This year, we decided to stop by at Singapore for around four days on the way to India in the month of November. Landing at Changi airport is like watching a trailer for the movie called Singapore that is playing outside. The airport is tastefully done, well organized, squeaky clean and this trend continues throughout the country. From there, we took a taxi and the talkative driver turned into a tour guide as he launched into a lecture on the country. Soon, we reached our destination – the home of a relative who had kindly invited us to stay with him. His three-year-old daughter is very adorable and the best memories of our trip are associated with her.
We set out for sight-seeing the very next day. There is lush tropical greenery around (60% vegetation) since it rains daily and the warm and humid weather gave the effect of being inside a greenhouse. Bright flowers exploded onto the scene at intervals and the unpolluted, clean air was a pleasure to breathe. The public transport system covers all places, is very well-organized and functions smoothly. We were very impressed with it as we criss-crossed the length and breadth of Singapore solely by train. The first place we visited was the Singapore Zoo which houses an extensive collection of many animals, including monkeys, which are one of my favorite ones to observe because they are such clown-like versions of humans! I enjoyed looking at the antics and postures of a variety of species to my heart’s content. In the evening, we leisurely strolled along posh Orchard road that houses a large number of huge, expensive, branded shops that are fun … to mostly window-shop!
The day after, we visited Jurong bird park, one of the largest bird parks in the world. I fell in love with the entrance of the park, which had wood arches entwined with vines and overhanging colorful orchids. The park is large in area, with separate sections for hosting different types of birds. An entire subdivision is devoted completely to parrots and we were astounded at the sheer number of birds – parakeets, parrots, macaws, cockatoos – in separate enclosures that come under that classification. Some of the enclosures were a fantastic experience of walk-in ones with birds flying freely (only within its boundaries, of course) above and around us. Our knowledge regarding birds was greatly enhanced…who knew, for example, that pheasants were as beautiful as commonly known peacocks?
We hurried on to Sentosa island afterwards. It is fascinating to see how the island has been developed and decorated with theme parks, artificial beaches, rides, shows, statues, gardens, games etc to attract visitors. Among all these attractions we knew precisely what we wanted to see and headed straight toward Underwater World Singapore and Dolphin Lagoon and later on, to the famous laser show – ‘Songs of the Sea’. The famous aquarium is a glass tunnel under which you stand on a moving walkway and observe aquatic creatures swimming above and around you within it. The dolphin and sea lion show that we saw next was entertaining and adorable. After that, we enjoyed the laser show ‘Songs of the Sea’, which was truly one of a kind. It followed a fantasy storyline and projected laser lights dancing to music such that characters and images from the story came to life on curtains of water in the form of fountains.
We started the third day with a visit to historic Chinatown. After some time strolling through stalls selling oriental knick-knacks, we took a break at a small cafe where we sampled the famous ‘Kaya toast’ that we had read about. We got some with an order of ‘Kopi’ (coffee) and savored the tasty treat consisting of crisp toast slices with a special jam sandwiched between them. We then visited the beautiful Buddha Tooth Relic temple and museum located close by and admired the gorgeous statues and decorations inside. A sudden downpour of heavy rain left us stranded under the shelter of the temple for some time and worried us a lot since we thought that now our day was ruined. But, no! Sudden Singapore rains seem to have a tendency to induce such worries but leave the rest of the day clear after they finish the job!
And that’s how we could visit the famous Merlion statue spouting water at the edge of Marina Bay waterfront under a rain-free sky. Many ‘touristy’ photos later, we decided to take the boat ride leaving at sunset, during the blue hour when the evening light is at its photogenic best. Standing on the open brow of the boat, a slight breeze picking up as it cut through the water, the sky subtly changing color as night fell, streets, skyscrapers, and bridges around coming alive with bright lights, Clarke quay, as we passed through it, bustling with activity from riverside restaurants and attractions – all this a mind-blowing experience now stored as a lovely memory of the trip to be cherished forever.
We had yet to visit the observation deck atop the Marina Bay Sands resort – the SkyPark – that gives a bird’s eye view of the country and we did that on the morning of the day we were scheduled to leave. The view from high up is stunning, no doubt, but a major attraction is the tour of the infinity edge swimming pool situated at such great heights. Visitors can view the pool only from a distance but just imagine the experience of lucky hotel guests who take a dip in it, enjoy the freaky skyline visible right beyond the water and pretend to be able to topple down 56 floors below!
As the description of the trip nears its end, an anecdote comes to mind. On the afternoon that we visited the Merlion statue we had to wait until sunset for the boat ride. Because there were hours to kill, we decided to visit the historic Fullerton hotel situated right across the busy street behind the Merlion statue. Stepping into the posh interiors of the hotel lobby provided a cool respite from the humid outdoors. When we asked for information about the well known landmark, a hotel staff helpfully informed us that we were standing in what used to be in the past, a common post office which underwent a make-over later on. We had read about the famous cocktail, the ‘Singapore Sling’ and passing by the hotel bar, we stopped to look at the drinks menu by the door. The hostess tempted us saying that the Sling at the Fullerton was the best and reeled us inside. We ordered the cocktail for my husband, a mock-tail version of it for me, sank back into our chairs and sipped our drinks in complete relaxation.
When the hostess dropped by for a friendly chat, she told us that she was from Russia and was living and working in Singapore for around two years till date. She mentioned that she loved the country and with a chuckle added, “One of my friends says that just like you have lighter versions of soft drinks like pepsi and coke (diet pepsi, diet coke), Singapore is a lighter version of Asia. Light coke, light pepsi, light Asia – Singapore!” Indeed. Singapore, with its high level of cleanliness and sophistication that mirrors highly developed western nations, yet displaying flavors of its underlying layer of oriental culture, fits the analogy of a ‘diet’ version of Asia perfectly.
All photographs by photography enthusiast hubby – Myriad Moods
For more photos of this Singapore trip, please visit http://myriadmoods.com/2013/01/07/singapore/