Singapore is sometimes referred to as Asia Light or Asia 101. Everyone speaks English, you are statistically safer here than anywhere in the world, the food is wonderful, cabs are cheap and plentiful, trains are always on time and the airport is rated the best in the universe. Above all, if you are over the age of 50 you cannot be sentenced to a caning as punishment.
Beautiful Modern Singapore
Singapore boasts two of the three most expensive buildings in the world. Riding around on the clean, air-conditioned bus, striking architecture was everywhere. Once again the heat and humidity were oppressive. This was not a special heat wave, rather normal life in Singapore which is close to the equator and has very little seasonal temperature fluctuations.
While the sleek modern buildings are most visible, there are smaller older ethnic sections within Singapore, like Little India and Chinatown. We walked to Chinatown from our hotel for dinner when it cooled in the evenings. There were often l-o-n-g lines to get into many restaurants. It seems to be part of the evening for locals to visit with others while waiting in line for over an hour. Walking to Chinatown we would pass mosques which were full of men praying, leaving their shoes on the sidewalk. Yelp is not useful for selecting your evening venue, as all restaurants seemed to have good reviews.
Marina Bay Sands Garden
Each evening the large Gardens by the Bay behind the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel is a gathering point for a musical laser light show which is free to all. This garden is built only for entertainment. These towers serve no function other than being supports for a walkway, lights and the laser light show. Singapore is an extravagant city in many ways.
My first attempt to photograph the garden during blue hour was a failure. The walk from our hotel was much longer than anticipated. A cab would have been the solution but I thought I could explore along the way, so I got to the garden well past blue hour. On the return trip, the 45 minute walk turned into almost three hours. I got lost, literally walking in circles. My iPhone GPS told me to cross streets where crossing was not possible, also jaywalking can incur a $500 fine, which our hotel concierge warned us about. The many tall buildings blocked a clear signal for my iPhone map applications. I finally called Uber and got home in 2 minutes.
Walking around the garden during the daytime and oppressive heat, one encounters a sculpted baby the size of several buses.
Singapore’s World Class Zoo
Exploration of Singapore on foot was out of the question due to the heat. We opted for the Ho-Ho bus, Hop-On, Hop-Off. Our two-day pass allowed us to ride all over the city in air-conditioned comfort. We also sat outside on the upper deck where I took the geometric photos posted in the blog. Normally zoos are not on our list of places to visit, however, it seemed to me the Singapore Zoo could be special.
Special it was. Upon entering we saw iguanas and small monkeys roaming freely, not in cages. Many of the animals were not in cages and free to scamper about. The larger animals were separated from guests by moats. While I walked about the zoo snapping photographs, the other half of my party hung out in the refrigerated arctic animals polar bear house sitting by the wolverines, not to be seen until shortly before our return bus was to arrive. I never went in the refrigerated sections as the camera would fog up upon exiting. In fact, I had to keep my entire camera bag on the balcony at all times. This prevented it from getting too cold and fogged up upon exposing it to the hot humid weather.
Much time was spent waiting for this mandrill to yawn and make facial expressions. Invariably, it would look away and then yawn… Too bad.
The Singapore Proboscis Monkey.
This chimpanzee seemed to be in deep contemplation. Look at those hands…
Parkroyal Pickering Hotel
We stayed at the very nice Parkroyal on Pickering Hotel. It was a great modern hotel, but what really made it stand out was the outrageous breakfast buffet.
For someone who eats anything and plenty of it, the international breakfast buffet was a real treat. I enlisted the help of the restaurant staff to show me how to eat some of the offerings. How else would I learn what sauces went with what dish? At times everything on my plate was something new to me. Below you have your typical dressing for edamame beans of seaweed, kimchi, wakame, bean curd and spices. Yep, for breakfast.
For those less adventurous, there was a green tea chocolate fountain in the dessert area. It tasted like regular chocolate to me.
Initially Singapore was not on our list of places to visit. When we learned we would have a 17 hour layover in Singapore on our way to Chiang Mai, Thailand, we thought it was a good opportunity to explore for a few days. It was a good decision. Maybe we will go back one day if we hear they’re having a cold spell.
Now on to Chiang Mai.