After nine weeks in twenty two cities across nine countries and two hemispheres, we finally made to our last stop – Singapore. It had been weeks since we were last in a city, and it really felt that ending the trip in one so spectacular was ending our trip on a high. We stayed at the one of the many Fragrance Hotels scattered across the city – ours the Ruby, located in Eastern Geylang. Costing £93 for our three night stay, the hotel was located minutes from an MRT station, beside eateries and shops and was immaculate.
We stayed in Singapore during the tail end of August, just as the country was preparing to celebrate its 50th year of Independence. Tents were being built all around our hotel, flags being hung proudly across MRT stations and along the streets. We arrived late at night from Jakarta on our first day, so we went straight to bed.
Our first entire day began with brunch on the outskirts of the city centre at Lola’s Café on Simon Road. Although it was quite a journey from our hotel, we had read good things about their (and I had been almost ten weeks without) Eggs Benedict. The Singapore MRT is pretty complex, but the ticket office workers spoke perfect English and were extremely helpful. Unlike a lot of the other big cities we had visited, you’re unable to buy a day ticket so individual tickets are necessary for each journey. Price is based on distance, but the most we ever paid for a single journey was £1.50.
Singapore, like Hong Kong, strikes the perfect balance between nature and culture. I found it close to impossible not to compare the two; their booming, built up financial districts contrasted with masses of green. Both cities seem to respect the environment they are built in; the streets in Singapore lined with palm trees and the Botanical Gardens taking up a significant part of the city’s square footage – 74 hectares. The gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, after spending hours in them, it’s not difficult to see why. When we were in Singapore, the weather was obscenely good. The skies were blue and the heat was almost unbearable. This weather was a perfect backdrop for the gardens, the perfect sky reflected against the countless lakes and the sun could be seen streaming through the towering palm trees. Signs and maps were regularly dotted around, guiding us to Swan Lake, the National Orchid Garden, through sections of rainforest and countless others. Because of the immense size of the gardens it was so peaceful, and we ran into more animals than people on our walk around.
After a stop for noodles and quick break to allow ourselves to recover from the heat back at the hotel, we headed in the opposite direction into the city centre to see Marina Bay. The subway station leads you through an underground mall beneath the Marina Bay Sands, ending in Tower B – the middle tower. We looked around the shops inside and took one of the lifts up to the top floor to the rooftop infinity pool and terrace where we had a panoramic view of the city at night. As I am petrified of heights, our stay at the top was extremely short lived and after dinner back down on planet earth we headed home.
The following day, the last day of our trip, we started again with a visit to the Botanical Gardens and from there headed back to see more of Marina Bay. This time we walked through the Central Business District and across to the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. The vast shopping centre is spread across three floors and has every shop you could think of. We found a world foods store which sold Irn Bru so stocked up and enjoyed lunch on a terrace beside the mall looking over the bay.
From there we walked across to the Singapore Flyer, a 165m Ferris wheel looking over the Marina Bay and rest of the city city. We picked the most perfect time to head on as we got to see the city during the day, and as it started to light up. The pods are surrounded by glass giving an exceptional view of the city, and after a shaky first five minutes I felt brave enough to start wandering around and taking in all the sights Singapore had to offer. It was the most perfect way to end our trip, hundreds of feet above one of the world’s largest and most beautiful cities.
We got to see and walk over the F1 track on our way back over to see the bay at night for the first time. The whole city lit up against the black sky, reflecting in the water. We were there to see the light display the Marina Bay Sands put on, and walked around the entire bay soaking up our last night in Asia.
Even though we were skint and pretty fed up with each other, Singapore was a wonderful way for us to end our trip together. The stunning Botanical Gardens offered some much needed tranquility from the hustle and bussle of the city, and made me all the more appreciative of how stunning and astonishingly modern it was. I am so excited to go back next year and explore countless other things Singapore has to offer; the Night Safari and Sentosa at the top of my list!