Ahhh…Singapore…home of polite people, calm traffic and clean toilets. Never are your charms so appreciated as when people arrive after four weeks in India. We felt like we were treading water a bit in India, so when we arrive in Singapore we hit the sightseeing and we hit it hard.
On our first day, we had to hit one of the many (many, many) shopping malls for a few bits and pieces. Mr Beet was thrilled and a little bit emotional when he spotted…a Nando’s. Singapore just gets better and better.
In the afternoon we went to Singapore Zoo. Long-term readers of this blog will know that I got a little bit obsessed when they had those Elephant Parade statues up in London a couple of summers ago. I totally geeked out and combed the entire city photographing all 250+ elephants. There was nothing but elephants on this blog for weeks. You can imagine my delight when I arrived at the zoo and discovered that Singapore is having its own Elephant Parade at the moment and there were lots of elephant statues dotted not only around the zoo but all over Singapore. We had arrived at the zoo only about two hours before closing so there followed a Supermarket-Sweep-like dash around the place trying to find all the elephant statues, and to see all the real-life animals as well.
My first Singaporean elephant – I will do a separate post for these rather than bore you with them all now.
Kangaroo with joey
Baby orang-utan getting hauled up by its mum and not too happy about it
Mr Beet and me with a ring-tailed lemur
Next door to the zoo is the Night Safari; basically another zoo where you get to see the animals at night. It’s very cleverly done with low-lighting and some animals like the big cats are much more active at night than during the day. Plus there was a cool fireshow thing at the start.
More photos of the zoo and night safari are on Mr Beet’s flickr page.
The next day was a Saturday, aka parkrun day, so we headed to Fort Canning Park for a few laps and there were some more elephant statues here as well. Fort Canning is where the British army was based in the Second World War and where the decision to surrender to the Japanese was made. They’ve turned the military bunkers into a little museum called the Battle Box, where animatronic generals re-enact the last few days of British rule.
For our second museum of the day, we went to the National Museum. It’s a big, beautiful building but really empty – we had some trouble actually finding any exhibitions. Not only did they have the usual history of Singapore exhibition, but there was also an exhibition of paintings on loan from the Musee d’Orsay including Cezanne’s The Card Players and Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Then we hit the Singapore Art Museum, which is all modern art and we particularly liked an exhibition of the finalists of some pan-Asian competition including a set of photographs of Cambodian “bomb ponds” – ponds that have formed in the craters left by American bombers during the Vietnam War.
Singapore is very compact and we had no plans to do a walking tour of the sights, but we just seemed to drift from one interesting-looking building to another without too much effort. We wandered from the Art Museum to Raffles Hotel;
Then to the Esplanade, a crazy-looking building that is home to a theatre and arts complex.
Then along the waterfront, where we got some shots of the business district skyline and of the Marina Bay Sands Towers – the only buildings I’ve ever seen with a ship on the top.
Then we loop round to see the Merlion (the symbol of Singapore) up close.
We stroll along Clarke Quay – a trendy bar area where we find an English pub selling pints of bitter. Despite the exorbitant price, Mr Beet has to have one as he has not had bitter in five months. He is quite pleased by his pint of Old Specked Hen.
Then we head into Chinatown, which is getting ready for Chinese New Year (of the Dragon) with lots of lights, lanterns, stalls selling brightly-coloured tat and about a billion people.
That’s enough for day two, we decide to get out of the crowds a bit on day three and hopefully get some training in for climbing Mt Kinabalu by doing a hike. However, the travel guide makes the route sound a lot more strenuous than it really is; it’s more of a stroll than a hike. Still, it’s a pleasant route that takes us along a network of parks from Kent Ridge Park, through the horticultural gardens, over a couple of tree-top walkways and up to a place called Mt Faber which has a cable car taking people over to one of the smaller islands.
More photos of Singapore on Mr Beet’s flickr page.