Four days in Singapore

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.

This "pod" at Galaxy Pods in Chinatown was very comfortable and quiet.  There are two sizes of double pods.  Our was supposed to be the slightly bigger version. by bryandkeith on flickr

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,

IMG_20230205_094534 by bryandkeith on flickr

a South Indian temple (reminding me of Madurai or Tirunelveli),

Sri Mariamman Temple by bryandkeith on flickr
Sri Mariamman Temple

and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (should that remind me of Kandy?).

IMG_20230205_094920 by bryandkeith on flickr

The Singapore Botanic Gardens has over 250 species of palm in about 100 genera which is half of the known genera of palms.

IMG_20230205_125055 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230205_125155 by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

IMG_20230205_105510 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230205_112000 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230205_112129_1 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230205_112331 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230205_115736 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230205_120611 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230205_121342 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230205_121843 by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

IMG_20230205_183447 by bryandkeith on flickr
Old Hill St. Police Station by bryandkeith on flickr
old Hill Street Police Station
North Indian Thali by bryandkeith on flickr
North Indian thali
I love mabu dofu. by bryandkeith on flickr
mabu dofu, a long time favorite of mine

Here in the distance is the famous Marine Bay Sands Hotel:

IMG_20230206_184134 by bryandkeith on flickr

or up close at night, if you prefer:

Marina Bay Sands Tower by bryandkeith on flickr

British colonial architecture, I guess, reminding me of Colombo:

IMG_20230206_182923 by bryandkeith on flickr

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:

IMG_20230207_195845 by bryandkeith on flickr

After the fountain show we walked through the mall and caught the sound and light show at the Supertree Grove half an hour later.

IMG_20230207_205743 by bryandkeith on flickr

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?

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4 Responses to Four days in Singapore

  1. Mike Painter says:

    I was there 41 years ago! It’s certainly changed a lot, though it did have some interesting buildings even back then.

    • Bryan Keith says:

      Mike, wow, 41 years! I wonder how much you’d recognize. I had 29 years between my visits to Singapore, and I don’t feel like I really recognized anything from that first visit.

  2. Curtis Bradner says:

    Some of the best street art in the world can be found on the Malaysian peninsula.
    Taipei huh…….

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