Thursday, 19 March 2015

A brief visit to Singapore

Visiting Singapore was a fairly last-minute decision back in November. Emily and I were in Malaysia and realised we had enough time to visit Singapore, which is relatively cheap and easy to get to from George Town in Malaysia, which you can read about here. I ran out of time to write this blog post at the time, so it was nice to find the time to look back and write about this now I am back in the real world!

singapore skyline

We arrived in Singapore after a 14-hour night bus, which left over two hours late and also arrived two hours later than we were told. We've come to expect any bus or train in Asia to take way longer than they tell you when you book, but Malaysian buses had been pretty spot-on until this one. The border crossing from Malaysia to Singapore was really quick and easy. We were dropped off to go through Malaysian exit immigration, re-boarded the bus to go over a big link bridge between the countries, then got off the bus again briefly to go through Singapore entrance immigration. I love collecting immigration stamps in my passport, so was delighted to get so many for the visit to Singapore from Malaysia and back again.

singapore building

We stayed in a guest house in Little India called D&E Inn Pte Ltd, which we booked in advance and I'd now advise avoiding if possible! They were the cheapest on, but the service was terrible and there was nowhere to leave your bags on arrival before checkin or on your last day, which every other place we have stayed has offered as standard.

Little India is a clean, bustling and vibrant area and we stopped for a tasty lunch at a little hawker centre, before exploring Singapore further. The transport in Singapore is incredible; think London Underground, but super efficient, clean and inexpensive. We got a 3-day tourist travel pass, which was excellent value for the unlimited travel it offered. The only downside to this pass was having to pay a deposit for the card, which they make very difficult to claim back.

gardens by the bay singapore

We'd heard from friends that Gardens by the Bay in Singapore was well worth a visit and it really was a lovely place to spend a relaxing few hours. Gardens by the Bay is similar in some ways to the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK, however more focus was on the infrastructure and design than on the nature at Eden Project. This includes an enormous manmade waterfall in one of the domes, which you circle around on giant suspended walkways. 

We went to see a light show at the end of our visit to Gardens by the Bay, which was themed to Christmas music. It wasn't very busy and we had plenty of space to lie down on a big bench and look up at the lights glowing in time to music on the giant pods in the sky. This seems almost impossible to describe, so you can check out the video below that I found on YouTube. It was definitely more exciting in real life and the Christmas music when we visited made it a bit more lively too!

gardens by the bay

singapore wheel

Having done 'the cultural thing' for weeks around Asis, we decided to have a break from this for a day and headed to Universal Studios Singapore to indulge in Western food, rollercoasters and being big kids! Universal Studios Singapore is one of many attractions on Singapore's Sentosa Island, which also hosts a huge waterpark and an abundance of rollercoasters and other cool stuff. 

Universal Studios Singapore is big enough that there is plenty to do for the day, but not so big that you don't have time to do everything. Being the middle of the week and not in main school holidays, it was pretty quiet and the queues were very short for most rides. Closing time was 7pm and by 5pm many people had left, so there were no queues at all! We went on the best rides up to five times, including the awesome virtual reality Transformers ride.

universal studios

I've always loved the Shrek movies, so was delighted to discover that there was a Far Far Away land, totally devoted to all thing Shrek! There were some fun rides, a 4-D cinema experience, along with all the ride staff dressed as characters from the movies. 

singapore universal studios

One of the highlights of the day at Universal Studios was the Waterworld live action show. The set and show was based on the 1995 Waterworld movie starring Kevin Costner, which I haven't seen for years but loved when I was younger. The show was very impressive, with people doing stunts on jet skis, explosions and some cheesy acting. 

water world show

After our brief two day visit, Emily and I booked a bus back to Malaysia, taking us directly to Kuala Lumpur, where we were due to fly out from to New Zealand a couple of days later. I'd definitely like to visit Singapore again in the future as there was so much awesome stuff to do. I'd also like to visit the Raffles Hotel and drink a Singapore Sling cocktail in the very same bar that it was created.

Thanks for reading!

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