Singapore, The City-State

The prospective flights from Myanmar to Australia all had a stop over in either Singapore, the city-state, or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We decided we wanted to visit Singapore, but for a little more time than a stopover. We booked the hotel for 3 nights, which gave us 2 days to visit.

We knew Singapore was an advanced and civilized destination, but we were unsure how affluent and high-tech. We thought that Singapore would make a perfect pit stop to recover from the rough-and-tumble escapades we had in the rest of Southeast Asia.

It certainly was that and more.  After 2 months in SE Asia Singapore was a culture shock to the senses.  No trash in the streets, no blaring motor bikes with a family of 4 riding on them.  Paved roads and best of all the hotel room did not smell like an open sewer.  We have had this sewer smell throughout Asia and Eastern Europe.  One hotel in Myanmar had moth balls over every drain in the bathroom.  That did work but the overwhelming smell of moth balls made us kind of sick.

After a quick fresh up, we joined a half day bus tour of the city and got introduced to this seductive place. Clearly, this is a wealthy place, also expansive. It is a multi cultural nation

Our tour started in the Colonial district displaying the classic British governmental buildings and architecture. We moved to the the “mad swirl of skyscrapers” in the central business district that also abuts the districts Harbor. Here is some of the most incredible architecture you could imagine. There is a giant three tower high rise with a gondola/cigar shaped structure connecting the towers like a top hat, with a lotus flowers shaped exhaust structure at ground level. It is just amazing.  There are also elevated pedestrian walkways and fountains to experience.

We moved from hi-tech to “Little India”, a market and restaurant area,  and then to the flashy glamor of Orchard Road where Gucci and D&C reside.  The entire city/state is landscaped and immaculately clean. Probably doesn't hurt that it rains often and the financial penalties for even minor infractions of litter or traffic disobedience are severe. The urban planning in this city is comprehensive with bus lines, bus only lanes, underground MRT, bike lanes, and wide boulevards. Business districts adjoin high rise residential complexes, some with amazing crosswalks between structures, but seemingly all are well maintained and have some flair. An urban center as populated as here needs parks and green spaces; there are plenty of those.


Little India with the high rises in the background

We visited the Botanical Gardens, which is a botanists dream, maybe florist too, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We especially liked the National Orchid Garden. See a couple of photos beflow

Of note on our tour was the congregation of Army recruits near the waterfront dressed in matching track and field uniforms to enhance “espre de corp”.

The recruits are training for Singapore's national day in August

Singapore is known for its world class zoo and some consider this zoo the best of in the world.  After reading up on the other city options we decided to spend the time at the zoo complex.  It is so large that they ofter 4 day tickets, with our limited time we buy a 2 day pass.  In the afternoon we started with the River Safari.  It is the most amazing Aquarium and river ride. The theme was fresh water animals from around the world, including the USA.  The highlight of this park is the pair of pandas and the tigers.  We were lucky to see both of active.  See some photos 

The next day we returned early for a full day at the open concept primary Zoological Park. It was hot, but we felt like kids again watching the various animal shows, honestly, seeing animal foreign to us, such as several species of alligator type reptiles/amphibians. A few other animals we enjoyed: White Tiger, Jaguars, Manatees, Fox Bats, Orangoutangs, and others. The lay out of the parks, attention to detail, and combination of animals is just fantastic.

After a full day at the parks, we enjoyed getting eats at the “ Hawker” area, where a gathering of stalls sell their special foods for cheap; cheap for Singapore, $12 for both of us, over double a street food in the other SE Asian counties we visited.

We really enjoyed Singapore. We did not like the fact our flight to Australia was at 1:45 am. We got to the airport before midnight, ate a small snack and then waited for the crowd crush to get on the flight. We flew “Scoot Air” the discount arm of TigerAir, which is already a discount.  This is our first flight on a one of these discount air companies, after the pampering of the other airlines in SE Asia it was a shock.  They charge for everything including

  • Blanket - $5
  • An eye patch - $5
  • The electric socket to charge - $5
  • All drinks including water
  • Any type of movies, there is no screen on the seat like normal planes, you can buy internet and use your own device for movies - $8

We slept pretty well and by 11:00 am Aussie time we had landed in Sydney. We are done with SE Asia. We are on the home stretch now, only 2 more countries and 30 days left.