Off for another adventure, I flew to Singapore. I had been here a few times before, but that is what I love about Singapore, there is always something new to see.
Once out of the arrivals hall I took a taxi to reach the So Sofitel Singapore on Robinson Road; a quirky boutique hotel in a fabulous location. The hotel was cute and my room unique. It had a ceiling feature and a lovely bathroom.
Next morning, I got up early to explore and went for a long walk to and around Chinatown. Upon leaving the hotel, the heat and humidity hit hard; it was intense. Singapore offers such a stark contrast with older structures and beautiful new buildings such as the Marina Bay Sands.
As I walked to Chinatown meandering along streets not quite knowing where I was going, the area started to wake up and it was good to see the buildings in a quiet ambience before the hustle and bustle of the day took full force.
I passed the Thian Hock Keng Temple before continuing to Chia Ann Siang; a small hill named after a prominent business man in Singapore. I wandered by many restored and colourful shops; originating from 1903 to 1941. Today these shopfronts were decorated with lanterns and many housed restaurants; once upon a time they were exclusive social clubs.
I zigged and zagged around, visiting the Chinatown food street with its restaurants that were quiet after a busy night. I moved on the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. This temple was only eleven years old but within the beauty of its interiors, it reflected the depth of the Buddhist history which made for a lovely visit. I discovered that the unusual name of this temple comes from the left tooth of Buddha; a prized relic within the faith.
Along South Bridge Road there was a diverse mix of religions represented. I stopped to visit the Sri Mariamman temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore and also the Masjid Chulia, Jame Mosque a resident here since the 1820s. It was refreshing to see the harmony of religions cohabitating.
Next, I caught the train to Gardens by the Bay. The train was incredibly clean.
First impressions of this area were breathtaking. The amazing sculpture trees have become a focal point of the city. The design was futuristic and visually stunning. Looking back from the bridge to the Marina Bay Sands hotel was equally as stunning. This hotel with its three towers provides views over the garden area.
I walked through the park toward the Flower Dome. There were statues everywhere and the views up of the tree installations were great. There was also a river flowing through the park which added another dimension to the area. When you enter the Flower Dome it is cool. This incredibly large encloser was completely air conditioned and allowed the display of blooms that suited cooler climates. I was lucky to see the cherry blossom display.
At the top of the dome, there were wooden sculptures and cactus, and great views of the cherry blossom below. I descended to the level below, to view the Japanese cherry blossom trees and it was beautiful. There were embellishments that brought the area to life and I even had the chance to dress in a kimono and go and get photos under the trees.
Next stop was into the Cloud Forest. This was another incredible enclosure that was mysterious and shrouded in mist that fell every so often to water the plants below. The enclosure had a diverse plant life that was viewed after taking a lift to the top and then meandering down. There was a large waterfall cascading down through the centre of it all and it felt tropical.
After leaving the cool enclosures, I walked back into the balmy Singapore weather to continue exploring around the fabulous Supertree Grove. The eighteen trees stand from 25 to 50 metres tall and look futuristic; what a statement they make on the city landscape.
I found the entrance to the OCBC Skyway; a 128-metre aerial path that takes you from tree to tree and here I enjoyed great views of Singapore.
I left the OCBC Skyway to visit the tallest Supertree. Here you will find a café called the Indochine café. I did not think that the views could get any better than where I had just come from, but they did. There were clear views of the Marina Bay Sands, the Flower Dome and the park below. It had an amazing roof top bar.
When the rain started to fall, I took refuge in the Marina Bay Sands shopping centre; a short walk from the Supertrees. They had every luxury brand that you could imagine. One of my favourites was the TWG Tea shop where I found a beautifully fragrant tea; amongst the hundreds to chose from. I was also impressed with the canals that meander through the centre and the oculus that traps water and then releases it below in a dramatic crash. Up to 200 tonnes can flow after intense build up. I also learnt that it is symbolic of our connection with water and the necessity it plays in our lives. It was wonderful.
Dinner tonight was at LAVO restaurant on the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. This allowed me to view the sunset and the Supertrees illuminated at night. The views were breathtaking when entering the restaurant. I enjoyed watching the sun set and the area below us come to life with the lights.
Next day I decided to visit Universal Studios on Sentosa Island. The park had the ambience that you would expect from any theme park and I noticed that before 12pm it was a very quiet park. I visited “Far Far Away” land and it was so much fun. I loved the King Harold Castle and the characters from Shrek in this area. Not far from Far Far Away land was Jurassic Park, a land with a fabulous water ride. Ancient Egypt certainly had the WOW factor with the entrance and the statues here and Sci Fi City had a rather large transformer. NYC and Northern America had many Sesame Street characters, and some minions and overall it was cute.
I decided to move on at this point to visit another attraction at Sentosa, the Trick Eye Museum. This museum was small but incredibly fun with an array of 3 dimensional and interactive artwork illusions. I felt like a child jumping in and out of holes and taking photos.
Dinner tonight was at Boon Tat Street; conveniently adjacent to my hotel. The street gets closed every night at 7pm and the smell of satays and grilled food floods the thick humid air. The pineapple rice was my favourite.
Next morning, I explored the Fort Canning area. I caught the Downtown line to Fort Canning. Then it was time for boot camp as I climbed around the Fort Canning Park to view numerous war relics. This park was once home to Malay royalty; the headquarters for the British Far East Command Centre, the place where the British surrendered to the Japanese during WWII; and a music venue for large concerts and ballets. I visited the flagpole and the bunkers and then the Fort Canning Hotel; a lovely hotel in a very peaceful park.
Later in the day it was time to zoom around the Esplanade on a motorised scooter; fun, fun, fun. You can hire scooters and segways just near the Merlion on the Esplanade. This was a great way to explore the Esplanade area as there is lots to see.
On my last evening here in Singapore, my home away from home was the Fullerton Hotel. This grand hotel that once housed the General Post Office Building of Singapore provided beautiful views of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. It was sophisticated and a building with so much history.
For me, Singapore is multicultural, historical, has a strong financial hub within the world and on this visit was particularly fun. It has an amazing mixture of cultures and races and is such a clean and friendly city. I can’t wait to return.