Over the course of our travels, we stopped in Singapore three times: 1) As a layover on the way to NZ; 2) A several night stay at Sheraton Four Points before we explored Asia; 3) A several night stay at the Sheraton Towers after we explored Asia. We utilized our travel hack of leaving items at hotels during our stays at Singapore. We left a suitcase of items we didn’t need for Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Japan at our hotel in Singapore. Three months later, we picked up our bag check.
It is hard to describe in words the experience of Singapore. The sights. The food. The multiculture atmosphere. Just think about Malaysia, India, Chinese, Arabic all in a melting pot with a bit of English sprinkled on top….that’s Singapore. Each visit seemed different. The first visit was just a few hours after nearly three weeks of the chaos of India. And Singapore seemed so neat, orderly, and clean. After New Zealand and Australia, Singapore seemed so urban, modern, and chic. After Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, it seemed so multi-cultural. During this Singapore layover stay, we did take a cab into town for shopping and a meal. The boys of the family were outfitted with tailor-made jackets and this stop was the material/style selection and fitting.
Gardens by the Bay (which we highly recommend should be seen both during the day and at night).
Singapore is a modern city with gardens within the skyscrapers. The Gardens by the Bay is a huge 101 hectacre garden adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. The park consists of three different waterfront gardens. The Gardens by the Bay is part of the nation’s plans to transform its “Garden City” to a “City in a Garden”, with the aim of raising the quality of life by enhancing greenery and flora in the city. One of the main features of the gardens is the Supertree Grove. The Grove is 18 “supertrees” that support an aerial walkway with fantastic views of the surrounding gardens and Marina Bay. While the Supertrees may be man-made structures they are surrounded by exotic ferns, vines, and flowers. At night, the grove comes alive with lights and music.
The Cloud Forest
Cloud Forest is a huge misty biodome which houses countless species of plants from different climate zones. There was a MOUTAIN covered with vegetation inside this biome. I fully admit that I like taking pictures of flowers….even when I can’t identify them. It is a enclosed RAIN FOREST…how perfectly Singaporean! Inside is the largest indoor waterfall (because why not?)…this waterfall is 35-meters high with water cascading over several levels. The accompanying Flower Dome isn’t as massive in height but is slightly more of a footprint. It doesn’t have the cooling mist of the Cloud Forest and instead showcases the plants mild, dry climates around the world.
We have downplayed zoos after our Kenyan and Namibian safaris. After viewing animals in the natural habitat, it was hard to see the animals being captive but we had heard the Singapore Zoo was amazing (and the kids really wanted to go). It is ranked the #1 zoo in Asia and #5 in the world. And it was a great day! The zoo is quite large and it easily takes a full day to absorb. The animals are housed in areas mimicking a “natural” open habitat (although the animals are still in a zoo). The zoo is divided into several zones based on geography. There are approximately 2800 animals from 300 species and some animals we had never seen or heard of before. And we had breakfast with orangatuns! The orangutan colony has a free roaming on an island in the zoo. During our breakfast, the orangutans would swing down from the island to a platform at the side of the restaurant and receive their breakfast (with some education and interaction on the side). The breakfast wasn’t very remarkable, but the company was fantastic! We did watch the Elephants at Work & Play show because we do love elephants and we were able to participate in feeding. It wasn’t the “circus type of show” but more an educational demonstration on the elephants talents and abilities.
The public transport system in Singapore is clean and efficient (and extremely easy to use)! Here are a few of my favorite signs from the metro trains.
Hawker Stand Food
Hawker Food Centers are a collection of several food stalls in one spot. The “mall food court” is just put to shame by these hawker food courts. Some of the best food in Singapore are found in these areas. The stalls form the perimeter and cafeteria like tables are congregated in the middle. The hawker stand in “Crazy Rich Asians”? We ate a place just like that….several times. Here are some menu choices: BBQ stingray, oyster omelette, hokkien mee, fishball noodles, chili crab, satay, heng carrot cake, duck noodle. We were lucky enough find one just a few minutes walk from our second hotel close….in fact we may have eaten lunch and dinner there (on the same day)! We visited a Michelin starred FOOD STALL, Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, at another Hawker Center. The adults did dine upscale one night at Candlenut Restaurant.
Random Thoughts from Singapore
When you have been traveling for months and months, you tend to have more than just a single suitcase. Our last leg (Scotland/London) would tighten our luggage situation. We would be traveling through Scotland in a rental car, which limited our luggage amount. So we had a bag that needed to be sent back to the States. Sendmybag.com was the answer! The bag was delivered to Texas about 72 hours after pick-up from our hotel without any damage and all items intact.
Some of my favourite musings from Singapore. You can find just about any clothing label or high end store on Orchard Street. But then just a couple streets over are a line of shops dating back to the colonial period. Restaurants display ALL kinds of seafood that are available. Part of the fun of exploring new cities, is just wandering and discovering. There are plenty of modern urban buildings in Singapore which are right next to buildings dating to colonial era.