More Singapore

MARINA BAY SANDS RESORT

A state of the art luxury resort with four main attractions – The Marina Bay Sands Hotel, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, and the Art Science Museum.

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The hotel is topped by a huge SkyPark which rests on the three, 55 story towers. We checked out the lobby area of the hotel but didn’t get to see much more. You must be a guest to get up to the Sands SkyPark and swim in their famous infinity pool.  There is an observation deck for non-guests but we decided against it since the price was too steep ($22 Singaporean Dollars per person). 

The shopping center is reminiscent of a ritzy Vegas hotel with high-end stores, five star restaurants, a movie theatre, ice skating rink, and even a casino. In order to save money, we stuck to window shopping and dining at the foodcourt. 

Most of our time was spent in the gardens and at the museum. 

GARDENS BY THE BAY

This magnificently vast, out of this world garden comprises every shade of green with vibrant pops of rainbow colors. We spent an entire day getting lost in the surreal oasis. From the giant trees made of steel to the massive glass domes, we were taken away to another world, a place we had only ever seen in sci-fi flicks.

OCBC SKYWAY/SUPERTREE GROVE

Each Supertree in the grove is made up of a concrete core surrounded by a steel frame draped in a variety of plants and topped with an inverted umbrella canopy in the shape of branches. There are 11 in total, all embedded with an environmentally sustainable function. Some harvest solar energy while others serve as air exhaust receptacles. Genuine  trees of the future.

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Suspended within the Supertree Grove, 72 feet above the ground, is the OCBC Skyway. Getting up to the Skyway proved to be a daunting task. For good reason, the bridge would close at the onset of dark clouds or the sound of thunder. We tried twice in one day, but the fickle Singapore weather denied us the opportunity. Finally, on our last day in Singapore, we succeeded.

When we reached the Skyway, I wasn’t expecting my fear of heights to set in so dramatically. From below, the bridge seemed sturdy and safe. But looks are decieving and the view from the top produced anxiety and sweaty palms. I held tight to the rails, carefully putting one foot in front of the other, and tried my best not to look down when the bridge slightly shook.

There is a Garden Rhapsody show that takes place a couple times each evening in the Supertree Grove. We decided to check it out (especially because it was free). In the spirit of the holidays, the tree lights sparkled and moved to the sounds of yuletide symphonies and Christmas classics (including Mariah’s All I Want For Christmas Is You).

 

FLOWER DOME

There are two, gigantic domes within Gardens by the Bay. $28 Singaporean Dollars buys you entry into both.

We began with the largest glass greenhouse in the world – the Flower Dome, coined as the world of perpetual spring, where unique plants grow. The cost of entry was well worth the cool 75 degree temperatures inside. The stunning array of flowers and plants transported us to a world of childhood fairytales. We leisurely lingered around the variety of plants enjoying our escape from the draining Singapore heat.

CLOUD FOREST DOME

Of the two domes, this was by far my favorite. A futuristic jungle with cascading waterfalls, secret gardens, crystal mountains, and a walkway through the clouds. The interactive video playing at the bottom floor described the effects of temperature increase and climate change around the planet. By the end of our trek through the Cloud Forest we were both brought to tears and inspired by the possibilities that the future holds.

ART SCIENCE MUSEUM

The Art Science Museum, known as the Welcoming Hand of Singapore, is a giant lotus flower building that sits on the bayfront of the Marina Bay Sands resort area

There were a few of exhibits to choose from but we decided on FUTURE WORLDS: WHERE ART MEETS SCIENCE, an interactive collection of installations displaying a range of digital technology. There was a nature room with flora and fauna projected on the walls, a park with giant bouncy balls spread throughout that changed color by touch, and a space room with beads of large, sparkling crystals that dangled from the ceiling. The exhibit was geared more toward children, but Sean and I still loved it.

ORCHARD ROAD

Shop ’til you drop on this road full of fancy stores, bright lights and fat wallets. We arrived in Singapore in the middle of November but Christmas was already in full swing. Nothing I’ve seen in the States could compare with the holiday decor on Orchard Road. Sean and I were too overwhelmed, overawed, and overstimulated to handle more than a quick stroll through the Santa overkill. We witnessed enough Christmas cheer in one hour to last us through the rest of the year — and it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet. Unfortunately we were too in shock to take any photos. If I’d known that Christmas in Thailand would be so ho-hum, I would have welcomed, appreciated, and savored the holiday spirit of Singapore a lot more.

 MERLION

Last but not least, the true gem and people-watching mecca of Singapore, the Merlion – a statue, half lion/half mermaid, resting atop concrete waves, spouting water from its majestic mouth. I had found my true spirit animal!

We blissfully watched, trying not to laugh out loud, as tourists attempted (over and over again) to take forced perspective photos of the Merlion spewing water into their cupped hands or open mouths.

Sean and I obviously had to partake in the hoopla.

I loved the Merlion so much that I couldn’t bare to leave Singapore without one of my very own:

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Singapore

The land of luxury, city of the future, and home to the Merlion (my new favorite animal hybrid) – Singapore. We spent more money here in 3 days (being frugal) than two full weeks in Thailand, but it was totally worth it.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Fortunately, we were able to save quite a bit by staying with our friend, Tamy, in her posh high-rise apartment. Without free lodging, our trip expenses would have doubled. She also served as our personal expert and ‘Trip Advisor’ to everything Singapore.

Special thanks to Tamy for letting us crash at her pad, taking us out, and showing us a fabulous time. We miss you already!!!

GETTING AROUND

I loved the Singapore MRT (Mass Rapid Transit)! It was so easy to get anywhere in the city riding their clean (and air-conditioned trains). Rideshare apps, Uber and Grab, were super cheap and easy to use when we didn’t feel like walking to the MRT station in the humid, midday heat. Taxis are also an option if you don’t mind paying a little more. Apparently it is extremely expensive to buy and own a car in Singapore. This forces most people to take public transportation and leaves the roads traffic free.

FOOD

Hainanese chicken rice is the Singaporean specialty. We had seen the dish served throughout Thailand but never were tempted enough to order it. It seemed necessary to finally try the boiled chicken and broth rice in the place where it was invented and made  famous.

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The chicken rice at Boon Tong Kee tasted like it looked – bleh. Everyone around us had ordered the same dish and seemed to enjoy it immensely. We didn’t really get the appeal. The chicken was served cold and the rice wasn’t anything special. I’d be willing (but not enthusiastic) to try it again. On the other hand, the crispy beancurd and all of their in-house sauces were incredible.

Singapore is home to many high-end restaurants. Famous celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Mario Batali, and Wolfgang Puck all have high class eateries at the Marina Bay Sands. Since we were traveling on a budget, we opted for cheap eats instead.

The mall food-courts became our goto for most every meal and they did not disappoint. There was a wide selection of cuisines from around the world at reasonable prices.

My most notable meal was the chili crab and Satay by the Bay. Spicy, messy goodness.

DRINKS

Getting drunk in Singapore was impossible. While there were bars everywhere around the city, the drinks were extremely expensive (especially when coming from Chiang Mai where you can get a beer for $1-2USD or a gin and tonic for $2-3USD). On our first night out we spent about $75USD on THREE drinks. Granted I had an insanely good Bloody Mary topped with tiny pickles and baked beans, it was definitely not worth the price.

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When we tried to be thrifty by purchasing a “pre-party” bottle of wine at the gas station, we were turned down because their liquor law prohibits shops from selling booze after 10:30pm.

On the upside,  the bars were swanky and we were in good company so a buzz was not necessary to have a delightful evening.

SITES

Singapore is unlike anyplace we’ve ever been. Stand almost anywhere, take a look around, and you will be transported to a place of futuristic beauty – clean streets featuring hip restaurants and bars, unique skyscrapers garnished here and there with abundant gardens, and water shows displaying light projections and floating bubbles.

Orchard Road, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, the Cloud Dome, Flower Dome, Merlion, and Art Science Museum – we covered quite a bit in 3 days. I’ll be writing another post on our adventures in the Lion City.