A 2.5 day whirlwind whistlestop


7/23/20237 min read

Wow! For a relatively small country (only 719sq/kms) - Singapore sure packs a punch!

For starters - after 2 months in Bali, I thought I was used to the heat, but nooooo.. when it's still 31 degrees at 7.30pm, that's a whole other level.

My flight on Singapore Airlines - albeit a little late taking off - went without a hitch - and I was reminded of how good they are to fly with ✈️ The short 2.5 hour flight from Bali wasn't quite long enough for me to finish my movie, so I'll have to catch the other half when I head to Vietnam tomorrow!

I've been using the service for rides since I've been away and it's awesome! Wait times are virtually zero, and the prices so far have been incredibly cheap. Even my ride from the airport here only cost me $11.80SGD - and I suspect a similar ride would have cost me upwards of $35 in NZ.

So I arrived at my chosen hotel late afternoon - bingo! - I got lucky again with my selection. Accommodation rates in Singapore are notoriously high - possibly due to the sheer lack of space here - so I had chosen something in the price range of 'one step above hostels' - and I wasn't expecting much. I booked at Hotel Clover 7 in Hongkong Street through - Agoda | Hotels in Singapore | Best Price Guarantee! It certainly pays to check rates across providers, as I paid $455 NZD on Agoda vs $575 NZD for the same room on Even though the room was definitely 'compact' - and the hotel is 'no frills' - without a pool, gym, or on-site restaurant, it was exceptionally clean, had a private bathroom, a really comfortable bed, and lots of little room amenities - but best of all.. the location!! Situated about 50mtrs from the Elgin Bridge - it meant that in one direction I could walk to Clarke Quay in less than 2 minutes, and to all the eateries and sights along the Riverside Walk - and in the opposite direction - Chinatown was about a 10 minute walk.

So I headed in the direction of Chinatown after I had dumped my bags - as I knew I would want to head in the other direction - along the Riverside and that general part of the city for most of the next day. By the time I had zig-zagged through some of the streets and alleys, taking pictures, it was dark in Chinatown, and the laneways were twinkling with all the coloured lights that hang between the shop-fronts. I was determined to 'eat like a local' for the first night at least, and after scanning a few of the stall-offerings, I settled on something that came highly recommended by a lovely elderly gentleman who had no doubt noticed the confused look on my face. I have no idea what it was called but it was like a pita pocket with a bao-bun texture, and I watched as the lady behind the counter stuffed it with tender pieces of pork meat, piles of pickled cucumber and fresh coriander, then drizzled it with a tiny amount of chilli oil that she assured me was 'barely spicy'. The first bite was heavenly - and I'm pleased to report that about half an hour later, once the feeling had returned to the bottom half of my face, I was grinning from ear to ear at the fact that on a balmy Friday night at the end of July, I was immersed in another new country, surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of another vibrant culture - and I was feeling very grateful once again. It's impossible to do justice to the amazing food smells in Chinatown, with words. One stall I passed sold cooked bacon squares (not sure why they're square?!.) - but regardless.. imagine an ENTIRE store filled with cooked bacon - and that was the smell! There were skewers with strawberries and other fruits covered in toffee at one stall, there were curries and chillies and stir fries and everything in between. And they love sweets here too, so donut stands and the most amazing fresh bread stalls are all there adding to the aromas. Mouth watering!

Almost all the food pics in this blog entry are of the things I DIDN'T eat - just to change it up! Honestly the amount of food on offer here is insane! You can eat out from as little as $3 SGD - which will get you 3 fat dumplings like the ones I went back to Chinatown for on night #2 - right up to veeeerrry fine dining - where you can add quite a few extra zeros to the '3'. I took pics of some of the things I expected to see - like the marinated duck-heads and other unidentified bird-parts. I took a photo of a rooster that either deserves either a bravery award or a slap for stupidity, for strutting in such close proximity to the cabinets offering up bits of his brothers, and I had to include some pics of the amazing cakes and sweets on offer here.. they're like works of art! One of the things that struck me most while here is what an integral part of the culture it is to eat together. The streets and cafes were literally packed with groups of people sitting together - laughing and talking - and really enjoying the process of the meal. Most places offer banquet-style dining - and individual gas cookers on tables are commonplace. The smells are mostly amazing - except for the STINKIEST fruit I've ever come across (exhibit A below) - which looks like a yellow organ of some kind, and smells like a combo of tripe and wet dog. In the main dining precinct surrounding Chinatown, the most popular restaurants had queues of people lining the street outside, happy to wait patiently for a table to clear so they may have their turn. On the walk home I passed the mouth-watering smell of fresh lobster being cooked for the lucky diners inside, on hooded BBQ's outside the Park Royal. I had to add in a picture of a freezer loaded with frozen goods - unsupervised on the footpath - just for the shock value. If it was in NZ I think some people would be helping themselves?!

Day 2 I hit the street after a very basic scrambled egg on toast - and did so many kms I lost track! For the first time ever I had forgotten to charge my phone, but before it went flat (around lunchtime) I had clocked 18,000 steps, so it was a solid day! I took in pretty much all of the Riverside Walk, the area surrounding the Singapore Flyer (the huge ferris wheel) and I went into the ticket office at Marina Bay Sands Skypark | 20% off Tickets Online | Best Price Guaranteed ( expecting to be able to get up to the observation deck, but it was fully booked for the weekend. I ventured to the grounds of the Victoria Concert Hall where the grass area was packed with families having picnics and eves-dropping on the live music at the stadium next-door. I checked out all the bronze sculptures and plaques outlining the history of the area, and learned a bit about what Singapore was all about in the early 1800's. I crossed the Cavenagh Bridge - over to the majestic Fullerton Hotel - which once operated as the General Post Office. I love that grand old concrete structures that have stood for around 200 years are blended with steel and glass structures that can only be described as modern engineering genius. I love all the art and sculptures that are unsparingly scattered through the city. I love the wide, orderly one-way streets that serve as carriageways for the Maseratis, Lamborghinis, Maclarens, BMWs and all the other immaculately polished European vehicles. I love how safe it is here - even for a single woman wandering the city taking in sights after-dark. And I wished I had an extra suitcase and an extra few thousand dollars for some of the high-end shoes, bags and dresses on offer. I also received a recommendation from a friend, just as I was flying in, to visit the and I'm glad I did! I arrived just in time to hear the melodious daily prayers ringing out from the temple, and I spent well over an hour wandering through the laneways and perusing the little stalls selling everything from Turkish rugs, to Moroccan lighting, to local handcrafts. The restaurateurs do their best to entice you in for a meal, but unlike Bali, the stall-owners aren't quite so insistent.

As the evening approached and I noticed even more people heading into the CBD, I discovered that the 9th of August will be Singapores' National Day, and as part of the build-up, every Saturday in July and leading up to the 9th, sees celebrations in the city including jet fly-overs, skydiving displays, live music, and of course a huge fireworks display at around 8.30 once it's really dark. How lucky that I was here on a weekend to witness it!

Day 2 I got up early once again and called a Grab to the National Orchid Garden | Exclusive Deals ( . It was a stunning morning for a walk around this national treasure - and I managed to get through 90% of it before the skies opened up and I got soaked through. No trouble.. I 'Grabbed' it back to my hotel and changed and headed out for some more exploring. I stumbled upon the Raffles City Shopping Centre | CapitaLand Malls - which pretty much took up the rest of my afternoon. Amazing! How so many levels of the highest of high-end shopping can be sustained is beyond me - but it all seems to work. Then if you work up an appetite shopping, you can head underground to the myriad of eateries in the fanciest food hall I have ever seen! Back to my hotel for a late afternoon coffee and to throw this blog together, then out to the movie theatre I found opposite Raffles, to take in the latest bit of our mate Tom, in Mission Impossible.

And that's how to pack as much as possible into 2 full days - in a major city that has so much to offer!

Phew!. might have a little sleep-in before I take to the skies to head to Vietnam tomorrow ✈️

Some temptations, some not so much ...

Some Singapore Sights ...

The Gardens get their own feature ...