From my journey through SouthEast Asia. Vietnam, Singapore, Bali and Thailand
About Singapore – I arrived in Singapore to explore without knowing much about the place. I now know that it is a tropical city-state at the very south of Malaysia. It is known for its financial businesses and diverse cultural population of around five to six million people. In the early years, Singapore was a trade hub for many countries considering its central location and is one of the reasons the culture is so diverse. Singapore became an independent republic after conflicts in interest with Malaysian authorities, and therefore now stands on its own. After disembarking independently, there was a housing and unemployment crisis in 1965. Singapore then began to build an empire in manufacturing, housing and public education and began to thrive and become the strong state it is today.
Arrial – When arriving at the airport I couldn’t actually believe how modern and sensational it was. My feet were actual stumps by the time I got my rucksack from the conveyor after the huge walk from the plane and through the airport. It was completely deserted, which I was really surprised about. This could have been due to the time of day or time of the year, though. I made my way outside where I caught a taxi which took a short 10 minutes to get to my hostel. Unlike the trip from the airport to accommodation in Vietnam, I didn’t feel like I was going to die this time, or a wheel was going to fall off the car. It was actually quite the opposite. The driver was really pleasant and took me on a scenic drive where he told me all about the surrounding skyscrapers, and what it was like to live in Singapore. He told me about a few places I should go and visit, such as the Gardens By The Bay and Clarke Quay. After the short drive he dropped me off at my hostel, The POD.
The POD – It looked pretty nice from the outside. I made my way up the lift and approached the reception and you could actually hear a pin drop. I glanced over to the breakfast area and there were a lot of people on their laptops. I was under the impression they may be staying here for job interviews or work related trips and didn’t want to pay the hefty fees of the local hotels. The atmosphere wasn’t what I was used to. The hostels I stayed at in other countries were usually a lot more... rowdy. The timid staff checked me in and took me to my room. The place was extremely clean and I actually had to take my flip flops off before was allowed to enter.
A few years prior to this I had heard about how dense with people areas of Japan were. They therefore created these tiny hotel pods people could stay in. Oval shaped and cramped. This is exactly what they were like but not as cramped. It was actually quite cosy and rectangular, but not a pod as such.
Surrounding area and culture – I researched where and what I should visit whilst I was here and made the decision to walk everywhere. After the pricey taxi fare I thought it would be a good decision to walk...It wasn’t. Despite this I’m actually glad I walked everywhere, as I got to see all the nooks and crannies of the place. Singapore is obviously thriving considering there were three huge hotels being built in the local area. On the night I began to walk to Clarke Quay, which the taxi driver suggested. It was apparently a really nice place for dinner and to have a drink. I walked for an hour and eventually arrived and it was absolutely gorgeous. It was crammed with locals and tourists, all enjoying their night. I found a nice pub that had the football on and ordered a beer. It came to approximately £6-£8 . Jesus. It was a beautifully clean place with lots of options for dinner, a nice little social hub.
Marina Bay Sands – I woke up early and set off on another lengthy walk. This time though I could weave through the financial district and the various gigantic malls throughout Singapore on my way. I didn’t blend very well among the many suited and booted locals, considering I was wearing my shorts and trainers. Despite this it was interesting to see how the business district operated. I made my way through the malls and I actually couldn’t believe how big they were. I got lost at least three times, but eventually made it out to see the amazing Marina Bay Sands Hotel in the distance.
It blew me away how ridiculous it was. It was basically an island with pools, restaurants and lots more on top of the three standing pillars filled with some of the most luxurious rooms available in Singapore. It’s hard not to admire the amount of thought, design work and cost of building such a place. I made my way over the bridge and made my way through the main entrance. There were amazing restaurants and a lot of staff to provide guests with anything they wanted, and beautiful decor. I made my way to the elevators to make my way to the top to see the views. I tried pressing the buttons but nothing would work. I glanced to see I had to have a room card for it to take me anywhere. I left and waited for some guests to enter and followed them back in. ‘Oh I must have left my key card with my girlfriend’ is the line I used, and without hesitation the other guests used their card and we went straight to the top. There was a restaurant and an outside bar where I sat and talked with an Aussie couple and had a few drinks. They told me apparently it was $500 (£250 approx) to stay for one night. Christ. Afterwards I walked around the balconies and couldn’t believe the scenes. What an experience.
Gardens by the bay – I made my way down the elevator towards the Gardens by the Bay. I had always wanted to visit this place. After leaving the hotel the first initial sights were of the enormous sprouting super trees in the distance.
It was a huge place with its own shuttle service and an abundance of areas, attractions and restaurants to visit. The sheer amount of gardeners and maintenance staff needed to keep everything in check must be crazy. Many of the areas represent the heritage and cultures of Singapore’s population with different themes and plants to showcase each of the four included. There is an abundance of art and sculpture work around the gardens which, in some cases are hard to take seriously. For example I walked around the corner and there was a sculpture of an infant balancing on its right arm. What.
It was quite impressive though, along with many of the other various sculptures and art found around the gardens. The truly mouth dropping areas of the gardens though were the two indoor conservatories, Flower Dome and Cloud Forrest. These were two humongous glass domes containing all sorts of crazy stuff. Flower Dome is a more casual place where you can appreciate the hundreds of different kinds of flowers, orchids, trees and learn about them. It’s not usually my kind of thing however I couldn’t help but be mesmerised and took an interest in all of the descriptions, locations and specific information about some of the weirder looking plants. There were also animal sculptures found all around, which were pretty impressive. Huge elephants and monkeys carved from wood and metal showcased some truly skilled work. Cloud Forrest, the other conservatory, was ridiculous. The second you enter you are faced with a huge mountain covered in all sorts of plants and foliage. The waterfalls are huge and apparently, water many of the plants found around the dome. You begin to ascend the mountain from the inside whilst viewing all that there is to be viewed. The point of the mountain is to show how many plants can grow and thrive in tropical highlands of up to 2000 metres above sea level. Once you get the top there is a little pond area which is great for photos. You then slowly descend back to the bottom whilst walking along the many balconies. There was a lot more to do and see throughout the gardens that if I return in the future, will definitely be visited.
Missed opportunities –I would love to return to Singapore for a second time, hopefully with people I can share the experience with. Sentosa Island was a missed opportunity and is just a short boat ride from the mainland. It is visited by around twenty million people a year and is more for tourists, with many hotels, beautiful beaches, and the Universal Singapore theme park. I would have loved to visit it but unfortunately didn’t have enough time.
Overall – Overall It was amazing. Despite the expensive prices of food, drink and taxis I found that the attractions weren’t actually that expensive and I could see a lot of what I wanted to see without having to pay anything at all. The places I visited gave me great memories of Singapore and I would love to return in the future.