Nicole and I never really added Singapore to our list. We always considered it a nice place to visit, but pretty far down our list. However, the cheapest way to get from Hong Kong to Bali, our next destination, was to fly through Singapore. So we figured, why not? Our stay in Singapore was short and sweet. We were there only a handful of days and we saw most of the highlights. If you need to fly through Singapore, take a few days to yourself and explore the city-state.
Singapore is really clean. That’s one thing most people know. It’s also a very orderly society. Things run on time. There are no beggars or street musicians. It’s a city that’s been scrubbed clean, and with that you lose the bad and the good. There isn’t any gum on the street or people harassing you, but the media is also censored, you must be over 35 or married to get a government apartment. The same political party has been in charge since 1959. It’s an interesting place culturally and politically. However, without looking under the surface you wouldn’t realize any of that. On the surface Singapore is a clean tourist destination great for those attending conventions or stopping through on a cruise.
Our first stop was a the Singapore Flyer, Singapore’s giant ferris wheel. It’s also home to a beautiful outdoor garden and market, which are both free. We walked through the tropical garden area and got some food in the market. I ordered some fried dumplings, their contents unknown, but delicious. Nicole ordered stingray. It was surprisingly easy to eat and tasted like white fish. I recommend it if you get the chance, even just for the novelty of it.
Our first full day in Singapore we visited Little India. It’s a small neighborhood centrally located where Indian immigrants settled. Nicole and I walked through the shops taking in the spicy aromas of various curries. If you’re looking to visit Singapore and you want to do it on a budget, there are several hostels in Little India. We had lunch at a North Indian/Nepalese restaurant. We had fish, curry, and naan. It was some of the best curry we had outside of India. It was just like India except not as hot, crowded, or noisy.
Singapore’s Chinatown was our next stop. It’s one stop down from Little India. Chinatown was ramping up for Chinese New Year and the year of the goat. Here’s a great link for everything Year of the Goat. There were streamers up across every street in the neighborhood.
The roads were narrow and pedestrian only for most of the neighborhood with only the occasional large road cutting through. Chinatown Singapore was filled with markets with everything from herbs and spices to a Tin Tin Museum. Nicole I stopped into a little covered alleyway with food stalls and had a bite to eat there.
Singapore has a really cool downtown. It has Marina Bay Sands resort, better known as the building with a ship on it because it looks like three buildings with a cruise ship dropped on top. The cruise ship part on top has a giant pool, as well as garden and bar, looking out over the city. Nicole and I didn’t have $600/night to stay there so we just took pics of it. It’s not the same, but I’ll save some money. Inside the lobby area looks like the Contemporary resort from Disneyworld. It was one of the fanciest places I’ve ever been. There’s a mall with tons of designer stores connected to it that has it’s own miniature river complete with boats. It was nuts.
Ah the Singapore Sling. A drink both created and made famous in Singapore. If you’re ever going to try one, you should go to where it all began. That’s just want Nicole and I did. We visited Raffles hotel and had peanuts and Singapore Slings at the Long Bar.
After our drinks and relaxing it was time to head to the airport. Our flight was early the next morning and rather than get up at 4am we decided to stay over at the airport for the last night. The Singapore airport is a megahub, like Abu Dhabi. It’s open 24 hours a day. It has it’s own swimming pool, movie theater, butterfly garden, and 24 hour food court. Nicole and I had time to do every one of those things, minus the pool because it was closed. We sent video postcards back home, we watched some movies, and visited the butterfly garden, all for free.
In the morning we just had a short walk to our gate and then we were off to Bali!