I decided when booking my flights to spend a little bit of time in Singapore rather than passing straight through as I did on the way to New Zealand. With only two days (and a bit of jetlag after the 13 hour flight) I didn’t have much planned, intending just to wander and hit the highlights with TripAdvisor as my guide.
I was staying in a rather odd hotel near China town, so this was the obvious first destination for me. After some time wandering the busy streets crowded with market stalls, I ended up at the Tooth Relic Temple. This is a working Buddhist temple in the heart of China town, and also houses a museum spread over several levels of the large building. This place was fascinating and I spent a few hours wandering around observing the rituals and reading about the life of Buddha. As always with religious buildings I was particularly impressed with the quality of artwork and statues on display. Some of the wooden carvings in particular were incredibly detailed.
From there I wandered to downtown Singapore, a complete change of pace. Where Chinatown was crowded with old buildings and people downtown was all polished stone, glass and chrome with wide open spaces. There was even a shopping center at Marina Bay Sands which had a canal (complete with boat rides) running through it in addition to an array of up-market shops. Next to this was the Marina Bay Sands hotel, a towering building with the impressive Skypark on the 57th floor. Unfortunately access to the infinity pool and gardens were for hotel residents only, though non residents can get to the observation deck.
In the shadow of this towering building and closer to the sea were the beautiful Gardens by the Bay. These gardens are open to the public and are wonderfully laid out with a wide selection of trees and flowers complimented by sculptures and fountains. This was a great place to spend an afternoon wandering idly. I was particularly taken with some driftwood benches I found tucked away, with the branch ends carved into dolphins and whales.
On my second day in Singapore I headed up towards the shopping district around Orchard Road. On my way I stopped off in the Asian Culture Museum, set next to the financial district. This area felt a bit strange to me as it reminded me very strongly of parts of London, complete with very English looking riverside pubs and Victorian ironwork bridges (made in Glasgow).
After sweating my way up the hill and through Fort Canning park in the high humidity I reached the first of many shopping centers along Orchard Road. For all that I had no interest in the shops, the air conditioning was heavenly!
This area weirded me out a bit – it seems very wrong listening to Christmas music and seeing all the decorations when it’s 30 degrees outside.
After a (fairly short) time I got a bit bored of the shops and found my way to the Jibiru craft beer bar where I spent a very pleasant couple of hours sampling a range of beer. I was surprised to find that there were no Singapore brewed beers on the menu at all, but enjoyed the range of Japanese imports all the same.
Feeling very relaxed, I unfortunately had to end the day with a trip to the airport and another long flight back to London. The end of my travels, though not quite yet the end of my time away from work!