I’ve been relatively busy in the last few weeks, with a great trip to Israel, and then a fantastic quick break to London to visit the Open House event. The next place on my calendar was Singapore…one of my favourite Asian cities.
It‘s been over three years since I last visited, and that was a very brief trip where I didn‘t have time to see much. This trip would be equally brief as I would only be working for two days, but this time I had a stroke of luck. Due to the mysterious way airlines charge for flights, it was well over one thousand pounds cheaper to fly back on the Sunday, as opposed to Friday night.
So…a free weekend in Singapore? I‘m certainly not going to say no to that!
For my stay I was recommended to stay at the Holiday Inn Express Atrium hotel, mainly due to proximity to places I would be visiting for work. I always do my research on all travel arrangements, so I knew what to expect when walking into the hotel lobby.
Look up and it‘s quite an impressive view.
The view down is not too bad either...
After work on the first day, I had a couple of hours to spend exploring. Approximately 30 minutes by train from the downtown area is the Chinese Gardens, one of the biggest parks near the city. I didn‘t have as much time as I‘d have liked to walk around fully, but I can see it being a great getaway for the locals who want a break from the busy city streets.
I do love spiral staircases, and the 7-storey Pagoda features a fantastic one. Make sure you walk all the way to the top for a great view down, and around the park.
YUNG KUANG ROAD
I follow many amazing photographers from Singapore, and one location I often see images of is this place, a residential block not too far from the Chinese Gardens. As it was only a short walk away, I thought I had to see what all the fuss was about.
Another great building, if you love symmetry and photography, is the International Plaza building. It’s right near the MTR station I used, Tanjong Pagar. If you’re in the area, it’s well worth a quick visit. Quick tip, despite the courtyard looking like it’s the ground floor, it’s actually the 37th floor. So make sure you get the lift system that can take you to this level, or up to the higher floors.
In the evening, I asked to be dropped off by the gardens nears the Marina Sands Hotel. I made a quick detour through the gardens themselves, but I didn't have too much time as I had a long walk to a particular spot from which I wanted to photograph the sunset (if any!)
LONG WALK....WORTH IT!
It’s a bit of a trek to this spot. You can see the Marina Bay Sands hotel on the far left, the gardens are further to the left but you have to walk down to a pedestrian bridge before walking all the way back along the bay. It had been pretty cloudy all day too, so I didn't have my hopes up for anything spectacular.
I’m sure many people have seen better sunsets here in Singapore, but for me, this view made the long walk worth it.
I stayed a little longer until nightfall to take one photo from the same spot.
The bright spot in the sky to the left of the Singapore Flyer is Venus.
The only downside to the long walk out to that spot was I had the same walk back again! I did take a few quick shots as I came back through the gardens. The Supertree Grove is an impressive spectacle at night. These giant structures are up to 50 metres tall, and feature photovoltaic cells to harvest the sun’s energy to power their lights.
HOTEL NO. 2
For the weekend I changed hotel and stayed at the Marina Mandarin, mainly because this is in a much better location than the previous hotel. It’s only a 10 minute walk or so until you’re right in the bay area.
They certainly know how to build impressive hotels in Singapore! This hotel featured an even bigger and more impressive atrium. I can certainly say I’ve never spent as much time exploring hotels than I have done here.
ANOTHER FANTASTIC EVENING
Friday evening, great weather, fantastic location.....things were looking good.
I spotted this shot while walking to the waterfront, I must have set a trend, as many people were taking the same shot as I left 😄
Another stunning sunset over the city…
At 8pm, there’s a nightly light and water show in the bay. If I’m honest, it’s not quite as impressive as Hong Kong’s Symphony of Lights, but it’s certainly worth seeing.
THE EARLY BIRD....
I decided to get up early on the Saturday to try and catch the sun rise. Things weren’t looking too promising as I headed for a particular spot I had chosen, as there were a lot of heavy looking clouds about. Despite this I set up and waited.
Sure enough, there was no real sun rise, but it did create some very dramatic colours over the city.
After my failed, but not really failed, sun rise attempt, I headed for my next spot. This meant walking through the very impressive Marina Mall, and the even more impressive Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
Gardens by the Bay
This particular area was just starting development when I was here a few years ago, so it was very much a place I wanted to visit this time.
The gardens themselves cover a big area, but there was one main feature I wanted to visit most, the conservatories. Having woken up for 7am to catch the sun rise, I arrived a bit early as they open at 9am. So I headed for an interesting looking piece of architecture not too far away from the bridge connecting the hotel to the gardens. The ‘Futures by Us’ exhibition actually ended earlier in the year, but this giant metallic dome served as the pavilion.
I had seen a few photos of the interior of the conservatories, and they both seem very impressive. One thing I was slightly apprehensive about was entering what is essentially a giant greenhouse. It was hot enough for me outside, so I was dreading the temperature inside!
I chose to explore the Cloud Forest conservatory first, and the first thing that hits you upon entering, apart from the giant 35 metre waterfalls right in front of you, is a wave of intensely satisfying cool air. The temperature and humidity is very pleasant inside, and makes a welcomed break from the heat outside!
The conservatory really is an impressive piece of architecture…..
The flower dome is right next door, and features plants and flowers from all over the world. It may not have the showstopper centre piece like it’s neighbour, but it’s still a very impressive place to walk around, and the best news….it’s just as cool as the Cloud Forest dome!
After a few hours of walking amongst trees, plants and flowers - it was time to mix things up and hit the downtown streets of the city.
One advantage of not having a real route planned is you never know what you’ll find.
After an hour or so, I eventually stumbled upon China Town.
A nearby high rise apartment block provides a great view of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum.
For me, one of the most memorable buildings from my last trip was this……the Ministry of Communications & Information.
SINGAPORE NATIONAL GALLERY
Another building I really wanted to visit was the National Gallery. This was recommended to me, as the architecture inside is something you have to witness for yourself….calling it unique would be an understatement!
It’s free to walk around the public spaces, which includes everything I photographed here.
At this point, it was approaching late afternoon. Despite wanting to stay out for a bit more, I had been walking pretty much non stop since 6:30, so as I was not too far to my hotel, I headed back for a break before heading back out later in the evening.
It was also another chance to take a few more cheeky photos of the hotel.
I made it out just in the final moments golden hour, and waited for night fall to capture a couple of photos of spots that I thought would work well at night.
Singapore really has one of the most impressive cityscapes in the world
A different view of the light show…..
FIRE AND ICE
A spot that I saw a few photos of is an interesting underground walkway that connects the Fullerton Hotel with the Fullerton One building. It’s a corridor of two halves, one side cold and metallic, the other warm and welcoming.
You'd be forgiven to react a bit strangely if someone says ‘you have to visit this underground walkway!!’, but if you visit Singapore, you're bound to visit this area, so it’s well worth a quick detour.
My last day had no real plan, like most other days in fact. As I had to check out of the hotel by 1pm I didn't have enough time to visit anything major, so I had the morning to aimlessly wander again.
I had stayed in some spectacular hotels during this trip, but what’s the harm in visiting just one more?! So I headed for the nearby Pan Pacific hotel. This is another building with an incredible interior atrium.
I’ll let you decide which, out of the three hotels I visited, is the most impressive……
One last wander around the city……
This odd feature is actually a series of fire escapes, located near the Marina Mall. It’s hard to see how this works as an emergency exit, but I guess it works somehow!
Yes I really do love spiral staircases!
QUITE A FINALE.....
It was on the walk back to the hotel for the last time I took what is probably my favourite photo of the trip. I’ve included a photo from this spot already, but this was taken at a different time of day.
With the sunlight behind me this time, the calm water’s reflection and purple water lilies just made it for me.
I often bump into people on my travels who say they are stopping off in Singapore on the way out or back to other destinations in Asia, or Australasia, and I can see why. It really is a fantastic place to visit. Despite being just over 50 years old itself, there’s still a sense of culture, and a real ‘feel’ about the place.
If you’ve continued reading all the way this far, I thank you! I hope I’ve shown a small glimpse of what this amazing city has to offer.
Until next time…….