So Singapore was a bit of a whirlwind… not so much because I was constantly on the go (although, I feel I did quite a lot), but because there is quite a bit to see, and I had a slight challenge grasping what was “essential Singapore”.
I ended up visiting most of the “towns”… Little India, Chinatown (which I did by default, since it’s where I stayed), Kampong Glam. They are all super interesting and culturally rich. Touristy? Yes, but this is where the locals work, eat, and live as well.
During my first “hawker” lunch at Maxwell Road Hawker Center, a student/intern took interest in me (and my apparent interest for photography) and showed me around. It’s great to have a local on your side. He showed me the flats, which looked like how Cabrini Green was portrayed in Candyman. These are public housing buildings, and from here, views from the city were amazing (see featured image). He brought me around Chinatown. I tried some teas and jerky. We visited the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. He offered to show me Little India but ran out of time. We parted ways when his break was over… he mentioned wanting to start an outfit where he does exactly what he did with me. I’d pay for that for sure.
I tracked down a few bespoke cocktail bars for my Friday evening. The cocktails were good, but the problem (for me) about not having a menu, is that when people ask me what I like, I generally describe the same thing hoping that they’ll do something creative with it. As chance(?) would have it, I usually got some form of Old Fashioned, which is fine. Guess it’s my fault for describing the same thing, but that’s also why it’s nice to see the bar tender’s creativity set forth in a menu (hint, hint bespoke bars). I did walk around Club St. (befitting name) and Boat Quay just to see what it’s all about. It’s like walking around Frenchmen in New Orleans… lots going on, if that’s your scene.
I dined on more amazing Chinese Hawker food yesterday before finally deciding to skip most of the recommendations I read about/recieved (Gardens at the Bay, Peranakan Museum, Botanical Gardens, etc.) and headed to the National Gallery. Full disclosure: I did go to Orchard Rd before this just to see what the hype was about. If you aren’t used to Western gluttony, then this is a spectacle. If you’ve been to any destination mall in the US, you’ve seen this. If there’s something you want to shop for, by all means…
On to the National Gallery (not to be confused with the Singapore Art Museum, which apparently focuses on ultra-modern art movements). The National Gallery was huge. It’s situated next to Parliament and the Supreme Court, and thus has a Supreme Court theme… it may have actually been the Supreme Court building at one time?? The exhibits were well curated. I loved getting to see Eastern art, which we don’t get much of at home.
Afterwards, I made my way to the ultra-tourist oriented destination of The Long Bar… home of the Singapore Sling. Would I tell someone going to New Orleans not to get a hurricane if they went to Pat O’s? Or not to get a Port of Call if they went to Port of Call? Of course not, so I did have an original Singapore Sling. It went down easy!
Finally, I capped the night by doing the Night Safari. The first thing I’d recommend to any tour guide or book suggesting this is to inform everyone that what’s basically a 18 minute cab right takes AT LEAST 90 minutes via public transit. I was wondering if it was worth it before I even got there. Once there, and after I got over the sticker shock, I’d say that it’s probably an interesting thing for families to do.
They had fire twirlers and all the recreational snack stands. The animal habitats were very confined, which looked manufactured, but it forced the animals to be in sight during the tour. If you like zoos, then this is an interesting spin.
For now I’m going to rush to pack my bag to head to Penang. I feel like there so much more to SG to share, but it’ll have to wait!