I arrived in Singapore feeling refreshed after a very short flight from Bali, it was reassuring to feel like we were back to civilisation again too. I stayed at the Singapore YMCA which was very clean, safe and air-conditioned – a real treat for me at the time! The hostel reflected the entire country, which is so clean and safe, where even chewing gum is illegal!
I liked the city so much I decided not to just pass through as planned, but to stay for at least a week to see what it had to offer. I went for drinks by the river at Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay, and topped up on the shopping on Orchard Road. I did a long walking tour to see the Istana (where the president lives), Peranakan Place and the fountains at Cuppage Terrace, the stunning orchid display at Fort Canning Park (orchids are Singapore’s national flower), the Sri Veeramakaliamman temple and the fortune tellers at Zhiyiao Centre in Little India, the Sultan Mosque in the Arab Quarter, Wak Hai Cheng Bio temple in Chinatown, and finally stopped and had a Singapore Sling at Long Bar in Raffles Hotel, where the cocktail was first created.
We took the SMRT (metro) to go to the amazing Night Safari where all the animals are much more alert than you see in the daytime at regular zoos – deer and rhino were coming right up to the little tram that took us round. Apparently it’s the only night safari in the world, although I’m not sure if this is still the case. We also checked out the suspension bridge and rainforest there.
I did a lovely trip up the Singapore River by bumboat (a traditional chinese boat), it was a very informative tour boat and we got great views of the colonial areas and the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles (the founder of Singapore), as well as lots of other stunning buildings and Singapore’s famous mascot – the Merlion guarding the mouth of the river.
The last tourist stop was Sentosa Island, we took a cable car from the World Trade Centre over there – pretty scary as it was 1000 metres up and rocking a lot as I was sat in it alone! Once there I got the obligatory photo at Asia’s Southernmost Point – only 100km from the Equator – then spent the day on the beach, only stirring to watch the monkey show.
With all the sights completed and feeling stocked up and rested, I bought a bus ticket to take me over the border and into Malaysia…