait. Australia claims

the islands northward to the coast of PNG (Papua New Guinea).

24) The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing on earth, can be seen from space, and is comprised of some 3,000 individual reefs stretching 1,400 miles along Australia’s northeastern corner/coast.

We sailed on to Cairns,

24) pronounced without the R, as in cans!

Cairns serves as one of many jump-off point for reef snorkeling. However, since Janet and I snorkeled the reef a few years ago, we strolled around and sampled local beer within a few minutes walk from our docked ship.

Sampling "Mr. Wong," a traditionally

styled Hefeweizen at Hemingway’s Brewery.

Sunset as we leave Cairns. Yes, the

tug boat is traveling backwards!

Next came Townsville with its distinctive hill, which I wanted to ascend, though didn’t.

Leaving Townsville at sunset.

25) We anchored near Airlie Beach, located on one of the WhitSundays, a group of islands misnamed by Cook in 1770. The International Date Line not having been established yet, he unknowingly had arrived a day later! We cruised among a few of the white-sand-beach islands and pristine waters on a motorized catamaran.

Twas difficult to get a good selfie with

background on a fast moving boat!

One of the Whitsunday Islands.

Try looking at this island from the side.

Remind you of any relatives?

After our catamaran ride, we headed into Airlie Beach for some local fresh shrimp and assorted meats (you know, kangaroo, crocodile, wild boar and emu).

Next, when our ship stopped at Mooloolaba (Moo-loola-ba, pronounced /mululɑbə/ or moo-loo-lah-bah), we visited the Australian Zoo of Steve Irwin fame. Crikey!

26) We enjoyed the Australian Zoo’s “croc” show. I marvelled at crocodiles’ ability to hold their breath up to two hours, generally ... though as much as seven hours if inactive in cold water.

A demonstration of what a croc will do for food.

27) We walked among kangaroos at the zoo. They can travel at 44 miles-an-hour for short distances, though cannot walk backwards. Those we encountered preferred to move very little, however. I suspect that they were well fed by visitors … and it was the hot part of the day when we visited.

This one’s posture suggested,

Don’t dare touch my food!

From Airlie Beach we sailed to Newcastle, where we visited the Backbutt (pronounce black-but) Nature Preserve, which houses a number of indigenous animals.

A snoozing wombat.

The following morning, our cruise ship glided into Sydney Harbor before sunrise. Once docked, Janet and I disembarked, and headed home on a fourteen-hour flight.

A panoramic view of Sydney.

Walk in beauty, fellow earthling.


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