Wednesday 28th September
Another early morning rise to get ready for our pickup for the airport, once we had checked out of the hotel we took off with what seemed like a new driver to the route, she mistakenly took and left us in Terminal 1 when apparently we should have been taken to terminal 4, fortunately, there was an airport bus just outside that was able to take us on the 30-minute journey over to the other side of the airport. Once in terminal 4, the confusion continued, our flight turned out to be with Qantas and not Emirates as expected. Once airborne everything went well and we both had a pleasant flight into Changi.
When we arrived it took us well over an hour to clear immigration and customs before being picked up by our driver and driven to the Furama Riverfront hotel, our home for the next week. After checking in and exploring our room, which we found to be perfectly adequate for our stay, we went out for a walk around to try and get our bearings. I had stayed in this hotel 4 years ago and had some idea where things were, so we went along the road towards Clarke Quay where we found a nice Thai restaurant to have some dinner before returning to the hotel ready for bed after a long and tiring day.
Thursday 29th September
After our breakfast in the hotel, we went along the main road into town heading for Chinatown. This is one of the city’s bright, colourful and vibrant areas and we were happy to wander the streets soaking in the sights.
Our main reason for visiting Chinatown was to go to the visitor centre, next to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, to buy some phone SIM cards and to scope out tickets for some of the attractions of the city, on reaching the riverbank on Raffles Place, where we sat for a while watching the world go by, we decided to head towards the Merlion Park at Marina Bay, we got there easily and stopped for lunch, Jim loved the large Merlion and Unicorn Elephant statues we found there.
In the Marina. Bay, we could see the grandstand for the F1 GP we have tickets for Sunday’s race and decided to see how and where we could get there, we found the entry point easily, so we thought it would be a good time to visit the Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Sands Hotel. This is where all our problems began, almost all the streets in the area were closed off and no matter how many ways we tried, we just couldn’t get to them. Feeling a bit frustrated we returned to Chinatown to the Maxwell Food Centre, a typical Hawker food court, after passing through the colourful night market, to see what was on offer, and after a couple of most refreshing Tiger beers, we had a lovely meal from the Michelan rated Tian Tian Chicken Rice stall, we both agreed that it deserved the plaudits, afterwards, I just couldn’t resist sampling one of the delicious Fuzhou Oyster cakes again it was worthy of the praise. From Chinatown, we slowly made our way home after yet another warm and tiring day, the heat and humidity really sap your energy so it was nice to return to our air-conditioned room.
Friday 30th September
We had a bit of a lie-in this morning after yesterday’s long walks, but we were still in time for a good breakfast before heading out to find the Fort Canning MRT (metro) Station to take us up to Little India, this area of Singapore is where it’s mainly Indian population lives, when wandering the streets there you could be forgiven for thinking that you really were in a part of India. This week sees the festival of Deepavali being celebrated so the streets were decorated with colourful banners and lights and there were many flower sellers on the streets selling colourful garlands.
After a refreshing sugarcane juice drink to cool us down, we took the metro to Bayfront, intending to go up the Marina Bay Sands Hotel observation deck, but due to the F1 race, it was closed. We took a stroll around the shoppes in the arcades in the hotel in search of a coffee and to say that the place was a world apart from Little India would be an understatement, despite them only being 15 minutes apart by metro, there is even a mock canal with gondolas running through it.
Now that we were in the Bay Area, we crossed over to the Gardens by the Bay, where we decided to see it all if possible, this included the Double Conservatories of the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest with its 35-meter waterfall and the aerial Cloud Walk. We were stunned by both of them, but especially the Flower Dome, with plant species from the Mediterranean, the African Savannah, and Australia, all in a massive structure. From there we had a stroll through the gardens to the Supertree Grove, the Supertrees are 18 tree-like structures 25 metres to 50 metres tall, they are vertical gardens that are home to enclaves of unique and exotic ferns, vines, orchids and also a vast collection of bromeliads.
We then went up to the elevated walkway, the OCBC Skyway, a viewing platform between two of the larger Supertrees to enjoy a panoramic aerial view of the Gardens, we had also purchased a ticket for the Supertree Observatory, an observation platform at the top of the tallest of the Supertrees, which provided an even more spectacular view of the city and the bay.
We stayed in the park for dinner in Satay by the Bay, a hawker-type outlet before going back to Supertree Grove to see the evening’s light and music show known as the Garden Rhapsody. The music played tonight had a retro pop theme and was well coordinated and it was great fun lying on our backs watching it all.
We made use of public transport a lot today, using both the MRT and buses in getting about the city, mainly to avoid the restrictions due to the Grand Prix, but we still managed to put on a few thousand steps on the way. Again we returned to the hotel very tired but happy after yet another great day.
Saturday 1st October
This morning we jumped a bus down to the harbour front to get the Singapore Cable Car, a cable car ride north to Mount Faber, one of Singapore’s highest points, when we got there we were slightly disappointed as, apart from a walk through yet another rain forest, there didn’t seem to be much to do or see, perhaps. Perhaps we have just become a bit rain forest jaded.
We went back on the cable car which then carried us south to Sentosa Island, an island resort off Singapore’s southern coast, from what we could read about it, it looked like a super place to visit, with beautiful beaches, plenty of bars and restaurants and loads of activities such as zip wires, bungee jumping and what we fancied doing was a few runs on the Skyline Luge, a thrilling gravity fuelled ride downhill that I had first tried in New Zealand. We booked 3 runs intending to create our own Singapore Grand Prix, the first 2 runs went well, with each of us gaining a victory as we rode down the purpose-built tracks with their hairpin corners, tunnels and downhill slopes through the forest, however, it all changed on the last run, it had started with light rain as we took off, but by the time we reached the bottom we were in the middle of a tropical monsoon and thunderstorm, soaked to the skin, we shared the victory, the championship was drawn.
After waiting for the storm to abate, we returned to the cable car to take us back to the mainland where we eventually made our way to Chinatown for a late lunch/early dinner and a well-earned beer in the Maxwell Food Court, which is becoming one of Jim’s favourite places where he likes to sample something different every time we visit.
While we were there the rain started again so we agreed to return to the hotel to dry off a bit, before going out for a snack and a beer in nearby Tiong Bahru, one of my favourite areas in Singapore, this area has a really cool vibe with its 1930’s Art Deco styled housing complexes, the suburb has become famous for its trendy cafes and independent shops. There’s also a local park and a traditional food market. There is also plenty of high-quality street art by a local resident, Yip Yew Chong, I first saw them when I visited in 2018 and they remain among my favourite murals. A 5-minute walk took us back to the hotel tired after yet another interesting day. (Expect to a page devoted to Yip Yew Chong’s work coming soon to my Street Art section)
Sunday 2nd October
A big day today, we have tickets for the Singapore GP, which is undoubtedly the potential highlight of the trip for Jim (and me too). We thought that although the gates open at 10:00 we would wait until later to go to the track.
We started off after breakfast by going back out to Tiong Bahru to capture an image of a mural by Yip Yew Chong that I had missed during my earlier travels, we stopped off at the food court there and had some Kopi, (also known as Nanyang coffee) and a Singaporean version of a Portuguese custard tart, they were both very good. In order to see another of his wonderful murals we then went to the Amoy Street area to see his wall, describing some of Singaporean history on the wall of the Thian Hock Keng temple, since it was quite close we returned to the Maxwell Food Court for lunch before heading to the Bay Grandstand and our seats for the race.
Our seats facing the Sands Marina Hotel are very good with a great view of the track with one of the giant screens directly in front of us. The preamble to the race proper was very good, we had a W Series race, which is a fairly new series designed to encourage women into the sport, and then we saw the Formula 1 drivers parade where the drivers were taken around the track in a collection of historic vintage cars, this was when things changed a little.
At this point, the heavens opened and we had a massive rainstorm, despite cagoules and ponchos, we couldn’t stay dry and, in addition to almost everyone there, we retreated to the area under the grandstand to shelter from the rain in the hope that it would eventually stop and the race be allowed to start. After a nail-biting hour, the rain stopped and the decision was made to start the race, so following the Singaporean National Anthem, it all got underway.
It was brilliant, the sound of the cars, the vibration in our seats as they passed and the additional visuals provided by the giant screen opposite all added to the once-in-a-lifetime event, after a fabulous fireworks display, we left the area on a high and made our way back to the hotel after a fAntastic day, the potential of the day was fully realised, it was a highlight.
Monday 3rd October
This morning, now that the road closures and the restrictions placed due to the F1 were lifted, we made our way to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and its observation platform on the 57th floor, the views over the city were spectacular, it was good to see many of the places we had visited and the F1 track from above, however, being up so high it felt extremely warm so we were glad to return to ground level and the air-conditioned comfort of one of the malls in the hotel.
Our afternoon trip was one we had always planned, a river cruise on one of the city’s Bumboats from Clarke Quay, this trip around the river was very relaxing and enjoyable, providing yet a different viewpoint of the sights seen earlier.
With time to spare after our cruise we thought we would visit Kampong Gelam, a neighbourhood known as Arab street, to see some murals by Yip Yew Chong, one of my favourite ever artists, again, nature took over with yet another rainstorm, this time, unfortunately, we were in a predominantly Muslim area so we couldn’t take solace in lunch or a beer in one of the malls, we sat it out as long as we could before trying a sprint to the nearest MRT station, we thought we had done well staying reasonably dry until a passing motorist going through a puddle completely drenched us. The murals did make the trip worthwhile though, and I did find a quirky camera shaped building that turned out to be a camera museum, unfortunately it was closed, which was a shame as it would have been a great place to shelter from the rain.
We made our way back to Clarke Quay to have an enjoyable dinner in a Hawker Centre we had seen earlier before returning to the hotel to pack our cases ready for our departure tomorrow night, stopping off in Boomerang, an Australian bar across the river from us for one last round of drinks.
Tuesday 4th October
For our last day in Singapore, we decided to visit Everton Road, #33 on the Time Out list of the coolest streets in the world at the end of our trip, it was a pretty cool area, but we couldn’t see what made it stand out over other places, perhaps we needed to see it at night. The area did have some pretty cool murals by Yip Yew Chong so the journey wasn’t wasted.
On my last visit to Singapore, Raffles Hotel was closed and undergoing refurbishment and was covered in scaffolding, so I couldn’t see much, this time, however, we saw it in all its glory. We thought that it would be very exclusive and that we wouldn’t be allowed in, how wrong were we, the staff couldn’t have been more helpful, offering to take photographs and guiding us to the best spots, it really was a special place to visit.
With loads of time to kill, we visited the Newton Food Court for lunch, this Hawker centre is a bit further out of town, and although it had been recommended to us we much preferred the Maxwell Food Court which we visited frequently.
An MRT ride back into Chinatown’s Mohamed Ali Lane led us on a hunt for more murals by Yip, which was a great way to revisit some of the places we had visited earlier and to see them with fresher eyes, it is strange how all of our walks in the area takes us back towards the Maxwell, where we had to stop for a refreshing beer before returning to the hotel to rest for a while before being collected for our travel to Changi Airport.
Unlike Perth and Western Australia, we managed to meet Dan’s Challenge by finding A Starbucks (it wasn’t hard, there are 130 of them in Singapore) and a Certified Lego Store (there were only 7 of them).
We both fully enjoyed Singapore and its many attractions, especially the F1 Grand Prix, which was very special, amongst our highlights were the Gardens by the Bay, the view from the Marina Sands hotel’s observation deck, Sentosa Island with its cable car and Luge run, plus of course the hawker food courts, especially the Maxwell. I enjoyed seeing as many of Yip Yew Chong’s murals as possible, they really tell the story of his Singaporean life in vivid colour. The photographs shown above are only a sample of the many hundreds taken by both Jim and I, but I’m sure you will agree that they show just how wonderful a time we had there. I certainly would like to come back again.