Singapore

Hong Kong, who has for many years stood as our favourite big city in Asia, has just been usurped by the underdog city-state of Singapore. I refer to Singapore as the underdog because I really wasn’t expecting much from it and in fact didn’t really want to go (sorry Singaporeans!) but felt obligated to agree, as Marc was interested in seeing the city’s world-renowned green infrastructure. I am after all a supportive spouse. Plus it was an easy stop on our way to Borneo. Well Singapore surprised us. Instead of a chaotic busy metropolis it was a beautiful, clean, and well-planned city. Everything about Singapore is thoroughly organized. If there is ever a perfect city for Type A personalities like mine, it’s Singapore. It felt more like a midsize city rather than the city-state that it is. At a population of 5.5 million, it’s not small and with an incredible mix of people from around the world, it’s one of the most multicultural countries I know. It also has an incredible food and shopping scene that rivals Hong Kong’s (and likely a happening nightlife but we didn’t really get to experience that travelling with two young children). Sadly I did not get to indulge in the shopping either as we are travelling four more countries with overweight luggage.

Singapore is also architecturally impressive. It might even give Barcelona, the reigning champ for best architectural city in our travels, a run for its title. Many of the city’s architectural jewels are a result of the city’s dedication to green infrastructure. The crown jewel is of course Gardens by the Bay.

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The domes and super tree grove of Gardens by the Bay

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Gardens by the Bay next to the incredible architectural feat of the Marine Bay Sands Hotel

 

Before we arrived and experienced Singapore for ourselves, we heard how expensive the city was and how many strict rules it has. Yes, the hotels (especially for families) are quite expensive but we found the food and other costs to be relatively affordable and dare I say quite cheap compared to Hong Kong. As for Singapore’s reputation as being strict; this is something Singaporeans are well aware of and even make fun of on tourist t-shirts. Perhaps it’s because we have been living in tightly controlled China for the past nine months but we didn’t find Singapore’s rules confining. It’s all relative I guess. Perhaps the rules in Singapore actually make sense (where so many in China do not) i.e. many of the residential apartments are government housing (to keep cost of housing affordable) and there’s a rule about the ethnic make up of the apartment to make sure there’s a even mix of people throughout the city and that one apartment is not all Malay or all Chinese. I think this is a good solution to ghettoization. Or the new city policy that any new roads constructed must have an even amount of green space i.e. however wide the road is the green space must be the same width. Just imagine that. Imagine if Toronto adopted that policy. Is having strict rules wrong if it promotes a different kind of city, a better city? Then again, I don’t live in Singapore and my opinion is really only that of a visitor.

Here are some highlights from our short visit to Singapore:

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View from our hotel room

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Food heaven at great prices at the Food Junction at the Bugis Junction. Something for everyone. We ate here two nights in a row.

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Look what was parked outside the Science Centre Singapore

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Along with hundreds of hands on activities, the science centre also had a nice eco garden to walk through.

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Historical Clarke Quay

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Colourful restored warehouses at Clarke Quay

 

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The amazing Gardens by the Bay. A must visit for Singapore! While in the gardens we visited the Cloud Forest, the Flower Dome and the Supertree Grove. 

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Supertrees at the entrance to the Gardens by the Bay

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The waterfall greeting as you enter the Cloud Forest.

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In the Cloud Forest

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Ramps and walkways in the Cloud Forest

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A garden in the Flower Dome

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A display in the Flower Dome. Can you spot the Lego plants from the real plants?

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Inside the Flower Dome

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A display inside the Flower Dome.

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The Supertree Grove at night

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Singapore Flyer at night

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The Helix Bridge, a pedestrian bridge in Marina Bay

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Examples of spectacular architecture: Helix Bridge. Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Artscience Museum.