Just like Bali, I visited Singapore on my first trip to Asia 29 years ago. The cheap hotel district was centered on Bencoolen Street. The things I remember most were the air conditioning on Orchard Road (we certainly didn’t have a/c in our room!) and visiting the now closed Jurong Bird Park. This time we stayed in a capsule hotel in Chinatown, and the highlight was visiting the Botanic Gardens.
It was the first time for either of us to stay in one of these pods or capsules or whatever you want to call them — certainly smaller than our tiny room in Ljubljana last year. It was comfortable, quiet, and the temperature was perfect.
There’s no reason to splurge on anything in Singapore as a lot of money does not go very far.
On our first morning on the way to the Botanic Gardens we came across some street art,
and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (should that remind me of Kandy?).
The Singapore Botanic Gardens has over 250 species of palm in about 100 genera which is half of the known genera of palms.
The real highlight, though, is the UNESCO-listed Orchid Garden, certainly the best 30 sgd we spent in Singapore. We learned that there are about 28,000 species of orchids which is about 10% of all species of flowering plants. Something else I found interesting after learning about the amazing marine biodiversity in Raja Ampat (home to 75% of the world’s coral species, e.g.) is that another Indonesian island, Borneo, is one of the most orchid-rich regions of the world.
Ferda and I also enjoyed an exhibit at the Botanic Gardens about unusual edible plants. It featured plants easily available in Singapore, described where they’re commonly eaten, and gave a recipe for each one. Examples were snake gourd and banana flower which I tried in Sri Lanka and papaya leaves which we’re pretty sure we ate on Kri. A separate small adjacent exhibit helped clear up some of our confusion about jackfruit and the many similar and often edible species (like what we saw in Pam Village or Marandan Weser).
As we walked through the city, we found a few interesting buildings and some good food.
Here in the distance is the famous Marine Bay Sands Hotel:
or up close at night, if you prefer:
British colonial architecture, I guess, reminding me of Colombo:
After our Raja Ampat snorkeling kick we couldn’t keep ourselves away from Singapore’s S.E.A. Aquarium. We saw a new (for us) species of anemonefish — white with black spots; some new triggerfish, guitarfish, turkeyfish, nurse sharks, white-tipped reef sharks, and sea horses. It’s certainly better than Antalya’s aquarium.
Being two over-the-top destinations that we’ve visited in the last year, we couldn’t help comparing Singapore and Dubai. Ferda prefers Dubai: we found better food there, and the souks of Dubai offer a cultural and shopping alternative to the endless luxurious malls. I prefer green Singapore with the natural attractions like the gardens, aquarium, and bird park.
Singapore’s answer to the Dubai Mall fountain show is the Marine Bay Sands Mall fountain show at this bay:
After the fountain show we walked through the mall and caught the sound and light show at the Supertree Grove half an hour later.
Uh, yeah, kind of weird — at night it just looks like a bunch of giant manmade metal and plastic trees. I guess, though, it’s a large vertical garden, but maybe you have to go during the day to appreciate it.
Neither Dubai or Singapore make my short list of must-see cities. What about Taipei, I wonder?