I miss Singapore. I genuinely feel like my heart belongs there. Unfortunately my bank balance keeps getting in the way of my true city love!
I love the sights, sounds and smells of Singapore. I even miss the humidity, although not so much the effect it had on my hair – think Monica from Friends! I could have spent most of my days swimming in the pool at the Marina Bay Sands, watching the city change, as the sun rises and sets above it, sipping on cocktails, and fresh coconut water out of the coconut. Perfect.
I visited Singapore for the first time on my way to Borneo. I only spent 4 days in this amazing city but I genuinely do miss it. It made such an impression on me, that I often find myself dreaming of being back there.
I flew with Singapore Airlines and I cannot compliment them enough. I flew economy and I have to say, it was by far the best economy experience I have had. The seats were exceptionally comfortable, the adjustable head rest allowed for me to actually sleep on the plane (something I can rarely do) and the legroom was on the generous side (for economy anyway). The little details like a welcome drink and constant snacks and drinks throughout the flight, made for a more comfortable, long haul experience in cattle class. The staff were very friendly and attentive and the food was pretty edible actually. There was a really good selection of entertainment and I found the 12 hour flight literally flew by.
On arrival in Singapore, you are immediately hit by the humidity. I was grateful to find solace in the air conditioned taxi on our way to our hotel, the Marina Bay Sands. I had read a lot of mixed reviews before going to the Marina Bay Sands, and in someway, I can see why the reviews were so mixed. The hotel is huge and therefore the personal touches have been lost and the staff, although friendly, were not very efficient. I was glad I had read the reviews, because I went there knowing what to expect. I booked the hotel for the pool more than anything else.
The lobby area of the hotel felt very crowded, and more like a tourist destination, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be in one the lower floor rooms facing the lobby area, as it could get very noisy. My room was on a low(ish) floor but faced out across the Gardens by the Bay, which was actually a very nice view. I even had a mini balcony to stand out on. The room was nice and clean but again, not amazing. I think you pretty much go to this hotel to use it’s pool, and that is really what you pay so much for. The hotel is very expensive, and you can stay in Singapore for a lot cheaper, but I do have to say, for a one off experience, it is worth paying the price if you can afford it, as the pool is incredible, and the view, just wow.
I explored some of Singapore in the day, but the temperature and humidity was astonishing. The amount of sweat you produced after only a few minutes outside was ridiculous! I wandered around China town, which was pretty fascinating, taking in all the stalls, shops and temples. My favourite temple in China town was the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. The intricate artwork on the ceilings and walls, and numerous gold Buddha’s, was mesmerising. Trengganu Street is particularly exciting at night, when the market really comes to life.
Near to China town is Temple Street where the Sri Mariamman temple is located. The artwork, carvings and vibrant colours of this temple are incredible. It is covered in six tiers of colourful sculptures of the Hindu deities, as well as other ornamental decoration. The detail of each individual sculpture and carving is incredible. You could find yourself staring at the detail for hours, and constantly spot something new. It is Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple and is definitely worth a visit.
As a note, please wear something which covers your shoulders, arms and legs when visiting the temples as a sign of respect. Many of the temples offer robes or sarongs to cover you if necessary, but they do appreciate it if you come prepared. You may not agree with their beliefs but it is important to them and you are entering their sacred areas. They are very thankful if you show your respect and they do want you to visit and experience their beliefs and culture.
Little India is also worth a visit, it is almost as if you have set foot into a different city. The traffic changes, the smells remind you of a really good curry, and the shops are full of amazing Indian gifts and souvenirs. There are also some beautifully decorated temples located here, which are worth a visit. I found it really interesting learning about the different deities and how and why they are worshiped based on your situation. I felt uncomfortable taking pictures in the temples though because they felt very sacred to those praying inside, but sometimes the experience and images you have in your memory are more than enough. I feel like sometimes you can get carried away seeing life pass through the lens of a camera, rather than actually living the moment.
After long days of meandering through the streets of Singapore, I would retreat back to the hotel and take in the views across the skyline, as the sun sets, from the roof top infinity pool. The view from here is just incredible. It is not the best pool for swimming, unless you get there early morning or late at night, but the view is breathtaking. Watching the city light up below you, and the stars shining above, is priceless. This is probably the best pool I have ever been in, and I hope to return to take in the view from the pool once more.
I visited Clarke Quay one evening and went to Jumbo Seafood (it is worth booking in advance as it gets very busy). I had the chili crab with a side of dumplings and rice, and it was incredible. So delicious. The crab was succulent and the sauce was just the right amount of spice, but it was incredibly messy. No wonder they give everyone a bib when you order this. I started the evening all glamed up and by the end, my once white bib was orange, my hair had grown in size thanks to the humidity, my make up was far from fresh and my hands were covered in chili sauce. I was quite the picture by the end of the meal but oh my goodness, it was amazing. The best bit was dipping the dumplings into the left over sauce – yum. I highly recommend a trip here if you are after some good food whilst in Singapore.
There are numerous bars and restaurants around the Clarke Quay area but they don’t really give you the ‘local’ experience, however, there is a hooters if you require a beer/football fix! It is nice to wander around this area at night, as it has a good atmosphere, and is a great place to go and meet people if you are travelling alone.
A visit to Singapore would be incomplete without drinking a Singapore Sling in the world famous Long Bar, in Raffles. It is just something you feel like you must do if you come here. I will warn you though, you can get a much nicer Singapore Sling elsewhere, and the costs of one drink in Long Bar is rather extortionate, but, for the experience, and to say you have done it, it is still a must do. I went around 6pm and it was packed. I was lucky to find a table, and my heels crunched along the peanut shells littering the floor, as I made my way to my seat. You literally cannot see the floor for peanut shells (another warning, it is a death trap if you have a peanut allergy – there is no escaping them!). Unfortunately, the cocktails here are now pre-made and therefore, they are not the tastiest of Singapore Slings. I only stayed for one drink, just for the experience, but if you are after somewhere to go for drinks one evening, this is not the place. Apparently, if you arrive when the bar is less busy, you can ask for a freshly made one, which is supposed to be much better, so it is worth asking if it is quiet when you visit.
On a side note about raffles, their tea is possibly the best tea I have ever drunk, ever. Their special blend is my favourite, it is expensive at around 30 Singapore dollars for a small box of tea bags, but it is worth every penny (or cent as I should say). It is distributed by Clipper and a friend of mine has actually written to them asking if it they can make it available in the UK but unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it will be. Clearly another trip to Singapore is needed, if just for the tea!
On my last night in Singapore, I went to Gardens by the Bay as there is a bar/restaurant on top of one of the large Supertrees. I didn’t dine in the restaurant at Indochine but it did look rather inviting. Instead I continued up to the bar in the treetop itself. The view looking back over Singapore and the Marina Bay Sands were incredible. You pay 40 Singapore dollars (this was the price at the time, it may have changed) to access the bar and this includes a free drink. I had some amazing cocktails whilst gazing across at the view. I genuinely did not want to leave this little space of heaven. I also had some of their sushi/tempura platters which were really enjoyable to snack on. I met so many people on top of the tree and we talked about our travel experiences, where we had been, and where we were going to next, whilst sipping our drinks.
I love moments like this when travelling, when you meet complete strangers and spend the day or night exploring whatever city or country you are in, and then as quickly as they came into you life, they vanish from it, as you both move on to your next destinations. You can become incredibly close to these strangers when travelling, everything becomes sort of amplified in the travel bubble, but you know the encounter is only fleeting, and it is likely that you wont cross paths with them again, but you will share that moment, in that country or city or wherever you are.
Needless to say, I was extremely sad when my time in Singapore came to an end. I was excited to be going onto my next adventure, but I do feel like Singapore stole a piece of my heart, and I hope I will have the opportunity to visit this amazing city again.