Taking advantage of a trip to Australia, we decided to make a stopover in Singapore. It is modern, cosmopolitan, and global with a large business and leisure center and is an example of a modern and functional city. From the architectural and urbanistic point of view, it has great landmarks that alone justify the trip. From the photographic point of view is a wonderful destination.
We had long wanted to travel to Singapore. Therefore, we did not want to book only two or three days as most travelers do. We wanted to get to see the city in depth and above all with peace of mind. Travelers who decide to pamper themselves stay at some of the fantastic hotels that are in the Bay area with the Marina Bay or the Fullerton hotels. If you do not want to shoot your budget there are other cheaper options. There are many hotels and hostels.
24 Hours in Singapore
We arrived at Singapore Changi Airport at 2:30 pm from Krabi. Changi is a super modern airport but nothing special either. We passed a first security check, and got the backpacks and then we passed Customs. It is very modern with photo and fingerprint control as in the USA. We were about to leave through the nothing to declare area when they randomly checked our bags.
In front of the immigration control, there was a foreign exchange office. Here we exchanged the baht that we had left over for Singapore dollars and finally we left customs. After taking a train to change terminal and walk several hundred meters following the indications, we reached the subway. In the airport office, there was a queue of about 25 tourists. We got into it. We had decided to take the tourist pass.
We took the one that took us to Tanah Merah in 10 minutes. Here we moved to another that left us in 15 minutes in Lavender in the Arab quarter where we had our hotel. Between the Lavender station and our hotel was one of the Singapore street restaurants that have a Michelin star.
As it was already past 4:30 in the afternoon we decided to get closer to try it. It's located at Crawford Lane. Finding it took a while because it is in a hawker center, a street full of restaurants and shops. The site is ugly and seedy and there was a considerable queue but it was too late to look for alternatives.
I interacted with a group of young people who were behind me in the queue. I see a couple of Singaporeans of Chinese origin who were showing the restaurant to another couple of their friends from Thailand. They explained what was the most famous dish and helped me ask for it (in Chinese) when it was my turn. It was ordered directly in a window that opened onto the kitchen. The kitchen was the one that makes anyone want to eat but seeing the owner and his assistant working was a spectacle.
We ordered the famous noodles with cooked pork, vegetables and a few pieces of dried fish, accompanied by a soy soup. It was good but we were not impressed either and we did not see the reason for the Michelin star anywhere.
When we finished we approached the hotel. We had booked at a modern hotel, relatively well located and with reasonable prices for Singapore. The hotels in this country are expensive. The hotel was very nice but the room was tiny and overlooked by a corner to Marina Bay. The best thing about the hotel is that it had a rooftop pool and the first thing we did was go up and try it.
The pool was minuscule but the views from the rooftop were wonderful. From above we could see part of the city skyline and even Marina Bay with the famous building of the Marina Sands Hotel.
We spent some time enjoying the water and the views while it was getting dark. We went down to the room, changed and we left to visit the city. We took the yellow line at the Nicoll Highway station 300 meters from the hotel which took us one station further to Promenade where we got off.
As soon as we got off we realized that travel in Singapore was going to be difficult these days because in a week was the Singapore Grand Prix of Formula 1. For this reason, the city was preparing for it and they were mounting stands, fences and closing streets to both pedestrian and road traffic. The Temasek avenue where we left is part of the circuit so we went out into the street in a fenced area. We barely got close to Bahia but the adventure was worth it.
The Marina Bay is a spectacular place. It is a small artificial bay of 360 hectares in an area of land reclaimed from the sea and one of the most important urban developments on the planet. Around the bay, we see the mouth of the Singapore River, hotels, theaters, shopping centers, and skyscrapers.
We entered the bay at the northeast corner from where we see the first view of the Bayfront. The part that closes the bay on the east, is stunning with the Marina Sands hotel building in the spotlight. This hotel, the largest in Singapore, is made up of 3 towers. They have in their upper part a common roof shaped boat with a famous infinity pool that you surely have seen in photos or blogs. In front of it, there is a white building in the shape of a lotus flower opening that is the ArtScience Museum.
To get to Bayfront we cross the Helix Bridge, a pedestrian bridge made of metal and glass, designed by Australian architects, which is a marvel. The bridge is illuminated with red LEDs. At each section, there are viewpoints from which to admire the bay. From the inside it's spectacular.
After passing the bridge we go down to the Bayfront promenade, a wooden boardwalk that runs along the side of a long building. It is part of the Marina Sands complex and that includes a convention center, some theaters, and the hotel's casino. There is also a huge and spectacular luxury shopping center called The Shoppes with more than 300 shops and restaurants.
Opposite the building on the promenade, there are gardens, a promenade flanked by palm trees, open spaces. Here people sit on the floor enjoying the night. There are two impressive floating glass buildings called the Crystal Pavilions. The two spectacular polyhedron buildings merge architecture and engineering. One house a lavish Louis Vuitton store and the other a famous nightclub that seemed to be closed.
But the show at Marina Bay does not end here because on the other side of the bay we enjoy a breathtaking view of the city's skyscraper skyline. The lights reflected in the water offer an unforgettable scene. In front of the Crystal Pavilions every hour, the city offers us a show of water, lights, and sound on the incomparable background of the city.
The show called Spectra lasts about 15 minutes. It is a bit tacky with projections of dragons on water curtains, epic music of Hollywood hits and many colored lasers. The truth is that it is spectacular.
After the show we walked around the promenade, reaching the south end and entered the Shoppes. Here we took another trip, enjoying the ostentation and luxury of its architecture and its shops. In addition to snooping, we take advantage of withdrawing cash from an ATM.
As we had eaten late we were not hungry. So we went into a supermarket, bought a tray of sushi and some fruit and went out to eat it in the steps of the promenade enjoying the night view of the Marina.
When we finish, we continue around the Marina passing through its south side in the shadow of the big skyscrapers of the financial district of the city. Then we continue on its west side. Here stands the famous Merlion statue, an imaginary animal with a lion's head and a fish body that is the symbol of Singapore. It is one more example of the feeling that one has in Singapore that everything is new and a little artificial.
There are five Merlion statues in Singapore but the best known is in the Merlion Park, a statue spouting water from its mouth. From the Merlion Park, we see excellent views of the skyline of the financial area and the Marina Bay complex.
We cross the Esplanade Bridge, another magnificent pedestrian bridge over the Singapore River. From here we enjoy magnificent views of the Theaters on the Bay formed by a concert hall and a shopping center. The peculiarity of the buildings is that they have a rounded shape with a cover with triangular protrusions. It resembles the shape of a durian, a tropical fruit consumed in all of Southeast Asia with a putrid smell.
We left the bay by the Nicoll Highway which was all fenced for the Formula 1. Without difficulty, we located the entrance to the Esplanade metro station. From here we returned to rest at the hotel after the first contact with Singapore.
48 Hours in Singapore
As we did not have breakfast included in the hotel, we had to go out and look for it. In front of the hotel, there was a Chinese shopping center that included a hawker center so we tried it there. The market was very local and the food stalls were even more so. The customers were all people from the neighborhood who were having their breakfast. There were no stands of buns or coffee shops so it was hard for us to decide on one in which they sell traditional breakfasts.
I tried a toast with Kaya, an extremely sweet coconut jam, which was very good to which the Singaporeans put a dark sauce and intense flavor. There was no orange juice so we ordered a lime juice which was at least quirky for breakfast. In short, we had to visit a stand that sold muffins to complement the breakfast a little. But the fact is that we got our calories to start the day and it was quite a local immersion experience.
We took the metro and after two stops we got off at the Esplanade station. The first thing we visited was the War Memorial Park located in the center of a park. It is a modern monument, nicknamed chopsticks in the shape of a white obelisk formed by 4 closely spaced columns. The monument is dedicated to the memory of Singaporeans who died during the Japanese occupation in World War II. Under the structure of the monument are buried unidentified remains of victims of the war. Each column symbolizes each of the four main races of the inhabitants of the city.
This entire area was part of the Formula I circuit. So, with difficulty, we crossed the street and approached the St Andrew's Cathedral. It is a white neo-Gothic building inside a park and surrounded by skyscrapers. We could not see it inside because it was during the Sunday Mass.
Opposite the cathedral is the Padang, one of the most famous parks in the city but which we could not visit. It was fenced as it hosts the main grandstand and the Fan Zone of the Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Next to the cathedral is one of the most interesting buildings in the city of the National Gallery, an art museum of Southeast Asia. The peculiarity of the museum is that it is the union of two classic buildings. One is the old town hall of the city and the other is the old Supreme Court, a neoclassical building with Corinthian columns and Italian murals.
The gap between both buildings has been covered and it is the vestibule of the museum. The museum from the architectural point of view is superb. There was a kilometer queue to enter but we decided that Asian art was not interesting enough.
Without paying, we snooped around the old town hall building. Next to the museum is the new Supreme Court, an ultramodern glass building by Norman Foster but not exactly one of his most impressive works. Next to it is the Parliament House, another modern building surrounded by gardens.
Throughout this area, there are government and official buildings. One of the most interesting is the MICA building. It is a striking construction that was the old prison and then the police station until it hosted the National Archives of Singapore. I say striking because its windows are painted in bright colors achieving a strange effect.
Going back on our steps, we crossed the Singapore River through the Elgin Bridge. It is a white painted metal bridge from which there was a magnificent view of the Singapore skyline. The quays are the old docks of the city that today have become the main leisure areas of the city. The most important quays from south to north are the Boat Quay and the Clarke Quay.
Crossing the bridge, on the south side of the river, we are in Boat Quay. There is an endless succession of tourist restaurants by the river of all kinds of food and budgets. There are hamburgers stalls, English pubs, as also Indian, Mexican, Thai, and of course Singaporean food stalls. Even though it was early the stall owners were already trying to lure us to eat. As the place was very nice we stopped for a beer on the terrace of an English pub.
The low houses of Boat Quay soon give way to the skyscrapers of the Business District, the financial center of Singapore. The first skyscraper that we find is the UOB Plaza 1. At its entrance, there is a statue of Dali called Homage to Newton but it was covered and was in restoration. In the huge open lobby of the tower as well as in the surrounding streets there are other sculptures in a kind of outdoor sculpture museum.
We returned to the river passing by the Fullerton Hotel, the most luxurious hotel in the city. It is a beautiful Art Deco building that used to be the main post office of colonial times. On the doorstep of the hotel were the usual luxury cars, and buttons with livery. The lobby gave off that smell of money and elegance so typical of 5-star hotels.
Next to the hotel is the Cavenagh Bridge, a beautiful colonial-looking pedestrian bridge. It has a strange sign at its entrance that prohibits the movement of animals and heavy carts. There are several bronze sculptures next to the bridge. The most beautiful one is the so-called First Generation that represents children jumping into the river and enjoying life.
With this visit, we finished our morning walk. We approach the subway to a large rectangular square surrounded by shopping centers and skyscrapers called Raffles Place. We got off at the Bayfront stop on the other side of the bay since we had booked the rest of the day to visit the Gardens by the Bay. We got off at the back of the Marina Sands hotel. There is a short walk to the beginning of the park.
It is a huge park located on a large stretch of land located between the sea and the back of the Marina Bay Sands complex. The park occupies 101 hectares of land reclaimed from the sea. The first thing we found was a large esplanade with a strange curved structure shaped like a metal mesh with no clear function except to act as a cover or simply as an aesthetic element.
There is also a tower from where part of an elevated walkway leads to the Marina Bay area and which is the natural exit of the park. Then we come to the shore of a narrow and elongated artificial lake called the Dragonfly Lake. In its waters, in addition to water jets, colorful flowers, and other decorative elements, there are dozens of metal sculptures of giant dragonflies.
We cross the lake by a wooden bridge from which there are magnificent views of both the Marina Bay Hotel and the Gardens by the Bay. We arrive at the area that is grouped by themes forming a sort of gigantic circular botanical garden. There are areas such as the Indian garden, the Malay garden, the Chinese garden, the colonial garden, the garden of fruits and flowers, and the garden of palm trees.
In each zone, there are different plants with signs with their names and characteristics as well as information panels with peculiarities of them and with information about their history and the relationship with Singapore. The gardens are lovingly cared for, scrupulously clean and well designed and are a wonder to the senses.
To the west of the gardens there is a giant sculpture of a Floating baby and beyond it, a stage for outdoor concerts called the Meadow. But without a doubt, the most striking in this area is the Supertree Grove, the central area of the gardens, a large open space where the supertrees rise.
The huge steel structures between 25 and 50 meters high in the shape of a palm tree are covered by plants in their trunks in the manner of a vertical garden and that end in metallic cups of colors. These structures are self-sufficient as they collect rainwater and contain photovoltaic cells that allow them to accumulate energy by the day that is used in the lighting at night.
In spite of being evidently artificial structures, the result is strangely coherent with the gardens that surround them. At the top of the central tree, there is a restaurant. Between some of the trees, there is a walkway called the OCBC Skyway, which is 22 meters high and 128 meters long. We climb by the elevator.
From the top, we have the opportunity to see in detail the upper part of the trees. The most interesting are the views of Marina Bay and the gardens themselves from a different perspective. It is a very interesting visit and of course, it is worth paying the entry fee.
To descend we decided to use the spiral staircase that goes down inside each tree and that gave us another vision of these strange structures. As we were hungry, we took the opportunity to visit a food court next to the super-trees. Here, from the extensive gastronomic offer, we opted for a quick hamburger since we did not want to waste a lot of time on food.
To the west of the restaurants, there is another area with 3 other golden supertrees called the Golden Garden. Then we headed north towards the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. These are two overwhelming steel and glass structures that function like gigantic greenhouses. Next, to it, there are three other super-trees that form the Silver Garden.
The largest building to the west is the Flower Dome, a huge greenhouse dedicated to the driest plant life on the planet. It recreates the Mediterranean, African, Australian, South African and other arid or semi-arid areas of the Earth. The variety of plants is overwhelming and the expositions and the way of showing the plants are wonderful.
In the center of the complex, there is an assembly hall and an area for temporary exhibitions. When we visited it was dedicated to pumpkins, protagonists of the nearby Halloween parties. Then we visited the other building, the Cloud Forest, dedicated to the vegetation of the most humid areas of the Earth. It mainly depicts the tropical forests of Asia and South America.
If the Flower Dome is spectacular, the Cloud Forest is a fascinating visit that leaves us speechless. In the center of the building, there is a mountain covered with vegetation. From the top of this mountain, a waterfall of 35 meters falls into a small pond that refreshes and humidifies the environment. The mountain is hollow. The visit starts by climbing an elevator inside that leaves us at the top.
In this area, called Lost World, there is a small pond with wonderful views of the lower part of the structure. From there, we go down a walkway that goes around the mountain. Above the jungle at ground level, we pass close to the ceiling and the glass walls. It is a paradise for the eyes and for the camera. This top gateway is called cloud walk.
At half height, the footbridge crosses the interior of the mountain. We pass through an artificial cave with an exhibition of stalactites. In this greenhouse, we can see orchids, mosses, carnivorous plants, bromeliads and all kinds of sylvan plants organized by themes in the different levels of the descent.
The passage from this point is called Treetop Walk. And if it were not enough with what is described every so often in the building by hundreds of sprinklers located everywhere, water is fogged forming an artificial mist that recreates the environment of the rainforest.
The final part of the visit is in the lowest area and in the basement of the building called Secret Garden. In this area, there is a labyrinthine walk through more humid and rare species among wooden sculptures that leads us to the store and to the exit.
We took a walk along the side of the greenhouses that overlook the reservoir. It is an artificial canal that surrounds the gardens and that is closed to the east by a dike that isolates it from the sea. Next, to the greenhouses, there is a huge playground called the Far East Organization Children's Garden with a water play area and a vegetable labyrinth with multiple swings and beautifully designed play areas.
While it was getting dark, we continued for a while walking along the promenade next to the reservoir that took us to the eastern part of the gardens, the newest and most anodyne airfield. In this area, there is a hawker center called Satay by the Bay, one of the food markets so typical of Singapore.
At that time of the afternoon, it was crowded with Singaporeans filling their bellies. The stalls were very attractive and smelled wonderful but as we were not hungry we decided to go back towards the exit. We crossed another area of the gardens with huge ponds with water lilies, sculptures, resting areas and delicious corners.
Our goal was to return to the area of the superhighways where every night there is a free light and sound show. First, we came across the 3 trees of the Golden Garden. The first view of the supertrees at night is another one of those images that cannot be easily forgotten.
The trunk of the structures is illuminated with clear light that turns green because of the plants that it shelters. The upper part has an illumination with colored LED lights that vary in tone and intensity. The result is very aesthetic and relaxing and the photos are spectacular.
Then we approach the Supertree Grove where the show is. We had missed the first pass and had plenty of time for the second. So we enjoyed the lighting for a while as the area is filled with people who lay on the ground or in the grass areas.
At the indicated time the show began, very similar in concept to the one we had seen the previous day in Marina Bay. The show called Garden Rhapsody is a succession of changes of color of the trees synchronized with a mix of great successes of Broadway musicals. It lasts about 15 minutes and put the finishing touch on an unforgettable day.
As soon as the show ended, the thousands of visitors at the park began to leave, producing the inevitable human traffic jam. Leaving the gardens took us a good half hour in which we took the opportunity to capture the last snapshots of the landscapes at night. It was interesting to see the Marina Sands Hotel changing color with the lights of the show on the other side of the bay.
We took the subway at Bayfront again and headed to the Downtown station. Our goal was to dine at the Lau Pa Sat Food Hawker Centre one of the most famous in the city. Located in the heart of the financial district and surrounded by skyscrapers, Lau Pa Sat is an octagonal steel and glass building with an old market charm. There are streets with hundreds of food stalls and restaurants of all kinds of food that you can imagine.
The market is quite elegant compared to the hawker centers we had seen in the morning in the Gardens by the Bay. The atmosphere is very nice and casual and the prices are very moderate. As in all hawker centers, the food is ordered in the stalls and then eaten in a common table.
We decided on some noodles with roast chicken, and char kway teow and I was encouraged to try the famous carrot cake. Everything was very good but definitely, the carrot cake is one of the most original and tasty dishes that I tried throughout the trip.
Since we could not leave Singapore without tasting their national dish, I also ordered a small chili crab. It is a cooked crab that is served with egg and a terribly spicy red sauce and abundant sweet bread to spread. The crab tasted nothing but the sauce was delicious.
Outside the market, there is a pedestrian street with dozens of satay stands (brochettes of meat and fish that are grilled). The street receives the appropriate name of Satay Street and is a site worth seeing and above all smelling. Unfortunately, we found it when we left with a full belly so we could not try the satay of Singapore either.
And without much more to see, we returned to the subway and our hotel to enjoy a well-deserved rest after a very intense and interesting day.
3 Days in Singapore
We decided not to repeat an experiment and had breakfast at a cafe next to the hotel and took the subway to the Chinatown stop. This stop ends in Pagoda Street, the epicenter of the Chinatown neighborhood. Chinatown is one of the ethnic neighborhoods of Singapore and one of the most vital and attractive in the city.
Chinese traders, peasants, and fishermen lived in this area for centuries. This pedestrian street has beautiful old houses restored and painted in colors. But the most characteristic of the street is that it is a market where everything is sold, mainly tourist souvenirs. As I had run out of space in the camera, I took the opportunity to buy a 16Gb memory card in a photo store that came out quite expensive.
At the end of the street is the Sri Mariamman temple, the most important Indian temple in the city, which was built by immigrants from South India. The entry is free but to be able to take photographs we have to pay. At the entrance to the temple, there is a tower decorated with dozens of figures of gods, warriors, animals, and flowers painted in bright colors. There are statues of sacred cows on the wall surrounding the enclosure.
When we arrived, a ceremony was ending and we could only see the last part. The atmosphere in the temple was very informal with families eating, devotees praying and we were able to enjoy very natural scenes. The whole temple is decorated with intense colors in a baroque that surprised us.
In the courtyard, there are several buildings crowned by other groups of statues of gods and warriors, with a cardboard look. We went down South Bridge Street enjoying the atmosphere of the neighborhood to get to Smith Street. It is also called the Chinatown Food Street, a roofed street full of Chinese restaurants. Although it was early, the restaurant boys were already trying to get us to sit down. As it was too early, we simply walked through it.
At the end of that street is the other Michelin starred restaurant in the city, that despite the hour was crowded. We went to snoop a little and take some pictures but nothing more. On the streets perpendicular to Smith Street, there is a street market.
On the street parallel to Smith Street is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, a Buddhist temple built to house a Buddha's tooth. We enter through the back that gives access to a small prayer room decorated with lanterns on the ceiling and with hundreds of small Buddha statues on the walls.
The temple has in its previous part a larger room more ornate decorated in reds and golds that had an interesting exhibition of foods and medicines as an offering. Its walls were also decorated by hundreds of small statues of Buddha each with the names of your donors.
At the exit of the temple on the south, there was a patio with a huge mountain of rice surrounded by other foods. It is clear that it was a kind of Buddhist food festival or something like that. In the courtyard, roofs superimposed on different levels created a very beautiful image. The main facade of the temple is very photogenic, with the usual statues of protective warriors.
In front of the temple, there was one of the numerous skyscrapers under construction in the city. And there is no corner of Singapore where they are not a building, being renovated or redesigned. The contrast of the coquettish low houses of the 19th century of the neighborhood with the background of skyscrapers was very suggestive.
In the area, there is one of the most famous hawker centers in the city called Maxwell Food Center. And in front of it is the Singapore City Gallery, a very modern building. It acts as a museum of modern architecture in Singapore with multiple photos, models, and plans of the most impressive buildings in the city. It had us entertained for a while.
We continue strolling through the neighborhood through streets with colorful houses of two floors beautifully restored and full of bars and restaurants. In an official building, there was a nice sign warning of the risks involved in an unauthorized visit.
We arrived at the Thian Hock Keng Temple, the oldest and most beautiful of the Chinese temples in Singapore dedicated to the goddess Ma Cho Po, goddess of the sea. The temple is surrounded by a small garden with statues of scenes of ancient life in Chinatown.
The main facade facing Telok Ayer Street is made of granite with two sculpted columns and the usual gilded, red and curved roofs with dragons. There we saw a newlywed couple making the wedding album. The interior patio, equally decorated, is beautiful.
As the temple is surrounded by skyscrapers, it offers some very interesting contrasts. In front of the temple is the Nagore Dargah Mosque, a national monument that we did not visit. And with another little walk around we ended the visit to Chinatown. We entered the Telok Ayer metro and headed to Orchard Road.
We got off at Orchard and walked down to the National Museum. At the intersection of Orchard and Scotts avenues, the most spectacular shopping centers are located, mainly the ION Orchard Mall and the Tangs. Orchard Road is the shopping street par excellence of Singapore. Throughout its more than 2 kilometers there are luxury hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and above all elegant shopping centers and exclusive boutiques of international brands.
Orchard Road is an indecent exhibition of glamor and excess with prices within the reach of very few pockets. On the street, I saw three Louis Vuitton stores, two of Prada, two of Chanel and so on. Luckily there were also affordable brands, including Zara, Desigual, and Bimba and Lola.
As I was going hungry we went into one of the shopping centers and went upstairs where there was a fantastic food court with dozens of food stalls. The Singaporeans do not have to eat at home, even if they are forced. There are food areas everywhere! We opted for some noodles and an assortment of grilled meats, which included chicken, duck, pork, and veal.
At the end of Orchard, there was the Istana Park with an interesting memorial located in a pond. But as it had started to rain we did not go much and ran to the Dhoby Ghaut subway station. We got off at Raffles Place, a rectangular square surrounded by skyscrapers in which there is a real museum of outdoor sculpture.
Among them, there was one of the Singapore Soul, the Bird sculpture by Botero and Homage to Newton by Dali. We went back to Marina Bay in front of the Fullerton Bay hotel. Next, to it, there is a circular viewpoint from where the view of the entire Marina is superb.
We returned to visit the Merlion Park and we took the usual tourist photo. Then we crossed the Esplanade Bridge again and we were able to enjoy the wonderful architecture of theaters on the Bay. We continue around the bay passing the Esplanade Outdoor Theater, a stage with stands and a modern parasol that works as an open-air theater.
Then we passed a floating multipurpose stadium next to the Float at Marina Bay. Next, to the stadium on the mainland, there is a platform. This grandstand is used in the Urban Circuit of the Singapore Grand Prix of Formula 1. From here we see the nice view of the Marina Sands Hotel and the ArtScience Museum. The truth is that we do not get tired of taking pictures of these buildings.
Finally, we cross the Helix Bridge (which is not so spectacular during the day) and arrive at the Bayfront. We spent some time visiting during the day what we had seen at night two days before. First of all, we visited the ArtScience Museum. The main attraction of the museum is its building, designed by the architect Moshe Safdie in the form of a lotus flower opening.
The flower rests on a narrow base surrounded by a pond with colorful fish and water lilies whose purple flowers are very photogenic. The roof of the building collects rainwater and channels it to this pond. The building opens in finger-shaped extensions of various lengths, thicknesses, and inclinations that house the different exhibition halls.
As the exhibitions did not interest us and were quite expensive, we only sneaked a bit through the glassed-in lobby, used the bathrooms and scrounged the wifi. Then we again enjoyed the view of the Crystal Pavilion on the background of the skyscrapers of the bay.
Finally, we went back to the Shoppes shopping center. Inside is the access to the Casino and also to the Marina Sands Hotel, which was our next visit. The Marina Bay Sands is the main attraction of Marina Bay. It is part of the urban complex built on 20 hectares of land in the area called Bayfront.
The design of the hotel is also by architect Moshe Safdie. The towers open on two legs at the bases and come together, becoming narrower and curving as they ascend achieving a very organic and harmonious movement effect.
Although the entrance of the hotel is in the south tower, almost all the tourists entered from the basement coming from the Shoppes. The interior of the hotel is fabulous. The view inevitably goes upwards towards a huge empty hall on which the interior spaces of the 3 towers are located. The 55 floors of each tower give these interior spaces of each tower producing a hypnotic effect. In the lobby, there are shops, restaurants, massage services, VIP rooms and of course the hotel reception.
Before the trip, we had tried to reserve a room at the hotel but the prices are stratospheric starting at $ 400 a night. However, the hotel was full. The main tourist attraction of the hotel is the visit to the platform on the towers, called Sands Sky Park. The entrance is outside the hotel below the north tower. We climb into the usual meteoric elevator that leaves us on the observation platform in a few seconds.
The view is wonderful, unspeakable, and unforgettable. It is the best of the trip to Singapore. We wanted to go up at 6 o'clock in the afternoon to see Singapore by day and also at night. With the visit to the hotel and the queue to go up, it was a bit late and we arrived at sunset. On the platform, there was a small cafeteria that was completely crowded.
From it, we have a view towards the east of the Gardens by the Bay. In the distance, we can see the sea that was packed with freighters that came and went from the Singapore port. As it rains every two minutes there was a beautiful rainbow over the sea. Towards the North, we see the Helix Bridge, the Singapore Flyer, a panoramic Ferris wheel that we did not visit, and the pit lane building of the Formula 1. Much farther, we see the futuristic building of the National Stadium.
Looking west we see the bay with the museum, the Pavilions, the Theaters on the Bay, the Float and especially the skyscraper skyline of the Financial District of the city. The rest of the Sky Park houses exclusive restaurants with private access, nightclubs, a garden and above all the longest elevated pool in the world.
It is also an infinity pool, a pool that produces the visual effect that the water extends to the horizon and thus it seems that its edge ends on the skyline of the city. Unfortunately, the access is exclusive for hotel guests. From a corner of the observatory, I could take some pictures of one of the restaurants and the pool.
We spent at least two hours enjoying the views and the sunset over the city. The night views are equally spectacular. And we could even see the light and sound shows of both the Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay.
Finally, we got off and returned to admire the interior architecture of the hotel and left by the reception and the official door of the south tower. Just in front of the Shoppes, we stop to get a ticket for a boat tour through the bay and the quays. The ship headed down the river towards the quays, passing under the bridges illuminated with very shrill and terribly tacky tones and enter the Boat Quay.
We then pass through the Clarke Quay, much narrower and lively. And finally, we turn around and go back down the river and out to the Bay. We had the luck that the pass coincided with a new light and sound show. The boat slowed down so we could enjoy it for the third time.
We considered returning to the Quays for dinner but we were so exhausted that we opted to return to the hotel by metro. For dinner, we went to the Chinese hawker center we had in front of the hotel. There we ordered some Roti John, a sandwich of a kind of omelet with onion and meat and of course a spicy touch. It is typical of Singapore, which we ate in the room and they were delicious.
4 Days in Singapore
To get to Sentosa Island we took the subway to the Harbor Front stop. Following the horde of visitors that left the subway, we climbed to level 3 of the VivoCity shopping center and took the train that in just 5 minutes left us at the Sentosa station. The views from the train of both the port and the city were very interesting.
We cross a central square with parasols and surrounded by restaurants and a shopping center. At that time it began to rain. We take advantage to take out the tickets. Compared with the Universal Studios of Los Angeles that we visited there is no color. It is much smaller and although many of the attractions are the same we miss others that we liked a lot. At the entrance to the park, there is a fountain with a large sphere with the Universal Studios logo.
The park is around a lake and we make a circular tour of the 7 thematic areas in which it is divided. We go by the Hollywood Boulevard. It is the area of the entrance to the park with a set of American streets of the 50s with cars and buildings of that time. Fortunately, it was covered because it was still raining.
In this area there is a stage for live music and also here is the theater that we did not see. In the opposite, the next area is set in the streets of New York with theaters, shops and American buildings like a neoclassical court building. On the street, they were already starting to set up decorations for Halloween parties.
In this area, there is the Lights Camera Action by Steven Spielberg show. In the area dedicated to science fiction first, we enter Transformers: The Ride, The Ultimate 3D Battle. It is a fast-paced indoor roller coaster with 3D projections. We had to wait more than 30 minutes in line but we liked it as much as the first time we tried it in Los Angeles. On the walk, there were huge Transformers with which we take photos.
In this part of the park is Battlestar Galactica, two spectacular roller coasters called Cylon and Human, each with its independent entrance but whose path intersects in the air. We let them go. Finally here is the Accelerator, the typical attraction of rotating cups but with a cool name.
Following the walk, we arrived at the area dedicated to ancient Egypt, one of the most spectacular areas of the park. And as if to set the mood, it had stopped raining and it was shining brightly. The area has a monumental entrance with giant statues of Anubis. There are sphinxes and a building that imitates an Egyptian temple where the attraction Revenge of the Mummy is located. We had already tried it in Los Angeles and we liked it a lot and again it did not let us down.
In this area is also the Treasure Hunters attraction, a quiet ride in vintage cars through an abandoned excavation site. We found it very bland and we did not try it. The fifth area of the park is dedicated to the world of Jurassic Park. Here is the theater where scenes of Waterworld are depicted with fights between good and bad and explosions in an aquatic scenario. We did not see because the schedule did not fit us and we had already enjoyed it in the USA.
As it was very hot we did ride in the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure. It is round raft ride through a prehistoric landscape with animatronics of dinosaurs and especially lots of water. We got soaking wet. In addition, there is a carousel whose booths that go up and down are pteranodons called Dino-Soarin. There is also an area for rock climbing called Amber Rock Climb.
I tried the merry-go-round. The penultimate area of the park is dedicated to the world of Shrek. Before trying anything, I ate a pizza and an ice cream. The food in the whole park is pretty bad and expensive.
Then we tried the Puss In Boots Giant Journey, a relatively quiet roller coaster through the walls of a castle with scenes of Puss in Boots. Then we went into Shrek 4-D adventure, a three-dimensional movie with Shrek with effects in 4D and that we had also tried in the American Universal. In the area, there is also a Ferris wheel for small children.
In the last area, dedicated to Madagascar, we set out in Madagascar: A Crate Adventure, a boat trip with music and animatronics. In the area, there is also another merry-go-round with dolls from the movie. And with this, we returned to the starting point of the route. We took advantage of the last hours of the park to repeat Transformers and the Mummy with fewer queues.
As I said before Universal Studios Park is quite small, less interesting than any Disney park. We already knew most of the attractions so we were a little disappointed. It's fine, but if you've seen other parks, it's a bit disappointing. In addition to leaving Sentosa, we had to endure a 45-minute queue to get back on the train. We could have walked and we would have taken less.
We got off at the Bras Basah stop of the MRT to take a walk through the area of Bugis that we had not seen yet. Opposite the stop was the coquettish neoclassical building of the Singapore Art Museum, in a historic building that had been a Catholic school. Across the street, we saw the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the oldest Catholic church in the city.
The whole area was occupied by buildings belonging to the Singapore Management University. The area looked like an American campus with gardens, bike lanes, modern buildings and a young environment. In fact, we saw a group of students who were rehearsing on a stage in the open air for a university performance.
A little further west we saw the imposing neoclassical building of the National Museum of Singapore, dedicated to the history of the country. It is another architectural prodigy that we did not visit. Then we walked down to the Clarke Quay. We continued admiring the buildings of the University as well as those of other museums and official organisms leaving aside the Fort Canning Park. The illuminated MICA building was beautiful. Finally, we arrived at the Clarke Quay.
We spent a good time on the left bank of the river where the restaurants with terraces are located, protected by huge permanent metallic parasols illuminated in strident pink and purple tones. We even saw a tapas restaurant.
On this bank was also the G-Max Reverse Bungy. It is a giant slingshot in which the daring customers are thrown from above in capsules held by elastic cables. They shake up and down until they stop at an endless second. We crossed the Malacca Bridge, also lit. We arrived at the area of Riverside Point, another area of bars and restaurants with a terrace. Then we walked back along the right bank enjoying the colorful bridges.
We continue strolling along the Boat Quay trying to choose a restaurant but the offer is so overwhelming that in the end, we choose one almost at random. It turned out to be an Indian restaurant. The food was fine although expensive but we enjoyed incredible views of the river and the opposite lit shore.
When we finished we take a walk. We crossed the Cavenagh Bridge, passed the Asian Civilizations Museum and came across the Raffles Landing Site. There, against the backdrop of the skyscrapers, stands a statue of Sir Stamford Raffles in a gallant and cocky attitude.
Then we headed north among other elegant neoclassical buildings all looking freshly painted and exquisitely lit. We see the Arts House, a cultural center that occupies the building of the old parliament of the country. In front of it is the Victoria Theater and Concert Hall, the headquarters of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.
Then we went to Marina Bay to take the last night look at this magnificent place. And then we continued north until we reached Suntec City, the first skyscraper complex built around an original ring-shaped fountain. The truth is that compared to the new developments in the city, it has been a little outdated. And right there we took the subway and returned to the hotel to rest.
5 Days in Singapore
We got up to enjoy the last day of travel and vacations. We checked out and left the bags in the hotel lockers. We had breakfast again in the familiar cafe and we just crossed the street to Arab Street, the neighborhood of our hotel. Parallel to this street to the west is Haji Lane with art galleries, designer clothing boutiques, modern cafes and alternate air.
Towards the east, the streets of Muscat and Bussorah end in the north facing Sultan Mosque, with its architecture confirm without a doubt that we are in an Arab quarter. It offers us the typical Arab architecture of horseshoe arches, golden domes, and minarets. Although it has charm, we thought it was a bit like a Disney park.
The mosque was closed and we could not see inside. The Bussorah street is flanked by palm trees that frame the view of the mosque. We strolled a bit and when we saw that the neighborhood did not offer much more we headed north through a very anodyne area of Singapore to Little India. We passed some blocks of buildings very photogenic colors.
Little India is the third ethnic neighborhood of Singapore and probably the most beautiful and lively of the three. It is a residential neighborhood with several temples although there are also mosques. There are several shopping centers where we taste the true Indian flavor of the neighborhood. Coming from the south first, we passed by the Abdool Gafoor Mosque that we did not visit.
Then we came across the Little India Arcade, an old shopping center that occupies a building of the early twentieth century but was closed. However, in the surrounding streets, there was a food and flower market with a lot of local flavors.
At the back of the market stands a curious colorful house called House of Tan Teng Niah, an example of the last surviving Chinese villas in Little India. The Little India Arcade goes north to Serangoon Road, the main artery of the neighborhood. It was adorned due to some festival with ornaments of gaudy and quite tacky colors.
At the entrance to the street there was a quirky welcome arch to the neighborhood and beyond there was an elephant made with colorful flowers. Across the street was the Tekka Mall, a shopping center with hundreds of small shops selling Indian products. The site is wonderful. There we enjoyed for a while an absolutely Indian atmosphere. The two upper floors offer food stores with Indian products and especially Indian textiles and clothing.
In addition, there are tailors. It is a very local market with an irresistible atmosphere. We returned to Serangoon Street where a few meters further on stands the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. It is the oldest in the neighborhood dedicated to the Goddess Kali. It was closed and we could not see inside but on the outside, we see a tower decorated with hundreds of small figurines painted in colors much like the temple of Sri Mariamman of Chinatown that we had visited two days before.
We took a walk through Serangoon enjoying the atmosphere and returned to the subway with the goal accomplished. As we had plenty of time we decided to return to Marina Bay. We took the last pictures and we said goodbye to Singapore trying to take in the eye the view of the most beautiful part of the city.
We went back by subway and got off at Bugis. On the way to the hotel, we passed the Parkview building, a beautiful modern skyscraper but in an Art Deco style. It has a very New York look and is next to the MasterCard tower with a facade with geometric motifs. We collected the backpacks and went back to the subway to get to the airport. In just 20 minutes we arrived in Changi. We take the flight to Bangkok.
Singapore is a very interesting destination. The city is untouched. All the buildings are new or are newly restored, beautifully decorated and adequately lit. There are many museums, statues, and art everywhere. Also one of the great surprises of the trip is the Singaporean cuisine, with its own personality and with some really exquisite dishes. In addition, the culture of eating in the hawkers and on the street also gives it a lot of charm.