Measuring 40km by 20km, Singapore is an island city-state off the southern coast of Malaysia. While people have lived on these islands for 1800 years, Singapore was only established 200 years ago as a trading port for the English. Occupied by the Japanese in World War 2, it joined with other English Territories to form Malaysia in 1963, only to be expelled two years later. It has since grown to become one of the Four Asian Tigers, free economic states, along with South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
After nearly 2 months in Indonesia, Singapore seems like the cleanest and most organised city in the world. The downside is that everything is more expensive.
The Central City
Singapore has spread to fill its island quickly and has begun to grow upwards. While the central city boasts many skyscrapers, large portions of the island are covered with high-rises. Singapore is a city of architecture, from the old english style of many central museums…
…to the more modern and unusual, such as The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay buildings.
Marina Bay Sands
Completed in 2010 and standing out on the skyline is the most expensive building in the world. At US$4.7 billion The Marina Bay Sands has three main towers, a major mall, casino and a Skypark across its top.
Most of the Skypark, which is longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall, is only available to hotel patrons and includes a 150 metre vanishing pool.
The rounded tip of the Skypark is a viewing platform available to the general public providing 360º views of the city and marina. Even in the rainy season the views were magnificent.
Singapore has a large Indian contingent with their own region of the city. Little India has plentiful Indian restaurants and several temples.
Unfortunately, we visited on a Sunday evening when half the population of continental India had popped over to visit. Sunday evening is a common time among the Indian community to go shopping. This was to such a degree that we found it difficult to move through the streets.
Singapore has its only international recognised beer, Tiger. As it happens it was my birthday during our visit, so we headed out to the brewery for a tour.
Unfortunately, it took us longer to get there on public transport than we’d expected and we missed half of the tour. All was not lost as we did manage to catch the end of the tour, the 45 minutes of free beverages. When my birthday was mentioned, somehow the time stretched to 90 minutes before we decided it best to head off. A good evening!
Singapore has a world-class zoo with many species of animals. However, a zoo is a zoo and once you’ve seen a few they all start to look the same. Night Safari is still a zoo, but for nocturnal creatures with a tram tour through a portion of the park.
After the main tram ride, there are several other walks available along dimly lit paths. These lead to various other enclosures, including many great cat enclosures, including two separate lion zones, and a bat enclosure. Other animals include elephants, monkeys, opossums and many other lesser known nocturnal species. With no flash photography permitted, getting good photos was near impossible but we still enjoyed the experience.
Off the southern coast of Singapore is the resort island of Sentosa.
This entire island is an entertainment zone with a myriad of different activities, such as a large Universal Studios theme park, 2.2 kilometres of sheltered beaches…
… 2 golf courses, a Megazip adventure park, a Underwater World, a cable car, and many others, including the Luge, which began its life in New Zealand.
Since I’d never actually been on the Luge in New Zealand(!), I had to do it. What crazy fun!
A lot of time and money can be spent on Sentosa island, but we had only a single afternoon among showers. Thankfully entry to the island is only S$1.
With a couple of things on my shopping list, we decided to head to the main shopping area in Singapore, Orchard Road. Renown for having 30 malls along its 2.2km length, the street is Mecca for tourist shoppers.
The start of Orchard road is the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station, which exits beneath a 7-level mall. I managed to find the items I was looking for on the first two levels of the mall, so avoided having to spend too much time on the street.
Gardens by the Sea
Behind the Marina Park Sands is a large park area called the Gardens by the Sea. Most of the gardens are free to walk around, with several lakes, bridges and many separate garden areas, including the Supertree Grove…
Gardens by the Bay also includes a pair of domes that contain specialty areas: the Cloud Forest and Flower Domes respectively. These are pay areas and can be quite expensive, so we decided against visiting them.
City Lights shows
Most nights of the year Singapore hosts two separate free, light and sound shows. The first is in the Gardens by the Sea where lights dance around Supertree Grove in time to seasonal music. During our visit it was a Christmas theme.
There is a canopy walk through the Supertree Grove which gives great views of both the Gardens and the Marina Bay Sands.
The second light show is on Marina Bay in front of the Marina Bay Sands, where plentiful seating is provided. While waiting for the show to begin, there are great views of the central city buildings.
The main show is about 20 minutes long and is laser light displayed on three fans of water projected up from the bay. The show depicts the life-cycle of humanity. It’s an interesting and most enjoyable show.
Four days was simply not enough, so we extended to a week and still didn’t get to see everything. But alas, it was time get back on the road. Next stop, Malaysia.
The Trail Wanderers