My Singapore adventures continue in this week’s post!
(It almost didn’t thanks to a nightmare flight delay that now has me up far too late editing photos to get this out semi-on time.)
Part 2 of the 3 part Singapore series (yes, I finally figured out how long it is going to be) is here. If you missing last week’s post, read Part 1 of my adventures to catch up.
This week, I’m focusing on the days I travelled the city state solo.
My mom was travelling for work, which meant she actually had to go to work during the days. We settled on a good routine from the first day. We ate breakfast together before she left for the office. I’d explore for the day. Around 4pm we’d meet up again in the hotel room to rest, eat dinner and do some wandering together.
But the rest of the day was my own.
I made the most of it by checking off at least one activity each day, walking until my feet were sore and finding opportunities to eat absolutely everything.
My Impression of a Bridge Troll
On my first solo day, I had high hopes of conquering a few things on my to do list. Singapore had other plans. The weather was a dreary mixture of rain and depressingly heavy clouds. Somehow that only made the humidity worse.
I braved the weather enough to cross the bridge towards the Marina Bay Sands, walk around Marina Bay to the Merlion and hide under the bridge like some kind of troll.
Why was I hiding under a bridge rather than returning to my hotel? Because I had plans to meet our friend, Kean, for lunch at his office and the Merlion was closer than the hotel.[Note: the main Merlion is currently under construction. You can check out with a miniature version that is part of a fountain right behind the main statue in the meantime.]
There were lots of other things close by, like the Fullerton Hotel (admittedly, I didn’t think you were allowed to just wander in there). But I stuck with my bridge dwelling for about 30 minutes.
Literally Losing Myself in Singapore
Kean introduced me to Korean food at lunch. It turns out, my Asian culinary knowledge is even worse than I thought. But my mind – and my stomach – are open!
We had bim bap and some sort of stir fried chicken dish. I don’t even have the words to describe how delicious that simple meal was.
Meeting Kean placed me near a few interesting places, so I was sort of obligated to explore them, right? I wandered through the first Chinese temple in Singapore, went past a Hindu temple and the Buddha’s Tooth Temple, explored the beautiful architecture of old Singapore, visit a hawker stall with a Michelin star for their curry balls (but was too full to try one) and found the church from the Crazy Rich Asians wedding.
I walked back to the hotel the long way: tracing the banks of Marina Bay. It took me past museums, art galleries and cute restaurants. It also got me very lost. Somehow it took me almost 3 hours to get back to our hotel (I later walked a similar route and it took me maybe 1 hour).
My First Hawker Market
By the time Mom was done work I had recovered from my accidental marathon across the city and was willing to leave my bed.
Singapore has amazing sunsets but they last for all of a minute. You take a quick photo of the pinkening sky and BAM it’s night. I never got used to it, even though it happened the same way, at the same time, every night.
For dinner, mom found us a hawker market. These are regulated street food stalls that are usually in a covered area. The one we went to was outdoors by the water. It had a number of stalls lined up with dozens of white plastic tables for you to sit in.
We got an oyster omelette (I still maintain oysters should only be served raw or fried) and chicken satay.
The Fullerton Hotel
On our way to the Fullerton, the light show began. We hadn’t seen the Marina Bay Sands side of the show the night before. Luckily, we were in the perfect spot to watch it: outside the Fullerton. The bridge we were on had a great view of the lights, water feature and projected images. My jet lag was rearing its head, so I didn’t absorb the individual elements as well as I wished I could have, but what I did process was amazing.
When you are in Singapore, go into the Fullerton hotel. It is stunning. The building used to be the city’s post office (which must have been the fanciest post office ever), but is now a luxury hotel.
It even has a museum of its own history on the main floor!
The Fullerton is an iconic building that every tourist has to check out.
Checking the Supertrees Off my Must Do List
Tuesday’s clouds weren’t as off putting as Monday’s, so I decided to avoid hiding under bridges today.
I headed back to Gardens by the Bay to go on the elevated walkway on the Supertrees.
Honestly, it was underwhelming.
You don’t get much more of a view than you do from the ground. The thin walkway is pretty packed with people taking photos and many don’t care if you need to get by them. There’s also a time limit for your visit. It takes 2 minutes to walk across, but they give you a generous 15 to take tons of photos.
I took plenty of shots, hung around staring off into the distance and was still done in under 10 minutes.
Don’t be like me and expect this to be the main event of your day. Plan other things to do!
A Riverside Education
The river tour was a much better way to spend some time. The boat takes you around Marina Bay while an audio recording tells you about Singapore’s history. It points out relevant landmarks nearby and shares cute stories that give you more information about the city.
It’s also a great break from walking around in the heat. Being low to the water and having a covered roof gave me some relief from the humidity that was slowly melting me from the inside out (have I mentioned I don’t do well with heat?).
My First Michelin Star Experience
Kean was endlessly hospitable during our time in Singapore and offered to take entertain us for a third time on our visit.
I didn’t know how it could get better than chilli crab or Korean food, but he found a way: by taking us to a Michelin restaurant in the suburbs.
The drive took us past houses nearly as massive as those in Crazy Rich Asians. There were Ferraris and porches lined up in front of houses that towered over the street. None of these were the houses from Crazy Rich Asians though. Apparently those were in Malaysia, since they have more land for rolling gardens.
Candlenut specializes in Peranakan food, a type of Malaysian cuisine. Kean is from Malaysia so he navigated the menu for us. Our waiter seemed less than pleased to have someone who was more of an expert on the food making our selections.
My first Michelin star meal was above and beyond my expectations. I’ve had some pretty amazing food in my life – even just on this trip – but Candlenut blew me away.
Everything was got was like a bite of heaven. I wouldn’t have known to order any of it without Kean. Thank god for him and his wisdom, because I needed every single thing we had.
We didn’t even make it to drinks at a rooftop bar afterwards. I don’t know that I would have been willing to taint the remaining flavours lingering in my mouth. I also might have burst if I ate anymore.
The National Museum of Singapore
How is it already Wednesday? The week was speeding by. I still wasn’t fully over my jet lag or settled into vacation mode, but it was already the middle of my trip.
I try to make a point of visiting museums when I travel. I’m easily overwhelmed by everything in them, though, so I love finding free tours.
In Singapore, I opted for the National Museum of Singapore to try and learn more about the city state. Before arriving, I hadn’t even realized Singapore was a city state. I’d assumed there were other cities inside it.
I arrived just in time for a free guided tour in English. The tour took an hour and a half. It covered the entirety of the museum and traced Singapore from its beginnings to modern day.
The two floors of the expansive museum would have been incredibly daunting to deal with on my own. Reading signs about the wars or schooling issues wouldn’t have been as impactful as hearing our guide recount his own experiences with them.
I tried to wander the museum afterwards, but got overwhelmed by all of the tiny information plaques. Besides, it had all been covered in the tour.
It’s a Small World After All
The world is very small. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s totally true. A friend my mom hadn’t seen in ages happened to be in Singapore at the same time as us. We decided to meet her for dinner and discovered she also had the exact same return flight (connections and all!) as my mom.
After a dinner featuring black miso cod (perhaps my favourite dish on this earth – if I was decisive enough to have favourites), we managed to catch the light show. For a twice nightly occurrence, we were routinely shocked when we managed to see it.
This time, we were on the opposite side of the water. Admittedly, the view wasn’t as good as most of the lights and projections were facing away from us. The water features were easier to see. What had seemed like lulls the night before were now filled with water movements I hadn’t been able to see from across the bay.
I have to say, ending the night with a light show isn’t a bad way to do things. Points to you, Singapore.
You’ll have to wait one more week for the final chapter of my adventures in Singapore.
We did so much during our week in Singapore that it’s hard to fit it into only 3 posts, let along trying to cram it into any less. Unlike Singapore, I don’t have the budget to close out this post with an elaborate light and water show. So we’ll have to settle for a photo of the city’s light show as I leave you until next week.