Clarke Quay: River Cruise

After visiting Tiong Bahru, we made our way to glitzy hot spot, Clarke Quay. We had intentions of doing the River Cruise, a bit of shopping and dinner there. This is actually my second visit to the quay. Its been about 8 years since I bump into a friend from back home while on holidays and went out to dinner with her and some friends at a fine dining Chinese restaurant. I just remember pretty colourful riverfront, the hoards of people and the extra $35 tea tax on top of our dinner bill.

Clarke Quay is a pedestrian mall that runs along the Clay Quay Jetty, on the Singapore River. In Colonial times, Boat Quay was the commercial center and Clarke Quay was where the warehouses were located and bumboats were moored. However, the Singapore River became so polluted that in the 1970s and 80s government moved the cargo services elsewhere and clean up the river. Later Clarke Quay was redeveloped into a commercial, residential and entertainment precinct. The Clarke Quay Festival Village was open in 1993 and Clarke Quay was continued to be revamped over the next 10 years. Today it is a bright and glitzy mall with colourful shop facades and riverfront dining, restaurants, bars and night clubs.

The best time to visit Clarke Quay is in the evenings, when everything is open and people are walking the strip. However, you can still visit during the day, like we did. If I were to revisited Clarke Quay I would definitely visit at night, unless I was in the area to see Fort Cannon Hill (behind Clarke Quay) or visiting the Asian Civilisations Museum and National Gallery Singapore (further down). If you do visit during the day there plenty of lunch deals.

 

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Tiong Bahru: hipsters paradise

On day 6 we visit one of the hippest neighbors in Singapore, Tiong Bahru. It’s not a really touristy hot spot and it was had a very different vibe to what I had seen in the city so far.

Tiong Bahru is actually the oldest housing estate in the country and was built in the 1920’s. It’s name actually stands for ‘new cemetery’ (thióng in Hokkien for “cemetery” and bahru in Malay for “new”), since there were a few cemeteries in the area. It  became quite a polluted and shabby part of town, so in the 1930s it got a face lift. Before I tell you about the interesting architecture, I first have to tell you what we had for breakfast.

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Gardens by the Bay: Garden Rhapsody

After visiting the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, we made our way to the SuperTree Grove, in Gardens by the Bay. This area features 12 Supertrees (out of 18) and is located in the center of the park. These special trees are man-made vertical gardens that are designed like large canopies. They give shade during the day and come to life during the night.They measure between 25- 50 meters, the tallest being 16 stories high. You can take a trip to the top of one of the trees or walk along the OCBC Skyway for an 128-metre aerial walkway. The trees contain up to 162,900 plants of over 200 species, including  bromeliads, orchids, ferns and tropical flowering climbers.

 

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Gardens by the Bay: Cloud Forest

After visiting the Flower Dome, we made our way to the equally amazing Cloud Forest. This dome features a 35 metre tall mountain, shrouded in tropical highland plants and ferns. Spilling from the peak of the mount is the worlds tallest indoor waterfall and a cloud of mist. This dome is 0.8 hectares, making it a bit smaller than the Flower dome. Within the dome there are nine unique zones, which can be enjoyed as you make your way to the top and back down again.

Cloud Forest Map .png

 

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Gardens by the Bay: Flower Dome

After a big day of shopping Downtown at Marina Bay Sands and Marina Square, we made our last stop for the day at Gardens by the Bay. This is nature park is adjacent to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel (boat building) and is convenient attraction to see when  your in the area. We were recommended to visit the Gardens after 3pm, so that we could take our time enjoying the variety of gardens and the Domes and be finished in time to see the evening show, Garden Rhapsody.  Due to bad weather we didn’t get to see everything the Gardens of the Bay had to offer, but enough that I have to cover this attraction over a few posts.

Gardens by the Bay is a  multi-award winning horticultural park, which covers 101 hectares. The park is divided into two areas, the Bay East Garden, along the waterfront promenade and Bay South Garden, which is the bulk of the garden and is shaped like a orchid. This part includes a Heritage Gardens, Supertree Grove, the Flower Dome, the Cloud Forest, the Canyon, World of Plants, Sun Pavilion and Children’s Garden. Gardens by the Bay is free to visit and the majority of the gardens are open from 5am until 2am. The Domes and the OCBC Skyway, are the major attraction, which operate 9am-9pm and do cost a fee.

Gardens by the Bay Map.jpg

 

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Downtown Core: Marina Bay Sands and Marina Square

I’ve been busy with uni (and colouring) recently, so  I haven’t had a chance to continue the rest of my Singapore Adventure. We are up to day five, when we visited the Downtown core. We did some window shopping at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and some real shopping and lunch at Marina Square. Later on we also visited the Gardens by the Bay, but since we covered so much there I will write another post dedicated to that.

On this day we got up bright and early visit the spectacular Shoppes and have breakfast. The Shoppes houses the largest collection of luxury and premium brands, including a huge range of stores dedicated to luxury children’s wear. We didn’t come just to gawk at the beautiful shop windows, but also to see the amazing architecture of Marina Bay Sands. Below are some of the photos we took as the shopping centre began to open,  as well as a few later at lunch time. The food court is quite large and offers a huge range of hawker stores. We didn’t eat here since we were between meals when we saw it.

 

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Bugis: a shopper haven

Last time I wrote about my Singapore trip we were visiting the amazing Muslim quarter, Kampong Glam.  I also mentioned in that post that the same day we the Bugis area. It is only a short walk from Kampong Glam, so a great way to fit in two neighbourhoods in one day if you’re strapped for time on your trip. It’s also a great place to do some shopping, which why I was so excited to visit this part of the city.

Bugis has an interesting history before it’s redevelopment as a retail district. Prior to the arrival of the British, there was a large canal which ran through the area. Indonesian peoples known as Buginese would sail up and trade with Singaporean merchants. Later it also became home to many hundreds of Japanese Karayuki-san (prostitutes). During this time there were issues with overcrowding and terrible hygiene, leading to many cholera outbreaks. As a result, the slums were cleared and many buildings were demolished and rebuilt. After the Second World War, the area became known for the trans woman that would gather in the area in the evenings. This was a popular tourist stop for Westerns, who came to drink, eat out, night market shopping and gawker at the trans woman. It wasn’t until the 1980’s the area had a major makeover, which included modern shopping malls, restaurants and nightclubs.

 

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Kampong Glam: eclectic, spirited Muslim Quarter

On day four of our Singapore trip, we went to explore the eclectic and colourful neighbourhood of Kampong Glam. It is named after the Malay words for ‘village’  ‘gelam tree’ (Paperbark tree), since these trees used to grow in the area. This neighbourhood was formerly the home of the Malaysian aristocracy, prior to British colonisation. However, after the treaty was signed it became the designated settlement for the Sultan and his court as well as the Malay and Arab communities. Today it remains the Malay and Muslim enclave a and is known for being a trendy neighbourhood, rich in history and culture.

We arrived in Kampong Glam in the morning to have breakfast. Then visited the Sultan’s Mosque, did some shopping at Bussorah Street and Haji Lane and later returned for dinner and dessert. In my next post, I will detail our visit to the Rocher (Bugis) area, which we also did the same day.

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Tanjong Pagar: Koreatown

Last time I left you we were at the Singapore Zoo (day 3). Well after a big day out,  we decided to do a low key dinner in the trendy in the neighbourhood Tanjong Pagar. This is a historic area within the Central Business District. Its name means ‘cape of stakes’ which references the wooden stakes that held up this former fishing village. Today it is a colourful thriving area where you can find great nightlife at Tras Street, best Korean food in Koreatown, great hawker food at Maxwell Food Centre and Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market and amazing views at the Pinnacle@Duxton.

 

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Singapore Zoo: animal wonderland, rainforest oasis

On the third day of our holiday, we planned to have a break from site seeing in the city and visit the Singapore Zoo instead. The weather was meant to be perfect and Octavia was really excited to see all the animals.

Before we made our way to the zoo we thought we would have breakfast close to our hotel. I found it hard to find any cafes that were opened before 10am. Luckily attached to our hotel there an arcade with some restaurants and cafes. This is where we found the cafe Killiney Kopitiam.

This Hainanese coffee shop was originally opened in 1919 in Killiney Road, in the River Valley district of the city. It was known for its famous charcoal- grilled toast and hot coffees and teas. It was bought by a regular customer, Mr Woon in 1993, renamed and later franchised in 2001. You can now find Killiney Kopitiam locations throughout  Singapore, Asia and even in Melbourne, Australia. They offer classic Singaporean breakfast sets, such as kaya toast, french toast, soft boiled eggs and chee cheong fun. They also offer classic dishes including Chicken Curry, Mee Siam, Laksa etc.

For breakfast, I had a Kaya Toast set which included soft boiled eggs and Chinese Tea. Marco had the French Toast set with eggs and Kopi. This was my first time ordered kaya toast and I really liked it. The kaya was delicious and tasted like a coconut custard and the butter was nice and thick and melted nicely between the toast. My Chinese tea was also very nice and tasted like English Breakfast. Marco also liked his French Toast which is a nice variation.

 

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Chinatown: preserving the heritage of yesteryear

Our next destination in Singapore was the vibrant, historical (and touristy) district of Chinatown. This was actually one of the places I was most excited to visit. That is because we were visiting close to the time of the Chinese New year and this is the year of the dog (Octavia’s favourite animal). I was also excited to try some good-quality Chinese food and visit the old temples.

Chinatown is historically a Chinese ethnic-centric area in the Outram district. It was actually named ‘Chinatown’ by the British. However, it was originally known as Niu che shui (Mandarin), meaning “bullock water-cart”, because the water supply was primarily transported by animal-driven carts in the 19th century. Chinatown features post-war historical shophouses, street hawking scenes and markets of yesteryear and is the only district in South East Asia that houses three different religious places of worship (Hindu, Muslim and Buddist). Although it is a very touristy place, where you can find plenty of souvenirs, it is also a part of the city where the heritage of yesteryear has been well preserved.

 

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Little India: colourful, bustling and spicy

This is my first post for my travel adventure series to Singapore. As I mentioned, I had ten wonderful days in this amazing island nation. I only got back last weekend, so I’ve still been unwinding, getting back to our normal routines.

This was my second visit to Singapore. I think the last time I actually spent time here was eight years ago. So it was lovely to revisit this country (and city). Singapore is actually tiny in comparison to other countries. You can drive from one end to the other in less than an hour, depending on the traffic of course. Ten days may seem like a lot of time to spend in such a small place. However, there is just so much to see and do here. I tried to make sure we saw most of the major neighbourhoods, sectors and sites. I’m sure there are plenty more things we could see or revisit the next time we return. There are definitely plenty more places to eat and foods we that didn’t have the time or appetite to try. This is because this tiny country has a lot established culture and cuisines. Nearly every Asian countries food is represented, as well as different cuisines within their cultures. That’s not including all the other ethnicities from the Middle East, Europe and Africa. It’s just an amazing mixing pot of people from a variety of cultures, religions and walks of life, who all live in harmony.

For this trip, I organised an itinerary that kept us busy for the whole 10 days from morning until night. To make commuting more convenient we decided to book two hotels. Our first hotel was the One Farrer Hotel & Spa in Little India. I was really happy with this accommodation. The staff were lovely, the rooms were large, beds comfortable and facilities were gorgeous. So it was a nice surprise when we arrived from our eight-hour flight.

 

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