Southeast Asia 2016

Day 22: Singapore

Day 22: Saturday, December 10

We were up early-ish this morning as we had booked a WWII tour of Changi with the walking tour group that we did the tour with on our first stop in Singapore. We arrived in time for the tour, despite leaving the hotel a little later than planned.

This tour was a bit different than our first one. We're not sure if it's because of the fact that there were about 15 people on it or the location but it didn't seem to have quite as much 'meat' as the first tour. Possibly this is because we've learned a lot about the fall of Singapore and the death railway over the last few weeks, so a lot of the information wasn't new to us. The tour took us to the beach where Chinese men suspected by the Japanese of being loyal to mainland China were massacred, which is now a well used public beach, with some memorial plaques remembering what happened.

We also got to see a replica of one of the large battery guns at Johore. The 15-inch bullets that went into this thing weighed about 850 kg each and could hit a target 34 km away.

Then the rest of the tour was bus rides between locations, and at the Changi Chapel and Museum. The museum has a chapel representing the multiple chapels built by POWs in their various camps, which were all destroyed at the end of WWII. This one was built by more recent inmates at Changi prison. There was also replicas of artwork and original drawings made by civilian prisoners and POWs.

We stayed at the museum after the tour was done as we wanted to go through the museum in more detail. We didn't get audio guides, which likely would have provided a lot of additional information compared to what was written. Most of what was written down were quotes from those who lived through the occupation of Singapore, and some historians. For the civilians it was not an easy time. There was little food, and it seemed like you were never quite sure what would get you in trouble with the Japanese or when. Yet for all that, the stories of what some of the citizens risked for the POWs was all the more amazing. One note was from an Australian soldier, who said that an elderly Chinese woman would stand along their walk to work with food for them every day, even though she was beaten by the Japanese for doing this every time. One of the things that came up in this tour that Alex hadn't heard before was an explanation of why the Japanese were so hard on the POWs. In their army, they were taught a code of honour similar to what the samurais used - it is better to die fighting than surrender. So to many of these Japanese soldiers, the fact that all of these allied soldiers had surrendered meant they were weak and not good soldiers, and so they were looked down on even more.

We had a very filling lunch at the restaurant attached to the museum (satay, mee goreng for Chad and nasi goreng for alex) and toasted an excellent vacation.

Then we headed into town on our final two missions: to find the merlion, and to find bread ice cream sandwiches.

I'm pleased to report that we were successful on both fronts. Chad accurately guessed that the ice cream would be near the tourist attractions on the waterfront. So we found it on our way to the merlion, and decided to get it on our way back. The merlion statue had a lot of tourists taking selfies. A group of women in bedazzled bikinis and huge headdresses were doing a photoshoot beside it, and some of them didn't seem to like the fact that many people were as interested in selfies with them as with the merlion. After a coconut (which came from Thailand according to the label) and a few photos of the merlion (not the women) we decided we were ready for ice cream.

We actually had to ask for the bread - most people were getting their ice cream in between wafers. But we wanted the real thing. And Chad was right, the bread was good at soaking up any drips. And Andra was right, it was very yummy! Chad had mango ice cream, and Alex had peppermint.

We stopped for dinner at the same place as we got murtuback last night. We were still full from lunch but figured it's going to be a long night so we better eat something. We had curry puffs (same filling as in Penang) and shared a banana Prata, which minus the egg was very similar to the banana Roti we got in Chiang Mai. Alex also tried a new fruit juice - avocado. It wasn't that flavourful (avocado milkshakes at home are better than avocado juice) so she was thrilled to discover that the restaurant had starfruit. One last juice for the road! :)

Then back to the hostel to shower (it wasn't that hot today, but it was muggy) and change, then we finalized the suitcases and headed to the airport. Believe it or not, we actually had a bit of room left in our luggage!

Now to wait for our flights home.

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