After 48 hours in transit/layovers and only one minor hiccup**, we arrived in beautiful Singapore. Singapore has been quite a pleasant surprise. Likened by guidebooks to the “busy check-out aisle of a grocery store,” Singapore, thankfully, has not lived up to its reputation. It is a beautiful, tree-lined city; magnificently clean in most parts, and quite wealthy.
In Singapore for three days, we’ve seen a handful of lovely sites – the Marina Bay, Clarke Quay, Chinatown, Little India, and took a drive through Orchard Rd.
- The Marina Bay area is lovey – home to the Marina Bay Sands hotel, perhaps the most iconic building in Singapore, as well as the Gardens by the Bay, a 101 hectare park in the middle of the city. There is also an amazing little bubble tea shop in the mall across the street from the Marina Bay Sands. I had a passion fruit bubble tea with white pearls. Best bubble tea ever!
- Clarke Quay (pronounced Clarke Key) is a beautiful, colorful area along the river with tons of restaurants and bars. We visited an Indian restaurant on the outskirts of Clark Quay called Annalakshmi – a vegetarian Indian buffet with a ‘pay as you feel’ policy, and all proceeds go to charity.
- Chinatown, unlike the Marina Bay and Clarke Quay, was quite busy. Perhaps this is where the guidebook writers visited. Close to the Chinese New Year, decorations celebrating the year of the horse adorned the streets. Lots of little shops and street vendors. We visited two temples in Chinatown – the Sri Mariamman Temple (oldest Hindu temple in Singapore) and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (home of one of Buddha’s teeth). The Buddha temple was gorgeous and peaceful with incense burning and Buddhist monks leading chanting and prayer. I would highly recommend a visit. The Hindu temple was a bit disappointing, unkempt and touristy.
- Little India had a feel similar to Chinatown – busier and a little hectic. The rules of the road also seemed to disappear in Little India. More people were walking in the streets than cars driving. We visited the Sakaya Muni Buddha Gaya temple in Little India. It was beautiful. Bright yellow exterior with a giant 15m tall Buddha in the interior. Very peaceful place that tells the story of the Buddha through statues. After visiting the temple, we went to the Tikka Hawker Center (open air food stalls with all Indian food) for lunch. David had a fish biryani that was delicious!
FRIEND OF FRIEND = FRIEND
One of the most wonderful experiences we had in Singapore was meeting with a friend of a friend of mine, Wei-Shiuen. Perhaps an example of Singaporean hospitality or just meeting really great people, we were shown a wonderful time by a family whom we just met.
We were invited to two evening events – the first was a private auction of designer handbags to raise money for a senior center charity. It was amazing to watch! The auction was all in Chinese, so a tad hard to follow, but full of energy and excitement. And our host translated for me, so I could understand most of what was happening.
The next evening, our new friends took us out to an amazing dinner at one of the nicest restaurants in Singapore, Long Beach restaurant on Dempsey Hill, and among the nicest restaurants I’ve ever been to. We had chili crab, black pepper crab, raw clams and salmon, fish, a clam noodle dish, and dessert. Chili crab is the national dish in Singapore. It was fantastic!! Although, the black pepper crab was my favorite. For dessert, I had a lychee-like fruit with sea coconuts. David had a durian pudding dessert. I had never tried durian before and cannot say whether I will have the stomach to try it again. A pungently cheesy smell and indescribably savory taste, durian is an acquired taste, to say the least.
Singapore is amazing! I highly recommend a visit! Wish we could have stayed for longer.
Click here for more pictures of Singapore!
**Hiccup – to enter Singapore, apparently, you need proof of intended exit (e.g. a plane/bus/train ticket out), of which we did not have. Luckily, puppy dog eyes and groveling, are acceptable as well.