Saturday, 12 December 2015

24h in Vibrant Singapore


So now let's welcome the long ambitious mission of attempting to record my three-week Asia trip I just came back from. After finishing work in Vietnam last month, I embarked on a celebratory solo-trip to Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. And here is the first stop...

Jam and butter and English muffins while catching up on my Singapore to-do list
SINGAPORE. I hadn't originally planned to go there, but for some logical reason I don't quite comprehend, HCMC-Singapore + Singapore-Hong Kong would come to just under 100 euros, whereas HCMC-Hong Kong would be over 200 euros. Look at a map if you don't understand why this is strange.

Vietnam to Singapore is a 'slight' change, and I am still astounded about the amount of Vietnamese who seem to make it to and from Singapore without getting arrested or fined. The laws and the attitude are so DIFFERENT. Last time I'd been, only in airport transit, I'd already been an undercover criminal smuggling chewing gum. I also was aware of the myriad other laws, and as I walked the beautifully carpeted floors of Changi airport, I wondered how many more I'd already broken. Once in the metro I felt quite relieved I hadn't bought that bottle of water, as eating and drinking merits a 500 dollar fine...

Apparently durians are just on your conscience though
And the whole cleanliness thing. In Vietnam, if you want to get rid of your empty water bottle or ca phe sua da cup, worse comes to worse, (or... even if worse doesn't come to worse, to be completely honest) you silently put it in a 'discreet' corner of the street or, more likely, you find a rubbish pile in the middle of the road you add your rubbish too. In Singapore this would probably lead to life imprisonment - you have to find one of them happy-looking bins (often with texts like "Feed me trash" or "I'm tired of munching greens"), but luckily they are quite easy to be found. (Unlike in Japan... KRHM.) 

Crossing the road is another fun point of comparison between the two. Wanna cross the road in Vietnam? Cross your fingers (figuratively, not literally, otherwise it means lady parts), step into the road, make your way over slowly and shake your hand each time you manage to get to the other side unscathed. Be aware of traffic coming from every single possible direction. Literally. As mentioned in my previous entry, there is nothing more pointless in life than being a zebra crossing painter in Vietnam. 

In Singapore, find a zebra crossing. Wait for the green light - and make sure it's the 'permanent' green light, not the blinking one. Cross. My hostel receptionist mentioned to me that a hostel guest got fined for crossing the road somewhere outside of the zebra crossing area outside of our hostel. 
Priority seats in the metro
A refreshing change though. In addition to it being clean, I really appreciated the fact that I could stand in the middle of arrivals looking lost (aside a few sideway glances) and being able to FEEL comfortably lost without being immediately encircled by a gang of rogue taxi drivers offering their services for 300% the actual price. Of course there were always Singaporean airport officials ready to jump to your aid, but it was so refreshing to not have to fake a non-existent confidence which I feel I have to do way too much in Vietnam. (Well, all part of the growing up experience!?)
Talking of growing up... this is the mug I picked up by chance at my hostel. Sigh.

First impression of Singapore streets was... exceptional. It was a bit disconcerting as I couldn't immediately fit Singapore into a nice little box in the World Destinations-bit of my brain along with other cities/countries it reminds me of. 

I finally lodged it into its own, new box, but located closest to Bangkok. The high buildings and the lanes of colourful taxis were slightly Bangkokkian. However, as my hostel was in Singapore's Chinatown, there was also a handful of cool temples. 
The old and the new
Anyways, I found my nice little cosy hostel with a super bubbly and informative reception girl Vanessa, and within an hour I was out again, this time headed to, what will become a tradition of the trip, the cable car.

I love cable cars. If somewhere has a cable car, it is a guarantee of me having a good time. “Have you been on a cable car?” Vanessa asked me. “Yes.” “Oh, well it's like all the others,” she told me. She considered it as a minus point, but for me, well... a cable car like all the other cable cars!? It's like saying that chocolate biscuit cake is like all the other chocolate biscuit cakes. (Biscuit cake = the most perfect chocolate biscuitty insanely scrumptious goodie my grandma makes. Even the worst biscuit cake I tasted was still 6 stars out of 5. (No wait, except that time I burnt it... But exception proves the rule eh!?))
Also had a soy bean milk tea from a shop called Mr Bean
You can take the Singapore cable car from the Harbour Front to Sentosa Island. Sentosa Island is, well, as I described it in my travel journal, “so my place”. 

The fourth biggest island in the Singapore area, it is this paradise island come theme park, with a water park, a funfair, many gorgeous beaches, a ZIPLINE (now that is one regret I have from this trip... But Singapore, hopefully I'll be back to zipline through you!), golf courses, viewpoints and one of the largest Merlion-statues. (Merlion is the Singapore lion, a mix of a lion and a fish, and it's become the national personification of Singapore.)

Gaudi-esque art
I went back at sunset and it was beautiful.
The craney sunset on paradise beach

In the evening, I met up with G, my friend I'd made in Malaysia in February, who then took me on The Great Walking Tour of Singapore. I am not exaggerating when I'm saying I walked that day probably the same amount as I'd walk during an average month in Vietnam. (Yes, seriously, you just don't WALK in Vietnam.)

The riverside westerny bar street
Singapore scenery is incredible, or, vibrant, to quote my tourguide (and how right he was!). As you'd imagine (or at least, as I imagined), it's all crazy-shaped lit up ultra-modern skyscrapers

My Top 5 of my Singapore walking tour:

1. What I christened 'the boat house'. Basically, someone had the idea to make a hotel with three separate buildings and put a boat-shaped bar come swimming pool on top of it. Makes sense, right? Yes, dearest Singapore.

Developed in Las Vegas, this is apparently the most expensive casino property in the world. It doesn't surprise me.

This resort area, Marina Bay Sands, "includes a 2,561-room hotel, a 120,000 mconvention-exhibition centre, the 74,000 m2 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands mall, a museum, two large theatres, seven "celebrity chef" restaurants, two floating Crystal Pavilions, a skating rink, and the world's largest atrium casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines. The complex is topped by a 340-metre-long SkyPark with a capacity of 3,900 people and a 150-metre infinity swimming pool, set on top of the world's largest public cantilevered platform, which overhangs the north tower by 67 metres," explains wikipedia. What does cantilevered mean? 

2. What I christened 'the man-made Avatar forest', officially the Supertree Grove at the Gardens by the Bay. Lit-up giant trees gone slightly wrong. Majestic. (Thesaurus once again is providing me ideas for words that mean 'so cool', cheers mate.)

3. The Singapore skyline. Exactly as you'd imagine.

4. Red bean ice cream bread! Red bean became a thing during this trip, I love it. And apparently ice cream bread is a thing here in Singapore, so we bought some from this busy little man with his ice cream cart. Om nom!

G waiting for the ice cream man
5. The skybar at the boat house. Unfortunately we couldn't sample the infinity swimming pool, but the scenery was as spectacular as the prices of the drinks.

Bonus must-mention one: The dragonfly park (nearly wrote dragonfruit park lol, now there's an idea...), which was very atmospheric and where we ate scrumptious barbecue and drank traditional Singaporeian (I think) lime juice.

Before my flight the next day I also went exploring daytime Singapore. So clean, so calm, so pretty. But I prefer it at night.

Cool templey things though
could I maybe have it as Milo Dinasweet though?
The many usages of The Pig at the local food market
A lychees drink. I liked the lychees but not the drink.

Please don't spit it says
All in all, Singapore was awesome. Surreal. I wouldn't like to live there because it is so... extravagant, but it was a great place to visit. 

So, after less than 24h in Singapore, was on my way to my next destination: Hong Kong!
At Singapore airport I joined the other kiddies in doing these works of art

Stay tuned for that munchkins,


  1. Red bean icecream bread. What is icecream bread? After reading your blog, I'd love to see Singapore! <3

    1. Literally a piece of bread with a chunk of ice cream in it :)

  2. Sunset on paradise beach with cranes in the background and tankers moored just off the beach... Let's hope the environmental regulations for the cranes and tankers are strict enough not to spoil paradise!

    1. Let's hope! It was the same on the Hong Kong beach I visited...