When we were considering moving to Asia, one of the places on our hitlist was Singapore. Neither of us had been there. Now that we’re in Manila, it’s only a short flight to Singapore, so we decided to go for a long weekend.
We loved it. It is so organised, so efficient and so clean. There is so much to see. And so many eateries to choose from for every meal. We had a great time.
We arrived very early on the Friday morning and took a cab from the airport to our hotel. Inside all the cabs, there is a big screen indicating the driver’s name, the taxi’s registration plate and the time that your journey started. We noticed, on subsequent taxi journeys, that this screen is also used to convey messages to the driver e.g. if they go over a certain speed they’re told to ‘Drive Carefully!’. The cabs are all metered (no questions asked). And the drivers don’t expect, or even rarely (in our experience) accept tips. They will give you the exact change even if it means emptying their pockets onto the seat to find the precise coin required.
After a good night’s sleep in a very large and comfortable bed we headed out for our first meal. I’d done a bit of reading before we came and found that there are a lot of cafes serving breakfast and brunch. There was one a short walk away – The Book Cafe. It was fabulous. A great menu, and we ate outside in European fashion, people watching. A good start to the day. From there we wandered along the Singapore River to Clark Quays and then down to the harbour area where you get great views of the CBD and a lot of the other landmarks associated with Singapore (Marina Bay Sands hotel, the Art Science Museum, Singapore Flyer etc.). We stopped for a drink at Harry’s Bar, part of the Esplanade. After almost choking on the cost of the beer.
For our first touristic (oh, it is a word. I was expecting it to come up with a red squiggly line underneath it) activity, we boarded the Singapore Flyer. A bit like the London Eye and the first ferris wheel I remember ever being on. It was a very clear day and we had great views of the Grand Prix track and all over Singapore.
In the evening, Mr H had booked us a table at Raffles Grill, for my birthday meal. What a treat. The service was impeccable, the food scrumptious (although Mr H would have liked a slightly bigger portion for his main) and they surprised me with a lovely birthday cake complete with candle.
Day 2 started with a trip to the Botanic Gardens. Oh, after breakfast – this time at an Australian bar at Robertson Quay. Also very good and luckily a bit cheaper than yesterday. The Botanic Gardens are free to wander around, which was a pleasant surprise. They are vast and a great way to pass a few hours. We couldn’t help lamenting ‘if only there was something like this in Manila’. A great place to go and get some peace and quiet, or even go for a good run.
From the Botanics we headed to Orchard Road, famous for its shopping malls. There are countless malls selling everything from expensive designer wear to knock-off electronics. We didn’t stay long – neither of us is a good shopper. It was getting close to lunch time, so we hopped on the MRT to Little India. Predictably the MRT is quick and efficient. We found a busy little restaurant, full of Indians so we decided to try that for lunch. Some Paratha, curry and dhal filled our bellies. So good.
The evening highlight was a trip on the Night Safari. Hundreds of people queued up to board a series of electric trams to be driven through the safari park, with a guide pointing out the various animals. It’s obviously not quite the same as a night drive in Kruger National Park, but it was fun all the same and good to see lots of Asian animals including the Asian varieties of lions, elephants and rhinocerous.
It was 10pm before we could get some dinner, so we decided to hit one of the famous ‘Hawker Stall Centres’, this one at Newton Circle. Mr H had been told to try chicken rice, but unfortunately the 2 stalls selling it had closed – they must have sold out earlier on. We settled for some Sweet & Sour chicken, fried rice and satay. Very good.
Our last day again started with breakfast. This time at Epicurious, also at Robertson Quay. I had, perhaps, one of the best breakfasts ever. A nutella and banana toasted sandwich served with strawberries. So good. We then headed down to China Town. If only we hadn’t eaten – there were so many hawker stalls selling such an array of delicious smelling food, but we just couldn’t fit anything else in. We’ll just have to go back.
All too soon it was time to get a cab back to the airport and head back to Manila.