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.
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.
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.
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.
Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam
According to the Singapore Tourism website, the mosque was built in 1824 for Sultan Hussein Shah, the first sultan of Singapore.
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.
Old and new
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.
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.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Chinatown
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.
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.
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).
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…