We arrived in Singapore and the tone was immediately set by the vibes in the airport. It has an amazingly nice, clean, and efficient airport, which we later found out is one of the nicest in the world. We jumped in a cab to our host, Nadia’s, place. The plan was to meet her at her place, where we would rush out and meet some of her friends for dinner. After being thoroughly confused at how to get up to her apartment, we finally made it up there and found the secret key (traveling is totally like Ocarina of Time).
We rushed out to dinner only to find her friends had just finished…. so we picked a brewery to eat at which didn’t seem too expensive compared to everything else. We quickly realized we weren’t in the land of the cheap anymore. We split a pizza for 30 SGD (1 SGD = 0.80 USD) and got some beers. They actually had REAL beer, not the generic light pilsners that are a plague in Asia. The affordable beer was 15 SGD for a pint! We had definite sticker shock coming from Indonesia. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.
We had 2 full days to explore and definitely took advantage – we spent 10 hours a day walking/taking the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) around the city. After some shopping for some things we needed (and didn’t need), we headed to the Marina Bay Sands. The Marina Bay Sands is a hotel/shopping center that’s famous for its crazy architecture and huge infinity pool on the rooftop. It might just be the one building that you know Singapore for, with it’s boat/hot dog/fish laying across the three towers.
You can pay 25 SGD to go up to the observation deck OR you can tell them you want to get a drink at the rooftop lounge and they let you go right on up. Of course we didn’t actually get a drink cuz the cheapest pint of beer up there costs 22 SGD. GREAT VIEW THOUGH.
Just next to the Marina Bay Sands are the Gardens by the Bay. They just opened in 2012 and were completed at a cost of just over 1 billion SGD (800 million USD). For that price, they better be amazing, and they were. In the botanical garden complex, they have two controlled-climate biodomes, a multitude of plant and tree species, and a unique Supertree grove. What the hell is a Supertree? They are man-made structures that resemble the branches of HUGE trees and they have plants and vines running up them. They come complete with environmental technologies that mimic the function of actual trees – like collection of rainwater to aid in irrigation and photovoltaic cells that harness solar energy. Every night there are Supertree light shows set to music, which is a surreal experience in a huge city.
The rest of the city has a lot of interesting areas like a colonial district full of old colonial buildings (after all Singapore was British until 1963), Chinatown, Little India, and a lot of suburbs. Our day 2 in Singapore was mainly spent walking around these districts getting some cheap beers in Little India.
Since we were in an English-speaking country, we went to get a little slice of Americana and see a movie! A great way to spend the heat of the day in AC. We love Wes Anderson movies, so we went to see The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was one of his best – Wes Anderson just keeps getting better and better… truly.
So Singapore, you are crazy. Singapore is amazingly orderly and clean. The country has a lot of rules, and everyone abides by them (probably the only place in asia where that happens). There is also tons of shopping and the whole city feels like one big mall. If you ride the MRT underground, it’s all air-conditioned and every station has a mall above it. If you wanted, you could ride it to go mall hopping to all your favorite stores!
A little note about the shopping: I hate shopping… but if you haven’t heard of Uniqlo, educate yourself. They have simple high-quality clothes for cheap, even in the states. It’s Japanese and its like IKEA meets Gap. If I’m taking time to write about a clothing store, you know it must be good.
Two days was enough for us to see this mega-expensive country/city, so we left.
Big thanks to Nadia for hosting us and giving us a place to crash! She was so nice for having some not-yet-friends stay at her place for a few nights.
Steve is on leave near...