On Thursday 16th February, 26 excited but slightly apprehensive Shell pupils gathered at Heathrow Terminal 5 to board our flight to Singapore. Despite being delayed for an hour and a half for a cargo of cheese (!) the flight went smoothly, and we landed in Singapore at about 5pm. In true Singapore-style, we swiftly made our way through immigration, and transferred to the YMCA, our accommodation for the next two nights.
For dinner we headed out to one of the Food Courts on Orchard Road, a short (yet hot and humid) walk to try some of the local cuisines.
Saturday saw us on the Big Bus tour which took us to Little India and Chinatown, before a walk along the bay with excellent views of the impressive Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the inevitable photo opportunity with the Singapore Merlion. Then it was back to the hotel for a chance to cool down and relax before a visit to the Garden Rhapsody Light Show in the Gardens by the Bay.
On Sunday morning we headed to the beautiful Botanical Gardens for a couple of hours to experience the tropical vegetation and learn a little more of the history and geography of Singapore. The highlight was seeing a large iguana roaming the gardens, causing great excitement.
After lunch we headed over the straits of Johor to Marlborough College Malaysia!
Once the school week started, the pupils soon became busy with lessons, sport and activities, an early highlight being the annual whole school pancake race around Court (step up Mr Whitworth and Chloe N!).
On Friday afternoon, in considerable heat and wearing plenty of sun cream and bug spray, we headed into the nearby plantation, to walk to Sungai Melayu, a local village about 5km from MCM, litter picking along the way. On arrival, we were fortunate to see a traditional Malay group perform a beautiful dance. Our mangrove boat trip was quite an adventure, seeing a 1-metre-long crocodile and two snakes along the way. Our outing ended with a delicious supper at one of the local fish restaurants and a chance to stock up on some local sweets and savoury snacks.
The rest of the weekend included a ceremony to mark the 10-year anniversary of MCM with a visit from Malaysian royalty. On Sunday we headed to the coast to enjoy the beach at Desaru and a nearby waterpark.
The second week saw various highlights such as durian tasting – an extraordinary culinary experience! – and dressing up for World Book Day. Our last night included local cuisine for the boys at Osmans and a sushi experience for the girls.
Overall this was an amazing cultural exchange and we are excited for next year’s opportunity.
Viv Hawthorn and Julia Hodgson
It was with very heavy hearts that we waved goodbye to our Malaysian hosts on Friday afternoon reflecting on new friendships forged and new cultures experienced. It was rich and rewarding fortnight; hopefully the first of many exchanges to come!Shell pupil