Before I set off on my long weekend to Singapore I asked a few people what it was like. The general gist of the comments were:
“It’s very clean”
“It’s very orderly”
…and so forth. And while the above are definitely true, this also tends to imply that the city state is somewhat sterile and boring. Sure they are quite strict, to the point when chewing gum is illegal, but this is a great city to visit, with a lot to see, all packed into a small island.
To be honest, most people tend to spend 3-4 nights here and that is probably enough to see the main sights.
Well I booked myself a pick up and drop off through the hotel, the flight landed on time and I cruised through customs etc expecting to see my name on a board. Nothing. I waited around for 15 minutes, nothing. Welcome to Singapore I thought! Fortunately this wasn’t a sign of things to come and I know somebody who lives in Singapore, so a quick phone call and I was whisked away to The Park Hotel, in Little India. As it was fairly late I decided not to venture too far for my evening meal and ate a fantastic chicken biryani in an Indian family restaurant.
The next morning I decided, despite the searing heat, that I was going to walk around the main commercial district of Orchard Road. I am generally pretty good at coping with the heat, just remembering to keep hydrated is key. My hotel wasn’t too far away so of I went. Orchard Road is certainly a shopper’s paradise, lined as it is with shops and malls. There are also many embassies and office buildings along this road but nothing really that caught my eye. So I ventured off the main drag into Fort Canning Park.
This was an important base during the war and contains a museum which has been converted from an underground bunker (the park is essentially on a big hill). This was very interesting, and the shade offered by the trees in the park was welcome, so I sat down for half an hour, and also took some photos of the city skyline, this is a great spot to do that. You can also get some nice contrasting shots of the greenery in the foreground with skyscrapers in the background.
I carried on down towards the quayside area and of course into the Raffles Hotel. Very clichéd though it is, when in Singapore you have to try a Singapore Sling at the Raffles. Having planned this in advance, I was dressed accordingly, definitely no shorts and t-shirt allowed in here! It was, of course, very expensive but worth it for the experience.
Quite close by the hotel I noticed a game of cricket was underway at some kind of expats club. So I popped over and in the process doubled the attendance! This was a very enjoyable way (for an Englishman) to pass an hour or two but probably not something that everyone would do!
From here I carried on round to the waterfront area to take pictures of the famous Merlion fountain/statue. Again you can get some great photos here, out to sea, looking back on the Singapore skyline and with the iconic “hedgehog” theatre buildings.
Before I knew it, it was 4pm so I decided to catch one of the London style buses back up to the hotel, but got off a few stops before in the Muslim quarter. I had planned to visit a Mosque, however having failed to check visiting times, it was closed when I got there! So I just took a gentle stroll back to the hotel for a shower and an hours chill out (you need it in this heat!).
For dinner, my Singaporean friends took me to a great outdoor food court, where you can choose essentially any dish you desire from the dozens of stalls. I had a fantastic chicken ramen soup which will live long in the memory.
I was very sad to leave Singapore, small though it is I felt that I’d barely scratched the surface and would love to return one day. For many people, a few days in Singapore seems to be enough, and it is enough to tour the main tourist sights. But if you enjoy submerging yourself more in a place, discovering different quarters etc then you could happily spend a few days more in Singapore. I know I could!
South East Asia photos on my website, www.matthewt.co.uk
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