The urban garden

August 2017

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

 

join me for a singapore sling

Arriving into Singapore I must admit I wasn’t expecting that much, in fact I didn’t really know what I was expecting. First impressions weren’t amazing either, the hostel tried to put me in a room that was full of damp, before moving me to another room, which wasn’t a vast improvement. The bed was sooo uncomfortable (I wasn’t asking for 5 stars) just not to have springs in my back…!

Come on Singapore show me what you’ve got!

Walking around the city I fell for its charms, high-rise buildings covered in plants, an eclectic mix of urban and country. Flora seems to be important and valued in Singapore with buildings showing masses of plants hanging from glass architecture. For me, a lover of nature I felt more at ease walking through towering buildings with the glimpse of green never far away. The city is exceptionally clean too, a refreshing change from the rest of South East Asia.

Staying in Chinatown it became my go to place for cheap, good food. Obviously, there are the restaurants that see a tourist coming a mile away and charge ridiculous prices for the privilege of having waiter service, but if you look past the tourism, you find where the locals go. To the stalls with plastic miniature seating and a lucky dip assortment of food. My search for cheap food paid off in more ways than one when a group of people, sat at the table next to me, invited me to join them. I said yes, and it was the beginning of one of the best random nights in Singapore.  Sharing beer, food (I even tried sea snails in an exceptionally hot sauce) and travel stories, I learnt that the couple were Singaporean, one girl was Chinese, and another girl was German, all living and working in the city. With their love of Singapore and my lack of plans that evening we all went on a spontaneous night out in the city. With tour guides as good as they get, I felt privileged seeing some amazing places. Firstly we went to 1 Altitude’s roof top bar, were we drank cocktails as they pointed out the landmarks of the city. The 360-degree view was incredible and great to see at night. Leaving the bar, they decided I should see the Merlion, an icon of the city and the easiest way to get there was to cut through the lobby of the Fullerton’s hotel (a rather nice 5* hotel). It turns out we couldn’t cut through and we ended up getting lost in the lobby, there was a lot of laughter and people wondering what we were doing. We did eventually find the Merlion though and took in the city from ground level this time. When it came to say goodbye, I returned to the hostel feeling as if I’d been in a dream.

This is what makes travelling so unique, I went out expecting a quiet night and ended up on a roof top bar, getting lost in a hotel and taking in the light of the city at night. I met these people for one evening, had an amazing time and then said goodbye. Some people come into your life for only a fleeting moment but leave a lasting memory, the fundamental joys of travel.

No trip to Singapore would be complete without visiting the famous Raffles Hotel, the birthplace of the famous Singapore sling, a gin-based cocktail, what’s not to love! The hotel oozed sophistication and grace, I felt neither having lived out of a back pack for far too long, but thankfully you could visit some areas for free and still experience the grandeur, imagining what it would be like to have the money to actually stay there. Yes, I did sit and daydream for a while. Leaving my daydream and the Raffles Hotel behind I headed for the Marina. 

Paving the way for ecological and environmental tourism by being a place of sustainable development and conservation, Gardens by the Bay captured my attention and kept me fascinated for hours. Metal, sculptured and bound together to form super trees, which were interwoven with plants. I hadn’t seen anything quite like it before. Walking through the gardens I came to the two domes shaped like shells. Entering the flower dome, I was surrounded by magnificent orchids, so many colours, varieties and displays celebrating, the national flower, before heading into the cloud dome where I experienced flora from many levels as I walked around a waterfall. As day turned into night I watched as the sky cast a pink haze over Singapore and then found a comfortable spot in the gardens to watch the trees shine. Lying on the ground looking up at the metal trees as they changed colour to the music I felt as if I’d been transported into a fairy tale. I almost didn’t want to leave. It was the national day of Singapore and the city had an air of celebration about it, as I got up to leave Gardens by the Bay I saw the fireworks, lighting the sky above the marina. I couldn’t have planned a better last day in Singapore. The fireworks just completed it.

Singapore you went above and beyond my expectations.