Singapore - Day 8

Friday 23 September

Start of the 2011 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix!

 Before the GP malarkey kicked off however, we decided to go back to the Botanical Gardens and see the renowned National Orchid Garden.

 The Orchid Garden houses around 1,000 different species and 2,000 different hybrids of Orchid. Some of them with amazing shapes and beautiful colour patterns.Within the grounds there are a number of locations housing very climate specific species, such as the Cool House and the Mist House. In the cool house they have recreated a natural tropical highland forest environment housing only those hybrids that flourish in such a climate. This was my favourite bit of the Orchid garden.

Burkill Hall, a colonial plantation bungalow built in 1886 houses information on VIP orchids. These are special hybrids named after special people who have visited the garden.

After that orchid overdose we headed back to the flat for a swim and a bit of sun bathing before heading into town. Before going to the practice sessions we decided to stop by the famous Raffles hotel to experience an original Singapore Sling at the hotel's Long Bar.

The hotel is named after Singapore's founder Sir Stamford Raffles. Opened in 1887 the colonial style hotel contains some of the best restaurants you will find in Singapore. The waitress came over and all she said was "Singapore Sling?" with about as much enthusiasm as an inmate on death row. We were convinced they were pre made and not freshly created and at that price that's a crime. Worth the experience none the less. The long bar in itself is a throwback to the colonial times of the British Empire and so Charlie felt right at home.

After that we marched across Singapore River via Fullerton road with the start of the first practice session roaring into full action. The first thing that struck me was the incredible noise. It's hard to put into words just how loud these formula 1 machines are but my eardrums were aching. We met up with Chloe, Graham and some of their friends on the expat hotspot, Boat Quay and had a few drinks while the first red flag of the weekend stopped the practice session. Heiki Kovalainen's Lotus caught fire and later on Felipe Massa somehow dislodged and exposed a large bold on one of the curbs on the track stopping the session a second time. In the end Vettel topped the time sheets with Alonso and Hamilton behind him.

All I remember after that was frozen Martini's on the Padang...


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