Paradise in Singapore
Singapore, like much of Asia, is a study in contrasts...it is one of only three city states in the world and has experienced rapid growth in the past twenty years. Originally colonized by the British, there are many places which retain a distinct colonial feel, but much of Singapore is very modern. The best way to describe Singapore today is a that it is a combination of New York, Las Vegas and Disney World. It is spotlessly clean, efficiently run and everyone speaks English (it is one of four official languages). The only drawback to the paradise that is Singapore is its weather - sitting directly on the equator means that Singapore experiences tropical weather every day - 90 degrees and humid is the norm!
|Every night there is a laser light show from Marina Bay Sands|
The view from our room at the Mandarin Oriental was absolutely spectacular...I could not stop looking out the window. I have photos of sunrise, daytime, in the rain, sunset and at night...here are a just a few:
|Looking towards the famous Marina Bay Sands complex on a hazy morning...the building was designed to look like a ship landing on top of the three towers.|
|Looking in the other direction is the skyline of the business district at sunset just as the lights were coming on...|
|...which was even prettier at night with the twinkling lights.|
Our first day in Singapore, we met up with Tetyana, sales manager for Raffles Singapore for a tour of the iconic hotel. I have so many photos of our visit there that I decided to do a separate post just on our day at the Raffles. Here is a glimpse to give you something to look forward to:
After our tour and a fabulous curry buffet lunch at the famous Tiffin Room at the Raffles, we switched gears from classic colonial to uber-modern and headed over to Marina Bay Sands. The complex is the most expensive building in the world (including the primo real estate it sits upon) and was opened in 2011.
|The best way to enjoy the view from the top is to take the elevator up to Ku De Ta - the bar by the pool to have a drink or two.|
|The famous drop edge pool is for hotel guests only, but we still managed to get a good look.|
Behind the Marina Bay Sands complex is "Gardens By the Bay" - a park created from reclaimed land.
These "Super Trees" are tree-like structures that are solar powered and mimic the function of actual trees within the garden. At night they are lit using the solar power harnessed during the day.
There are two "conservatories in the garden - the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. On a hot day (every day in Singapore) these are the places to be! The domes are uniquely constructed without the need for interior support.
The Flower Dome simulates a Mediterranean environment and showcases various flowers native to that climate.
|When we were there they had a special exhibit for an Indian festival - these peacocks were created using orchids!|
The Cloud Forest simulates the tropical mountain climate and includes the "Cloud Mountain" inside. You take an elevator up seven floors to the top and walk down the elevated pathway viewing the flowers and waterfalls along the way.
|I was fine on the 115th floor of our hotel in Hong Kong but THIS scared me to death!|
That night we headed over to the Central Business District for dinner and drinks with a view at the Fullerton Bay Hotel and took an evening stroll along the river.
|The lovely rooftop pool and bar at the Fullerton Bay Hotel.|
|The Fullerton Hotel was an old post office building re-purposed as a luxury hotel.|
The next morning we decided to take a river cruise on a bumboat to get an overview of the city. It began across the street from our hotel and circled Marina Bay and the Esplanade before going along the Singapore River.
We got a close up view of the MerLion - the half lion, half fish that is the symbol of Singapore...
The juxtaposition between colonial and modern buildings was ever present on the river cruise as the river winds it way through the Central Business District surrounded by skyscrapers...
Past colorful colonial buildings...
To quays lined with restaurants (which used to be where the goods were unloaded from the bumboats coming into the city)...
We headed to Orchard Road in the afternoon - the shopping district of Singapore. As home to the world's highest percentage of millionaires, it wasn't surprising to discover some of the finest stores in the world along Orchard Road. Normally spending a day inside a mall wouldn't be high on my list of things to do after being outside all morning, I was happy to cool off a bit inside.
|I was surprised to see Christmas decorations up along Orchard Road in early November!|
No trip to Singapore would be complete without visiting one of the famous outdoor "hawker centers" which feature street food from the myriad of cultures in the melting pot that is Singapore...we quickly learned that if you go to the stall with the longest line, you will get the best food!
|We sampled a little of everything including Singaporean favorites - Chicken Rice and Satay. My husband is disappointed he didn't get to try the Chilli Crab, though!|
|This guy must be a blogger too!|
We spent our last day in Singapore at the famous Royal Botanic Garden - an oasis in the heart of the city.
Not to be missed was the National Orchid Garden...
The orchid is the national flower of Singapore and it was remarkable to see them growing in "the wild"...I have never seen so many beautiful orchids in one place!
After a few hours in the garden, we stopped for delicious lunch at the beautiful restaurant Halia which is in the garden. Refreshed and relaxed we headed back out to finish our walk in the garden only to be thwarted by a tropical downpour. It was still a fantastic day!
Singapore is a model city - it is immaculate and runs like a finely tuned watch. It has something for everyone and is the perfect place to unwind after touring other parts of Asia. We flew Singapore Air, which allowed us a stopover in each direction - Tokyo on the way over and Hong Kong on the way back. It was the perfect way to see three countries with one round trip ticket.
Tips for Singapore:
-Don't miss the famous street food. The hawker centers are highly regulated by strict government controls so, even though you are eating street food, you can be sure the kitchens are clean!
-Don't break the law! Singapore is known for its strict rule of law. The customs form when you enter the country says "the penalty for drug trafficking is death". As such, there is no crime in Singapore.
-Remember to pack for the tropical heat.
-Taxis and subways are both very user friendly - it is an easy city to get around.
-Head to the airport early - it is a destination in and of itself and well worth exploring!
|When was the last time you were in a baggage claim that looks like this???|
On to Hong Kong...(with a stop back in Singapore for a visit to the Raffles a bit later)