We’ve reached the final chapter in my 3 part series on my 7 days in Singapore.
It’s hard to believe that the trip was a month ago. Writing about it keeps bringing up vivid memories of learning how to navigate a Singaporean food court or forcing my mom to watch Ru Paul’s Drag Race (because everyone should watch that show at least once in their lives).
In the 3rd part of my travelog, we’re returning to the theme of family time. My mom was able to get some time off so we could spend extra time together before we parted.
The last couple days were probably my favourite of the trip. Not only did we do cool stuff, but I didn’t feel guilty for being on vacation while my mom worked. (Or, rather, feeling like I should feel guilty.)
Admittedly, it’s pretty hard to feel guilty when you’re having an amazing time in a fascinating country.
Attempting Some Retail Therapy
A sunny day? Yay!
Or so I thought.
It turns out the sun actually makes Singapore hotter. It was already over 30C; how could it possible get any hotter?
Somehow it did. And today I was now boiling internally with the bonus of my skin sizzling.
By the end of this trip, I was sure I would be barbecued Nina!
So, I hid inside.
Singapore has a huge complex of malls that are blissfully air conditioned. You can almost cross the city without having to step more than five feet outdoors. And I intended to make full use of that!
New Zealand is not exactly a haven for shopping, with most of its stores selling wool (that I’m allergic to) or overpriced goods that sold in Canada over a year ago.
I was hoping Singapore would have a few treats for me to add to my wardrobe of 8 shirts (yes, I only brought 8 shirts to New Zealand. It’s made for complicated laundry days.)
It turns out that the treat Singapore had for me was body issues. An XL in Singapore is about an XS in Canada. Overnight I’d gone from a small/medium, to barely being able to get a leg into a dress at non-Western stores. If I hadn’t gotten a size small shirt from H&M the day before, I would easily have had some sort of body image meltdown.
I get that their sizes may be different, but this was insane! They needed a warning label: “Body image nightmare ahead. Beware of dresses if you are bigger than a size 2!”
Lesson learned: stick to Western stores in Singapore.
Taking Advantage of the Hotel Pool
What better way to overcome body image issues than putting on a bikini?
It may not have been a natural progression, but I did it all the same. Mom had the afternoon off work, but neither of us felt like going on a trek, so we made use of the pool at our hotel.
Or we did until a torrential downpour forced us to run inside for cover (which is extremely hard when you’re wearing hotel slippers on wet tile).
Singapore has the most intense rain of any country I’ve ever been to. It felt like being in a monsoon, and it wasn’t even the rainy season!
Exploring the Night Safari
The night safari at the Singapore zoo was a must do for my mom and me. She had been before and loved it. I was excited to see nocturnal animals out and about.
With peals of thunder drifting closer, we decided to walk the trails before taking the guided tram tour. We were hoping to catch the water cat before the rain reached us.
In the end, we managed to make it around the entire zoo on foot and on the tram without the rain reaching the zoo.
Walking the zoo at night was sort of creepy. There aren’t a lot of lights on the paths and jungle grows high on either side. Occasionally a spider web or mosquito will brush against your leg. Even creepier, the speakers from the trams would suddenly blare to life from a path beside you. It doesn’t sound terrifying, but it can be when you didn’t see the giant machine right beside you.
The animals are much more active at night. We saw almost every creature in the exhibits during our visit. From the heaviest maned lions I’ve ever seen to a stalking cheetah to inquisitive owls, they were all awake.
Choosing the earliest time slot had only meant less people, not less animals.
The tram was less spooky when we actually rode it. They pack people on the vehicle and drive a different route around the zoo. It’s worth doing even if you’ve walked the trails, as it goes past different animals. The different vantage point often allowed us to see more than we’d seen on our walk. Although, there are some animals it skips.
I’m a zoo lover (which I struggle with due to current animal rights politics and my agreement with those politics). Getting to enjoy the animals with my mom was really fun; even though it may have been the “quickest walk around the zoo ever” – quote from my mom – with us running to try and beat the rain that never came.
Our Final Day and Sentosa
Our final, full day in Singapore was a chance to soak up as much bonding time as possible before we caught our flights the next day. Mom took the day off work so we could go adventuring to Sentosa.
Sentosa is a small island packed full of entertainment. It has white sand beaches, a Universal Studios amusement park, resorts, a giant merlion statue and an extensive cable car track. If we’d come to Singapore when I was 13 or younger, I would have had no interest in leaving Sentosa the whole trip.
We skipped the theme park and resorts – too many small children running around screaming. Instead, we filled our day with riding the cable car, walking the length of the beaches, staring up at the giant merlion statue and positively sweltering from the insane heat.
I thought that I was finally getting used to the heaviness of Singapore’s heat, but the moment I stepped into air-conditioned spaces it was hell to drag myself back out.
I’m definitely not made for 30+C temperatures.
Taking Singapore Public Transit for the First Time
To get to the island, we braved Singapore’s public transit.
“Braved” is definitely too strong of a word. Singapore has some of the easiest and most efficient public transport of any city I’ve been to. It’s as well laid out as London but much cleaner.
Getting a round trip from Marina Bay to Sentosa only cost us $3.50 each! Back home, that would be a one-way fare. In the UK, that might get you halfway through the turnstile.
A Leisurely Night
We ambled down the boardwalk of Marina Bay before dinner, passing statues of Sir Raffles, the founder of Singapore, and the half a dozen bridges that cross the bay.
Sometimes the best way to enjoy a city is to take a stroll around it.
Dinner was a simple meal of cereal prawns and seafood fried rice on a patio. The restaurant was beside an outdoor stage where dance groups were practising hip hop routines to K Pop. It was an odd but not unwelcome entertainment for our final dinner in the city.
We didn’t have some big, emotional discussion or experience some sort of miracle. It wasn’t a movie. But it was sort of perfect in its own way. I didn’t cry (which is a big deal. I cry constantly). We spent time together, even if we weren’t talking or hugging all the time. Some of the best moments were looking across the room and seeing her playing on her iPad while I streamed a TV show in my bed.
It was the perfect end to our visit to Singapore.
Missing out on Changi
We didn’t take advantage of what is often ranked as the world’s most entertaining airport. Partially because spending a ton of time in an airport will never seem “fun” to me. And partially because our flights were at 8:30 am.
There was no way I was waking up any earlier than I had to in order to see a butterfly garden or go to a movie theatre in an airport.
Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow … or Something Less Cliche
Saying goodbye is always a tough part of travelling. Usually I only have to part with a place. Meeting up with my mom meant I also had to say goodbye to her.
I’ve moved on from the days when I would spend half of our trip mourning the coming end. Now, I’m able to enjoy the time I have while I have it. I still get a prickle of tears in my eyes when I do have to say goodbye to my mom.
Luckily, technology has closed the gap between us, even when I’m halfway across the world. I knew that I’d see her again next weekend; on my laptop screen this time. It would have to do until our next trip.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe we packed so much into a week in Singapore. I managed to hit most of my must dos for the trip and found a few new ones that surprised me. I was able to eat each of Singapore’s four main cuisines: Indian, Malaysian, Chinese and Singaporean. My mom and I got tons of quality time together. And I didn’t actually melt before I made it back to New Zealand.
Singapore is a magnificent country with a ridiculous amount to do. It is so innovative and constantly developing. You could constantly return to find new things have popped up or older things have been redone. It made the perfect backdrop to my visit with my mom.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed my time in such a city environment when I’m more of a nature girl. While I don’t think I could live there (mostly because it’s SO DAMN HOT), I would happily go back to Singapore. And that’s not just so I can have more chilli crab – although I won’t lie, that’s a part of it.
Where do you want to go on a family trip?