Singapore is sovereign city-state and an island-country located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It is a small country of just 718Km2 but in my opinion it deserves more than a long stop over between two other cities. That’s why I decided to stay 4 full days and visit Singapore with no rush.
My first day was spent with Luis from Chile, one of my room mates in the guesthouse. He was studying English in Auckland but decided to take a break from New Zealand’s awful weather and visit some Asian countries. That was his last day in Singapore and he had a check list of “things to visit before leaving” so I decided to put the automatic pilot of my brain and followed him.
Together we visited the Botanic Garden and its National Orchids Garden, home of more than 60.000 orchid plants (400 species and 2.000 hybrids), what an amazing place! After some sleepy days taking few pictures in automatic mode or no pictures at all, these beautiful orchids woke me up and I enjoyed photography again.
After lunch we headed to Marina Bay, a new expansion of the city thanks to land reclamation. Its main attraction is “Gardens by the Bay”, a kind of futurist garden with giant metallic trees working as vertical gardens and two crystal domes.
Who could imagine growing roses, baobabs or olive trees in Singapore? Everything is possible inside the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest Dome!
On the picture, Luis is posing very proud between two Chilean Palm Trees, typical (he said) of Mediterranean Forests in Central Chile. For him it is just a normal thing but for me a Mediterranean forest in a country facing the Pacific Ocean is just weird!
I spent the two following days visiting the historical Singapore. In 1822 a Town Planning Committee was formed to plan Singapore Town according to ethnic groups, that’s how China Town and Little India were born.
I enjoyed especially China Town, with its street markets and colorful shop houses. If you walk around, it is easy to see different architectural styles, the result of changing economic and technological circumstances, tastes and fashions during XIXth and XXth centuries.
I also liked the visit of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, in the heart of China Town: the Hundred Dragons Hall is just amazing plus on the fourth floor there is a very interesting museum about the story of Buddha.
Of course in Little India the decoration, shops, temples, people and scents change drastically. This neighbourhood is like India (but cleaner, lol).
Singapore is also the food paradise. Although they import the 90% of its food (due to a lack of space there are no farms), all the foreign cuisines meet in this city and one can virtually eat any kind of food in Singapore. I found very interesting (and cheap) the “Hawker Centres”, a kind of open air food courts usually located in the markets. The city is very sensitive about the hygiene and all the food stalls are rated according to it. Most of the stalls show a “B”, being the “A” the best possible rating (I must say that I saw more “A”s in Chinatown than in Little India. .) while the closed stands must have “C” so no more clients 😛
I really liked Singapore. It is a safe and clean city which is changing constantly to offer its citizens a better quality of life. People can enjoy the best restaurants, hotels and shopping malls but visitors like me can also sleep and have a great time with just few dollars, I am very happy to have taken my time in Singapore!
My tips :
- In 2015 Singapore will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence, with many interesting events, so if you are planning to visit Singapore, 2015 is the year to go;
- A good introductory museum about the city and its transformation: Singapore City Gallery (free entrance);
- The Hive Singapore Hostel: a great place to stay in Little India;
- Mustafa Centre is one of the historical malls in Singapore. Located in Little India it has e-ve-ry-thing (very cheap) and it is open 24/24h;
- Hawker Centre in Little India: inside Tekka Market (MTR Little India);
- Hawker Centre in China Town, just behind the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.