Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Final Chapter- Singapore

After a hectic few days in Bangkok, we flew into Singapore and to be honest, I had very few pre-conceived ideas about the country, having always thought of it as more of a transit city than an actual destination. The only reason we opted to visit was because it was where we could fly home from for a reasonable price.

To be honest, I was very underwhelmed. For a country with such a diverse population situated in between Malaysia and Indonesia I was expecting it to have a similar vibe to these countries- something of a cultural fusion. I was disappointed that I didn't get anything from Singapore. It's incredibly clean with huge skyscrapers, malls, neon etc - what you'd expect from a big Asian city. I think what I missed though was the chaos- the hustle and the bustle, the street corners filled with street carts and people going about their daily business. Obviously Singapore is incredibly developed with one of the highest GDPs of any Asian country, but it didn't have any charm- I felt completely disengaged with it as a destination and found it to be almost sterile in it's serenity.  Unlike Japan, which has a similarly strong economy, it hasn't retained any of the charms of the East and that was what I found lacking.

Of course, the experience of any country is completely subjective, and I can imagine that if I were to live as an expat in any of the countries we had been to, Singapore would probably be the place where I would be most comfortable. It's clean, everyone speaks English, it's got everything you would need to live comfortably. As a tourist however, it doesn't offer a huge amount! It was also one of the most expensive places we had been to, after Japan and Hong Kong, but it didn't offer the same value as these amazing places.

I feel like I've had a bit of a rant there, and to be honest, with the end of the trip approaching and the excitement of going home paramount in our minds, perhaps I didn't give it a fair shot. My mum and I also got really severe food poisoning while we were there which completely obliterated one of the three days we had there. This again really marred our experience, as ironically it was the only time I've been ill over the last 5 months (ironic that it was in one of the cleanest cities in the world).

Here are some of the things we did enjoy though during our limited time:

1) Gardens by the Bay

Directly opposite the glitzy Marina Bay Sands (a luxury hotel, shopping and casino complex) lies Gardens by the Bay. It's a gorgeous set of gardens complete with man-made 'supertrees', separate gardens with plants from different countries, and some very strange sculptures! It's pretty to have a wander around, and free entry to all the outside spaces. The conservatories are apparently the best place to see but due to the rather sizeable entry fee, we gave these a miss.

One of the many plants in the gardens
An 'unusual' sculpture
 2) Raffles Hotel

Raffles is a Singapore Institution, and unable to afford the £300+ price tag for a room there, we visited for dinner and drinks one evening. We went to the Italian restaurant (mostly because it was the only reasonably priced option) and while the food wasn't anything amazing, it was lovely to sit in the courtyard of the huge colonial building, observing the well-heeled clientèle and passing the multiple designer shops within the hotel's interior! We then went for Singapore Slings (a cocktail invented at Raffles) in the Long Bar and appreciated the history of the bar where so many famous faces have frequented!

The façade of the hotel decorated for the festive period! 
The Famous Sling 
3) Singapore Zoo

Consistently voted as one of the best zoos in the world, Singapore Zoo definitely lives up to its name. With no cages and very few man-made enclosures, the zoo looks like a rainforest and the animals are cleverly separated with streams or other natural barriers. There's a huge range of animals including white and Malayan tigers, Asian elephants, proboscis monkeys, free-ranging orang-utans and even a polar bear! We had a great day here and it's definitely worth a visit!

All in all, there is interesting sights in Singapore. It definitely wasn't my favourite city but I love the chaos and the challenges of other destinations we have been to and this isn't what Singapore is about!

Flying home and thinking about everything we have seen and done over the last five months, I can't believe how lucky I have been. From seeing endangered species in the wild to visiting spectacular temples, from eating gorgeous food to meeting amazing people we have managed to experience so much and are both truly grateful that we have had this opportunity. Since we got home everyone has asked us where our favourite places have been and we want to get it down in writing, so once Christmas is over, we're planning on doing a mini-series on highlights etc. This should take us through to the middle of January when it'll be back to more of a solo blog as I'm going on my next exciting adventure (more on that to follow) so keep reading because it's not over yet! 

No comments:

Post a Comment