New Years in Singapore
Edyta had was curious to visit a modern Asian city before we concluded our travels in Asia. Seoul and Tokyo were brought up, but we shied away from the relatively cold weather up there and we decided on Singapore to ring in the New Year. I had been there in 2012 for work, but didn't get to see much of the country because of jet lag and work commitments. My cousin Vanessa, who came with me on that trip, saw much more of Singapore so I hit her up for some advice.
On December 30, 2014, we flew Singapore Airlines from Hanoi to the Lion City. Singapore Airlines and Changi airport are probably my favourite in the world because of their top notch service and amenities. Friendly, sharply dressed staff, a welcome hot towel, ample leg room, delicious meal options, and free beer & wine are a few reasons why they have repeatedly been ranked amongst the best in the world.
We got back to our Airbnb roots by renting a room with great views of the city and The National Stadium. Our first night was relatively uneventful as we simply grabbed local food on Old Airport Road, about a 15 minute walk away and went to bed early to be rested and ready to explore the city during our short stay here.
On our first full day, we did the touristy thing and headed to the area around the iconic Marina Bay Sand hotel. For those unfamiliar, this five star hotel looks like 3 decks of cards standing upright with a giant surfboard looking platform laid across the top. Almost 60 floors up on this 'surfboard' there is a bar, observation deck and infinity pool (unfortunately only open to hotel guests) with great views of the city and harbour. To get to the hotel area, we had to cross the modern Helix Bridge, which is modeled after the double helix structure of DNA. Nerd fact: the letters A, C, G, & T are periodically lit up on the bridge to represent the four nucleobases that make up our DNA - adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine.
We also checked out Gardens by the Bay, a green space along the water that contains, among other things: 2 greenhouses, koi ponds, a giant 7 ton baby statue, and what can only be described as futuristic trees. These part concrete and steel, part plant structures collect solar energy and mimic the ecological properties of real trees. In the evening they light up and there is even a music show.
After returning home for a few hours to rest, we headed back to the city to reserve a spot to watch the fireworks. While it was busy, it was nice that it wasn't over crowded. We got a prime spot along the water to take in the fireworks. As midnight hit, the show was beautiful, set against the backdrop of the city. However, it was a little disappointing that it lasted literally only 5 min.
The next day, we had lunch at Clark Quay, an area with along the canal lined with shops and restaurants. For dessert we indulged ourselves in a local favourite: ice cream sandwiches. It was literally ice cream in a slice of bread. While it may not sound appealing to some, trust me, it was delicious, especially with flavours like taro and red bean to choose from. We then headed to the observation deck to check out the city views from 60 floors up. From here we saw great views of the harbour, business district, suburbs and maybe even Malaysia. At less than 300 square miles, it's easy to see most, if not all, of the country at once.
Along the harbour, we stumbled upon an open air stage where Nadi Singspura, a local band, was performing. This percussion band entertained the crowd with a high energy mix of drumming and dance. It was a nice treat to end our short stay in Singapore.
Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all had a memorable 2014 and all the best in 2015.
Geography: Singapore is located on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula in South East Asia.
Population: 5.4 million
Demographics: 74.2% Chinese, 13.2% Malay, 9.2% Indian
Currency: Singapore Dollar where 1 SGD = 0.75 USD (at the time of our visit)
Official Languages: There are four official languages - English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil.
Religion: 33.3% Buddhism, 14.7% Islam, 11.3% Protestantism, 10.9% Taoism, 7.1% Catholicism, 5.1% Hinduism, 0.7% other, 17% not religious.
Best Known for: wealthy hi-tech state country in Asia; economy driven by electronic manufacturing and financial services; once a British colony; iconic building and structures such as Marina Bay Sands, Esplanade Theaters on the Bay (Durians), Gardens by the Bay, ArtScience Museum, Supetrees Grove, Merlion Statue; Clark Quay area; Santosa Island; death penalty for drugs; famous dish chili crab;
What We Noticed: modern and clean but with pockets of older neighborhoods; skyscrapers; monochromatic colors; multicultural; English widely spoken; expensive; spotted prostitutes in the morning;
Interesting Facts: At 710 sq km it is one of the smallest countries in the world; Singapore became independent from the UK in 1963. For more interesting facts click here.
Flight time: 3.5 hours
Marina Bay Sands Resort with The Helix Bridge to the left. This iconic hotel is the world's second most expensive building (right after Abraj Al Bait in Saudi Arabia). It was completed in 2010 and has 55 floors in each tower with a total of 2,561 luxury rooms and suites. The design was inspired by card decks (and not by surfboards as one might think) which makes sense since the parent company is American Las Vegas Sands Corp. The Helix Bridge, also opened in 2010, resembles the structure of DNA and has four viewing platforms and lights up at night.
The ArtScience Museum is a very unique structure. Because of our short stay in Singapore, we did not have enough time to check it out. ArtScience Museum. Viewing deck of Marina Bay Sands is one of the top attractions in Singapore and costs 23 SGD (around $17) to enter.
Merlion statue, half lion and half fish, has an interesting history. It was designed in the 60s as a marketing symbol for Singapore.
Opened in 2012, Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay quickly became one of Singapore's top attractions. This vertical garden comprises of 25m-50m tall trees which are embedded with environmentally sustainable functions like collection of rainwater, solar energy production etc.
For $5 visitors can walk the path that stretches high among some of the trees. Notice Marina Bay Sands on the left.
Strolling the treetop walkway was one of the highlights of our visit.
We found this 7 ton baby statue titled Planet by British artists Marc Quinn located near Supertree Grove to be a bit creepy.
Waiting for the New Years fireworks at the waterfront. New Years Eve in Singapore was super mellow compared to the celebrations we are used to. Our guess is that Chinese New Year is probably more widely celebrated here.
Happy New Year! Fireworks lasted for barely five minutes and were quite underwhelming.
The next day we walked around Clark Quay which is a colorful area known for dining, shopping, and entertainment.
View of Singapore from Clark Quay.
Old Hill Street Police Station built in 1934 has a total of 927 windows painted the colors of the rainbow. Such a creative way to brighten up a government building.
Beautiful red tree and tall skyscrapers.
One of the two entertainment buildings that made up the Esplanade Theaters by the Bay.
These entertainment venues resembled the durian fruit.
Later in the day we went to the observational deck at Marina Bay Sands. It was very spacious. There is also a restaurant in a separate elevated section but it requires proper dress code.
The hotel infinity pool that looks out onto the city. Unfortunately, it was only open to hotel guests.
Singapore is a very modern city with many commercial...
...and residential highrises.
What a sweet spot for a futbol pitch.
Just past the garden is Singapore Harbour with tons of huge ships.
A view of the gardens from high above.
The Singapore Flyer with part of the track from the annual Formula 1 race to the right.
Stunning light show put on by the hotel.
The light show was perhaps more impressive than the New Years fireworks.
We were treated to a free outdoor concert by NADI Sinapura.
This local band combined percussion, choreography and a bit of humour to entertain the crowd.
Here is a view from our Airbnb apartment near the National Stadium.
Kaya toast is a well known snack in Singapore prepared with Coconut Jam and sometimes other things such as peanut butter, sugar, egg etc. It was pretty tasty.
A bit of a different spin on an ice cream sandwich. Delicious. Tasty lunch.
Sugar cane drink was very popular. We finally tasted it but decided it was way too sweet for us, even after adding tons of ice.
Singapore provided a nice contrast to the previously visited Asian countries and we were very happy to have made it our stop. Now, off to the Philippines!
Wow stunning! Great post - I enjoyed the geek fact :)
Not sure how I feel about the ice cream sandwich, but I'll take your word for it and trust it is tasty, lol
Sounds like Singapore was a lot of fun! Adding to my list of places to see :)
Wahhhh I want to go back! Did you eat that crab dish again?
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