The Republic of Singapore is a very small country found just south of Malaysia. Singapore is so small you could drive from one end of the country to the other in about forty-five minutes. It’s also exceptionally hot and humid on top of the cost of living being expensive because Singapore has no natural resources and therefore everything is imported. It’s uncommon to find non-English speakers in Singapore as it is taught in schools as a second language similar to Spanish being commonly taught and learned in the States. Laws in Singapore are also very strict in order to maintain the standard of cleanliness and peacefulness from banning chewing gum to potentially facing hefty fines for minuscule crimes such as jaywalking and loitering. There is only one place where laws are openly disregarded and that is Geylang, the red light district.
Being across the world from my home in Orlando, Florida I seldom had the chance to visit my relatives on my mother’s side of the family but with some luck and their generosity I was able to book a flight that was over twenty hours of flying each way. I was also given the consideration to stay with my in-laws who gave me both the means to save on traveling in transportation, spending money, and room and board. They also aided me in learning the exchange rate, which is in our favor, learning how to navigate Singapore, and finding the best experiences Singapore had to offer.
Getting Around: Public transportation is common in Singapore, while owning a car is exceedingly expensive, as a result many people take the subway train more commonly know as the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) or bus. Simply purchase an EZ-Link card where money can be added in any of the numerous train stations and you’ll have access to both the MRT and Bus.
Marina Bay: Downtown is essentially where you can find everything from the light up Helix Bridge and Singapore Flyer to the prestigious Marina Bay Sands Hotel and The Shoppes that are directly connected to the man-made Gardens by the Bay. Laser shows are a regular nightly event and there is a bevy of restaurants and bars to splurge in.
Sentosa: Merlion Reserve, S.E.A. Aquarium. Sentosa Island is the theme park of Singapore, it even boasts its own Universal Studios but being from the haven of theme parks in Orlando I instead explored the aquarium which flaunts dolphins, manta rays, and goliath groupers and the Merlion Reserve which tells the tale of Singapore’s national albeit mythical icon.
MacRitchie Nature Trail: Tree Top Walk & Jeulong Tower. I’ll admit to getting lost on this trail and running around ten miles in an almost complete full circle. Ranger stations are posted throughout for the public and especially dehydrated tourists like me for refreshments and directions.
That being said, I’m also terrified of heights and had to dig into my pocket and pull out some spare courage to make the trek to the Tree Top Walk, about ninety feet high and being one way once you initiate crossing the bridge you have no choice but to finish. Feeling omnipotent I continued on to Jeulong Tower which is several flights of stairs to a couple levels of observation decks.
This was an odd experience for me as I’ll be the first to say I’m not a fan of Indian food, traditionally Indian food is eaten with your bare hands, not utensils, and most of the food is very spicy which does not agree with me, curry is a dish that I will turn away every time. Moreover, it is common to come across, betel, a plain, green leaf that is commonly sold for dirt cheap prices and chewed with the same effects of chewing tobacco, however I have given up this bad habit years ago and chose not to partake in this particular experience as well. Lassi is a common drink here that is similar to a milkshake but bittersweet and yogurt based. It should also be said many Indians are not photogenic and take offense to photographing their traditional way of life.
Orchard Road: You’ve never been shopping until you visit this road which is full of any and every store, food courts, eateries, and even gyms you can possibly imagine. Malls in Singapore even continue several floors below ground. For my fellow acrophobias be warned, the escalators are outside and go up several floors.
One area to avoid is Orchard Towers, more commonly referred to as the Four Floors of Whores, it is a former business hotel now acting as a string of bars and clubs that is actually an prostitution ring full of illegal immigrants sex workers.
Singapore Botanic Gardens: “The Singapore Botanic Gardens are open daily from 5 a.m. to midnight and cost nothing to explore. However, the National Orchid Garden—the park’s crown jewel—only welcomes visitors from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and charges $5 SGD (about $3.95 USD) for admission.”
To say this garden is immense would be an understatement, free to visit, there is also a concert stage, cafes, and of course the exclusive Orchid Garden which is the only admission charge.
Asian Civilizations Museum: “The museum welcomes visitors from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and from 1 p.m. to 7.p.m. on Mondays. Admission costs $8 SGD (about $6 USD), but on Friday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m., you’ll find reduced rates.”
So much history and an immense amount of sculptures!
Chinatown: You can buy just about anything in Chinatown, fresh fruits, seafood, clothing, trinkets, and souvenirs of all sorts. Easily one of my favorite parts of Singapore.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel: The famous hotel that holds a small pool as well as an observation deck on their top floor. Averaging $400 a night it is connected to their mall as well as museums.
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands: This mall is huge to say the least and has it’s own Italy-themed stream as well as an ice rink, casino and more!
Gardens by the Bay: An amazing and large park featuring is plant both natural and man-made! They have two large domes as well as several smaller exhibits where the centerpiece is the Supertrees that can be walked among for a small fee.
Clarke Quay: Owning a string of bars and restaurants all riverside, Clarke Quay is consistently featuring pub crawls every Friday and Saturday. This is essentially one of the areas where the younger nightlife goes to unwind at night.
Chinatown Heritage Museum: If you’re interested in learning about the rich history and way of life for Chinatown then look no further.
Satay Street: Never had satay? There’s is nothing to do here but eat and there is more than enough satay. Grilled right before your eyes satay is essentially marinated meat on a stick. Beef, chicken, goat, fish, just about any can be found here.
Geylang: There’s a lot that can be said about Geylang. It’s a locals area and many of the food It’s the poorer area in Singapore and during the day and especially at night anything illegal or immoral can be found here. Drugs and gambling is very common while photos are strictly forbidden to hinder and deter potential informants or undercover police. Prostitution is legal in Singapore and is seen by locals as a necessary evil to reduce rape and sexual assault. Several streets are lined up side-by-side with hotels that bear illuminated red numbers and generally have a manager/pimp outside beckoning passersby’s to enter. Most common are fishbowls where girls from generally poorer Asian countries are lined up and can be chosen by their attached number.
Quick Peaks: Sultan Mosque, Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall, and the National Gallery
Wildlife: Wild animals such as monkeys and monitor lizards are common. Despite being interesting and sometimes cute they are not friendly nor hostile towards humans same as animals common in the US such as squirrels, deer, or cranes. It is also illegal to feed these animals because it increases their aggression towards people as well as takes away their time from hunting and foraging and more time reproducing leading to a spike in population growth.
In comparison to the U.S. every dollars is about 1.5 Singaporean dollars, however because of the daily living costs of Singapore are much higher so the exchange rate in America’s favor is almost nullified. Singapore has coins from 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and 1 dollar while bills are in denotations of $2, $5, $10 & $50 – there are $100, $1000, & even $10000 paper bills but these are very seldom seen or used.
Weather: Even being a born and raise local Floridian I can attest that Singapore is HOT! On top of that it is one of the most humid places in the world and is infamous for having some of the worst thunderstorms as well. Light clothing is highly advised.
Where I Stayed: Braddell Place. Living in Singapore is far from cheap and many residents live in apartments such as this one. Because of how small Singapore is its common for apartment building to be sixty floors tall, several buildings even being comparable in height to New York City’s.