Rick (shaharazad) wrote,

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On the Road: Singapore, October 2016

The trip to Singapore came about due to a medical consultation I had, following up on the injury I suffered when I crashed my motorbike last November. My doctor in Saigon had recommended I consult with an orthopedic surgeon in Singapore about possible reconstructive surgery on my shoulder.

Since I'd be traveling all the way there for just a short consultation, we decided to make a family vacation out of it and scheduled it for my school's Fall Break.

This would be our first time in Singapore. The flight was inexpensive from Ho Chi Minh City, but Singapore's hotels tend to be pricier than in some of the other cities we've traveled to in Southeast Asia. We settled on a place that was advertised as "no frills" with a hostel vibe called The Hangout @ Mt. Emily, on the edge of Singapore's Little India neighborhood. The hotel proved to be a good choice (my review is here).

We flew Tigerair, which is also no-frills, flying out on a Sunday morning, and traveling light with no checked baggage. We had an early breakfast at home, and then had sandwiches at Subway at Changi International Airport in Singapore after getting through immigration and customs.

Before heading out of the airport, we bought attraction tickets from a tourism booth at the airport, and also purchased three-day unlimited tourist subway/bus passes at the airport subway stations. Singapore has a lot of popular family attractions, including what is generally considered one of the best zoos in Asia, and a Universal Studios theme park. The Singapore Zoo is actually a complex consisting of three separate attractions, and we ended up getting tickets to two of them: the Night Safari and the River Safari.

We found the subway to be very user-friendly, not to mention clean and well maintained (which can basically be said for the whole city). Signs and videos on the trains warn of severe fines (and caning!) for breaking the rules, which include bans on eating, drinking, smoking, and durians!

After checking in to our hotel, we headed into Little India for dinner. The streets were lit with festive colors for Deepavali, and there were crowds of people celebrating the Indian festival. We had some delicious dosa at Aravind's Curry (review here), before heading to the subway and making our way to Singapore's waterfront and Gardens by the Bay.

Gardens by the Bay, a relatively new Singapore attraction is a massive park, located near the iconic Marina Bay Sands complex. They have a nightly lightshow at the Supertree Grove, which was a pretty amazing spectacle (and free!). We were so impressed with the Gardens by the Bay that we decided to return and check it out in broad daylight the next morning.

After a lovely morning in Gardens by the Bay, we went back to Little India to eat at one of Singapore's famous hawker centers. Basically a hawker center is a food court made up of what would probably be street food vendors in other cities.

Here are a few photos of hawker centers and hawker foods that we tried during the trip.

The hawker food is delicious, inexpensive, and comes in seemingly endless variety. A visitor to Singapore could be quite satisfied with nothing but hawker center food for their whole trip (although there are certainly plenty of traditional restaurants throughout the city).

That afternoon, I had my appointment, which I headed to alone. It also gave me the chance to check out Orchard Road, Singapore's high-end shopping district, which was fun to look around in, even if it was pretty much out of my price range. I did find the excellent Kinokuniya bookstore in one of the malls, and bought some locally published books for myself and did a bit of Christmas shopping.

The appointment went well (short version of the story: I'm not doing the surgery), but we had a bit of a communication mixup that evening, and we missed our plans to head to the Night Safari. Fortunately, the tickets I bought were not date-specific.

Our third day in Singapore began with a walking food tour of Singapore's Chinatown. Since moving overseas, we've gone on several food tours (in Ho Chi Minh City and Hoi An Vietnam, Shanghai, and now Singapore), and every one has been awesome. This is a great way to see things you might have otherwise missed, and more importantly, to taste things you might have missed. In Singapore, we went with Betel Box Tours (my review), which proved to be excellent.

In addition to three stops for food, the tour took us inside the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, and then up to a highrise apartment tower to get a view of Chinatown from above.

When the tour finished, we made our way by subway and bus to the Singapore Zoo for the River Safari. The River Safari is a combination of zoo and aquarium focused on the world's river ecosystems. The Kiddo enjoyed this up-close-and-personal encounter with an Indian Gharial!

River Safari is also the home of the Singapore Zoo's two giant pandas.

This was a long day, and we finished up with a good meal at a Chinese restaurant, before heading back to the hotel.

On our last full day in Singapore, we still had the Night Safari tickets to use that evening. We spent the morning at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where we encountered a good-sized monitor lizard, and did a bit of birdwatching.

Then came the Night Safari, which was a really fascinating attraction: The world's only nighttime zoo consisting entirely of nocturnal animals.

We saw the Night Safari's fire show, followed by their Creatures of the Night show, then took a tram ride to see a variety of animals, stopping for more animal encounters in a series of walking trails.

My review of the Night Safari is here.

This was a fun ending to our visit to Singapore. Singapore is a very impressive, high-tech, well-organized city with lots to see and do. We felt like we barely scratched the surface, and we hope to head back there sometime in the near future.

For full sets of photos, see my Flickr albums. For my "best of" photos from by travels, add @dandelionstudios on Instagram. See you on the Road!
Tags: singapore, travel
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