Seda: We are in Singapore, a British colony until about 50 years ago. This is a city-island-nation that is designed to make you Sing-poor!
Every hotel we looked at before leaving Vietnam was extremely expensive. To put this in perspective, even a room at budget hotels came out at over £100 per night. So, to counter act this, we booked our week in one of the cheapest options we could find which still had a central location. This, unfortunately was a capsule hotel. Something neither of us wanted, but it would seem we ended up with.
Andy: The only way we’d get through it was if we reserved a double “chicken shed” as Seda calls it, so at least we’d share the misery!
It turns out the place is clean and modern, but of course the problems arise when you want to use the showers, toilets, mirror, get your breakfast or just having to keep everything you own in a locker outside of your “bedroom”. It’s just a faff that we could do without in our 40s.
In Singapore, there are certain must see places. However if we did all of them and visited every amazing looking gallery, museum and paid for every must-do-in-Singapore activity, we were going to be clearly broke, and heading home rather quickly!
Everywhere you look there are amazing buildings in Singapore. It is architecture heaven because each building seems to try and out-do its neighbour. It seems that a plain skyscraper is not the order of the day here, and the only way to get noticed is for your building to be completely unique and innovative.
It seemed to us that any style and heights were acceptable as long as there is some greenery on it! That greenery though stops a potential concrete city appearance and made it all looking very pretty and pleasant on the eye.
Seda: We’ve became savvy free activity finders. The alternative was sitting in lovely riverside bars and paying £10 for a beer. The first free but enjoyable activity was our walk up to a nearby park. I’m saying “up to” because it seems all the parks here in Singapore are on higher ground and reached by a set of stairs! Slowly burning our breakfast calories, we reached the top and continued walking around and admiring the well kept grounds. Oh and we made a friend along the way as well.
Andy: As we left the park we found ourselves on a university campus, so we made the most of it and got a cheap lunch deal. Of course we fitted right in with these teenage students, and found quite possibly the cheapest lunch place in all of Singapore. In order to reach this campus from the park we had to cross the road. Imagine our surprise when the cars actually stopped at red lights and zebra crossings for the first time in 6 months.
You get a sense of wealth in Singapore everywhere you go. Everyone seems very smartly dressed, and you see some very expensive cars driving around the streets surrounded by multi million dollar buildings. The artwork we noticed all around were absolutely beautiful as well and kept us smiling as we toured around the city.
Probably the most iconic and famous landmark in Singapore is the Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino. It looks like 3 huge curved skyscrapers with a boat dropped on top, but it is seriously cool. Apparently it took 10 years to build at a cost of 8 billion dollars, but for that you also get a huge shopping centre complete with waterfall, convention centre, galleries, exhibition hall and it’s own river running through it where you can go for a boat trip. Apparently it has the worlds longest elevated infinity pool, although we wouldn’t know about that!
Another top attraction is the “Gardens by the Bay”which has the amazing Super Trees with their light show each evening. We continued our budget busting walking tour of Singapore by foregoing the underground and walking the short (ahem!) distance to the park.
Seda: I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful the views in this park were. It’s not only that the park is beautifully decorated with wonderful trees and artwork but also had fantastic views of iconic Marina Bay Sands. Yes, I may have stopped every 20 seconds to take more pictures but we made it to the light show perfectly on time! (Andy: More by luck than judgement!) In fact, we enjoyed this park so much we decided to come back during the daytime for a more extended stay, something we did later in the week. However, by this point our legs were aching so much from the constant walking, it felt like we spent most of our time looking for a bench to sit and rest on. We didn’t see any of the wildlife mentioned on the boards but we did see some funny fish in a cool aquarium.
When we eventually arrived at our planned destination, the kingfisher pond, I did indeed see a kingfisher which made my day! I wasn’t quick enough to photograph it for you but instead I can offer the photos of these ginormous statues from around the lake.
Andy: The light show we watched at the Super Tree Grove was called Garden Rhapsody and it was stunning. There is a huge lawn in the centre of the park where people lie on their backs under the super trees and look up taking in the show. The trees lights pulse and flash in time to the music, and it is such a fantastic show. We absolutely loved it. Free and lovely….tick!
Seda: As well as the light show of the Super Trees, there are daily light and music shows in front of the Marina Bay Sands which could be viewed form both in front of the hotel and from the boat quay side where we stayed. In Andy’s opinion the view was better from the hotel side as they were projecting images spectacularly onto a wall of water. I appreciated the beauty of that too but I was rather impressed with the view from the other side because long laser lights were projected from the hotel onto the bay.
In case you are wondering how many tourist visiting Singapore have smart phones, you could have counted them during the light show that evening. I have never ever seen anything like that! It looked like hundreds of people were watching the show through the lenses on their phones, strange!
Andy: We walked back to boat quay and found a cheaper small bakery on the way. By now we were getting pretty good at sniffing out a good deal, and we’d given up drinking for the week so we may just come out of this week Singa-break-even!
One place we visited a few times was the borough of Little India. It was 2 stops on the underground, but we actually worked out that getting ourselves 2 return tickets and going there for lunch to eat some amazing authentic Indian food was cheaper than walking to a nearby restaurant for lunch! So, we did this about 3 times in total and it brought back some wonderful memories of our 2 months in India. Always washed down with a lovely masala chai of course.
Seda: As you walk through the streets of little India, you could not tell that you were in Singapore. The smell of burning incense sticks, lovely Indian fabric and clothes, food smells coming from restaurants and Indian songs playing in the background. It was virtually a trip to India without the hassle of flying back! We even got our worn clothes repaired by pavement tailors!
Andy: There was also a Chinatown area of Singapore which we visited. There we found lots of market stalls selling pretty much anything you may need, and lots of things you don’t! Of course we found lots of Chinese restaurants and stayed for some lovely noodles.
Our budget busting walking tour of Singapore has also revealed some rather important streets before our eyes…
One thing we didn’t want to miss, although we knew it would cost us some serious dollar was going to Raffles Hotel Long Bar and having a Singapore Sling. It’s kind of the done thing here in Singapore with the famous cocktail having been invented there as far back as 1915. What we didn’t know about the Long Bar was that they put a bag of free monkey nuts on every table. With that comes shells of course, and the floor is completely awash with them. It looks really untidy in my opinion and not the look I’d go for, but I must say, the Singapore Sling was lovely, if a little expensive.
As we were sipping our cocktails and eating a tonne of free nuts I asked Seda if she thought anyone would come here and order anything but a Singapore Sling. Like a beer for example. Right on cue 2 elderly Australian couples sat on the next table to us and ordered 3 beers and 1 Singapore Sling. We just looked at each other and said, “I guess they do!”
When our week in Singapore was up and it was time to leave we did something that we’ve never done before. We actually left for the airport about 10 hours before our flight. Why you might ask? Well, like the rest of Singapore there is apparently lots to see and do at the airport, and it’s constantly voted as one of the best in the world. Inside the huge dome called Jewel there is a cinema, a massive shopping centre – again complete with indoor waterfall – and there’s even a forest valley with walking trails and a maze.
As if we hadn’t had enough sound and light shows, we were treated to another one at the airport. Again images were projected, but this time onto the waterfall itself, along with music and it was such a wonderful experience. We also had our first glass of wine here in 6 months at the highest level of the huge dome overlooking the waterfall. What a great way to say goodbye to our Asian adventure.