It’s been a few years since we were in Singapore, 9 years actually, and for some reason I always think that Singapore is not far from Australia. That thought was squashed when I realized our flight from Sydney took 8.5 hours!! Not quite the short hop we had envisioned, but our flight with Qantas was very comfortable, They have a great movie selection, good meals, and wine is included…even in economy class 🍷🥳
Singapore is an island country located about 1 degree of latitude north of the Equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It has the second highest population density of any country in the world and is the 5th most visited city in the world. Singapore’s history dates back over 800 years but has only been a sovereign country since 1965. While the government is elected, Singapore is considered a ‘flawed democracy’ with a strong, almost authoritarian government. The upside to this is that Singapore is one of the least corrupt countries in the world, one of the safest countries in the world, has a highly developed economy and a high standard of living. It’s probably one of the cleanest places in the world as well 😊
This is our 4th time in Singapore, and we stayed at the Paradox Singapore Merchant Court at Clark Quay hotel, perfectly located right on the river. We are walking distance to most places and the MRT subway station is just around the corner. Like most things in Singapore, the MRT is extremely well organized, we used our credit card to tap on and tap off so our journey was charged accordingly. How easy is that!!
We took it easy our first day to acclimate to the heat and humidity, if that’s possible, and walked along the riverfront from our hotel to Merlion Park. The Merlion is the official mascot of Singapore, and the statue is currently under wraps, but there is a small Merlion nearby to take pictures of. By late morning the sun was intense, and it got really hot, really fast so we hustled back to the hotel and spent the afternoon in air-conditioned comfort between the hotel and the shopping mall next door.
Avoiding the heat of the day we headed out early the next morning and took the MRT to Little India, a vibrant enclave with numerous temples and mosques, and brightly painted shophouses. Along the main drag, Serangoon Road, there are a variety of eateries and shops selling jewelry, colorful silks, souvenirs and fresh flower garlands.
We visited a few temples during our walk around Little India:
The Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple is one of the oldest temples in Singapore, founded in 1855 it features a multi-tiered, ornately decorated pyramid shaped tower at the entrance. This temple is dedicated to Vishnu, one of the principal deities of Hinduism, and the entrance tower shows different incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
The Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple, founded in 1927, features a massive 15m statue of a seated Buddha. Underneath him is a small room with a reclining Buddha (no pictures allowed). Inside the temple is a replica of Buddha’s footprint inlaid with beautiful mother of pearl designs (photo on the right)
The Leong San See Temple (Dragon Mountain Temple) is one of Singapore’s most ornate Buddhist temples, established in 1917. The entrance features a happy Buddha flanked by two happy lions. The temple has an ornate altar and is dedicated to the Taoist Goddess of Mercy.
The Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is Singapore’s first temple dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Kali, the ‘Destroyer of Evil’. The original temple was built in 1881 and restored in 1908. Images of Kali within the temple show her wearing a garland of skulls and ripping out the insides of demons. From what I can see, you do not want to get on her bad side!!!!
Singapore’s unofficial national dish is ‘chili crab’ so we decided to give it a try at Jumbo Seafood restaurant. As it turns out, it’s not one of our favorite meals. The crab is served sitting in a tomato sauce that’s sweet, spicy and tangy. Though the shell was pre-smashed, you’ve got to dig in and use whatever tool you can find, like chopsticks or fingers to dig out every morsel of crab meat. It’s about the messiest meal you can imagine. Plastic gloves and bibs are supplied but it was just too much of a chore for the amount of crabmeat we ended up with. Plus, we thought it was expensive for what we got at SGD $184 (USD $138)
Only a short walk from our hotel, and on our list to visit, was the Chinatown neighborhood. So, armed with a walking route of the highlights we set off early in the morning. Similar to Little India there are numerous temples scattered around Chinatown and we popped into a couple:
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple was built in 2007 and gets its name from a tooth of Buddha which was recovered from his funeral pyre and is displayed in a private chamber inside the temple.
The Sri Mariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, constructed in 1827. The temple’s most notable feature is the entrance tower, dating from the 1930’s. The tower rises above the main entrance and is richly embellished with 6 tiers of sculptures of Hindu deities.
I have to say the highlight of our time in Chinatown was finding the gorgeous wall murals scattered around the neighborhood, they are definitely worth looking for!
We have not had the best weather in Singapore, with thunderstorms in the late afternoon or early evening, so we waited until our final day when the forecast was dry to head over to Marina Bay Sands. Marina Bay Sands is a massive shopping centre, casino, convention center, museum, theater and luxury hotel complex. The three towers are topped by a skyway with an infinity swimming pool and the world’s largest public cantilevered platform. It overhangs the north tower by 218ft (66.5m). The shopping center was decked out in its finest Christmas decorations and there is even a ‘canal’ with boats in the lower level.
On one side of the Marina Bay Sands complex is Gardens by the Bay, where the Supertree Grove is located. The 18 Supertrees are home to thousands of plants, they harness solar energy, collect rainwater for irrigation and serve as air intake and exhaust for the nearby conservatories. On top of that the Supertree Grove comes alive twice nightly at 7:45pm and 8:45pm with a light and music show, all at no charge. This is what we came to see! Being early December, the theme was Christmas music. Unfortunately, in our opinion, there was a huge Christmas theme park built under the trees with ticketed entry only, so we were limited in our choice of viewing places of the Supertrees. Even so, the light show was an enjoyable experience.
We love Italian food and are always delighted when we find a nice Italian restaurant in our travels. In Singapore it was Rosso Vino in Robertson Quay. The two owners are from Catania, Sicily and Naples, Italy. It was interesting hearing their story about why they opened a restaurant in Singapore and their opinions of life here. Another good Italian evening!!!
We always have a great time in Singapore and this time was no exception. I have no doubt we will be back for visit #5 one day, but in the meantime it’s off to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia…..