In reality I was here for 48 hours or so, but between airport hours and hung over hours this was taken down to about a day. Going a little too huge in Manila my last couple nights, I knew I had condemned future me to some hell, but that was his problem now and he could deal with it. Deal with it I did. My first day in Singapore unfortunately succumbed to restless slumber in a humid hell. Needless to say I barely made it out for dinner. Luckily I was staying in Little India and a mouth-watering curry wasn’t far away. That is all beside the point, but I knew I had to make up for it on my only remaining day here and that I did.
I woke up with a fresh mind to a fresh day and the drive to make it count. I asked the receptionist at the Inn Crowd hostel for a few ideas on key places to visit in the city. Instead she laid out an extensive walking tour, with side notes and all. I usually just like to explore a city walking aimlessly to see what I could find, but I also usually have more than a day. She was so helpful and pointed me to the nearby Tekka hawker center in Little India for a quick breakfast. I went for Nasi Lemak before heading to the subway, the easiest way around the city and a refreshing escape from the humidity.
MRT Little India – Botanic Gardens – Only a short ride, I stepped back out into the blazing sun. I can’t say I’ve visited many Botanic Gardens in my day, but this was an extravagant park full of all kinds of flora. An oasis in the middle of a booming metropolis. Makes for a nice relaxing stroll amongst the many scents and sounds of nature. Free and open to anyone wanting to walk through, there are a few ticketed areas. For 5 SGD, I went for a walk through the National Orchid Garden. Tremendous care taken in the maintenance of these gardens, it was amazing to see so many species growing in one place.
Corner to corner of the gardens, I came out on Napier Road and followed it keeping left bringing me straight onto to Orchard Road. The street known for shopping. One of my least favorite things to do, but nonetheless a draw for many. Multi-leveled malls lined both sides of the road. Brand name stores, cafes and restaurants surrounded me on all sides. Most things lightyears from my price range for the day or any time, but it was obvious there was a vast wealth in Singapore. With little interest for myself here, I walked the length of the road ducking into the odd building for a fix of A/C until I reached MRT Dhoby Ghaut station.
MRT Dhoby Ghaut – Chinatown – As Chinese New Year was coming close, the alleyways throughout Chinatown were brimming with everything one would need for the celebrations and more. Red and yellow swarming, inescapable to the eyes. I wandered around taking a gander at all the shops and annual goodies, but my main focus was on lunch. It was that time of day and I was headed for the Maxwell Road Food Center. Home of the famous Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice. A queue bending around the corners, locals and foreigners alike line up for the chicken rice served here. To many the best in the city, it’s hard to just walk by this one.
All fueled up after a great feed, the walking continued. I followed South Bridge Road across the river turning into, you guessed it, North Bridge Road. This led me to the colonial district. Old Victorian buildings stand tall. A sign of the past from the days of British rule. Now museums are dotted through the district alongside the St. Andrews Cathedral, Courthouse, Old Parliament House and the Raffles Hotel. Looming over this district, drawing attention away from it across the water, now stands the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
I walked through the Esplanade, theaters all around and across the waterfront of the reservoir to the footbridge crossing to the ship on three legs. An outrageous, yet awesome design for a hotel, the Marina Bay Sands definitely stuck out. Costing around 350 SGD a night, I knew I wouldn’t be staying here, but I at least wanted up to see the view of the city. 23 SGD and 56 floors up, I stepped out onto to the observation deck in awe. The view was stunning spanning from the waterfront with ships bobbing in the distance to the high rises of downtown and across all the city, the outskirts and beyond.
The gentleman at the elevator informed me that while I wasn’t technically allowed to the 57th floor where paying guests were, if the restaurant wasn’t busy they would usually let you grab a seat. Worth a shot considering the worst case I guess is just to send you back down. No one even really questioned my ticket, so I pulled a chair up and got a drink menu. Prices definitely not for those on a budget, the cheapest beer was a bottle of Tiger for 16 SGD. Probably the most expensive beer I had ever bought, but perfect for the occasion. Bottled and brewed in Singapore while overlooking the city it came from.
The sun went down over the city and I finally left my perch over it after nursing my beer for too long. I met up with a friend who had lived here for a couple years for some dinner and drinks. Before heading off for much needed food, we watched the two light shows that are put on daily. The first at the waterfront in front of the hotel. An extravagant show projecting images onto the fountains and the second at the Gardens by the Bay. The ‘electric trees’ (reminding me of something out of sci-fi) dance with psychedelic light and for 30 minutes you’re on a different planet.
Jumping on one of the last bumboats that once carried cargo through the river (weird name I know), we made our way upstream past the statue of the Merlion back towards Chinatown. Starving at this point, I dove into platters of samples. Varieties of Chinese sausages, candies and pineapple biscuits. It was hard to stop, but a messy feast of finger licking crab awaited. Other than breakfast in the morning before making my way back to the airport, this is where my brief Singapore journey came to an end. I made up for the day prior, but could never do justice in a mere day. Until next time…