Hello Singapore! This modern, mini-metropolis was to be our oyster for six days, and we crammed in all we could in this city of huge architectural prowess. We started with the Gardens by the Bay; the big green area in the centre of the city with those big tree-like structures which look like the setting for Avatar. They were impressive, and, I guess, represent Singapore very well; progressive architecture amongst a natural habitat they are doing their best to preserve – a common theme here. To delve further into this hot topic, we went to the Future Of Us exhibition which revealed Singapore’s plans for its ecological future. We witnessed ideas such as holograms to aid you if you feel ill, self-providing energy buildings (for example, running on a treadmill to power your TV), and plans to make every available space a green space.
Our next stop was the Science Museum which went specifically into Alfred Nobel and the history of the Hydron Collider. Fun fact: Nobel wrote his desire to have a prize system in his will, and his last category was the Nobel Peace prize. Coming from the man who invented dynamite, you can’t help but think that requesting a category on the subject of peace may have been construed as a bit guilt-ridden.
That night we tried Bundang, a pink looking juice which was the same colour of Calpol. The texture was very much like Calpol too, and it also tasted like Calpol, but we were assured it wasn’t Calpol.
Gardens by the Bay
A baby’s bottom in the Gardens by the Bay
The Future Of Us Exhibition
We spent the next day in Sentosa Island, which is pretty much a big playground for adults with cable cars, nature walks, a beach, Madame Tussauds, Universal Studios, and an aquarium. Apparently the aquarium is the biggest in the world, but didn’t feel like it. Nevertheless, watching the big fish getting fed in the huge tank was pretty cool. Four of the five divers with buckets of food were getting attacked by the fish. The fifth diver had one job, to keep the swordfish, hovering about in the background, away from the other divers. If that sword got near them, it would have been game over. There were a few sketchy moments where the swordfish showed a bit of interest, which was exciting, not that I wanted a marine-based massacre packaged as entertainment. Ahem.
We spent the evening in Chinatown and watched the fireworks to celebrate Chinese New Year. Turns out that Chinese New Year would not arrive for another month. I thought the John Lewis Christmas advert in November was early, but fireworks this early was another level. It appears they like to milk it. We also had a sugarcane drink, which was sugar in its most natural form, which was sweet, naturally.
The next day was museums day. The Museum of Singapore offered us some interesting facts:
1. Colonel Percival signed the surrender treaty to the Japanese during the Second World War in a Ford Factory.
2. Singapore has changed its time zone six times since 1905.
3. When the Singapore Prime Minister stated separation from Malaysia in 1965, he cried on live television, stating it was a difficult but necessary decision for Singapore to progress. He was the main instigator for what Singapore has become today.
That evening we went on a push scooter tour. A group of us were outside the hostel being given a bit of chat about scooters when the geezer in charge – who we thought was an interesting cross between Chinese and Scandinavian, but turned out to be an English bloke from Yorkshire – dropped into the chat that the tour was going to be five hours! Everyone half glanced at each other, not sure whether this was a joke or not. A man, no younger than 60 and carrying a few extra kgs, who was about to face the most brutal workout of his late, tender years, was forming an extra layer of sweat upon his brow at hearing the news. He could have turned back into the hostel at this point, but this legend held strong. We were taken all over Singapore and saw pretty much everything, from the Raffles hotel, to the Fountain of Wealth. We would arrive at each sightseeing spot, and then four minutes later the old guy would come scooting up to the group completely wasted. We were taken to the Marina Bay Sands to watch a light show, which was incredible. It was light projected onto big sprays of water and told a story. It was magical had it not been for our old friend nursing a heart attack. A few hours in and he looked like absolute shit. Every time Ednora and I checked in with him he was riddled with sweat, panting like a dog in its twilight years after its walk, and eyes as desperate as a prisoner on death row. Every time our tour guide stopped we would deliberately ask random questions to give our mate, lying in the fetal position on the floor, the few extra seconds he craved. We did an OK job – our bit for charity.
Cable car to Sentosa Island
The start of our 5 hour scooter tour
Crossing the F1 track
The Gardens By The Bay light show
Gardens By The Bay light show
Fountain of Wealth
A mosque in the Arab district
The next day was spent at Universal Studios on Sentosa Island. It was great fun with some cool rides, particularly Transformers Roller Coaster: 3D, which blew my mind. You were basically in a huge fight. But then it rained, and it didn’t English rain. It completely chucked it down. It was so intense that the paths were flooded in minutes. However, it was still really hot, so as long as we didn’t mind being completely drenched, there were no queues for the rides.
Our final full day in Singapore took us to the Botanical Gardens where we saw this huge lizard called a Water Monitor Lizard. We asked one of the staff what the name of the lizard was and he kept claiming it was a snake. We tried to explain that snakes don’t have legs, so it can’t be a snake. This didn’t compute. For the rest of our walk around the gardens Ednora was armed with a stick, just in case we had another encounter with this four-legged snake. The Gardens also had a museum, where we learnt some cool facts:
1. Orchid seeds are the smallest seeds in the world.
2. 70% of the world’s rubber is produced in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
3. You also get latex from rubber trees. When you cut the tree it pours out, as though the tree is bleeding latex.
The Gardens also had a huge cross-pollination laboratory where they bred different kinds of Orchid. It was like The Island of Dr Moreau, except with Orchids and not animals.
Vito Corleone’s olive oil business!
In the evening we met up with an old Uni friend, Joseph, which was a great blast from the past, and nice to see a familiar face. Back at the hostel we were getting ready for bed and a guy in the same room as us was unleashing some serious farts. We laughed out loud (lolled) but then he sat up and checked his phone. This meant he was lying there farting wide awake, knowing we were in the room! Then all through the night he ground his teeth so hard, it was almost impossible to sleep. Travelling.
Singapore was jam-packed, but lots of fun. It’s a playground for adults, and if you’re rich, it’s a pretty desirable place to live. It has a short history, but a very positive one, and they do appear to be at the forefront of ecological technology, of which they are very proud. Thanks Singapore, next stop Malaysia!