Singapore, you surprised me !

14.02. – 17.02.2016

Before my stay in Singapore, I had some typical prejudices about this city-state: no culture, artificial city, no vibes, too clean, too smooth and boring.
But only in 2 days I discovered an interesting city which has quite a lot to offer. OK yes, it’s expensive but you normally don’t stay for an eternity because Singapore is a perfect transportation hub for South-East-Asia as flights go to everywhere from here so it’s a city for a short stay.

So we arrived in the evening at around 8:30 pm. We took the bus in Melaka at 2:30 pm so the time was quite long. But the reason for that is simple: Get 30 people out of the bus at the Malaysian border to get the departure stamp in the passport, get all the people back into the bus as to drop them 10 min later at the immigration for Singapore again as to get the Singaporean entry stamp. As I was always wondering how this immigration administration is done by travelling over land – now I know it. I was lucky to be not alone, I would have been afraid that I would have not found our bus again as they dropped us off at a door and moved to a parking place. And of course there were many other busses too. As we came finally back to our bus we just put all our stuff back , the bus driver observing us. When we just finished he said that we have to change the bus. Are you kidding me ? Whatever.

So the bus dropped us off at the final destination and from here we had to walk for around 30 minutes to our hostel which was close to Little India.
When w e arrived we just put our bags into our room and went outside to eat something. Once again, Indian food saved my life. We had Masala Dosai, a pancake with some sauces and I had another Prata filled with onion and mushroom. After I bought some oats, fruits and soymilk for breakfast (sorry, toast and jam is definitely not a real breakfast, so even if it’s for free, I don’t go for that shit). I was quite happy that our hostel had a well equipped kitchen.

The next morning Daniel and me started our tour through the city. We walked from our hostel to Marina bay and around the Esplanade. It’s really impressive.
In Singapore, they have the Singapore Flyer is a giant wheel with an overall height of 165 metres and which is the second highest wheel of the world. Skyscrapers, shopping malls, former colonial buildings form the cityscape.

As a pedestrian it is very comfortable to walk through Singapore – not as in the other south-east-Asian cities like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Jakarta. Traffic lights are working and drivers are more respectful. So we walked our way through the city. We made a stop at the Raffles Hotel, the famous place where they invented the cocktail Singapore Sling and which is a five star rated luxury hotel with a  classic colonial architecture which has been perfectly preserved and which provides a stark but lively contrast against its modern-skyscraper neighbours.
We strolled through Chinatown (which is not really Chinese anymore but rather for tourists), among the skyscrapers and green areas. As Singapore is rather pricy as the other countries around, it’s recommended to eat on hawker stalls, food courts or in shopping malls. We luckily found a food court with a large choice of different types of food and even a vegetarian one . So I was in tofu-heaven 😉

After lunch we went to the Gardens by the Bay, a huge park behind the Marina by the Bay building.

About the Gardens by the bay:
Gardens by the Bay brings to life the National Parks Board Singapore’s vision of creating a City in a Garden. The Gardens captures the essence of Singapore as the premier tropical Garden City with the perfect environment in which to live and work – making Singapore a leading global city of the 21st century.
In January 2006, an international master plan design competition was launched to seek world-class design ideas for Gardens by the Bay. It drew more than 70 entries submitted by 170 firms, from over 24 countries, including 35 from Singapore.
An 11-member Jury comprising local and international experts shortlisted eight teams and two winners were announced in September 2006; namely Grant Associates for Bay South and Gustafson Porter for Bay East, both from the UK. A decision was made to develop Bay Central later.
A public exhibition of the master plan concepts and models of the winning teams was held in September 2006 at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Over 10,000 people visited the exhibition and over 700 gave their feedback. An overwhelming majority 85% of those surveyed liked the features in the master plans and over 97% said they would visit the gardens.
Gardens by the Bay broke ground in November 2007, signalling the commencement of the Gardens’ development. Subsequently, development of Bay East Garden also commenced. It was developed as an interim garden to be used as a staging site for some of the rowing and canoeing events of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in August 2010. Following the YOG, Bay East underwent reinstatement works and was open to the public in October 2011.
A special preview of Flower Dome was held in November 2011 in conjunction with the World Orchid Conference (WOC). Some 300,000 members of the public visited both WOC and Bay South Garden.

In the Gardens are two large domes – the Flower dome and the Forest dome. I’m always thinking about for what I spend my money over here , I didn’t take part in any tour in Malaysia or spent money for an attraction but the domes were definitely worth it. The flower dome houses a large variety of different kind of flowers from different regions. The forest dome houses a large variety of trees, tropical plants and has a waterfall. On canopy walks you can walk around in the heights, have a view on the trees and get a little jungle feeling.

After that it was around 5:00 pm and we headed back to the hostel. Our plan for the evening was to go upstairs on the Rooftop bar Cé la vie on Marina Bay.
If you like to have a view over the city from Marina bay you can either choose if you want to spend 23 $ just to get on the visitors platform or to get at the 57th level to the bar and get a drink.
I think it’s quite clear that having a drink at the bar is far a better deal 🙂

Of course we dressed up as the dress code is chic and casual. The view is really stunning. So we had a Singapore Sling (what else). I think this was the most expensive cocktail I ever had in my life: 29 $. But well, you only live once. And it was definitely delicious.

We enjoyed the view and our drink and of course we took a lot of pictures. So we asked a guy to take a picture from us. It turned out that Jamel was French and originally from Paris but living in Switzerland. So we started talking for ages and of course I did not refuse the invitation for another Singapore Sling 😀
As Jamel was in a guest house close to my hostel we went back by the tube to Little India and had  dinner together. Unfortunately we missed us the day after to do some sightseeing together.

Jamel it was really nice to meet you, I hope we keep in touch. All the best for your projects in Switzerland and as I said: You always meet twice in life.

Oh and I want to mention that Daniel and me walked around 34 km this day !!!! He used his step tracker so we could see the result. Crazy. Well walking is my daily exercise since I travel. And I walk really a lot.

The other day we went to discover the Botanic garden and the Orchid garden which are really nice to visit. I never saw so many different kinds of orchids in one place.

After that we went back to the centre as we wanted to have a look on Sentosa Island. WE walked the way to the island and well – that was definitely a waste of time. Sentosa Isand is only a huge Disneyland on an island, a huge attractive and fun park.

So we took the tube to Little India and checked out the famous shopping centre Mustapha Centre, a huge shopping centre where you can find everything from food, jewellery, clothes, cosmetics, perfumes and so on. And it’s so large and complex that Daniel and me lost each other.
I finally found some native coconut oil, bought some Kaya – a Singaporean bread spread made of coconut milk, eggs and sugar, the Kaya toast is even a speciality for breakfast and when you look up at google it will give you the top 5 places where to eat the best kaya toast – and then went back to the hostel. And met Daniel here again.

Later we left to see the sunset at Marina bay and the light shows.
The skyline looks really impressive and beautiful in the evening sky with all the lights. At 8:00 pm there was a light, laser and water show with animations, it was a  bit kitsch but still very nice to see.
When the light shows finished, we went to see Gardens by the bay by night. The so called Supertrees were glowing in colorful lights in the dark and the setting was beautiful.

Later we went back to grab some Indian food again wend then back to the hostel.
I only had 2 days in Singapore, a third one would have been good to see and explore even more and not only the must-see tourist spots. The city has much to offer and is simply interesting to stroll around. Here as well there is a multicultural mix whereas 74% of the population are Chinese and the rest are Indians, Malaysians and other groups.
Oh and of course Singapore is home to many expats from all around the world.
I was positively surprised by Singapore: The city is clean and tidy, even if it is a huge city, I had the impression the city and its people are quite relaxed and laid back. Of course there are a lot of prohibitions but I think they are not too tough to live with.
Singapore also is committed to environmental protection and sustainable  development. I was surprised when I saw recycling bags for the different types of rubbish in public places. When I left Paris I said that I would never ever live in an metropolitan area but well, Singapore could be a place to….. oh well let‘ see.
I think I come back, at least for a visa run for Indonesia 😉

I highly recommend my hostel: @ The Little Red Dot
Its one of the cheaper options, it’s very clean and tidy, the blankets are freshly washed and the aircon is working. Breakfast is include and you have high-speed wifi (the best one I had so far)
The have a kitchen even with a cooking facility and even female dorms. Price: 11 € / night

@ The Little Red Dot
125 Lavender Street, Singapore
Contact No. 6294 7098