My week in Singapore gradually shrunk and shrunk until it became just one night. This turned out to be good, not only because it gave me an excuse to use the Singapore money I already withdraw and splurge on a hotel for the night but also because Singapore is, simply, really expensive. The aim is always to travel like a local. Here, this means dining in nice places, getting up early and having the Singapore Sling cocktail (okay, maybe that’s a tourist thing but still).
It was also off to a good start when I arrived at the hotel at 6am on the distinct hope that they would at the very least look after my bags before check in. Unwashed and lacking freshly cleaned teeth, I thought I may also be able to use their bathroom. Boy, did they go above my expectations! The manager was completely sympathetic to my situation and got the cleaner to get a shower ready immediately. I got washed, did my teeth and had somewhere to store my bags. Brilliant!
With this I joyfully started my explorations. Starting with the shopping centre by the bay.
Wow. This is the arts building, shaped similar to a lotus. I just love this photo, regardless of the fact the place was closed at such an early time and I never actually went in it!
Next stop was the gardens. On route I saw some most lovely advertising. It was for an inter-race, inter-faith harmony party. This is what I’ve had on my mind all throughout South East Asia: how to allow different faiths to really integrate without pushing their beliefs on anyone else (the intention is always good: “if you don’t believe you’ll go to hell and I don’t want you to go to hell” but the effect is often bad: making people more divided and polarised than they need, or should, be).
When I finally arrive at the gardens I find a massive green space in Singapore that is free to roam around. It really is massive and a definite must see. With different types of gardens inspired by cultures around the world it also becomes an educational walk without you even realising.
Amongst the gardens is this:
Wow. These tree inspired monuments are impressive, surreal and futuristic all at once. I had a walk around the platform (here you have to pay) before heading inside the two dome attractions (again, paid).
The first dome was all about plants, which although lovely to walk around isn’t something that really piqued my interest. The adorably pretentious café inside however, did.
Feeling like a real English gentleman and my spirits high I headed to the second dome without many expectations so I couldn’t be disappointed.
I was not disappointed. I was, in actual fact, thoroughly impressed. The dome encompassed a five tier tree like structure with additional waterfall. It’s made in an entirely sustainable way and provides educational opportunities to learn about the world, greenhouse gases and their effects.
In 50 years our world could be 5’c hotter if we don’t do anything to change our ways. The effect 5’c will have on all forms of life (ours included) is dramatic.
To finish off my garden visit I headed to the enclosed restaurant and, trying not to continually flush myself of all my money, I ordered the very civilised set-meal of soft boiled eggs, steamed bread and tea.
Yum! After a brief nap back at the hotel, my Aunt and Uncle message me to inform me about the Ruffles Hotel which lead me to the Singapore Sling. A (I hadn’t heard of it) famous cocktail invented by one of the bartenders. It has gin in it so that’s a good enough excuse as any.
On the way there, feeling pretty well to-do heading to this fancy hotel I cross paths with someone asking for directions. I’m in full stride and on my passing I hear the other person say they haven’t got a clue. As I swiftly pass, I announce in a pompous way: “I’m heading there myself for a cocktail if you’d like to join”. The friendly lady takes the invitation to be shown the way and accompanies me.
It’s at this point I realise that I’m not entirely sure where it is. Deciding to keep the confidence high, like an English peacock, I muster up a strong “this way” and cross the road. As we venture down the road it becomes evident that the hotel is actually on the side of the street we just came from. Unsure of what to do, whether to fess up on my ignorance or ignorantly claim that I prefer approaching from this side of the street.
I fess up.
We’re getting on well and she informs me she is meeting another lady who she met on the plane. She invited me to join and I sheepishly decline. She insists that I wouldn’t be interrupting and I pleasantly accept. After spending £20 or so on a Singapore Sling cocktail I am somewhat upset to discover I’m not actually sitting in the famous “long bar” but rather just a simple court yard.
Thankfully, I’m allowed to take my drink and, having met her new friend, the three of us head to the Long Bar. We all are getting on well, the conversation flows and we decide that we should all go to the gardens for the light show and the harmony party if we can make it in time.
We stop off at some “street food”. It’s professionally done, more like the gourmet vans you get in the UK as opposed to the “street food” of South East Asia. I assume it’s dressed up like that to make tourists feel like they are safely dipping their toes into proper street food. Either way, it’s nice to have a slightly more western meal after weeks of mainly rice for a change.
We watch the light show from a distance and the lady from the plane departs as she’s here on business and wants to get back to rest. This leaves myself and the teacher that I met to go exploring a bit longer before she’s meeting another friend for cocktails.
The light show on the water is impressive. There’s water fountains spraying up and then there’s projectors in the water lighting them up with moving images. The effect is quite something!
After that we part ways and I spend the night in luxury in my comfy hotel bed following the first bath I’ve had for weeks. Mmmmmmm.
The next day I find out that the hotel has already charged my card which I used for the deposit as opposed to letting me pay in cash which I had assumed. With a few hours left I now have hundreds of Singapore Dollars to either spend or convert into my next currency.
I spend it.
One of the nicest meals I’ve had. Every course had a recommended wine to go with it and then, as you can see, I had a plate of cheeses also. I left being so bloated and so satisfied that I didn’t feel like I’d need to eat a thing for the rest of the day.
When I finally wobbled my way into the airport I was comforted to find they also had a butterfly enclosure. It also happened to be right outside the lounge where I continued the feeling of the luxury lifestyle the locals afford themselves.
For two days Singapore turned out to be a complete money drainer but totally awesome none the less.