I love the way everyone in Singapore calls me “Miss Morris”. They pronounce it in the sweetest way, “Mo-reece”.
I also love the way that the Singaporeans are so passionate about shopping. It’s like it’s in their blood. If you’re not backpacking like I am and have to stick within the confines of airline baggage restrictions, then this is your haven. It has all the main shops you get in Europe, and some. Head straight for Orchard Road.
I love the way Singapore is a melting pot of cultures – British, Chinese, Malay, Indian, Thai… the list goes on. It makes for a fascinating and vibrant country, filled with surprising pockets of people, their homes and best of all, their foods to explore.
A stopover in Singapore is well worth it – if not for the fact that you’ll have the chance to recuperate and recharge, but also because it’s unlike any other place you’ll find in the world.
It’s definitely the most “Westernised” country in South-East Asia, but it’s also the smallest. Something like 45kms by 25kms, some 5 million people inhabit it.
I was surprised to hear that with the population this high and with government ambitions for it to grow even more (with no natural resources of their own, their greatest resource is it’s people, and they invest heavily in education for this reason), in order to own a car in Singapore, you must apply for a certificate to keep numbers down. This certificate will set you back a hefty sum – more than the cost of the car itself. Add the purchase of the vehicle on top and I’m told the average Singaporean will invest around $100k on owning a basic Toyota sedan. But don’t let this fool you. There were still plenty of cars on the road and there is still traffic. It took me an hour and a half to travel 20kms (virtually one end of the city/country to another) one evening.
While in Singapore, I took the liberty of indulging in a very touristic activity (slightly hard to avoid this type of thing here). I booked myself on a Night Safari. It would be great if you have kids… it was really pitched at giving you an experience of South East Asian jungle animals and in the dark, this can be quite exhilarating for the littlies. But being the occasional big kid that I am, I enjoyed it too.
In a moonlit setting, you travel through Asia’s rainforests in a safari truck, and if you’re lucky, the animals will approach the vehicle as it stops. The opportunity to get up close and personal with the most amazing animals is impressive. But don’t worry, the dangerous ones are separated by a moat, so although they seem close, they’re far enough away. The Asian Elephants and the Malayan Tiger were beautiful. And I had never seen anything quite like the Tapir… it’s adorable. It’s just a shame my photos wouldn’t turn out for me to share with you (as an aside – some of my best photos are currently unaccessible. For some reason since I have left New Zealand, technology doesn’t want to play ball. As well as me not being able to roam with my phone, I cannot seem to upload any pictures from my point and shoot camera, the one I have more often than not been transporting with me on my voyages of discovery. Thus, for the next few posts I may have to rely on the not-so-trusty iphone cam… and my very-cool-but-very heavy-and-not-so-discreet-DSLR… hope to get this sorted soon!).
If you travel Singapore Airlines, you can get a Singapore Stopover deal. This gives you cheaper accommodation, as well as free admission to various sights and museums, not to mention the Singapore Air Hop-On bus, which meanders its way through the city, stopping off at various places of interest. But one tip – don’t rely on this if you’re pressed for time. When I say, “meander”, I mean it.
My highlight in Singapore? Without a doubt it was a trip up to the top of Marina Bay Sands. Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort in, funnily enough, Marina Bay. It is billed as the world’s most expensive standalone casino property at S$8 billion. It’s an impressive structure, three high-rise resort buildings are connected by one boat-shaped building at the top. Guests get access to all facilities but for a princely fee ($20 approx) anyone can visit the top… trust me, the views are worth it.
Alternatively, you can approach the hotel concierge as I did and inform them you wish to visit the bar for a cocktail and you will get free access. And perhaps even a nice compliment. The doorman asked whether I was alone and whether he could join me – oh la la! In my opinion the $20 is definitely better spent on sipping a Blushing Baby atop one of Asia’s most impressive landmarks – even if alone.
In my opinion, two days in Singapore was plenty. I liked it but if I’m entirely honest, it wasn’t quite “different” enough for me. It was hot, around 33 degrees most days, so I snuck in a swim or two at my hotel and still felt I saw what I really wanted to. I’m sure there’s loads more to discover but I feel satisfied.