We hit the ground running for five packed days of sightseeing. We met our friend Susan from Seattle here on our first full day. Susan is traveling with us through Singapore and Bali. We are having a great time! The day she got in from her international flight, we dropped off her stuff and headed straight to Marina Bay to check out Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands hotel.
Close view of supertrees!
In the park there was an exhibit called the Cloud Forest. It was really impressive- a huge man made waterfall with four levels of gardens and information. The focus was conservation and green living.
After the Cloud Forest, we walked over to the Marina Bay Sands hotel. It was very pretty and fancy. Attached to the hotel is a big high end mall. We had an amazing meal at the food court. The food in Singapore is so delicious, easily the best food we've had on this trip. We were told the "hawker food," food sold in food court type arrangements, is delicous and cheap. That proved to be true. The blend of cultures here- Chinese, Indian, Malay, and more, has left Singapore with diverse and delicious food options.
Marina Bay Sands.
After dinner, we stumbled upon an incredible light and water show on the bay. It was so beautiful. Water was sprayed up to create a sort of wall, and images were projected on to the water-wall. It created beautiful, 3D-ish, vibrant images.
*This is an image pulled off of the internet. Our camera is nowhere near good enough to capture things like this in the dark, but it was too cool not to have a picture.
On our first full day in Singapore, we explored Chinatown and Little India. The population in Singapore is mostly Chinese, and the Chinatown was very fun to walk around. There was great food and shopping.
We spent most of our time in the Buddha Tooth Relic temple. It had a Buddhism museum, worship areas, and gardens. It is called the Tooth Relic temple because it is home to the left canine tooth of Buddah. The authenticity of the tooth is disputed, but it is housed on a solid gold stupa sorounded by gold tiles. No photos are allowed so none were taken, but you can't see the tooth anyway because it is tiny and surrounded by so much gold.
After the temple, we walked around and Susan tried out a fish spa. We have seen a lot of fish spas during our travels, but the one in Chinatown in Singapore is supposed to be the best, with the best kind of fish. It was fun to talk to to some locals there and learn about life in Singapore. There are outrageous fines for all kinds of things, from chewing gum to littering, and they talked about how restrictive that can be. They also said they have no freedom of speech, and sedition can land you in jail from seven to twelve years without trial.
We went for dinner in Little India and shopped around for a bit. The clothing was lovely and the food was really good.
Our third day we spent almost the whole day at the zoo. We're not normally huge zoo people, but the Singapore Zoo is supposed to be one of the best in the world. It was definitely cool. There were several areas where animals roam free. When we first walked in three monkeys crossed the road in front of us! There were very few visible fences, and walking through you're eye level with the animals, and they are kept in by trenches and hidden barriers.
We learned from some backpackers on the road that Wednesday is ladies night in Singapore, and various bars offer special deals. We ended up going to Ku De Ta, which is located on the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. It was a great opportunity to get to the top and see the view of Singapore from above!
Our last major city tour day was spent at the Singapore Botanical Garden and Orchard Road. The Botanical Garden was lovely, full of tropical plants of all kinds. There were themed gardens, including a ginger garden and a historical garden.
From the natural beauty of the gardens we went to Orchard Road, an insane retail hub with tons of malls and shops. From high end to to cheapy stores, It seemed Orchard Road had anything you could ever want.
From Orchard Road we went to the old colonial district and checked out the Merlion, which has become a symbol of the city. It was really beautiful. The architecture in Singapore is generally cool and interesting- there is always something fun to look at.
We finished off the day with Singapore Slings at the Raffles Hotel's Long Bar, where the drink was invented. The hotel and bar were very interesting, built in the old colonial style. The drinks were really sweet and pretty tasty.
For our last full day, we ventured off the main island to Pulau Ubin. This island is supposed to be what the main Singapore island looked like before it became so developed, and it is basically a jungle with some wetlands and few shops and places to eat. We rented bikes and went around the island, eventually getting caught in a huge monsoonish downpour. It was fun to bike and see some nature!