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Published: March 31st 2016
A simple Air Asia 1 hour flight brought us to Singapore, not as exciting as the train maybe but a whole lot quicker.
I’d like to have told you we then booked into the Marina Bay Hotel. Kim has been desperate for a swim at the incredibly high infinity pool atop this crazy hotel, spurred on by some Germans we met, he’d been watching the room prices avidly, but at over £300 per night (plus 17% tax) I had to comment that it was a very pricey swim, and voted against. However, the Marina Bay Hotel dominates the skyline here, and haunted Kim because you could even see it from our room at our very functional YMCA (please no singing) hostel!
Just to torture him further we took a trip up into The Marina Bay, not to the viewing platform, but to the very stylish bar. From the lift lobby you could see the pool, I noted it looked incredibly crowded, and that we had a lovely pool on top of the YMCA… I think he responded… but I was too busy deciding on what cocktail to order to hear. We decided on the Singapore
Sling, well you have to, I tried the MB Hotel new version, it was lovely sitting at the bar watching the sun go down. Having tried a Sling, the following evening we thought we’d try the original at the Raffles Hotel, which is a super stylish colonial hotel. If we come to Singapore again, I’d vote to stay here!
A highlight for me was the beautiful greenery everywhere, lots of parks and flowers. We explored the Gardens by the Bay which had a huge outdoor park area that warranted a buggy ride in the heat, showing a variety of gardens, Chinese, Indian and Malay etc. and two huge domes rivalling the Eden Project. One was called the Cloud Forest, cool and misty, and the other, the Flower Dome had a lovely exhibition of Chinese Cherry Blossom. It was fun watching the Chinese tourists manically photographing their own trees! However, I did also find myself photographing daffodils… a little comfort from home.
A visit to the Singapore National Museum surpassed our expectations, by far one of the best we have been to, modern, interactive and creative exhibits. Telling the history from 14th
century, and also
a balanced view of the history of British Colonial rule since Sir Thomas Raffles landed here on 29.1.1819. We found there was little evidence of original 19 century architecture, we walked through Canning Hill and around Canning Fort which has some elements of history evident and the trendy Clarke Quay had some nice old shop frontages, but we were only here a short while so could have missed it.
Since Singapore gained independence in 1965 there is evidence of a really prosperous, safe, clean city, albeit a little sterile for our taste. We were told it’s a shopper’s paradise’, after trying to negotiate one very high end mall we escaped into a world of malls, which was quite bewildering. Culturally diverse we enjoyed our visits to Chinatown and Little India (which seemed very authentic). Even though we didn’t get to swim at the Marina Bay, we certainly had the Singapore Sling experience!
We have come to the end of the south-east Asia leg of our journey. When we arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam 6 weeks ago, we had no idea how we were going to get to Singapore. Although on reflection, if given more time,
there were places we would have like to have seen, like the Sapa mountains in Vietnam, perhaps a dip into Laos, or as we had enjoyed Penang, maybe more time in Malaysia. I think we got a good flavour of the sights and culture of the countries we visited, and only made one big error-the 22hr bus journey in Hoi-an.
We were certain by the time we got to Singapore, with the walking, swimming, carrying backpacks, the weight would have fallen off but the truth is the food got better the further south we travelled. We won’t miss the dodgy transportation but we will miss some of the people, especially in Vietnam and Cambodia, who were so helpful with our accommodation and travel. With Oz, New Zealand and USA to come, our travels should be easier, but Asia has certainly been an adventure.
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