Day 41-44: Singapore

After our boat trip through the jungles of Borneo, our next destination was Singapore. Singapore is where my father grew up and where my grandfather had a business. I’ve never been to the port city but heard a lot about it from my dad.

My father was eight years old when the Japanese invaded Singapore in 1942. He, his three younger brothers and my grandmother had to flee the city and get on a ship to Indonesia. My grandfather was supposed to come too, but never made it on the ship. They could only assume he was one of the many thousands of civilians and soldiers (British, Indian and Australian) who were killed or became prisoners of war. They never did find out what happened to him.

The view from the plane leaving Borneo. We had to fly to Jakarta first and stay overnight at an Airport hotel before catching our early morning flight to Singapore.
The brilliant sunset from the roof of our hotel in Jakarta.

Orchard Road, Singapore

Orchard Road in Singapore is a very high end shopping area. All the fashion houses of the world have stores here. I like looking through the pages of Vogue magazine, as I consider fashion an art form, but to actually fork out the gazillions of dollars to buy from one of these high-end labels is beyond my comprehension.

Needless to say we didn’t go into any of these stores. But we did eat at the food courts. Each shopping mall has a food court and this is the most budget-friendly way to eat in Singapore. You can get a lovely laksa or ramen or whatever for about AU$5-7. So even though accommodation in Singapore is expensive for SE Asia, the good, cheap food made up for it.

Little India

Singapore’s Little India is a vibrant neighbourhood and it was easy to get there by MRT. After walking around, Elina said to me, “well, we don’t have to visit India anymore.”

Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu Temple

This temple in Little India is dedicated to the goddess Kali and was built in 1881. It is built in the style of South Indian Tamil temples.

We couldn’t go inside the temple because it had closed for the day and would reopen again for the evening at 4pm.
There were many shops selling flower offerings. They all smelled of jasmine.
A mosque located in Little India.

Juice machine

While we were wandering around in the heat and humidity, there were machines offering freshly squeezed orange juice for $2. We got juice like this a couple of times, though one was quite tart as no sugar is added at all.

“Juicing, please wait…”

Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam

Yep, we’re going the right way.

According to the Singapore Tourism website, the mosque was built in 1824 for Sultan Hussein Shah, the first sultan of Singapore.

The impressive interior.
How beautiful is this Koran?

Kampong Glam

Kampong Glam is the Muslim area, but weirdly a number of narrow streets house cafes, restaurants and late-night bars. As you can see in the photo below, one of these streets is straight off from Sultan Mosque.

Selfie time in Kampong Glam in front of some of the great street art.
We ate at Singapore Zam Zam for lunch. The restaurant has been serving Indian-Muslim food since 1908.

Old and new

Old and new Singapore in one image.
This building reminds me of the art deco Marine Building in Vancouver.
A lot of the old fashioned food areas now protected overhead.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel

The Marina Bay Sands is a landmark in Singapore. It’s owned by Sands Las Vegas and has 2,560 rooms. At the top of the three towers is the Ce La Vi rooftop bar and the oft-photographed infinity pool.

This is the mall that connects the three towers. There are several restaurants and bars in the mall lobby.
OMG! The aliens have landed!

We decided to pay the $22 each (children are free) to visit the Ce La Vi rooftop bar. Paying the entrance fee also gets you a voucher to spend at the bar. The other alternative is to pay the same price to go to the Observation Deck, but this option doesn’t get you drinks, just access to the deck. So the $44 voucher, plus another $20, got us a cocktail, a beer, and a juice sipped out of a young coconut. Here’s the view from the top.

You can just see the infinity pool, which we weren’t allowed to access as it’s for hotel guests only.
The busy Port of Singapore.
How densely populated is Singapore?! It was jaw-dropping.
You can walk towards Gardens by the Bay from Marina Sands.
The view from the bridge from Marina Sands to Gardens by the Bay.
The vast mall attached to Marina Sands. It was really crowded on Saturday night.
You could rent a boat to go around the waterways on the ground floor of the mall.


We visited Chinatown during the day and evening. It was lovely to see the lanterns lit up.
A lantern shop.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Chinatown

The temple was only finished in 2007. Apparently it houses the Buddha’s tooth.
The big door to the temple. Admission is free.
The temple’s guardian and his 24-pack abs.
The interior.

Gardens By The Bay

We visited Gardens By The Bay on our last day here. This is probably Singapore’s top attraction and is horticultural heaven. It encompasses 101 hectares and includes the Flower Dome – the largest glass greenhouse in the world – and Cloud Forest, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall at 30 metres.

Unfortunately, we didn’t go in either of them because as a family of three, it would have cost us more than $70 and we had a budget to stick to. But admission to the rest of the Gardens is free. It was actually already exhausting just walking around visiting the free stuff; we didn’t even walk around half the site. We really enjoyed it and would come back.

These “supertrees” are vertical gardens between 25 and 50 metres tall. You can also see the suspended walkway, which you need to pay to go on.
Glowing mushrooms: part of the children’s garden.
Fish lanterns near the base of a supertree.
A “Garden Rhapsody” light show with music occurs daily at 7.45pm and 8.45pm. And it gets really packed! Space around the supertrees were at a premium and many people filmed it on their cameras and phones. It really was lovely, magical and a bit Avatar-ish.

Where we stayed

We stayed two nights at an Airbnb apartment in the Singapore suburb of Geylang, just a two-minute walk from Aljunied MRT station. It was a lovely suburban neighbourhood and it was nice to see the local folk going about their day. The apartment was tiny. It had one bedroom (the double bed just about filled it), a shower and toilet, and a combined living area and kitchen with a sofa bed for Elina. The apartment was tinier than almost all the hotel rooms we stayed in, which gives you an idea of how premium space is in Singapore.

These lovely buildings are across the street from where we stayed in Geylang.

We also stayed at the Orchid Hotel in Chinatown about 200m away from Tanjung Pagar MRT station. We really liked the spacious room and the neighbourhood it was in, plus it had a pool (Elina and Paul always like to have a pool).

This is the very green Oasia Hotel across the street from the Orchid Hotel. The photo is taken from our room.

Singapore Airport

Singapore’s Changi Airport inside looks just like Singapore outside 🙂 It’s a fantastic and comfortable airport with lots of places to sit and plug in. The best airport so far in my books.

We really enjoyed Singapore and hope to swing through here again on our way back to Sydney as we have some friends here we missed catching up with. We might even shell out the money to stay at the Marine Sands Hotel, after all it has a pool with a view…