Singapore is a country whose main aim is to impress. From food to architecture, Singapore has it all – a huge array of different cultural delights including Little India and Chinatown, the Gardens by the Bay with it’s huge sci-fi ‘supertrees’, and Marina Bay Sands, a top-end shopping mall with a river inside which you can get a ride up and down by boat (and ending in a stunning water display).
We have been to Singapore twice now, as it’s a great place to visit whilst arranging Indonesian visas!
Both times we have been fortunate enough to be greeted at the airport, which after 9 months of travelling is quite a treat. On our first visit we were met by Zaf and Ayden, to Singaporeans we met in Vietnam. They took us to one of their favourite Indian restaurants in Little India, and to a food market which had sprung up ready for the Ramadan celebrations. The food was amazing – such a variety, and the atmosphere especially at the food market was brilliant. So many people of different cultural backgrounds, enjoying quite a mix of foods, from Chinese, Indian and American.
On our second trip here we were greeted by one of our fellow Tasikoki volunteers, who was starting her long journey home to Ireland. We had dinner at the airport, and an emotional goodbye! Rachel was a pleasure to work with and we will definitely be keeping in touch.
During our visits to Singapore, except for eating amazing food, we have explored the city and all it has to offer. The Botanical Gardens were a green peaceful haven in amongst the sprawling city. We spent a few hours walking through the colonial gardens.
We also visited a very different type of garden – Gardens by the Bay. These futuristic gardens are pretty awesome to view. There are also huge domed conservatories that you can enter with rainforests inside. The huge ‘trees’ make for an incredible skyline.
Singapore is full of crazy rich people. The evidence of this affluent country can be seen all around you – the shopping malls full of Versace and Louis Vuitton, the Ferraris, the sky scrapers full of stressed out bankers, the hotel in the shape of a boat with an infinite pool for the top floor. It’s pretty amazing, however the gap between rich and poor is a very obvious one. The country is also ridiculously expensive, and many cannot keep up with the countries financial demands.
One evening we met up with a friend from Andover who was in Singapore visiting family – this is the first contact from home we have had so it was quite exciting!
We went for a Chinese in Chinatown, then headed to Marina Bay to watch the light show which is shown every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was quite clever – using water to display pictures beamed on by light, however it was pretty cheesey and reminded me of Eurovision. Lots of ‘happy’ music with pictures of children laughing and giggling. But hey, it was free so I’m not complaining!!!
Finally, you cannot visit Singapore without going to the ‘best zoo in the world’. Singapore’s zoo honestly lives up to this claim – the zoo is basically built within a forest. The natural habitat of many of these species is all around us, and the enclosures incorporated many natural elements. Many of the primate enclosures didn’t have the need for fences, as they were on islands. The water behaved as a natural barrier. They also had so much space to climb, which was wonderful to see. Even a young group of orangutans had ‘free reign’ over part of the canopy. An incredibly well thought out and designed zoo, and most definitely the best zoo we have ever visited.
Singapore is a country of which we have only scratched the surface. There is so much to see and do here (for a price of course), and the wealthy side of the country is fascinating. The streets are spotlessly clean, the underground trains immaculate, and with one of the lowest crime rates in the world, a very safe city to visit. However we feel it does have quite a ‘clinical’ feel to it at times, and you can’t beat a bit of history and old architecture like London.