We had been looking forward to Singapore for a while. Even though mainland South East Asia was a constant adventure, we both longed for cleanliness, western comforts and even shopping malls.
The whole trip there was a whirlwind, we only had 3 full days to enjoy it and we were determined to do and see as much as possible. We stayed at an AirBnB for the first time. It was surprisingly one of the cheaper options, and it had a pool. The host was lovely, staying up late after her long shift at the hospital to show us Youtube videos of things to do and see. It was strange staying in someone else’s home (especially as we didn’t know beforehand how many people were staying there), but it was nice to have someone to give us advice.
On our first full day, we went to see the Botanic Gardens. I have to confess, I’m not hugely into my gardening, but this was really worth the visit. The place was so well set out for all ages, including a walkway with ”evolution” as the theme; it showed how plants like ferns had evolved and transformed into trees over millions of years, which was added to by the occasional sighting of Monitor Lizards.
The most famous part of the gardens and definitely Hannah’s favourite part was the National Orchid Garden. This was the only section of the park you had to pay for entry, but it was well worth it. The entire area was covered in orchids, including specially bred varieties to honour Royals and distinguished guests that visited the gardens.
After exploring the gardens for several hours (there was plenty to keep us entertained) we made our way to Orchard Road, a famous shopping mall district in Singapore, and grabbed our first Starbucks in over 2 months. This was to prepare ourselves for the shop ahead. The malls were never ending! It was great to see such an eclectic mix of Western brands that we all know so well, but a fair amount of Asian styles and colours too, which certainly reminded us we weren’t in an American shopping centre.
Hannah had been waiting a long time for this next bit: we went to the cinema to watch Beauty and the Beast. Date nights in Singapore are pretty awesome I have to admit. It was a long but fun day, and a Pizza Express was a good way to wrap it up.
Our first stop on the second full day was Little India – smaller than we expected but an experience nonetheless! There were three types of shop in this area; freshly cooked food, textiles and materials, and cheap electronics. We took advantage of all except the food, it was a little early for our fragile Western stomachs, but we bought a cheap tshirt and a flash drive and made our way to Arab Street.
Arab Street was an absolutely beautiful area. Not only was it full of bric-a-brac stores, but loads of food varieties and coffee shops were on offer on the main street. We stumbled upon a side street which was covered in art everywhere you looked. This was clearly a young, trendy part of Singapore as most of the shops seemed to cater for the sub-25 year old traveller – we later found it was called Haji Lane and a very popular area for young lcoals and travellers alike.
We were told an unmissable attraction was the Night Safari. We were both weary after a long day, but knew we only had one chance to see it. The concept is quite well thought out, and the safari feels a lot bigger than it actually is considering how little space there is in Singapore. You buy a ticket for a shuttle bus which takes you between all the enclosures and the guide reads out a few facts and figures as you make your way around. The bizarre part is that you cannot see a divide between the enclosures and the road (I’m sure there was some sort of well concealed wire fencing). This was particularly disconcerting when we drove past the enclosure filled with a hungry pack of hyenna, eyeing us up as if we were their next meal. After the 30 minute bus ride you have the opportunity to walk the safari, which is worth it as some areas (including the tiger enclosure) were only accessible by foot. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the tiger that frightened us, it was a hippo roaring. The sheer volume made us both jump out of our skins, especially as we were less than 10 metres away!
Our final day in Singapore was spectacular, building all the way through the day to an amazing climax in the world famous Marina Bay Sands. We started off by going to Chinatown, a small but funky area and a great spot for breakfast. I doubt I’ve had a breakfast that peculiar looking, but it was nothing short of delicious. We browsed the market stalls and Hannah bought a GoPro (as you can get tax back, another benefit of Singapore) and then made our way to the edge of the business district so I could get my hair cut and beard trimmed. I was starting to look a little scruffy to say the least…
The view was nothing but spectacular, however after a few minutes walking around the bay, the heavens opened. So, we, along with every other tourist in the area, darted into the mall below the hotel/casino. If you want to spend some money, or for that matter take a gondola ride through a shopping mall, this is the place to do it. Every jewellery shop, clothes brand, suit shop exists under this roof, and a Ferrari shop, y’know, just in case you fancy buying an F1 car on your travels….
Our plan was to go straight from here to Marina Bay Sands (the hotel/casino) but first we stumbled across the light show we had no idea was happening that evening! It was definitely one of the best things we came across. The ‘super-trees’ are lit up in spectacular fashion to several well-known classical pieces of music.