Singapore is full of architectural wonders. Each building seems to want to outdo the other in terms of structural and artistic creativity. It is an amazing place. It is also a place that I need to remind myself is a long way from home. English is widely used despite the proliferation of cultures, so it is easy to think that we did not just travel 24 hours, lose Wednesday completely, and a crazy time change. Just kidding we are well aware of that!
Despite the time change, we are not suffering from that much jet lag. We arrived in Singapore 5:15AM Thursday (today still for most of you, yesterday for us). The mass rapid transit (MRT) is very efficient and easy to use. We wandered around the airport a little because it is purported to be the best airport in the world (will check it out more later today as we head to Vietnam). We easily took the MRT to Bugis Station in Little India where our hotel is located. The buildings are very colorful and decorated in a way that reminds me of the balconies of New Orleans.
We got turned around, mainly because we were reading the map wrong (shame on this geography teacher). Being lost gave us a chance to look at more of the neighborhood. One thing I noticed and have read is that the businesses do not really open until 10AM or after. It was interesting to see people setting up their business while we wandered around at about 8AM. We did go eat breakfast at a hawker stall. Essentially, it is a big food court where the government actually regulates the quality of the “street food”. According to Anthony Bourdain, whom we watched some of in preparation for this trip, find the longest line and stand in it because the locals know best. We had noodles bathed in a sweet chili sauce for $2.00. Noodles for breakfast, my kind of place.
When we finally got to the hotel around 10AM they let us check in early. I wanted to leave our bags and come back to check in at 2PM, but I was not about to pass up the chance at a shower and a 30 minute jet lag power nap. So, around noon we both ready to tackle more of the city.
First, D decided that we should sample some of the Southern Indian cuisine. Southern Indian food is harder to come by in Seattle most Indian restaurants serve Northern Indian/Pakistani cuisine, and the travel book had a recommendation that was very close to the hotel. It was called, Banana Leaf Apolo and they are known for their fish head curry. So, what did we do? Ordered it! D even tried the fish eye because well why not?
After lunch we set off for the Bay. Along the way we stumbled across Fort Canning Park. When the British were here they established a Fort that looked out over the Bay. Ironically, with all the varied architectural wonders you cannot really see the bay from the hill, but it was a pretty park.
From there you can see Marina Bay Sands and Skypark, which is something we wanted to check out, so we continued walking. We probably should have taken the MRT, but it is all very walkable if you can handle the permanent sauna like atmosphere. I am normally not a fan of air conditioning, but in a climate like this (we are only a few degrees north of the equator) I see why people rely on it.
Along the way we discovered that Starbucks 100th store was put in Singapore. Interesting, but not picture worthy… I mean we are from Seattle, so who needs a picture of another Starbucks?
Along the Bay is a popular tourist site called the Merlion. Apparently it is an important symbol that ties in the founding of Singapore (sighting of a lion along it’s shores) and it’ humble fishing village beginnings. The half lion half mermaid statue sits at the Bay guarding the entrance to the Singapore river. It appeared that the touristy thing to do was to take a picture so it appears that the Merlion is putting water in your mouth. After laughing at them for awhile we joined in the crazy tourism picture craze.
Marina Bay Sands and Skypark is no joke. Something out of Las Vegas complete with celebrity chef restaurants from Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck, Gordon Ramsay, etc… Any name brand you can think of, casino, and hotel. In other words; Expensive. We originally wanted to go to the top and have a drink at the bar, but with a $50 price tag for just the elevator ride, we decided to spend that money on a Singapore river cruise instead. Before we walked back we discovered Marina Bay City Park, a beautiful park.
Then we wandered over the double helix pedestrian bridge that is modeled after DNA and made our way to the Singapore River Cruises. D said all of the travel research he read said to wait until evening to go on these cruises. Glad we waited. Singapore’s architectural splendor lights up in a magnificent way at night. The Skypark puts on a
laser show at night and almost all of the buildings has some kind of lighting feature to it. The Singapore River connects to the Bay, which connects to the South China Sea.
We have to check out of our hotel soon and are headed to Vietnam this evening, so stay tuned for the end of our Singapore adventure and beginnings of our week+ in Vietnam.
Sayonara for now… D&M