Singapore – A brief interlude
Charlie and I were lucky enough to arrange a stop in Singapore whilst traveling through Asia so that we could spend a week with my cousin Sharon and her family (and hopefully have a warm shower).
You can see Sharon below, I’m sure she’ll be dead chuffed that I put this photo up… Right Shazza? (let’s see if she’s reading this or not… more about Sharon at the bottom of the page) 🙂
Sharon and her family live on Sentosa (small island in Singapore) in a gorgeous house that they built about 10 years ago. Their home is just amazing, we were spoiled staying there! It actually became really difficult to motivate ourselves to leave, as we had the luxury of the pool, the WiFi, the games room, cinema room, our own room & bathroom… What more do you need?! There’s a picture of the house from the outside below – so you can see what I mean.
Still, we had to leave the pool at some point and we spent some time seeing parts of Singapore. We’ve by no means explored everything Singapore has to offer, but I think it’s fair to say we’ve done a decent chunk of the things most tourists have a crack at. Sharon offloaded more information than we could absorb, and we eventually came to a bit of a list. We’ve also summarized some information about the place on the Information Page.
As I’m sure most people know, or have heard; Singapore is crazy clean & organized – like OCD levels of clean & organized. Getting around is exceptionally easy and efficient (and cheap!); crime is very low; there’s no sign of dirt, graffiti or litter. Everything is incredibly well thought out, and the government are pretty intent on striving for perfection – when it comes to living standards and communal environment. From the sounds of it, some of this comes at a cost; such as extraordinary (and in some cases, in my opinion, unjustified) levels of punishment for crime; and high cost of living.
In general, it’s expensive (like S$10+ (£6+) for a beer, that’s a small beer); but there are little havens for cheap (and excellent) food and drink; such as Little India or Chinatown.
It’s hot & muggy – humidity is the order of the day – and if the sun is out – it’s really hot. Storms come in many nights and can be pretty awesome. I managed to get a photo of some lightning (below), but my tripod broke in Nepal, so I was a bit limited on where I could go to set up for a picture… This was taken from Sharon’s roof. More photos on the photos page.
City in a Garden
In 2013 Singapore celebrated 50 years of ‘greening Singapore’ there are green spaces all around the city. We explored the Gardens by the bay and the Botanical gardens. They’re both large areas of very well thought out garden space. The Gardens by the bay are a little more surreal, and they’ve developed the super-trees to make a material impact on the skyline (picture at the top of the page). They’re lovely to walk around, and really quite impressive. The botanical gardens are a little more natural, and there’s a collection of plants from all over there, in beautiful settings with lakes and lawns, trees etc. There’s also a lovely Orchid garden specifically separated out. If you like your garden and outdoor space, both of these are worth a visit.
Food & drink
Singapore has everything you could possibly want. There are plenty of restaurants owned by famous chefs, such as Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen; and high quality multi-cultural food available pretty much everywhere. It’s a bit like London in that respect. Charlie and I particularly enjoyed Chinatown and Little India; which offer some wonderfully authentic and fantastic tasting food – and most importantly (for travellers on a budget); at amazingly low costs (S$6 (£4) a meal in Little India, or maybe S$10 (£6) in Chinatown). We are told that food hygiene standards are heavily monitored and regulated so although some of the cheaper market style eateries may seem ‘rough around the edges’ you can feel confident when ordering that the food safety standards should be up to western expectations. Chinatown and Little India are well worth a visit; not only for the food but for the great markets and bustling atmosphere; a stark contrast to the likes of Orchard road.
Travelling over Christmas is weird… We’ve completely missed the build-up to Christmas whilst in Nepal, and the 2 months of British retailers pounding Christmas into your sub-conscious. Then Singapore is so hot, it couldn’t possibly be Christmas, could it? But there are areas of Singapore that make a real effort, which we went and explored. Hopefully the picture below says it all – Charlie being Santa in fake snow – ruining some poor family’s photo of their angelic daughter (in the foreground). Tanglin’s mall does an exceptional job of making a Christmassy environment in crazy humidity. They’ve got a lovely tree & decorations & blow out fake foamy snow that covers everything in sight at night. It’s really good fun, but I think Charlie and I were a little over-age for it. Nah! Orchard road has some fantastic decorations too, which are worth a look if you want to feel Christmassy. More photos on the photos page.
If you’re bored and suffer an ailment of any kind, the doctors in Singapore are fantastic. I was still suffering from a pretty major ‘incident’ in Vietnam – and because it had been going on for well over a week, I decided to visit Sharon’s doctor. $30 for a check-up, and a competent response / diagnosis & cure. This is in contrast the average NHS response I’m used to, which is ‘you’re too young to be ill – go away’. Don’t get me wrong, the NHS has a lot going for it – particularly in an emergency – but in the most part it’s sh*t.
We did a bunch of other things, and it’s mostly covered in the Information page, so have a read of our TripAdvisor reviews and stuff 🙂
Sharon & Family
We were tempted to create a TripAdvisor profile for Sharon & Mark’s place, and we highly recommend staying with them – although I can only expose their address for a large fee (subject to negotiation). Seriously though, thank you so much Sharon – you were amazing! I think Sharon was worried that we weren’t seeing enough of Singapore, but we saw a lot, and frankly – staying at Sharon & Mark’s felt like a phenomenal, relaxing holiday – we were happy as pigs in *cough*. Sharon looked after us so much; told us everything we needed to know & even transported us. We learned a lot about Singapore from Sharon, and her kids, Callum and Caitlin are a product of the Singapore education system – which is clearly astonishing. They’re amazing, educated, talented & lovely – like super-humans – a real credit to Sharon & Mark (although Cal really needs to work on his Table Tennis). The education system puts the UK’s to shame – it’s really quite worrying (for the UK).
But yes, a big thank you to you guys for having us for such a long time, we had the best time, thank you 🙂 We look forward to welcoming Cal to the UK, and showing him around a few rough spots 😉