FINAL EXPLORATIONS // Singapore

At last, the end of our holiday photos! Considering we were only gone for ten days I still managed to take a ridiculous amount of pictures.

We had a 9pm flight home on our final day, so we still had a lot of time to spend exploring before we had to head out to the airport. We had a slow morning at our hotel, before checking out and setting off towards Arab Street in search of coffee. We came across this Old Malay Cemetery on the way – this was an aspect of Singapore that I found really beautiful, that in between all the buildings were little pockets of green.

We had coffee at a cute little cafe (Artistry Cafe, a decent brew if you are in the area!) a block down from the beautiful Masjid Sultan mosque.

After out caffeine fix we wandered towards the Bugis district. Chris had heard that the National Library had some decent views, so we wandered in and caught the elevator up as high as we could. We could only see across the Bugis area, but it was still a great view.

Bugis is known for it’s cheap shopping, in particular, Bugis Street. We had a quick walk through, but neither of us were in the market for any cheap goods!

We continued on towards the city centre, wandering past the Parliament and Supreme Court. Eventually we found a small hawker centre and spent approximately $3 AUD each on a massive plate of stirfry vegetables and rice. I miss Singapore…

Admittedly we had little else planned and we were running out of sights to see, so we somehow ended up at some horrifying apartment/underground shopping centre/nightmare at the Suntec Centre. It was good to get some airconditioning (and bubble tea) but damn capitalism is terrifying!

Okay, maybe we did eventually find some more good views among all the shops!

For the remainder of the afternoon we decided we desperately needed to do something indoors and out of the humidity, so we checked out the Asian Civilisations Museums. They had some great permanent exhibits about the extensive history of Singapore, touching on colonization and the multicultural influences on the present day country.

Of course, our final dinner in Singapore before going to the airport was another hawker hall. This one was located about 100 metres from our hotel, and was just as quick and delicious as we had hoped. I don’t think I would ever cook lunch for work if I lived around the corner from a hawker hall!

And that brings an end to our quick trip to Singapore and Indonesia! It worked out perfectly as a ten day holiday from Melbourne, with cheap flights, and a perfect combination of hectic sight seeing in Singapore and beach relaxation in Indonesia.

But one question remains… where to next?!

– Reanna

LITTLE INDIA // Singapore

I didn’t fully elaborate in my previous post, but returning to Singapore from Sugi Island required a private boat from the resort to Sekupang Ferry Terminal on Batam Island, and then an international ferry (taking around 45 minutes) to Harbourfront in Singapore.

We had just disembarked from the ferry in Singapore, when it began to rain heavily! Thankfully we had arrived around lunch time and were happy to sit tight in a little food court at the ferry terminal for a little while, before getting an Uber to our hotel. I also had the hottest satay sauce of my life at the ferry terminal! Turns out the ‘satay’ sauce at home is pretty pathetic.

Our hotel was at the other end of town from where we had previously stayed, near Jalan Besar. We were next to the Thekchen Choling Buddhist Temple, and across the road from a very hipster looking coffee shop.

The weather still looked grim overhead, but we ventured out in the afternoon after checking in to our room. Our destination was the nearby Little India, a historic ethnic district.

Little India was amazing colourful, with painted buildings, flags, and colourful food and wares being sold on the sidewalk.

One of the many attractions in the area was the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. As with the rest of the area, it was beautifully colourful.

We had no real distination, and were happy just wandering the streets and taking in the sights.

I am sure the apartment buildings below aren’t anything special, but they were just so bright that they really caught my attention!

All in all, it was a pretty quiet and eventful afternoon. We didn’t want to check too much off our ‘to see’ list, as we still had another full day before flying home. Plus we were still emerging from the peaceful mindsets we had adopted at Telunas Resort!

We finished the evening with a Japanese dinner and cocktail, before taking it easy and having an early night back at our hotel – we had an overnight flight back home so we needed all the sleep we could get in a bed!

– Reanna

 

TERRIFYING TIGER BALM & OTHER ADVENTURES // Singapore

Finally, the second day of holidays. I promise from now on I will tone down the photos (spoiler: I probably won’t).

Despite our best intentions we admittedly did not have an extensive plan regarding what sights to see in Singapore. Not to mention, we clocked up over 24kms of walking on our first day and saw far more than we anticipated! As such, a morning research session over a hipster coffee (at the criminal price of $5 AUD plus taxes) was required. Somehow, I stumbled upon Haw Par Villa.

After a stressful morning trying to hunt down a sim card, we eventually jumped on the metro and alighted at Haw Par Villa station. The park was located directly out the front of the metro.

What is Haw Par Villa? Loosely, it is described as a ‘theme park’, though it is more educational, with a focus on Chinese mythology. The park was built in 1937 by the wealthy family who created Tiger Balm ointment – see below for some subtle/terrifying product placement.

The park was popular in its early years for school trips, but has since been taken over by the Singapore Tourism Board. It is free to enter to park and explore.

The most well known sight to see at the park is the Ten Courts of Hell – you can see the entrance above, and the interior below. Essentially, it graphically depicts the punishment an individual will receive in the after life for crimes and sins committed. And I mean graphically – if you look closely at the below photo you can probably make out some people drowning in vats of oil and being impaled on trees. Seriously, leave the kids outside!

The remainder of the park was an odd mix of colourful temples and large displays depicting stories from Chinese folklore. There was even a random section which featured Australian animals.

After fulfilling all our wildest nightmares at Haw Par Villa we jumped back on the metro and headed to the Botanic Gardens stations. Our morning research session had revealed a hawker market was nearby, so we made a quick stop for some delicious satay lunch.

The Botanic Gardens were beautiful and expansive. It was getting fairly hot by this point, so we were more than happy to find a place in the shade and rest.

Chris: “You are probably getting so sunburnt, we should just stay in the shade.”

Me: “I must see everything.”

Once we made it through the park we somehow navigated Singapore Uber and went back to our hotel for a much needed rest under the air conditioner. We reemerged in the evening the check out the famed Orchard Road. Neither of us are big shoppers, so we quickly left and wandered back towards Chinatown for dinner.

After having experienced a couple of hawker halls by now, we were feeling like seasoned professionals and game enough to try the hawker hall at the Chinatown Complex. As expected, it was absolutely delicious and a million times cheaper than any meal you would have in a restaurant.

I was eager to see the city at night, so we walked back towards Marina Bay.

You can get some great views of the city from the top of the Marina Bay Shoppes. We spent awhile up here just taking it in and escaping from the hordes of tourists heading towards the light show at the Gardens.

All in all, it was another wonderful day exploring Singapore. I think we clocked up another 20+km of walking, so we were sleeping well.

But that is all for Singapore for now – as it was onwards to Indonesia!

– Reanna

DO AS THE LOCALS DO // Singapore

I am fairly confident I took over 200 photos on our first day in Singapore. A combination of the excitement of a new city and a new camera had me snap happy, and Chris rolling his eyes as I stopped every fifty metres to take another photo. One day he will appreciate all these memories!

After ticking off all the tourist must-sees around Marina Bay, we set off towards Chinatown, which was much closer than we thought. Singapore turned out to be far more walk-able than anticipated – we only used the metro a couple of times!

Thanks to a random tourist map from the airport and some handy street signs, we toured a few temples and religious sites. The above and below temples were from Thian Hock Keng temples.

Chinatown also included a number of Hindu temples and Islamic mosques. We were able to enter to above Hindu temple, Sri Mariamman Temple, on the condition I borrow one of the communal saris. Given the 30 degree beating sun, I was quickly sweating under the cheap fabric!

The largest and most popular temples was the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. We innocently wandered into the main room, but I was quickly yelled at to leave for wearing a dress. The halls leading to the upstairs museum were inundated with other tourists, so we made the decision to leave and instead admire the architecture from outside.

Chinatown itself was a bustling maze of market streets, food vendors, and haggling stalls. We weren’t in any mood for shopping, but stumbled across the Chinatown Hawker Centre. For the uninitiated, the sight of a local Singaporean food hall was quite overwhelming! We took note of the location, but decided to try another nearby food street. Once again, we were victims of an overpriced meal (prices often exclusive of tax and service – look for the ++ on the menu!).

By this time we had already clocked up over 10kms of walking, so we wandered back to our hotel for a swim in the pool and a rest in our air conditioned room.

For the later half of the afternoon, we decided to mix things up with some more walking. We wandered up towards Fort Canning Park, but not before I found another temple to admire – the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple.

Another cute animal? I am so predictable.

Fort Canning is a small park near the CBD of Singapore that has a long history of palaces, settlements, and (strangely enough) forts. These days it is full of lush greenery and some peaceful paths that wind around a reservoir.

You can just imagine how much Chris is rolling his eyes behind the camera as I posed for this photo.

Eventually it was time for more food, so after another pit stop at the hotel for a quick research session, we decided to take the step of trying hawker food. On our walk we stumbled across the below graveyard, strangely located on the side of a busy road!

A quick Google session had revealed that Tiong Bahru Market was a clean and welcoming hawker hall, which we took to mean friendlier to those of us who have no idea what they are doing.

Hawker halls are essentially a mix between food courts and market stalls. Except the food is excellent, local and dirt cheap. After draining half our savings on our previous two meals, we were more than happy to spend a grand total of $10 AUD on three savoury dishes and a dessert!

Don’t ask what our dessert was, as we have no idea. It was called ‘Special Dream’ our something equally as terrifying, and was covered in a suspicious amount of unknown fruit jellies.

That night we sat along Clarke Quay and paid a ridiculous amount of money for a ‘craft’ beer. Despite only being in the country for 24 hours, we had our usual conversation of ‘would we live here’ – a common topic when moving overseas is on the mind.

Answer: I am skeptical of the hot and humid weather, but we probably would!

– Reanna.

ANNUAL LEAVE // Singapore

Last weekend Chris and I were sweating in the South-East Asian sun, and this weekend it is back to the questionably cold weather of Melbourne. Our ten day holiday flew by, but it was also the perfect amount of time to get in both a thorough exploration of Singapore and spend some time relaxing in Indonesia.

As the title of this post alludes to, this holiday is my first overseas holiday using my annual leave since I began working full time in December last year! I haven’t accrued a great deal of leave yet, but with the help of weekends and a public holiday, we managed to stretch out our trip for ten days, with one day recovery.

We admittedly chose Singapore due to cheap flights that worked well with our timing! Though typically considered a stop over destination, we found it a great place to explore for a few days.

Our flight arrived in Singapore in the late afternoon, so our first night involved a quick walk, accidentally spending $100 on an average dinner, and sleeping ten hours. We were up bright and early the next day for what was probably our most action packed day. Our hotel was in Robertson Quay, so we followed the river to Marina Bay.

In full tourist style, our first major stop was the Merlion. Despite my (joking) requests, Chris did not want to pose for a photo where it looked like the lion was squirting water into his mouth.

The CBD was a million times more modern than the area we were staying in, and was quite desolate as we had arrived in time for the weekend. However, we stumbled straight into a giant dragon boating festival along the bay, which provided some entertainment.

After gawking at Marina Bay Sands (and cooling off in the shops – Singapore was hot!) we wandering towards Gardens by the Bay. Chris noticed a group of people looking at something by the water, so we curiously followed suit. Turns out it was the most glorious group of otters! I honestly was not expecting to see any wildlife in Singapore, so I was more than happy to watch these cuties snuggle up to each other in the sun.

By this time it was still only around 9am in the morning (we set off early!) so the Gardens were largely empty. We skipped the greenhouses and wandered towards the epic Supertree Grove.

I was happy to slowly walk through the park to find the best vantage point for a sweeping view of the Supertrees and Marina Bay Sands. Admittedly I still have zero idea what I am doing with my new DSLR camera, but thankfully ‘auto’ mode still takes a pretty good shot.

After a good hour or so of garden explorations I was positive I was getting sunburnt, despite being covered in sunscreen, so we began a desperate search for iced coffee.

In order to over photo overload, I think I am going to divide this day in to two posts! Admittedly the rest of the trip isn’t as photo heavy (I think), plus I am getting more lenient in how many photos I don’t delete these days. I was far more ruthless in Europe!

– Reanna