After Taiwan, I experienced the urban marvel that is Singapore for the very first time. Fun fact: I have a beat up check-in red luggage that I've been using for 11 years now. I got it as a gift before traveling to Australia in the summer of 2007, during which I actually had a layover in Singapore Changi Airport! So 11 years and countless trips later, my beloved luggage made yet another trip to the great country of Singapore, except this time, it left the airport with me.
Singapore is more of a city than a country (California is 579 times bigger!), but it's probably one of the most developed cities. In fact, it's pretty much the epitome of urbanization and modernization. Consistent with its reputation, Singapore is meticulously clean and orderly. Crime rate is low due to strict laws. There are shopping malls, greenery, and food everywhere, all nesting in a web of efficient urban planning. As a friend aptly described to us, it's essentially a theme park. While I don't see Singapore as a place that I would see myself living in, I loved my stay there and would recommend everyone to visit it at least once.
The first place we visited was Gardens by the Bay. It's a 250-acre outdoor garden right next to the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The park has gates and is free to walk in with the exception of the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, which cost about $20 USD for both. If you are active on Instagram, you have probably seen one or many pictures from there, because they are truly stunning. Cloud Forest was especially beautiful. Oh and the temperatures in these conservatories are much cooler than outside, making them all the better.
Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands & Downtown
We also spent a lot time around the shopping mall at Marina Bay Sands and Downtown Core where the Merlion is located. The days were hot but we enjoyed being two of countless international tourists. We also enjoyed afternoon tea at TWG, who sells tea in the most colorful, gorgeous tins. I adored their products since my London days and had no idea it actually originated from Singapore!
Haji Lane and Chinatown
Outside of the modernity in downtown, Singapore offers eclectic neighborhoods that are evidence of its rich history and diversity. We visited two of them: Haji Lane, Singapore's hipster central located in Kampong Glam of Malay roots, and good old Chinatown. Haji lane is a narrow alley full of quirky shops, restaurants, and art. I could spend forever there, but it was so hot the day we went that I felt kind of suffocated in my (very adorable) dress. We walked through it rather quickly after some shots. It was easy to get cool photos there. On our last day, we visited Chinatown for some cheap Hainan chicken rice. We both got a combo with chicken, veggies, and rice that cost less than $4 USD each. It was delicious, but the food court has an overwhelming number of choices and no matter what you choose, you will feel like you're missing out on something else tasty.
The highlight of our entire Singapore trip was absolutely the Garden Rhapsody at Supertree Grove in Gardens by the Bay. We saw these Supertrees during the daytime and I was actually underwhelmed. They didn't look as impressive in person or on photo. At night, however, they are completely magical and enthralling. You may say... the difference is night and day! (haha...) Anyway, the Garden Rhapsody is a free light show every night at 7:45pm and 8:45pm at Supertree Grove. It's easily accessible by foot from Marina Bay Sands Hotel and it was not too crowded when we went. The show we saw was played to a medley of famous opera pieces. We watched it lying down, under drizzling rain, in complete awe. If you go to Singapore, this is for sure an experience not to be missed.
We were only in Singapore for three full days, but I didn't quite realize how many highlights there were until I was putting this post together. There are still so many fun memories that I didn't get to share. That's the fun in blogging I guess - I'm reliving the trip and creating something out of it that I can always look back on.