Saturday 26 January 2019 – Singapore.
This is my fifth visit to Singapore and El’s first. I was keen to come here for a few reasons. Obviously, it is on the way back from New Zealand and is sort of half way. Not having been here before it is a fun place for El to visit and for me to show her around. It is a nice city and an easy introduction to SE Asia. Finally, I have done everything I want to do in Singapore, except Gardens at the Bay, so with four nights here I was planning on spending some proper time doing nothing. Not that we did much of that of that nothing. I didnt finish my book!
Before I launch into Singapore I have to confess that I made by first ever flight scheduling blunder. I was trying to book everything via BA and the only way BA does NZ to Singapore is via Australia. I grudgingly booked us via Sydney, but absolutely missed that there was a six hour layover, only noticing a couple of days before the flight. Sydney airport is not too bad, but six hours is a long time. We ate.
We arrived in Singapore quite late on Tuesday night, but with time enough to check in to the hotel on Orchard Rd, get up to the 19th floor rooftop bar and pool and indulge in an end of a long day drink. We also got to enjoy the amazing view over the city and towards the magnificent structure that is the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. It was humid, but not outrageously so, and it wasn’t too hot, conditions that remained for the whole trip. Thankfully.
In what seems to have become a standard activity for this holiday we hit the Botanical Gardens on Wednesday morning, a recommendation from a friend who had been here recently. A very good recommendation too. I could get into this plant thing. The gardens were seemingly not too far from the hotel, so I decided we should walk, time wise it was the same as taking the metro. The metro is air-conditioned, walking isn’t. We were hot before we arrived, so our first stop was a cool drink in one of the many cafes.
The gardens are huge, laid out in different blocks, we got to see about a third of it before getting too tired and hot. I really liked it, tropical plants are so utterly different to what we see in the UK, and to a lesser degree NZ. The difference is just so pleasurable, big, big leaves, los of weird shapes and am amazing colour.
These leaves looked like someone had painted the colour on.
I particularly enjoyed the orchid garden, I know these are fancy flowers with a billion varieties and shades, shapes and colours, but seeing so many in one place really did make me appreciate nature, and her human tweaked variations so much more.
There was a nice fake waterfall that was very much the key attraction for a large group of small children on a school trip.
After lunching in the park we headed to the nearby metro station and with a bit of help from the ticket counter got ourselves metro passes and took the, very long, ride back to Orchard Rd. We learned how to use the Metro as we went. It is a good system for the centre of the city.
I have to say that in the four days we spent in Singapore, not one single person I/we interacted with was anything but courteous, friendly or helpful. I know Singapore is very touristy, and very authoritarian and retail and hospitality jobs are probably better than other options, but it was a really friendly place and it made me very happy. I was walking down a road one afternoon and a cycle courier clipped my shoulder with the very edge of his bag, it was the most minor thing ever. I was shocked when he stopped, apologised and asked if I was OK. England used to polite like this, but now we have Brexit.
I love this big and very old plane trees outside the entrance to the President’s residence.
One of the things on El’s list of things to see in Singapore was Emerald Hill, a street of lovely old shop houses that I had taken photos of on previous visits. Purely by luck, definitely not good planning, the street was literally over the road from the hotel. Emerald Hill is a conservation area so the houses that remain here from the early 1900s have been well preserved, they are a small snapshot of what a lot of Chinese influenced SE Asia looks like. They are very nice.
Our hotel from Emerald Hill.
Emerald Hill from the hotel bar.
We were pretty whacked when we got back to the room, so the decent thing to do was to head up to the roof, have a swim and then relax by the pool. Conveniently it was happy hour with half price Singapore Sling cocktails. It would have been rude not too….
The view from the roof.
We didn’t venture too far for dinner, the tiredness and jetlag that had plagued me in New Zealand followed me to Singapore. We found a ‘street’ curry house for dinner, and enjoyed a very nice meal, and not too far away from the hotel.
It was a good first day in Singapore!