As I’ve said before, the best way to see a city is to walk it…and with my trusty trip advisor app (you can download maps for free, and they had GPS even when your phone is in flight mode) by my side I was feeling pretty confident about smashing the 8-10 minutes hostelworld stated it would take me to reach my bed for the night. These websites are so helpful…take exit b from Bugis station and head up Victoria street…hmm…up…which way is ‘up’? Right or left? Trip advisor says left…so off we go!
Having crossed back over the equator, rainy season was in full swing. I decided to duck into the next bar or cafe I saw, which, as luck would have it, happened to be the famous Raffles Hotel – home to the Singapore Sling, one of my favourite cocktails. Who could pass up an opportunity to sample their fave beverage in the very place it was created…on its centennial year no less? Not me that’s for certain, even at S$35 a pop… That’s about £16. Eek. However, it was delicious, and if I come back I’ll be having another!
A few metres down the road and I rather wondered if all the gin had gone to my head as, to my left, the was a flying ship. Not Jolly Roger, Neverland stuff, but a huge luxury cruise liner thing. A few steps more and the trees parted to reveal it was of course, not flying, but a massive structure on top of three skyscrapers. Research would later tell me this was the famous marina bay sands, but for the moment I was transfixed!
By this point I was very bored of lugging my 8kg bag around and decided to hot foot it to the hostel. The astute among you probably realised on the second line that I’d been walking entirely the wrong way since turning left out of the train station. Bugger. My first destination without a friend to guide me and I’d already taken the scenic route. Taxi? Taxi! Who needs to be on the budget tour anyway?
Luggage deposited and phone charged I set off with the intention of getting lost. The last time I travelled alone I spent so many hours meandering around San Francisco, Sydney and everywhere else, but this time I’ve either been in places too small to lose your way or had a guide to keep me on the right track. I had a few ideas of things I’d like to do during my few hours in this city, but mainly I wanted to wonder around and see where my feet took me.
Half an hour later, having navigated my way through a place I’m pretty sure was a business park, done some illegal jay-walking and generally having done a rather good job of being in all the places I shouldn’t be, I found myself at the marina (that big boat) in time for sunset.
The building actually house a shopping mall, casino which is free for tourists but extortionate for locals, and an elite hotel with rooftop infinity pool. For S$23 you can visit the sky park on the roof, where there is also a nice restaurant (if you have a booking for dinner you don’t need to buy a ticket). The views from the top were stunning, and with my Singapore airlines boarding pass I got a nice 15% discount on my entry!
At the top I met Tessa, a teacher from Chicago who has come to Singapore for a two year adventure. Once the sun was down and the skies darkening we took the lift back down the 58 floors to the bay in time for the light show which takes place twice each evening on the water. We elected to watch the show from outside marina bay sands, where we could see the story projected onto the water and hear the music etc.
However I’d really recommend watching the second show from across the bay if you get the chance, to appreciate the lazer and light show which takes place from the other side. We, however, were too busy doing this…
I ended my evening in Chinatown, which was pretty much closed by the time I got there at 10; one restaurant was still serving so I headed in for dinner. No one spoke English. Ah. Lots of pointing and hoping later I ended up with a really delicious meal, and a big dumpling. Jun, a guy I sat next too, informed me this is where the native Chinese people go for authentic food, and you’d never find a local or a tourist here. If I want ‘the good stuff’ I should visit Fortune Centre. I’m quite happy with authentic though, have never had authentic Chinese before!
Ps Singapore airport is INCREDIBLE. There’s a butterfly garden, cinema, sleepzone, all the food you can imagine…if you’re here for more than 5 hours they even offer a free city tour. Seriously if you have the option between a 2 hour lay over and a 6 hour one…choose 6. If you get the choice between 6 and 24, choose 24. I’m glad I did!