Travels with V
Stop-over in Fantasyland
We made Singapore a long stop-over on our way to Indonesia, because we really wanted to explore this very special metropolis that’s a city but also a sovereign state. An old pirate’s nest and fishing village that in the early 1800s became a british hub for the Asia trade. It became a country in 1965 and it’s only natural resource was it’s harbour. Which wasn’t so bad, today Singapore is among the richest nations in Asia and a financial ang technology hotspot.
Top 5 in Singapore:
- Top park: The Botanical Garden is in every aspect a great and varied forest with over 1000 varieties of orchids, a tropical forest with a canopy walkway and a dedicated ginger garden (!)(https://www.nparks.gov.sg/sbg)
- Top wow!: Gardens by the Bay, behind Marina Bay Sands. Here you’ll find the spectacular Supertrees, and two giant greenhouses, one of them containing a whole mountain with a cloud forest on top. And yes, you can use the elevator.
- Food: Foodstalls are found in many shopping centers, serving great chinese, malayan and indian food. Note: they can be extremely hot! Or go to Komala Vilas vegetarian restaurant in Little India, It’s amazing!
- Hotell: We stayed at super nice Wang’s near Chinatown, unfortunately they closed on 1 januari 2020.
- Bar: Raffles hotell is a must. And order Singapore Sling, even though it’s too sweet and ridiculaously overpriced.
Ethnically Singapore is a total mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European. This is good news for foodies, and there’s a lot to discover here. Not least in the old key quarters where old and shabby warehouses have been demolished and lots of restaurants and bars are now found..
MERLION, A TOURIST ATTRACTION AND A SYMBOL FOR SINGAPORE
For lunch try out the food courts that are found in most major shopping centres. This one is in Suntec City and it’s really crowded:
Singapore has transformed rapidly and today not many of the old buildings are left standing. But there’s at least one exception, Little India,as you would expect an area with mostly Indian population. here you’ll find wooden houses merrily painted and streets with small shops and eateries. The smell of curry and dhal is in the air. We seek out an old favourite, Komala Vilas which is a splendid but not so posh place. Their wonderful vegetarian food is served on banana leaves.
Another survivor from older times is of course Raffles Hotel that opened in 1887 (!) and is probably best known for the cocktail Singapore Sling, that was invented here. Also famous for its long bar, unfortunately closed for renovation when we were there. But according to the ritual, the floor is covered with peanut shells. Customers eat the nuts from sacks and throw the shells on the floor.
Raffles Hotel is a quite big building but dwarfed by the gigantic office towers that surround it. But another hotel that’s extremely dominating is Marina Bay Sands, three 55-storey hotel buildings and a common long boat-like platform on top. It’s now an iconic building and you can see that architectural fantasies have been let loose also in nearby blocks.
Behind the Marina Bay Sands-complex is a large park called Gardens by the Bay. Equipped with tall constructions that resemble trees and crashed spaceships. The latter being two very big greenhouses, one with garden flowers from around the world called the Flower Dome, and the other containing a mountain with a humid cloud forest on top. From the top a 35 m high waterfall falls down on the ground.
The tre-like structures are called Supertrees and are covered with real greenery, but insider there’s tubes and ventilators regulating the climate in the greenhouses. When darkness falls the Supertrees lit up creating a magic world.
Singapore’s city has expanded rapidly during the last 100 years and because the land area is limited much of the original forests have been cut down and built upon. But there are some green lungs left and one that we recommend is the Botanical Gardens. It’s a big park with different kinds of environments, even a tropical forest. There’s also over a thousand different varieties of orchid here and ponds and waterfalls. In one of the ponds we se a number of black swans, but too far away for our cameras. This park has free entrance.
Singapore is in general a modern, square and straight giant shopping mall, and in now way can it be associated with a term like “atmosphere”. But one attraction that we found in all this steel, glass and concrete jungle is the Fountain of Wealth, inside Suntec City. A gigantic golden ring hovers over a fountain where water jets pour in all directions. Dead center under the ring a lot of water bubbles, and the urban myth here is that walking around this fountain and touching the water brings you fortune and health. Many business-type people do this so we guess asians are quite superstitious.
It’s easy to move around in Singapore, thanks to a superb subway system, with swift and frequent trains, calm queuing and clean carriages. Thankfully it’s strictly forbidden to eat the stinking durian fruit in here. In the escalators people stand to the right and climb to the left, opposite to what we do in the west, but it works perfectly.
One more thing. If you, like us, are continueing to Indonesia from Singapore of course you can fly to Jakarta from here. But that’s expensive. It’s much easier, cheaper and nicer to take the ferry from the harbour acros the Singapore Strait to Batam on Sumatra. An hour’s great and low-cost sea journey.
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