Finding the ‘Pap Dogs’ and the home of the Cocktail … Raffles Marina

Woolly says – Having decided to get breakfast on the run we’d headed straight onto the metro and into the financial district of Singapore, I’m not altogether sure how we manged that but with so many exits and a lack of signage it was an easy error to make. My tummy was screaming with hunger and having spied a bakery café I trotted through the door and settled myself comfortably, sadly for my tummy once Jo and Zoe had perused the menu we were quickly heading back outside.

The city is expensive, very expensive but I was sure we could buy coffee and croissants for less than S$40 (approximately £20 GBP), we stood in the street studying our map having now idea which direction to head in when a nice young lady approached us and asked if we needed help.

Woolly says – I smiled up at her and asked if she could adopt me, she looked a little startled at this, but her smile returned when Jo asked which way the Asian Civilisation museum was and she pointed towards a large building and told us where to go before glancing down at me and hurrying on her way. We started to walk through the suited professionals that were rushing in every direction trying to take in the buildings that surrounded us. My neck quickly started to ache with looking upwards so using some initiative I lay on my back and looked up at the sky scrapers, there were hundreds each one seemingly bigger than the last. Realising that the women had moved on I quickly got to my paws and galloped after them. We crossed over a wide bridge that spanned the river and paused for a moment to take in the view again, along the river side where small café and bars that were completely dwarfed by the high rises behind them, such a contrast. The museum was in sight and without further ado I raced towards the terrace and leapt onto a seat ready to order my breakfast.

Luckily the coffee and croissants at the museums café were half the price of our previous attempt to get fed and although still wildly expensive we had to eat.

Woolly says – We took our time and enjoyed the gentle breeze trickling through the leafy branches above our head, having been brushed down for crumbs I headed into the museum and returned to the ladies with a map of the exhibits. We had two museums on our list for the day and were unsure which to visit, as the women hummed and harred over the decision I sat looking at the lovely cream covered building that contained the Asian Civilisation Museum, built in 1867 it had originally been a court house and was converted into a museum in 1989, it was a fine example of Georgian looking architecture, but it appeared that we wouldn’t be going inside to see any more of it.

The museum looked really good, but the exhibits were things that we have seen in their home countries and it seemed a waste to repeat much of what we had already learnt, so museum number two it would be.

Woolly says – As we started to walk it was difficult to ignore the contrast of the old and new and having wandered past the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall which had been built in 1862 with it’s lovely clock tower for each old building there seemed to be at least five brand spanking new ones. The National Gallery was a grand affair with a large central dome, the former city hall had been built in 1929 and was where the Japanese forces had formally surrender to the Allied Forces in 1945, that must have been such an incredible day for the people of the country to finally be free. We wandered on passing the new parliament building which looked very squat with it’s immense neighbours standing high above it. The streets were quiet, and the pavements had become nearly empty which made for a most enjoyable walk, as we made our way into the grounds of St Saint Andrew’s Cathedral I was enjoying myself immensely. The Anglican cathedral is the country’s largest cathedral and had been completed in 1861, it wasn’t large compared to many but it nestled nicely into the trees that surrounded it, as we peered through the gates we could make out some lovely stained glass windows but as gates were locked that was a close as we were going to get to them. As Jo walked away from the building to try and get a picture of the whole structure I stood looking at the strangest building I have ever seen. Three high rises were joined together at the top with what appeared to be a boat, it seemed a strange place to moor a boat and making a mental note to look into this further we crossed the road and carried on our way.

As we turned a corner I spotted a sculpture that I knew my small companion would love, moments later it had obviously been seen as he raced over to the statues and started waving his paws in delight.

Woolly says – Four life sized dogs holding cameras! I had no idea why they were there, but they were brilliant, as I studied each one in turn I looked to Jo for enlightenment. As she read from the guide book it transpired that they were known as the ‘Pap Dogs’, they had started as an art experiment about photographing celebrities to becoming sought-after celebrities in their own right and are now a world famous social phenomenon, a bit like me! In 2013 critically acclaimed contemporary artists, Gillie and Marc had launched the series of Dogs and within days they had gone viral with millions of visitors coming to see them. People from all over the world, along with celebrities such as Snoop Dog, were eager to pose with the “Pap Dogs”, quickly giving them a celebrity status. The artists named each dog, Charles, William, Harry and Tom (although I’ve not come across a Tom in the British history books!) after the Royal Family. The artists wanted people to reflect on the tragic and avoidable death of Princess Diana. They intentionally used a group of dogs to expose the pack mentality of the media and how they hunt down celebrities to get that dangerous “behind-the-scenes” glimpse into their private lives. So not only were they brilliant to look at they had a message to share, taking one last look we reluctantly moved on.

I was eager to arrive at the next block and see one of the iconic buildings of Singapore, Raffles Hotel.

Woolly says – Raffles Hotel is a colonial-style luxury hotel established by the Sarkies Brothers in 1887. The hotel was named after British statesman Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles the founder of Singapore, it is probably best known for having the Singapore Sling invented there in 1915 when bar tender Ngiam Tong Boon realised that only men were using the club facilities as women weren’t allowed to drink in public. Seeing a niche in the market he created a cocktail that looked like fruit juice so that no one would suspect what was being consumed, clever hey! Sadly, for us the hotel is currently closed for refurbishment, well of course it’s closed it’s us! We had already known this and as we wandered alongside the building Jo tried to make the most of the little that could be seen, I did however have an ace up my sleeve and had purposely put on a t shirt to hide it from her, as we arrived at the front of the building and what should have been an incredible sight I pointed towards a small bar and led the way inside. Not quite the same but the Long Bar is currently serving the original drinks and the famous nuts, as I looked at the prices I decided that you’d need a very stiff drink to get over paying!

It was stupidly expensive but sometimes you just have to do something and having dusted off the credit card I just hoped we’d like them!

Woolly says – The pink frothy drink went down a treat as did the monkey nuts that sit in large hessian sacks on the table, guests are invited to brush the peanut shells off the tables and onto the floor as a tribute to the British planters who had once patronised the bar, I didn’t need any encouragement with that and given the cost of the drinks I set about making inroads into the nuts. For once Jo didn’t say a word abut restraint as the three of us made huge inroads and the pile of empty shells grew. Feeling we had done our best to get value for money we left our empty glasses and crossed the road towards the museum.

The Mint Museum of Toys is a purpose built museum showing a private collection of vintage toys and was officially opened on March 5th 2007. Having handed over our dollars we were told to start at the top and work down, the lift took us upwards and into an area known as Mr Punches Bar, only open on the evening we took a while to look around and admire the many enamel signs that graced the walls before heading down a floor to an area that dealt with space. From Star Wars to Buck Rogers there was a huge range of items, I even spotted a couple of daleks! Heading downwards again we found a whole floor devoted to famous characters including Popeye, Tin Tin and Batman before moving onto Felix and Mickey Mouse, so many items and some of great value it was quite a collection. The final area was dedicated to toys that had been merchandised for the Beatles as well as a whole collection of items from the British Royal family which really didn’t come under the toy banner but were interesting non the less.

The museum was good although not worth the money. With our legs growing weary we made our way towards something a little different.

Woolly says – Somehow I had expected the Fountain of Wealth to be taking centre stage in a park not as part of a shopping centre. Having finally found it after skirting past the top named brand shops we stood peering at it, it wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. The Fountain of Wealth was constructed in 1995, together with the Suntec City development. A symbol of wealth and life, the Fountain is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Fountain in the world. The bronze ring of the fountain is a design based on the Hindu Mandala, meaning universe and is a symbolic representation of the oneness in spirit and unity and further symbolises the equality and harmony of all races and religions in Singapore. It didn’t look particularly inspiring and having grown quickly bored I posed the question about some food, the nuts seemed like a long time ago!

Food did seem like a good idea and being a shopping centre, it was bound to have a food court, we took the escalator down.

Woolly says – As we walked into the food area we were suddenly met with the fountain up close which looked far better, we circled it as it sprayed water upwards and had a closer look at the golden circle, still not the greatest fountain in the world but I could happily sit and look at it while we ate, tucking in I asked about our plans for the next day, Jo smiled and winked at Zoe telling me that I would have to wait and find out, oh dear what on earth will happen to me! These two aren’t safe when they make plans! Anyone who would like to adopt me apply in writing ….immediately!

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