The Wink Hostel
Great budget accomodation.
By midday on Monday morning I was back in Singapore. Getting through the airport formalities was quick and painless, and once again I headed to the Ground Transport desk to purchase a transit bus ticket ($9) to the Wink Hostel, my accomodation for the next three nights.
This is the first time I've stayed in hostel accomodation on this trip. Economics had a lot to do with the decision - I wanted decent accomodation but without the huge Singapore price tag. The Wink Hostel provided just that - high style and high tech, for $40 a night.
This is a 'pod' hostel, in that every bed is within a roomy 'pod' so everyone has their own space. I'm sharing a room with nine other women and can't see anyone once they're in their beds. The pods are spacious with top quality bedding, a full length shelf along one side, a bed light, a socket to charge my iPad and internet access. The air conditioned rooms are accessed with a swipe card and a dim light automatically turns on in my pod when I open the door. There is storage under the pod large enough to take my suitcase, and
Tourist boat on the river.
it is also only accessible with my swipe card. A self serve breakfast is included in the price and the hostel in right in the middle of Chinatown, two minutes walk from the nearest train station. What more could I want?
Once again I didn't have access to my room until 3.00pm, so I stored my suitcase and headed out again. The metro station was around the corner in Pagoda Street so, armed with a map of the Chinatown area, I headed in that direction. It didn't take me long to realise I had been here before. This was the area Ginny and I had visited six months ago, when we were in Singapore on our way to Cambodia. Lots of eateries and stalls and red Chinese lanterns strung above the streets. Only difference is the yellow lantern snake is no longer weaving it's way above the main road.
As usual I plan on getting around Singapore by using the metro. Today I'm visiting Clarke Quay, just one station away. Lying near the mouth of the Singapore River, Clarke Quay was a centre of commerce during the late 19th century. Today, it is still buzzing with life and
Old meets new.
activity. The waterfront now plays host to a colourful kaleidoscope of restaurants, wine bars, entertainment spots and retail shops.
Clarke Quay is a delightful mix of modern and traditional and an interesting place to spend a few hours. But I found it very expensive. I was considering sitting by the river and enjoying a drink or two, but at around $13.50 for a barcardi and coke, I soon changed my mind.
An eye catching building near Clarke Quay is the MICA Building, with it's 911 windows painted in blocks of purple, blue, green, yellow and red. It was considered to be one the most notable buildings in the world after it's completion in 1933. Today it houses art galleries and a convention centre. It's not hard to find as it's between the Clarke Quay MRT station and Clarke Quay itself.
I was back at the Wink Hostel by 3.00pm and ready to book into my room. I went out later looking for dinner and enjoyed another browse through the market stands after dark. Tomorrow is another day, and my first full day to explore Singapore.
On Tuesday morning I headed back to the metro intent on
Chinese lanterns outside a restaurant.
purchasing a three day tourist ticket. It cost me $30 but $10 will be refunded when I return the card. So, that gave me three days unlimited travel on the metro and buses for $20. Not a bad deal considering it cost me $3 return to go to Clarke Quay yesterday, only one stop away. I grabbed a pocket sized metro map as well, they always come in handy. Today's plan was to visit Santosa Island, Marina Bay Sands and the Gardens By The Bay, in that order.
Harbour Front was the MRT station for Sentosa Island, an easy two stations from Chinatown. Situated just off the coast, Sentosa is one big tourist attraction, if you like that sort of thing. Think of Movie World, multiply it a few times, throw in a casino, a hotel, a shopping mall and the beach and you're on the right track. The new jewel in Santosa's crown is Resorts World, an enormous complex comprising of a Universal Studios theme park, Singapore's first casino, shopping malls and hotels. I walked over to the island via the boardwalk, paid my $1.00 admittance fee, and had a look around. The $1.00 doesn't cover you for
Colourful buildings and unusual water spouts fountain.
entry into the islands attractions, they are all extra, and the dollars could disappear pretty quickly if you had a couple of kids with you. I spent $2 on an ice-cream. The monorail back to the huge VivoCity shopping centre at Harbourfront, Singapore's largest centre, was free, so I took advantage of it on the return trip. I avoided the shops, Singapore is more expensive than home and I wasn't interested in shopping anyway.
Next stop was Bayfront Station, which is right under Marina Bay Sands. This complex was officially opened in 2011 and is enormous.... Marina Bay Sands is an Integrated Resort fronting Marina Bay and is the world's most expensive stand alone casino property. The resort features a 2,561 room hotel, a convention and exhibition centre, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands mall, a museum, two large theatres, seven 'celebrity chef' restaurants, two floating Crystal Pavilions, an ice skating rink, and the world's largest atrium casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines. The complex is topped by a 340m long SkyPark with a capacity of 3,900 people and a 150m infinity swimming pool, set on top of the world's largest public cantilevered platform.
impressive, but there's not a lot to do here if you don't want to shop, gamble, ice skate or eat expensive food. So, I took the requisite photos and was ready to move on. I walked to the Gardens By The Bay, as they're next to Marina Bay Sands and accessible via a connecting walkway.
Spanning over 100 hectares, this award-winning horticultural attraction houses over 250,000 rare plants and is just a five-minute walk from the city. The Gardens comprise of three spaces - Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central. There are more than 250,000 rare plants in huge domed conservatories, many walking paths as well as a boardwalk along the river. From the waterfront promenade, I enjoyed an amazing view of the Marina Bay financial district skyline.
Bay South, the largest waterfront garden, is where you’ll find the impressive Supertrees. These 16-storey-tall vertical gardens collect rainwater, generate solar power and act as venting ducts for the park’s conservatories. There is a suspended 128m long walkway between two Supertrees, the OCBC Skyway, admission $5.
Further along the riverbank I found an intriguing sculpture titled 'Planet'. This fascinating piece of art, depicting a sleeping child, seems to
float above the ground like a heavenly body. Made from cast bronze and steel, it's nine metres long, weighs seven tonne and is painted pure white. The sculpture is beautifully balanced on the hand, which is the only section to touch the ground. I spent a very pleasant couple of hours walking here, as the gardens are beautiful and very peaceful to spend time in.
On Wesnesday I got off to a slow start and didn't leave Wink Hostel until after 10.00am. I headed to the metro again, bound for Raffles Place Station from where I can walk to Merlion Park.
The Merlion is a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, used as a mascot and national personification of Singapore. Its name combines 'mer' meaning the sea and 'lion'. The fish body represents Singapore's origin as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, which means 'sea town' in Javanese and the lion head represents Singapore's original name - Singapura - meaning 'lion city'.
Merlion Park is located near the Central Business District and is a popular tourist attraction. There are two structures of the Merlion located at the
Goods for sale.
park with one standing at 8.6 metres which is the original Merlion statue and a 2-metre tall Merlion cub located just behind the original statue. The area was crowded, lots of tour groups, so I snapped some photos and left.
There is a buddhist temple in Chinatown, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, which I've not yet visited and it's only a ten minute walk from Wink Hostel, so during the afternoon I decided to take a closer look. The temple was built to house the tooth relic of Buddha. It is claimed that the relic from which it gains its name was found in 1980 in a collapsed stupa in Myanmar.
Monks were chanting whilst I was there, dressed in their familiar orange robes, the first chanting I've heard since leaving Cambodia. It bought back memories.... I caught the lift to the forth floor and then walked up three sets of stairs to the rooftop. A lush, well tended garden was up there along with a pagoda which housed the largest cloisonne prayer wheel in the world.
I returned to the Wink Hostel for a few hours of blogging and napping. At 6.30pm, I headed back to
the metro, as I'm returning to Marina Bay Sands to see the Supertrees lit up. They were stunning, I could have sat for hours and watched them change colour and try to photograph each one. They were impressive in the daylight but almost surreal after dark, with their multi coloured light displays.
Thursday is my final day in Singapore and I have made no plans. I needed to check out of Wink Hostel and store my suitcase in the luggage room until later in the day. A quick check on Trip Advisor and I decided to head to the metro again, this time alighting at Bugis Station.
The attraction here is the Arab enclave and Sultan Mosque in the Kampong Glam district. Another historical area, full of colourful shophouses selling carpets, household wares and textiles. Its major landmark, the Sultan Mosque, sits in the heart of this enclave. I wandered up one side and down the other in Arab Street, which sold Persian carpets, lace, batik, semi-precious stones and fabrics.
Then there's also Haji Lane, a charming lane that’s stocked with independent boutiques, cool second-hand clothes stores and quirky outlets selling a wide variety of knick knacks.
Very eye catching with the coloured windows and shutters.
I enjoyed a Budgie Smuggler burger and ginger beer at Bergsburgers in Haji Lane, for a mere $17.00! Told you Singapore was expensive! It was delicious though - grilled chicken with orange and honey marinade, piled high with salad and aioli. Probably my last meal in Singapore besides whatever I can buy at the airport later this evening.
I returned to Wink Hostel around 2.00pm, and didn't plan on doing much else for the day. So, I've spent my last afternoon in Singapore sitting in the chill out area at the hostel catching up on this blog. I will shower here later, then haul my suitcase downstairs to the street one last time. I'm going to use the metro to get to the airport as my three day pass is valid until tomorrow morning. My flight leaves at 10.30pm (12.30am Oz time) and I'll be back in Australia at 8.00am Friday morning. I have a hire car reserved for the two hour drive to Toowoomba and home.
It's been a huge six months and I have absolutely no regrets taking this trip. But now I have to go home, knuckle down and find a job, before allowing myself
Lots of places to spend your money.
the luxury of thinking about the next one. Because there will be another one day, of that I'm certain.... XXX.
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