We got to the airport hours before we needed to, which is very unusual for us. The check-in was strangely more chaotic than we’d expected due to a shortage of staff.
After clearing immigration, we went up to the lounge. There was an array of complimentary food and drinks – soup, sandwiches, cakes, biscuits, tea, coffee, juice, wine, champagne and spirits. We chatted about the next leg of our journey; it soon became apparent that following our initial research months ago, we remembered little about what we’d be doing in Singapore.
Apart from eating.
It’s going to be a food-fest. We’ve only got a couple of days and have a list of twenty places to check out 🙂
We left the lounge as our flight was ready for boarding. Once aboard, we settled into our seats and familiarised ourselves with our surroundings. We watched a bit of TV, had dinner (with proper plates and cutlery!), a couple of drinks and then asked the stewardess to make up our beds. We slept relatively well and watched more TV after a comprehensive breakfast.
We landed in torrential rain and it took us a little while to get our bags from the carousel due to possible lightening. The taxi from the airport to the hotel was incredibly cheap and we even managed to see a few sights on the way. The heat and humidity are staggering after New Zealand. I love it!
As our room wasn’t ready, we had tea and coffee in the hotel restaurant (oh, the quality of flat white has already deteriorated) and used our time to plan our visit. Our hotel seems to be well located, nothing’s going to be too far away. Sadly, we had to strike a few things off the list as they’ve closed down (Jungle Beer – a local craft brew and Tian Kee & Co where I hoping to try the rainbow cheesecake); are closed for renovation (the Long Bar at Raffles so no Singapore Slings for us!) or de-installation (Singapore Art Museum).
We took a short walk to the Chinatown MRT station to buy our three-day transport cards. Our room was ready by the time we came back; it has a great view of the outdoor terraced garden – one of the hotel’s distinctive features. It prides itself on being sustainable.
Our first port of call was Little India – we followed a self-guided walk around markets and side streets. The place has so much energy; it was buzzing. Colours, sounds, smells. We ticked off one of our places for lunch – Kailash Parbat. We ordered the Bhatura Platter (four flavour Bhatura) with cole masala, Mirchi and Achaar and Masala Cheese marvel. We were about to order a portion of Paneer Butter Masala (a house speciality) when the waiter told us ‘no’. We had enough. It was all incredibly tasty and of course, our waiter had been right 🙂
The city-state of Singapore is located in a tropical rainforest climate. It gets 92 inches of rain every year. Turning into a side-street, I found the art installation I was looking for. The Umbrella Trees – created by local artist Marthalia Budiman – offer colour and protection from the elements. Each of the five trees rises up from a large green cushion that you can sit on to escape the rain and/or sun. The umbrellas were being replaced whilst we were there.
We continued to walk around the area until 4pm, when the temples opened. First, we visited the Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple – dedicated to Vishnu the Preserver. The temple has a 60-foot-high monumental gopuram. Devotees were making offerings of fruit to one of the manifestations of Vishnu – mostly bananas.
Our second temple was the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple which is dedicated to Kali the Courageous, a ferocious incarnation of Shiva’s wife, Parvati the Beautiful.
The Mustafa Centre nearby is open 24 hours a day and it allegedly sells everything — if Mustafa doesn’t have it, you probably can’t find it anywhere else in Singapore!
We took the MRT back to the hotel for a well-deserved R&R. And then we took off again. Back on the MRT. Our destination this time was the Marina Bay Sands hotel for sunset – one of the most iconic buildings in Singapore. We had to buy two vouchers worth 20 SGD each. These we swapped for cocktails once we got onto the outdoor bar on the 57th floor. We managed to find some seats and had a good view of the pool. It was like a zoo – too busy and full of selfie sticks. We’d thought of staying there but the price is prohibitive and looking at how busy it is, we felt we had a lucky escape. There wasn’t much of a sunset after all that, but the cocktails were nice and the panoramic views are a sight to behold.
Back down to earth, we took the MRT to Telok Ayer Market – known as Lau Pa Sat by locals. This is one of the most popular food markets in the city, surrounded by the tallest buildings in the heart of the financial district. The market is apparently open round the clock. Andy had Indian (bhel poori and samosa poori) and I opted for Japanese (a small curry udon). The market was busy, and spilled onto the streets outside. We will need to go back… as we spotted a vegetarian stall which only opens during the day.
By the time we got back to our room, it was close to 9:30pm – that’s 1:30am New Zealand time. We’ve done well today.