Friday, 30 August 2013

Singapore Part One: Rooftop Bars and Racing Cars

This month, I was given the most amazing opportunity to visit Singapore. We flew out to visit my dad's best friend, who lives and works in the country, and to be honest, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I have travelled Europe and visited America countless times, but I had yet to fly east to drink in the sights of Asia. I researched the country beforehand, trying to get a handle on the culture, the climate and the do's and don'ts of the island, but let me tell you, nothing could have prepared me for the wonderful city that greeted me. I was blown away by how fantastic Singapore was, so clean and well organised, brimming with decadent shops and opulent night life, as well as the kindness of the people that reside there. It is such a cosmopolitan city, and despite the bustling hawker stalls, and the streets teeming with city dwellers and tourists alike, never have I visited a city in which I felt more safe. Having been back on the British soil for less than a week, I am already considering looking for work out there, as it is hands down, one of the most fantastic places I have ever had the privilege of visiting. And after all of it, I couldn't wait to share my adventures with you!

First up, let me warn you that this might well be the world's longest blog post. Although I was only there for little over two weeks, we crammed an awful lot in, and although I have enough material to do a post per day, I don't really want to do it that way. Instead, I want to group into two posts covering the two weeks I was there, so sorry if it's a bit much, but I like it that way.

We flew out on the 9th August and arrived at around 5pm. Fresh of the plane, we navigated our way to our host's penthouse (I know!!), dumped our luggage, and hopped on over to Clarke Quay to experience some of the night life. We went for a leisurely dinner and lingered afterwards, waiting for the night to pick up, which it didn't take long to do. There's clearly a work hard, play hard kind of ethos going on here. We left rather early, as we were all still on English time, and struggling at this point, but according to our rather lively taxi driver, the night had yet to begin for him and the Saturday night party goers. He informed us that in Singapore, the clubs don't shut until 6am, meaning that people often don't head out until around 3! Now, I'd only been there for a few hours, but I already knew that I would fall in love with the Singaporean lifestyle.
One of the amazing views from the Flyer
Family pic! Dad blinked =(
View of the Formula 1 starting line from above.
The next day, despite our long flight and late night, we were up, bright eyed and bushy tailed, for our first venture into daytime Singapore. We first visited the Singapore Flyer, and it was lovely to be able to see the whole city and its impressive skylines from so high up. It was nice to get an overview of the city before venturing out to take in all the details. It was really just a better version of the London Eye to be honest. In fact I came to learn that most of Singapore is like an improved version of London. Having only been a city for 48 years, I think they must have just picked up the things that were working to a degree in other places, and ironed out all the kinks. It was all just so brilliantly organised. We also took a stroll down the Singapore Grand Prix track. I'll be honest, I wasn't all that excited, but my Dad and brother were like kids in a sweet shop. Each to their own I guess.
The fantastic Lantern Bar with a view of Marina Bay Sands behind me!
Of course, no trip to Singapore would be complete without a visit to the infamous Raffles Hotel, so in the evening, we head on over for the island's trademark Singapore Sling. Although it's 1930s-esque decor and delicious drinks were marvellous, I couldn't quite get past the mess! It's the norm there to snack on monkey nuts, and just discard the shells wherever you fancy, primarily the floor. It's just a sea of nutty debris - very distracting to a clean freak like me. So after we'd had our cocktails, we headed off to the less touristy, nut-free Lantern Bar atop the Fullerton Bay Hotel. Now, this was my favourite spot in the country. So elegant and sophisticated, much like the rest of Singapore, it housed the perfect atmosphere and breathtaking views of the bay. Touristy excursions aside, if you ever visit Singapore, make a point of going here. And while your at it, order a mojito. I've had a fair few of the minty beverages in my time, but none hold a candle to the one served here. Delicious.
Glow in the dark scorpions!! Avatar is real!
Me and my brother wearing fun gift shop hats!
After a jam packed Sunday, and some lingering jet lag, we decided to spend Monday by the pool, relaxing and recuperating, ready for the night ahead. Much to my delight, the apartment was conveniently located on Singapore's famous shopping street: Orchard Road. Whilst everyone else was having their lazy day, I stole the opportunity to sneak in an uninterrupted, blissful day of shopping. Oh, it was grand! I also discovered a Sephora and might have literally jumped for joy. I don't remember, it's all a wonderful blur of retail goodness. More on that later. In the evening, we mosied on over to the Night Safari. It was absolutely amazing to see so many beautiful nocturnal animals, and the nights are so warm there that it really was an extremely pleasant evening. Understandably, flash photography wasn't allowed, but sadly my camera is very poor at taking night time pictures without one. Such a shame as the safari was filled with so many beautiful creatures!
Not a great picture, but I really liked the lanterns!
On Tuesday, we spent the day ambling around the city, and made our way over to Chinatown in the late afternoon. We visited the most beautiful, vibrant and colourful Hindu Temple, at which we witnessed some kind of ritual, with a lot of people surrounding a man who was dancing with some type of vase on his head. I had no idea what was going on, but it was so mesmerising. If anyone know's what this was called, or what it symbolises, please do let me know, because it was absolutely beautiful and my 'Hindu vase dancing' google searches have so far been fruitless. I didn't take pictures, as I wasn't entirely sure whether it would be considered disrespectful, and I thought it best not to risk it. Afterwards, we went to get Chinese food (when in Rome) at a hawker stall, which I really enjoyed. The food was so cheap, something I wasn't expecting considering the decadence we had so far encountered. Alcohol is pricey though, which my liver probably considered a good thing. Even so, we had a couple of drinks and watched the people around us. When the sun set, the streets came to life, with market stalls flogging their wares to locals and tourists alike. It really was wonderful, and safe to say, my purse was rather a lot lighter upon leaving.
Wednesday night was particularly exciting as we went to see Stereophonics, who performed at Fort Canning Park. Now, I can't remember the last time I went to a concert that wasn't crammed with freshers, vomiting all over the place and forming dreaded mosh pits, like black holes growing larger and larger, sucking unsuspecting music lovers into the unknown, spitting them out dazed and concussed. Fun at the time, but I feel I've matured somewhat. This was a relatively small, but fantastically atmospheric gig which I absolutely loved. I actually didn't consider myself a fan until they started playing. I had no idea how many of their songs I actually knew. Needless to say, I was singing along, dancing the night away and having the time of my life. It was such a nice change from the English weather as well, to be outside at midnight and still be warm. Odd, but brilliant. 
This reminded me of the Hunger Games, so I had to pop it in.
My dodgy attempt at a panoramic photo. Safe to safe, photography is not my forte.
On Thursday, we ticked another box on the tourist to do list and visited the Botanic Gardens. I must say, it's very strange to find yourself in such a huge tropical oasis, when you know that you're smack bang in the middle of a city. The garden was stunning, and had lots of interesting sectors to it. My favourites were the Orchid Garden, orchids being the national flower of Singapore as well as my personal favourite bloom, and the Swan Lake, filled with an abundance of huge fish and darling little turtles. That evening, we head off to dinner at Ku De Ta, a restaurant at the very top of a building that is arguably Singapore's crown jewel: the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The view was spectacular, as was the food, a beautiful place to drink in both the wine and the scenery.
The pool bar.
Ready to go on our ATVs
That'll do me nicely, thanks
The boys on their jetskis
The weekend held a positively magical adventure - we went on a mini break. Yep. A mini break, whilst we were on holiday. Very extravagant. We travelled over to a place called Bintan in Indonesia. Although only a half an hour ferry ride, Bintan seemed worlds away from Singapore. A veritable island paradise, with white sands, dazzling seas, and all the rest, it was the perfect weekend. We spent both the evenings at the hotel's beach party, where I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of the resort, who was rather generous with the drinks, I must say, as well as finding some great friends in the hotel's event staff. Both the highlight and the worst part of the break was a knuckle biting ATV ride, which left me eaten alive by mosquitoes, and with a few too many grazes on my legs from a lot of rogue shrubbery. But it was all worth it, as we were taken to a secluded and untouched lagoon by the locals as a result, more than worth the week of angry itchy marks that erupted all over my legs. The only one of us with a camera at the time took a picture, and I haven't been able to get hold of it yet, but I'll add it when I've got it. It was absolutely mesmerising.

So, on Sunday morning we headed back to Singapore to commence our second weeks adventures. But more on that later.

Have you ever visited Singapore? Were you as enamoured with it as I am? Better yet, is anyone reading this from Singapore? Let me know!


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  1. Singapore is an amazing place -it's actually at the top of my "to travel" list. You look like you had an amazing time and I'm super jealous!

    xo Deborah
    Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

    1. It's absolutely amazing there, and I couldn't recommend it highly enough! Definitely one of the best places I've visited =) xx