The flight from San Francisco to Singapore was 16 hours and 49 minutes long. Fortunately, we were in business class so it actually wasn’t so bad. This was my first time flying first class so I felt completely spoiled and being able to lay down and sleep whenever I felt like it was very nice. We got into Singapore about 7:30am which was cool because we got to watch the sunrise from the sky. It was so beautiful with the vibrant colors and the dramatic clouds that resembled a rugged landscape. But onto our time on land…
Unlike our food agenda, we did not have much on our to-do list so we took each day as it came. We battled jet-leg, letting our body figure out the 14-16 hour time difference and had to get acclimated to the heat and humidity. Here are some things we did:
Spent a good chunk of a day at the National Museum of Singapore. This museum was amazing. I learned so much about the history of Singapore and it made me understand and appreciate where their culture and values come from. The museum was very interactive and had us excited to go from exhibit to exhibit. There was also a special visiting art exhibition: What Is Not Visible Is Not Invisible featuring selected artworks from the French Regional Collections of Contemporary Art. It was interesting, and fun.
Using the MRT system. Singapore is the most efficient city I have ever been to and can ever imagine. One way this is demonstrated is through their amazing public transportation system. We loved using the MRT, a combination of subways and buses, to get around the island. The six different lines of the subways were so easy to navigate, so clean, and so cheap (and air conditioned which was a nice escape from the heat). We used the subways multiple times each day.
We went on a walking/boat tour with a very knowledgeable guide, Senator Wong. We started by walking around Kampong Glam, a really cool neighborhood that holds the history of the city mixed with new, hip shops and eateries. They keep the old buildings for their culture and teaching value. It’s also where the Sultan Mosque is located which was the Mosque built for the Sultan of Singapore when the British took control of the island. They also built him a beautiful house for him and his wives, conveniently located right next to the Mosque, so the Sultan did not have to go far.
Next, we took the MRT to the financial district of Singapore. We walked amongst the tallest skyscrapers and into the Fullerton Hotel, formally a British Post Office. It was beautifully and extravagantly decorated for Christmas. After that we went over to Marina Bay. If you see pictures of Singapore, it’s probably scenes from Marina Bay; there’s the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the lotus shaped Art Science Museum, Merlion Park, The Esplanade, the Singapore Flyer (the giant ferries wheel) and the incredible skyline all in view. As the sun set we left the Bay on a bum boat and went up the Singapore River to Clarke Quay, a very colorful, vibrant area. It’s a pretty big night life scene and being Friday night, it was bumpin’! The tour ended and we hung around the area before setting back to our area.
Looking for a little adventure, we set out to Pulau Ubin, a small island north east of Singapore reached by a five minute bum boat ride, to do some bike riding. The island is pretty primitive. The island, which means “granite island’ was used as a granite quarry, but since the decline of granite operations in 1970’s, the island has been left behind with a rugged and overgrown landscape, a few shops and cafes and only about 100 residents. We rented mountain bikes and made our way around parts of the island. We saw lots of dogs, some monkeys, and some beautiful old quarries. It was extremely hot and humid this day and I think I sweat out my entire body weight. So after a while, we were ready to embark on the journey (bum boat, to bus, to MRT) back to the hotel pool.
One of my favorites days was the one we spent at the Singapore Zoo. This zoo was amazing!! We opted to add on the extra River Safari and Amazon Cruise, both worth it. The zoo had huge natural habitats with very little glass. You felt very close to the animals. Some animals, like the majority of the monkeys/apes, weren’t even in enclosures. Some of them, like the lemurs, roamed around the zoo, while others seemed to stay in their elaborate areas even without nets or glass, like the orangutans. We seemed to always be in the right place at the right time, like being able to watch multiple feedings; my favorite being the white tigers, or maybe it was the pygmy hippos, or both I guess. We watched an Elephant Show which was cute. All the animals were so active which made for a great experience.
In between our busy days we had some days for rest and relax. We walked though East Coast Park and spent time laying by the hotel pool which had a great view of the city.
We also spent a lot of time eating, which you can read about here!
Singapore was a great first out-of-country destination. It was a very easy adjustment because everything is in English and the majority of people speak English. Along with being efficient like I mentioned before, it is also a beautiful, lush, and green city. Singapore has been known to be a Garden City, and they are refocusing their green initiative to be more of a “City in a Garden”, making sure to keep or expand green space as their city grows. *Cool fact: Each tree in Singapore is assigned a ‘tree doctor which comes to examine it at least once a year* It was also very interesting to hear about Singapores plans for the future, including a completely underground city!
We’re off to Bali now but knowing that we will be returning to Singapore, we have a few other things we want to see and do when we get back!
Thanks for keeping up 😉