2021 brings us the hardworking Chinese year of the ox. Kind of appropriate as the world continues to contend with the wrath of one of the deadliest pandemics in the form of Covid-19. My brother in law partly lives in Singapore luckily for him. When he last returned in September 2020 he was placed in mandatory quarantine. He had to pay £1400 for 14 nights in a basic hotel. But this policy alongside excellent health care in Singapore clearly works. Much fewer cases overall and less than 30 deaths. If only the UK had quarantined visitors or returners from overseas in those early months perhaps we wouldn’t be in such a dire position. We had to cancel our visit to Singapore last year due to the pandemic. My brother in law continues to enjoy daily life out there. Beer and delicious food from the Newton Centre with karate friends beats tier 4 take away in the UK. The weather is better too. So hope we can return soon. Singapore is very expensive but eating at the food centres is still very budget friendly. The city is very walkable but get a metro pass to explore further afield cheaply and easily. The beautiful botanical gardens provide a quiet haven in this amazing country. I never tire of the exquisite orchid garden. Easy to see why this is the national flower. Hope you can travel to Singapore soon.
Singapore – Chinese New Year 2018
On a dark January day we decided to visit Singapore the following month, coinciding with exhilarating Chinese New Year of the Dog celebrations. Singapore enjoys more or less a constant, warm but humid temperature all the year round, nevertheless it is difficult to imagine leaving a freezing British environment in one’s extra layers, and seeking respite from the heat on our arrival.
Above and Below – Marina Bay Gardens – illuminated
22nd February 2018 – The Journey Begins
Our journey to Singapore began with Emirates Airlines, booked directly via https://fly4.emirates.com/, departing in the early afternoon from Newcastle Upon Tyne airport, arriving Dubai 8 pm UK time (midnight local time), with around a 2.5 hour wait in Dubai for the onward connection to Singapore, arriving Singapore around 3 pm (local time).
Your way: Play around with departure and return dates & fly to Singapore from the UK for under £500 per adult. The in-flight service and entertainment system on board the Emirates aircraft is excellent, even in economy class. Depending on your ticket, minimum luggage allowance is 20 kg, rising to 30 kg, plus typical hand luggage allowance.
Arrival in Singapore
Go to the arrivals hall, and locate an authorised taxi operator. We paid SGD25 (roughly £15). Public transport is possible but perhaps not the best option after an overnight flight: http://www.transitlink.com.sg/eservice/eguide/. Shared shuttle services are also available, although these are priced per person and a taxi is cheaper depending how many people are travelling.
We stayed at Quincy’s Hotel, https://www.quincy.com.sg located near the hospital at Mount Elizabeth, in a quiet yet central spot not far from Orchard Road, one of Singapore’s busiest streets complete with designer shops, bars and restaurants.
Your way: Booking direct with the hotel is often the cheapest option. Hotels in Singapore can be expensive, but Quincy’s offers a ‘club room’ experience for all guests, not just those who pay a premium. The rate includes breakfast, day time snacks, evening supper and cocktails, free minibar, 2 pieces of laundry per room daily, free Wi-Fi, free mobile phone – and great in-room coffee maker. Our 7 night stay cost SGD 1,977 (roughly £1,120), equating to around £160 per night.
Getting Around: Buy a 3-Day pass from customer service counters at major MRT stations as well as 711 stores, roughly SGD20 – enabling travel by MRT trains or buses all over Singapore.
The Marina Gardens by the Bay are fabulous at any time: http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en.html
– go during the day to visit the vast atriums and be shaded by the towering canopies above, or at night, to see spectacular tall trees, illuminated figures, giant fluorescent dragonflies on the water, and much more.
We saw fabulous firework displays, set to the most uplifting music, marking the Chinese New Year celebrations, complete with parades, delicious street foods, sounds and delights.
Singapore in Wartime
The British forces, then located in Singapore, surrendered to the Japanese in 1942 at the Old Ford Factory: http://www.nas.gov.sg/formerfordfactory The museum, located on Upper Bukit Timah Road is well worth a visit. You can also visit Changai Museum, located close to the airport and easily accessible by the efficient MRT system, which is dedicated to Singapore life during the Japanese occupation period: https://www.changimuseum.sg/
We visited the Reflections at Bukit Chandu museum, which is a colonial bungalow commemorating the Battle of Opium Hill through exhibits & artifacts, although this is currently closed for restoration.
Singapore Botanical Gardens: Strolling around the immensely beautiful Singapore Botanic Gardens on Cluny Road (all free of charge apart from specialist gardens such as the Orchid Garden), we were sent photographs from home of ‘The Beast from the East’ – one of the worst snow storms seen in the UK in many years, yet here we were looking around for a shaded area to take a rest from the heat! A few exquisite orchids photographed in the Orchid Garden:
Tan House, located in colourful Little India is arguably the most brightly coloured building in Singapore.
Stroll round the markets amidst the heady scents and aromas of spices, street food and incense, or visit the famous Thandapani Company on Dunlop Road nearby, http://www.thandapani.com.sg/ and buy amazing spices to take home to remind yourself of this wonderful place.
Wow! Is that really a ship on top of 3 towers?
The ‘ship’ above is a well-known Singaporean landmark, the self-contained resort owned by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation incorporates within its three towers an ultra up-market shopping mall, (complete with canal, resembling that which can be seen at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas), a massive hotel and of course a huge casino – the ‘boat’ includes the longest elevated swimming in the world as well as night clubs – plenty of spaces to spend large quantities of Singaporean dollars!
Henderson Waves Bridge, below, is a satisfyingly free way to gain panoramic views of Singapore. It is a little strenuous so it is well-worth remembering to carry bottles of water. Other walking opportunities include the Colonial Walk – containing fine buildings including Raffles (still being restored but due to re-open later this year), St Andrew’s Cathedral, and lots of welcome refreshment stops.
Meanwhile back home:
Singapore Tourist Information: https://www.visitsingapore.com/en/
Singapore’s China Town/Markets: www.singapore-guide.com/singapore-shopping/chinatown-street-market.htm
UK Government Travel Advice for Singapore: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/singapore