After making it back onto dry land, we were excited to explore the centre of commercial Asia – Singapore, where the humidity is high and the backs sweaty! This is a city with a range of different faces and cultures, rubbing shoulders, while everyone shops, eats and tries to hide from the heat.
We were staying in Little India and it really was like a small India, perhaps with fewer stray dogs. It was vibrant, full of noise and the smell of spices. Our hostel – the Inn crowd – was nice.. clean, sociable, good free breakfast… all of this did make up for the peculiar smell, somewhere between bleach and onions….
The CBD district of the city is shiny, full of glass, steel, bright lights and is the face of Singapore to the outside world. We went up the impressive Marina Bay Sands Hotel and took in the view from level 56, though through a haze of heat and smoke from neighbouring Indonesia. We especially liked the new ‘Gardens By the bay’, its centrepiece being the twin glass greenhouse domes. One of them houses an artificial mountain and pumps out actual clouds…. Yeh really. The gardens also have huge towers in the shape of trees, which you could climb (or take a lift), walk between and even have a meal at a bistro on top of the highest. At night they are illuminated in a light and music show. In fact this whole area by the water was spectacular at night.
Singapore is famous for shopping, theme parks and, most importantly, FOOD! And we took full advantage. This is especially evident in the city’s many Hawkers Markets, where you can buy a delicious meal for only a few dollars. They are a series of small food stands with tables dotted around in between. We ate delicious noodles, curries, rice and some Singapore classics…including Carrot cake containing no carrots (but radish pudding?!?). We also tried Teh Tarik, bitter tea with hot and frothy condensed milk. Though this had an undefined rhubarb after taste…which wasn’t unpleasant. We couldn’t recommend more trying all or as many Hawkers Markets as you can while you are in the city. Though we weren’t brave enough for the goats intestines on the menus.
We spent some time exploring the extensive botanical gardens and also the temples of China Town. We went to a Buddhist Temple who claims to have the incisor of Buddha himself. Though we didn’t get to see it we were allowed to experience the monks’ trace like chanting.
It has been a really fun and interesting beginning to our Asian leg and Singapore, thanks for having us! Next stop Sumatra in Indonesia….
R & E