Singapore (and not just the airport this time)

I’d like to say that this year’s overseas trip was well thought out, planned, prepared. But it was a case of “we’d better go somewhere soon or the whole ‘travel overseas once every year’ plan is off the cards…and there’s a cheap deal to Singapore”.

I’ve flown through Singapore so many times now, but I’d never been out of the airport. With little preparation, my only real plan was to find a beach (not too hard as we were staying on Sentosa Island) and a cocktail with an umbrella in it. In the humidity of late September, it didn’t take us long to find a deck chair on the beach and a waiter willing to serve us one (or more) daquiries. As we took in the beautiful ocean view, Singapore treated us to the first of its many rain “showers”. We scrambled for shelter along with the rest of the beachgoers, thankful for a reason to sample a couple more umbrella-filled cocktails. We dragged ourselves out of the beach bar for a beautiful degustation dinner at the The Cliff – an expensive but mouthwatering and delicate banquet that was worth every penny.

Sampling the local daquiris (with umbrellas) on Sentosa Island, Singapore.

Sampling the local daquiris (with umbrellas) on Sentosa Island, Singapore.

We spent our first full day on Sentosa Island enjoying the thrills and spills of a Sentosa Play Pass including the cheesy Singapore merlion (the 37 metre tall attraction with the head of a lion and body of a fish is a replica of Singapore’s mascot, representing the fishing heritage and original name of Singapore) and some tacky 3D arcade games. Taking the flying fox down to the beach, we safely sampled a segway ride before taking the Angry Birds cable car across to the mainland.

Singapore Merlion

The famous Singapore Merlion

On the mainland, we “found ourselves” trying an overly expensive Singapore Sling or two at the Raffles Hotel Long Bar where we had been instructed by most of our friends to spend some time.

Singapore Slings at Raffles Hotel

The classic Singapore Sling at the home of its creator – Raffles Hotel.

Having had enough of the cheesy Sentosa for a while, we spent our third day experiencing cultural and zoological Singapore. Walking around China town, the streets were so different to China that it was hard to imagine we were so close to China and that many of Singapore’s residents have Chinese heritage. The smell of little India, however, brought me right back to the streets of Kathmandu where I lived for about three months in 2006. After lunch – Hainanese chicken rice from a local hawker stall – we caught the train/bus to the Singapore Zoo.

Wow! I’d been informed that the Singapore Zoo was amazing, but it surpassed my expectations. Mainly because it was the first zoo that I felt I was being locked away from the animals rather than the other way around. It certainly helped that the Singapore Night Safari was just down the road and we took the opportunity to wander in for some dinner, a train ride and hours of fun with the nocturnal animals.

Hamadryas baboons at the Singapore Zoo

Hamadryas baboons at the Singapore Zoo

Apparently, one day off Sentosa and we were ready for some more cheese. For my very first time, I ventured into a Universal Studios. And had an absolute ball! Highlights of Universal Studios Singapore for me included the dueling rollercoaster and the incredibly realistic 3D Transformers ride.

Yep. I rode that ride. At least twice.

Yep. I rode that ride. At least twice.

With round two of cheesiness over, we thought we’d spend our second last day touring mainland Singapore. After days of sun, Singapore put on it’s best wet weather face for us, making the trip on the Singapore Flyer a bit miserable but we still managed to catch a glimpse of Singapore from the sky. Michael was particularly excited about the view of the Grand Prix race track and we made a pit stop after the flyer so he could stand on pit straight and pretend to be a race car.

Michael in the centre of the Singapore Grand Prix Pit Straight.

Michael in the centre of the Singapore Grand Prix Pit Straight.

A river cruise up (and down) Singapore river took us to Boat Quay (restaurants and nightlife), Clarke Quay (restaurants and nightlife) and Robertson Quay (yep, restaurants and nightlife) via the Merlion, the Esplanade and Marina Bay Sands (and surrounds). Our day ended with a Singapore Trolley ride through a hawker market, Katong (home to the Peranakans) and colorful Geylang – the red light district.

A selection of images from along Singapore River

A selection of images from along Singapore River

Next up was Tiger Brewery, where we upheld the Aussie name and partook in some fine brewery tasting. I must say that the Tiger beer from the brewery is a significant improvement from what we get at home.

Tiger Beer

Tiger Beer

After a lovely late morning/early afternoon tour, we stopped at Gardens by the Bay next to Marina Bay Sands. We were just in time to wander through the indoor garden (including Australian natives) and rainforest conservatories before catching the light show, a spectacular display incorporating colour and sound, with each of the huge stands sparkling in a variety of colours and patterns over a 15 minute period.

The night show at Marina Bay Sands

The night show at Marina Bay Sands

Our finale? A walking tour through Singapore’s craft breweries to celebrate the last day of the first Singapore Craft Beer Week. Arriving home in the early hours of the morning, we were pleasantly surprised with some and not so with others (the pumpkin beer was a real downer for me). For a full review of the event and all the beers tasted, see Michael’s Singapore Craft Beer Week review at beerwithmikey.com.

And so it was over. Another trip down, another set of fantastic memories created. Until next year or before…may your travels continue.