We flew from Phuket to Singapore and arrived in a country with fantastic sign posts, in English! We bought a tourist tube/underground pass for three days for 20 Singaporian dollars (around £11) which was really good value! You can get anywhere in Singapore fairly quickly on the tube network. We hopped on and arrived at Bugis station, near where we would be staying for the next 5 days. Singapore was definitely too expensive for a private room so we were in a 6 bed dorm in a hostel instead. The hostel was in a great central location adjacent to Arab street (quite a famous area with lots of food options and a mosque at the end of the street) and Haji street with bustling cafes, street art and live music. Our first impression of Singapore was that it was a cleaner, more beautiful version of London. The enormous office tower blocks remind you of Canary Wharf (just with fancier architecture) and the quirky cafes and street art reminds you of a trendy Shoreditch. The hostel was fine, we were in a room with 4 guys who were essentially nocturnal, so we only actually had the light on in the room once in five days! Quite annoying to have to rummage round your backpack shining your phone torch but it definitely encouraged us to get out all the time and spend barely any time in the room other than to sleep. I was also enormously pissed off that it was gendered bathrooms, so if I needed a wee in the night, I had to go downstairs sandwiched by two key-swipe doors!
Anyway, on our first full day, we went to the botanical gardens. They are massive, beautiful gardens with exotic plants, specialist gardens and lakes. It’s predominantly free, just $5 to enter the orchid garden. We both agree that it is the best park/gardens we’ve ever been to, mostly because… we saw FIVE, wild, giant monitor lizards! This was hugely exciting to me, the first one we saw was over a metre long and really solid, you could see his veins bulging through his armour-like skin. SO COOL (see photos below). We spent pretty much the whole day wandering around every corner of the gardens, but we easily spent 2 hours stalking lizards. In the evening, we met up with Dave’s friend from work back in the UK; Akhil and his girlfriend Amrit. We had a lovely dinner with them (thank you Akhil again!), and then we had a nice little walk around Clarke Quay with our Singaporean tour guides. They also gave us sound advice about walk-in clinics…
The next day we went to the recommended walk-in. It was so efficient, we just had to register with my passport and then we were seen after one person! I had a small friction burn on my ankle that I got at the Cambodian Wildlife sanctuary. After three weeks it still hadn’t healed and turned into a hole which kept oozing pus (so grim, soz). I was paranoid that there must be an insect inside but fortunately the doctor said it was just an infected wound so I got antibiotics, cream and peace of mind, all for £35 and just a morning of our time, so not bad at all! In the afternoon, we had a potter around the Gardens by the bay. They have these incredible ‘super trees’; vertical gardens which combine nature and technology to produce a solar powered light show every evening. There are apparently over 160,000 plants across the 18 super trees! Whilst Singapore is extortionately expensive (food & accommodation), they do have great free activities. We settled down to the light show which started at 7.45pm when the sun had properly set. It was Star Wars themed and one of the most spectacular displays we’d ever seen! The imperial march blared through the speakers as we looked up to these 50 metre trees lit up in the darkness.
We went back to the gardens by the bay the following day during daylight to visit the cloud forest and the flower dome. These are the two paying attractions you can visit there but they were definitely worth the money! The flower dome is the largest glass greenhouse in the world (1.2 hectares!) and is full of beautiful plants from around the world. We loved the Cloud forest even more though. It’s basically a man-made mountain covered in tropical plants. They also have the world’s tallest indoor waterfall which was so awesome! Everything in Singapore was just so cool, we walked all around inspecting the exotic plants, they even had giant lego replicas of carnivorous plants next to the real life-size ones!
We watched their film called +5 degrees which shows the impact of global warming in the next 100 years if action is not taken. As we came out, we were discussing how Singapore is such a tiny country yet is so innovative and focused on sustainable energy, and comparatively how America has a president that doesn’t believe in climate change. Literally the following day, Trump withdrew America from the Paris agreement. The stupidity is bewildering. Hopefully more countries follow Singapore’s lead and create beautiful, sustainable and free places for people to appreciate like Gardens by the Bay!
Singapore was definitely a completely different experience to any other country we’ve visited in Asia. We’ve had an amazing 4 months in Asia and on our last night we dined on an extravagant feast of…super noodles in the hostel. Not just any super noodles, but a value pack of super noodles haha. But we then went to watch the super trees light show again because we loved it so much. This time it started to rain and it was like a mass evacuation with about two thirds of the spectators rushing to leave. It was essentially a light sprinkle so we were more than happy to stay and enjoy the full show even in the rain.
Thanks for reading and catch us in Australia next time!
Sophie & Dave