Feb 21 - Mar 22, 2015
Exploring More of Singapore
GPS waypoint: 1°17'02.5"N 103°51'34.7"E
On a Shoestring
For the most part, my 30-day stay in Singapore was spent catching up on work to stay afloat. But when the mind starts drifting and I couldn't get anything done anymore, it's my mind telling me I should take a break and enjoy Singapore. With very little cash left and with Singapore Tourism turning my request down for logistical assistance for the marketing campaign I was doing for the city, I was left to explore the free stuff. So, the expensive tours (well, all tours in Singapore are expensive given the city's high cost of living), like Singapore Flyer (giant ferries wheel), the Night Safari, paid Sentosa attractions, etc. became off limits. It's all good. Singapore has a lot in store for the budget traveler.
The Stadium (Singapore Sports Hub)
From a distance, it looked like an oversized UFO landing on a field. I thought it was just another sports arena where you see jocks run around the oval and that's it. I was in for a surprise! It was a big complex complete with a mall, a lake, kiddie swimming pool, rubber tire-raft pool, skateboard park, restaurants, cafe, recreational centers, chill zones, etc. You could spend a day just exploring the complex.
I haven't been to Marakesh, but from the lingering impression from what I've read and with what I experienced and saw at Arab Street, I somehow felt I made the trip to Marakesh. Arab Street isn't just a street, but more of a Middle Eastern neighborhood where you can experience the Islamic culture through its halal restaurants, mosques, cafes and shophouses lining up its streets. People looking for textiles and Persian carpets come here.
Sentosa is a huge 5km2 fantasy/adventure theme park located on its own island and accessible through a causeway, board walk, cable car or its in-house monorail system. It is so big you'll need a few days to fully explore it. There is a dollar entrance and you can roam around the island. The individual attractions however, are fee-based. It has a 2km beach, golf courses, a dozen hotels, Fort Siloso and its own lagoon. For attractions, you can find the Universal Studios, Tiger Sky Tower, Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, Sentosa Merlion, MegaZip Adventure Park, etc. I was lucky to be given free tickets to watch the Wings of Time. It's a dazzling water show with lasers, pyrotechnics and visual projections resembling a hologram woven together together as a stage act with 2 actors. It's the first time I saw a water-wall used as a projection screen to animate a story.
Like Kuala Lumpur, Singapore has a Little India, predominantly occupied by Tamils. You can take a leisurely walk around the neighborhood and help yourself to its offering of Indian cuisine, spices, Indian groceries, music and culture. As a footnote, as late as Dec 2013, a riot broke out here after the death of an Indian construction worker who was ran over by a bus.
It would seem odd to have a Chinatown in a city-state where up to 75% of the population is Chinese. It's kinda like looking for Chinese food when you are in China. Like any Chinatown in the world, it's the best place to have Chinese food (hmmm...again, Singapore is an exception since you get very good Chinese food anywhere in Singapore) and get a sense of the traditional Chinese community. To most outsiders, Chinatown is Chinatown. But to the ethnic Chinese, Chinatown has its own quarters for the Hokkiens (Fukiens), the Teochew merchants and the ubiquitous Cantonese - they know where the demarcation lines are drawn. Chinatown has its own share of guilds, clans, trade unions, secret societies and associations which are collectively associated somehow to the Chinese mafia. The shophouses are an architectural mix of Baroque and Victorian, but you have to look at them from across the street to notice.
While I was walking along the main drag in Orchard Street with Mat Schiller, an American traveler I met in Cambodia, he said, "Let's go back. I was hoping we just keep walking until the malls end and then we turn back. But I'm already tired and there's no end in sight." You would think that is unique about Orchard Street, but actually, I have the same observation about the mall system of Singapore. The malls are interconnected that it's hard to know at what mall you're already in. And yes, they extend from here to eternity. Alone, I would just keep walking and walking until I tire myself out - without covering the total extent of the mall complex. For starters, try Orchard Street. In New York, you'd be hard pressed to find a Louis Vuitton store. Here at Orchard, it won't be surprising to find two distinct stores from where you are standing.
Yes, even though it's expensive in Singapore, you can still find interesting and animated places that won't cost you anything. All it takes is a lot of leg power to cover a lot of ground. With its efficient and modern transport system, it's a breeze to get to anyone of them. It doesn't have to be limited to tourist attractions. Like I said, you can take any direction and at some point, you'll be pleasantly surprised at what you find - just don't look for natural wonders. They're all man-made marvels.
Little India - Little India is the main tourism hub in Singapore. Friday and Saturday nights become animated with the night market
Chinatown -colorful and animated with Chinese ware shopping, sumptuous street food and hawker-style eats, try Ah Balling Peanut Soup
Orchard Road - upscale shopping and glitzy night life
Arab Street - backpacker dorms, shisha smoking with Middle Eastern atmosphere
Singapore Zoo - experience the night zoo, S$38
Fountain of Wealth - at Suntec City, largest fountain in the world (Guinness Book of Records in 1998), shop-til-you-drop
The Southern Ridges - best trekking trails in Singapore extending 10kms through lush forest canopy. Bring water, sunscreen and a hat
Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery - biggest Buddhist temple in Singapore
Marina Bay Sands - Singapore's most iconic building and most expensive at US$5.5B. Imagine a surf board on top of three skyscrapers
- Arcadia Hotel - stylish, modern, urbane, cool and confident. Jalan Besar district
32 Hamilton Road, Singapore 209201
+65 6718 0700 | firstname.lastname@example.org | 1°18'42.0"N 103°51'41.1"E
- Pinnacle Hotel - newly renovated, central location near Little India and MRT
270 Jalan Besar #01-01/02 Singapore 209019
tel: (65) 6499 8999 | (65) 6499 8996 | 1°18'37.1"N 103°51'31.2"E
- 7 Wonders Hostel - backpacker community, sleeping capsules, free wifi, complimentary breakfast, live English Premier League, dining, motion sensor lighting, alfresco outdoor sitting area
257 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208930
tel: (+65) 6291 3774 | 1°18'36.2"N 103°51'29.8"E
- Meadows Hostel - newly opened, all new and clean, backpacker capsule beds, central Lavender District location, 24/7 compli tea and coffee, wifi, compli breakfast
7A Hamilton Road, Kallang, Singapore, Singapore 209178
tel: 6298.1323 | 1°18'40.2"N 103°51'38.0"E
cafe, tea house and restaurant
- Mini-Life in Singapore August 8-22, 2016
- Peoplescape of Singapore Aug. 8-22, 2016
- Discovering the Neighborhood Cafes of Singapore Aug 8-22, 2016
- Biological Cell Regulation (BCR) Therapy at Chang Wellness Aug 16, 2016
- Getting my Xiaomi Redmi Note3 Smart Phone Aug. 9, 2016
- A Roof Over my Head in Singapore Aug. 8-22, 2016
- 2-Hour Detention at Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority August 8, 2016
- Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew Mar 23, 2015
- Life Hacking in Singapore Mar 22, 2015
- Exploring More of Singapore Feb 21 - Mar 22, 2015
- Power Yoga Class at Yoga Inc., Singapore Mar 21, 2015
- Touring Marina Bay Sands Mar 17, 2015
- The Singapore Magic Mar 16, 2015
- Singapore Yoga at Yoga Inc. Mar 8, 2015
- Singapore on a Shoe String Feb 20, 2015
- Things to do in Singapore Oct 20, 2013
- Singapore Girl July 21, 2013
- Lee Kuan Yew and Ferdinand Marcos Jan 26, 2003
Feb 21 - Mar 22, 2015
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