On a song in Singapore
Words by Bindu Gopal Rao
The sight in front of me is bewitching. I am gazing at a burst of pink that morphs into varied patterns and swirls and twirls like a ballet dancer. Making a stunning sight in the massive water case, the jelly fish has everyone riveted on the spot clicking pictures like there is no tomorrow. I am at Singapore in Sentosa Island’s S.E.A. Aquarium that has a whopping 800 plus species of marine wildlife across 49 habitats, at the state-of-the-art centre. Walking through the exhibits I am amazed when I am told there are over 1 lakh marine animals housed here. This is your own “Finding Nemo” journey and what is most amazing is the huge variety of marine life and the astounding colours of the world beneath the sea.
Singapore comprises 63 offshore islands around the main island including Sentosa which is the largest island. In fact the name Singapore comes from the Sanskrit word Singapura which means ‘lion city’. The Merlion is a mythical creature with a lion’s head and a fish’s tail which is the most iconic sight in Singapore and this is why it is called lion city. Singapore is home to Malay, Chinese and Indian communities and also has a unique Peranakan culture coming from the mixing of these ethnicities. In fact this is what makes Singapore unique. With impeccable infrastructure, the metro train line is a great way to commute within the city. Apart from taxis and public buses, you can even get on to a Hop-on Hop-off bus to explore the city in a fun way. Also the city is safe for women and that is great as you can explore the city at night too without worrying about your safety. I flagged down a cab with a friend after a late dinner and got back very easily to my hotel. In fact the taxi driver was very friendly and stuck up a great conversation about the city with us too. With its stunning sky line, the city views come alive in the evening and the best place to see the entire cityscape is to head to the Marina Sand Bay. This is a large structure has three huge towers are connected by the cantilevered Sands SkyPark and the observation deck is on 57 levels above. From the Sands Skypark public observation deck you can see some stunning views of the entire city. In fact I even saw a musical fountain performance from the top! This is free for guests staying at the hotel and others can pay for a visit.
Sights & Sounds
For a fun day out head to Sentosa Island which houses the famed Universal Studios. This is an amusement park where you can enjoy high tech rides, shows and attractions. Inspired by blockbuster films and television serieslike Puss In Boots’ Giant Journey, Battlestar Galactica: Human Vs. Cylon™, Transformers The Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle, Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure™, Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase and more, there is not a moment of boredom here. You can check out the seven zones and head on roller coasters rides and movie-themed attractions. This place is home to a variety of restaurants and hotels as well. Check out the very unique Trick Eye Museum where 3D art works use optical illusions to create fun moments for you when you get captured in a picture with them. So get ready to trick and be tricked. Back in the ain city, you must visit the Gardens by the Bay, a futuristic botanical garden that has a profusion of orchids and other flowers. Home to 12 sprouting ‘Supertrees’ and bio-domes you must walk on the OCBC Skyway that connects two of the Supertrees and offers splendid views of the gardens for an eagle’s eye view of the gardens below. Another place that you must visit is the 20 hectare Jurong Bird Park that boasts of 5000 birds across 400 species. A must visit if you love birds this has one of the largest walk in aviaries in the world. Also get up close with wildlife at the 26-hectare Singapore Zoo that has 300 species of mammals, birds and reptiles. The best part is that while the animals are in enclosures they do not feel caged as they have large expansive spaces that mimic their original habitat. Also head to China Town and visit the Tang-styled Chinese Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. This is where you can shop for souvenirs.
Food & Drink
Singapore has a rich and diverse food culture and you will run out of options to try while you are here. From quaint cafes to road side hawker stalls to Michelin starred restaurants there are so many options to eat and drink that you will be spoilt for choice. I particularly recommend that you try Dempsey that has several restaurants and the famous Long Beach restaurant said to be the best for sea food. Try the house specialties deep fried grouper with mango and black pepper crab here. Also visit 1 Altitude, said to be the highest alfresco bar in the world perched at a height of 282 meters where you can enjoy cocktails with 360-degree views of the city. Explore local art deco cafes and eat traditional sweets at bakeries in Tiong Bahru, one of Singapore’s most happening neighbourhoods for an old world like charm. A meal at Whole Earth Singapore’s first Peranakan-Thai vegetarian restaurant is a must if you are vegetarian as they use only fresh and wholesome plant-based ingredients to dish out some great fare. If you want to try local street food, check out one of the numerous hawker centre’s where you can have delectable freshly-grilled satay. Also check out the night life at Clark Quay one of the city-state’s busiest riverside quays replete with nightclubs, bars and pubs. Singapore has so any aces up its sleeve that you will need to visit it again and again to discover it for yourself.
Did you know?
• The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
• It is one of the world’s greenest cities with 700 square kilometres under green cover.
• The Formula One Singapore Grand Prix had the first F1 night race here.
• Singlish – a language that mixes English and local dialects that uses some local phrases.
• It is a city of manmade waterfalls.
• It has the world’s first night zoo.
• It is among the 20 smallest countries in the world.
• The national flower of Singapore is an orchid – Vanda Miss Joaquim.
• 9 out of 10 Singaporeans live in public housing flats.
Words & Photos: Bindu Gopal Rao