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Published: July 19th 2015
We LOVED Singapore. Heres 10 reasons why:
1. The aesthetics of the city - With many bold high rises, charming colonial buildings and outstanding green spaces alike.
2. The efficient travel system - After being on the road so long you really do appreciate it.
3. The diversity - We came across Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious buildings.
4. The shopping - It is true you can buy anything and everything here.
5. The food - So many Chinese and Indian food eateries that we love.
6. The fact that the city oozed Sophistication. The resturants, wide streets, high rises were well designed and well laid out.
7. The combination of man made structures and nature here. This was evident in structures such as the Cloud Forest and Sky Garden both truly beautiful.
8. Signapore appears to be a proud city. It doesn't forget it's small corners in the hope that they remain hidden. The whole city appeared to be well taken care of.
9. Its Creativity - Singapore appears to go beyond the norm. The city is littered with genius ideas and creativity. Some of the architectural designs blew us away.
10. The city always felt very
alive. No matter what time of day or night.
Okay, you can tell we really loved it. Here's how we came to fall in love with it in only 36 hours:
From the Airport, we jumped on the MRT that took us directly from the airport to the MRT station of Bugis. Walking from here it took us 15 minutes to reach our hostel on Dalton Street in Little India. When getting out of the underground station the first thing we noticed about Singapore was how developed it was. With wide roads obeying a traffic light system, it was less chaotic and had a more structured feel about it compared its SE Asian neighbours. We spotted many recognisable and some unfamiliar branded stores & eateries, it reminded us of the big cities back home and in America.
As we walked through Little India it was like we were once again transported into another place. Made up of many narrow one lane streets lined with colonial buildings, stores upon stores selling Indian music, clothing and enticing food eateries it instantly reminded us of Little India back in Penang, Malaysia. We immediately liked the area and spoke
excitedly about all the food we were going to have here. One annoyance like Penang however, was the fact that the arched walkways here were all used up by grocery stores, food eateries and electronic shops and so once again we had to weave our way in and out of them to get down the street.
Rather than ponder over what we were going to do here, our time was limited and so we looked up the best way to get to the Singapore zoo and went straight there after checking in. It took us a lot longer than expected to get there with the whole journey taking about 2 hours. By the time we got to the zoo it was already 4pm and we were tired already. We quickly lost any feelings of tiredness when we entered the zoo to find a handful of cotton top monkeys in a small area of trees just as we walked in. It was nice how close we could get to them. Rather than conforming to the norm, Singapore Zoo moves away from the small confines of cages to cage-less spaces for the animals.
We initially liked the idea of this
but as we walked through we found that some of the animals would often try to get back in their confined nighttime spaces. Some of them clearly did not want to sit around posing for pictures, but who would? As we walked further into the zoo, we passed some slightly 'familiar' looking creatures to the one we saw kayaking in El Nido - Crocodiles. Definitely not P’s creature of the trip. We also passed by some very smelly otters, some proboscis monkeys with the big bellies and long noses and also some Orangutans during feeding time. We loved the Orangutans, especially the baby ones.
One section had a curved seating area on a gradient facing an empty pool behind a glass panel . Going closer to find out what this area usually housed, we were suprised by a huge polar bear jumping out of nowhere right into the pool. It then started doing laps in the water before standing on a raised 'ice' platform in the pool for a minute, poking its head out of the water and then returning his laps. We read that Polar bears like exercise so their laps are just like us going to the
gym or swimming. P had one of her moments where the only word she could access was “wow” over and over again. Polar bears are now her new favourite animal. The sheer size of it, with its gentle demeanor and ability to swim ever so effortlessly. We were torn between wanting to cuddle one and never wanting to come face to face with one in the wild.
Chris’s favourite were the white tigers. These tigers are now rare and can no longer be found in the wild. Watching the 2 tigers in the compound, they clearly wanted to up their population numbers as the flirting and pre-mating scenes made us all feel that we should go and view something else. We managed to get some good close ups (of the tigers, not any mating scenes) and left them to it. Other highlights for us were the Zebras, Cheetahs and the Chimpanzees. This proved to be an enjoyable past time for us whilst in Singapore.
We were shattered (translation: tired) when we got back to our hostel but instead of relaxing we headed back out for something to eat before finding more sights. We settled on the nearby Tekka
Centre which is well known for its wide variety of street food mainly Indian and Chinese with over 100 food stalls to choose from. We did notice a vegetarian food place for P with its huge advertisement saying vegetarian food, but then the food titles below said otherwise. Vegetarian Chicken, Vegetarian Mutton etc - Not sure if this truly was vegetarian at all! We concluded that this must be a translation error and ate at another stall.
For the evening we wanted to get some night snaps of the iconic Marina Bay Sands - you know the building made up of 3 tall towers with what looks like a cruise ship placed on top? We took the MRT exit out of Bayfront but realised it was still a distance to walk and so went back to the MRT to the station of Marina Bay. The MRT station/shopping mall area was huge and confusing to get out of. We walked around a little and could not find this iconic building at all. What were we doing wrong, it was huge how could we miss it. We asked a security guard and realised we were right underneath it!!! Clearly. We actually
wanted to be on the other side of the river from it to get the best views but as it was late we decided we would take pictures of the scenery on the otherside of the bay. After we walked through the mall in front of the building and out into the night we had one of those moments. The ones where you have to tell yourself to breath as you cannot believe what you are seeing. The night scenery here was breathtaking, high-rises lighting up the dark skies, placed along next to small but equally illuminated buildings. It was stunning.
As Singapore is so built up, with huge skyscrapers soaring straight into the sky we really wanted to enjoy the heights ourselves and so set about finding some sort of viewing platform. At first we considered the Marina Sands Bay hotel. However the viewing deck came at a price. Instead we opted for a hidden gem, The Pinnacle at Duxton - a collection of residential tower blocks with a terrace on top connecting them all. Getting there we caught the MRT to Outram station and walked around the corner to block 1G. Arriving at block
1G we could not find the ticket counter to pay the very reasonable $5 to do this. We stood at the lift area confused on what to do when were approached by a French guy now living in Singapore. He asked us where we were from, what sort of trip we were doing etc. After our brief converstaion in the lift he kindly allowed us to use both his and his wife’s residential pass for free to access the top. He however stressed that we needed to return it and of course we did.
With our passes we took the lift to the 50th floor sky bridge and were blown away completely by the incredible views and how amazing the Sky Bridge was. It was a huge pathway that connected all 7 apartment blocks 1A to 1G. It had a deck chair area, a small climbing wall, a garden area and many other modern arty areas. As we looked down at other floors there was a playground for children and on the 25th floor another viewing platform with someone making use of the open space to exercise and run. We said to ourselves Singapore had certainly got apartment block
living just right. Then there were the views. They were incredible. We were so high up and were able to enjoy a full 360 of the city.
What we loved about seeing the city at this height was that it was so beautiful and modern. Looking like a shiny new city with all these high rises but not looking aged or grotty in the slightest. Plus there were many green areas too. Oh did we mention we got a good view of some of the islands?? Although the we were on the mainland, Singapore itself consists of 63 small islands some of which you could see here.
Pleased with our find, our next stop was Chinatown. We took the MRT again (only way to get around here) and got off at the Chinatown stop. Exit A led us straight to Pagoda Street which was a mecca of tourist shops on either side connected by zig-zagging rows of red lanterns in the sky. Although it was mainly tourist tat, it was stuff that we would actually buy to decorate our home with. Not buying much (apart from some new clothes for P) we added this to our never ending
list of countries to return to for shopping.
On this street is a famous Chinese food store, Bee Cheng Hiang. Here you could sample the flavoured pork and beef pieces which Chris took advantage of - we didn't purchase any of the highly priced boxes though. As we left this street, immediately to the left we happened upon Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple. We walked around this small complex admiring the art work and loved the contrast of the colourful intricate religious sculptures against the backdrop of the modern tall high-rises in the distance.
Another temple we really wanted to see in this area was the Tooth relic Buddhist Temple. On the way we passed many Chinese medicine shops and walked around a few, noticing the usual medicinal items such as bird spit, dried squid and something that resembled a bat that had also been dried out.
The Tooth Relic Buddhist Temple is a 4 Storey Chinese Pagoda and was a delight to explore. The ground floor held many chanting monks adorned in orange gold like robes and other Buddhists echoing words and singing some of the text they read. On the outer walls were many hand sized
sculptures of Buddha all enclosed within their own casings. They covered all the walls here. On one of the upper floors was a museum that followed the transformation of Buddha with many different and noteworthy Buddha statues with different explanations. We heard that if you get here early enough you may catch a glimpse of Buddha’s tooth but had missed such an opportunity arriving later in the day. The fourth and final floor we visited held a colourful Tibetan prayer wheel which we attempted to capture a few pics of in motion.
We had read that further up on the same road (Neil road) you could have an introductory class in making tea and since our next destination was China, why not start learning to drink Chinese tea the right way now. We chose the well-known Tea Chapter store for this. Being British and all, we like our tea but wasn't too clued up on preparing and making tea Chinese style. Upon agreeing on a popular Chinese tea, a pleasant young girl of Chinese descent took us through each step. Firstly heating the teapot and cups with hot water before pouring fresh hot water into the teapot with the
leaves. After leaving it in for 4 minutes max she emptied its contents into a separate ceramic teapot leaving it to cool. We were even shown how to pour correctly (with chopsticks) and how to actually drink the tea. It was all very proper and made us feel underdressed for such an occasion.
The cups they use are also very tiny. We are used to drinking heaps of tea back home but here after a sip or two, the tasty cup of scented tea was finished and we had to start the process all over again. A little too much effort if you ask us; which may explain why some wealthy Japanese men pay over the odds to have Geisha’s do this. We say 'may explain' as we do not feel this provides a full enough picture of the whole ceremony.
Okay so now we were really tired. We were trying to miraculously fit a helluva lot into our day and did not want to carry on. But like the hardcore travellers we are, we persevered dragging our tired legs behind us. We took a Metro to Raffles place, taking some pictures of the Marina Bay Sands (yes
we finally did it) and walked over to the Gardens by the Bay. We wanted to witness the night show here but as we were a little early we opted to pay the entrance fee for one of the two domes - Flower dome and the Cloud Forest . We are not too into flowers but had read that the Cloud forest was certainly worth a visit and the entrance fee.
As you enter the Cloud Forest you notice straight away that under this huge glass dome is an oddly shaped misty mass of vegetation boasting colourful flowers, with a powerful waterfall spraying bystanders. One thing that was also striking is the many oddly angled walkways unexpectantly jutting out of the greenery. We walked the pathways and took many pictures. This site was impressive - how the greenery, the walkways, the balconies and the impressive views of the sky trees outside and city all came together. It was utter genius. P spotted a kite flying on the outside high in the sky through one of the triangular dome window panes and shared that this really touched her. For her this kite in the distance was like a symbol of
happiness, aspiration and the light at the end of the tunnel. It did not fit with any current experiences but was a memorable emotion evoking experience for her. Anything that makes her happy Chris noted.
Now the best bit - saved until last. The Sky Tree light show. This was by far our favourite part of Singapore and we would go back again to see this light show alone. Located in the sky garden are these tall 'vase shaped' man made green and purple coloured towers standing at many differing hights but all towering above the trees. You can actually walk along them via the skybridge linking many of them together, but we enjoyed just gazing up at them from the ground. These structures catch your eye straight away due to their height but also the impressive way such a bold man-made structure has been mixed together with nature as flora is wrapped around these towers (a bit like a Christmas tree but think tall vase shape with plants instead of decorations). By night however, this is when the magic happens as these huge trees are illuminated spectacularly in the sky. At two specific times, they showcase a light
show where the lights dance around to the music being played. We found a spot on the ground at the base of the trees and sat there waiting. As it began, we watched in awe as the trees changed into many differing colours and the lights danced around specific trees in rhythm to the music. They played many classic Disney songs from The Little Mermaid, Jungle Book, Lion King and Aladdin along with some other well known songs, it even played our wedding march - Cannon in D - which nearly reduced us to tears. This may sound strange by saying we loved this sight as after all we nornally relate these feelings to seeing nature's wonders and cultural experiences but this experience really moved us and will stay with us for a long time.
Transportation: To the Zoo we caught the MRT to Ang Mo Koi and then a bus (number 138) outside the station that took us directly to the zoo.
Accomodation: Prince of Wales. Dorms seperated by curtains but wasnt a problem as everyone kept noise levels down. Aircon kept room cool. Lots of tips for travellers on the walls (i.e. the duxton at pinnacle.
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