We had two full day in Singapore and had planned what to do beforehand. Of course, it was up to me when it came to decided what to see and what to skip. My sister-in-law who had visited both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore previously, suggested that we skip the Singapore zoo and Aquarium (the former was on my list) because the Malaysia ones were similar and cheaper. Of course, Universal Studios was our main attraction; and after Disneyland previous year, my husband’s apathy towards theme parks were quite gone. So, for the city tour, I decided we need to see the two quarters mainly the Arab and the Chinese part and of course end the day at Marina Bay Sands. Shopping was also thrown in and we skipped the Indian part of Singapore as it was of little interest to us. Another must do that we were determined to follow was eating in the famous food markets of Singapore. One of them was very near to our hotel, and we had planned to visit the Chinese one for lunch.
So, the day started rather well. For breakfast, we had some different varieties of cup noodles we had picked from Little India previous night. Then we caught a bus form the front of our hotel to go to Arab street from where we had planned to walk down to Bugis Street for some shopping.
The main reason I wanted to go to Arab street was for this café where they made selfie coffee; the concept was you take a selfie in the café, send it to them and it will come as the foam over your coffee. Both of us were really impressed by the videos we saw and decided that it had to be in our sight seeing list. The problem was locating it; I did not have network and had forgotten to save the address of the shop beforehand! As we approached Arab street, I found a shop selling fantastic dress material in real knockout prices. I got a some to make a Kurti and luckily found the exact match of lining it in the shop next to it. The two owners of the first shop were very helpful; they found the shop I was looking for and told it was the second alley from their shop.
The first thing that struck us as we approached the alley was the artwork. It was so, so colorful. Almost all of the houses there were either cafes or chic boutique or bars. However, most of them were not open! Yes, we were too early! We found the café we were looking for, and it was closed. So Arab street was a total loss. All we could do is take pictures of some of the colorful wall murals and start walking towards Bugis.
Tip no 1: Don’t go to Arab street in morning; nothing will be open at 12 or 1 PM.
The walk was pleasant, on the way we saw some really interesting building especially one that was a visual challenge!! It was around 12 PM when we reached Bugis Street market, which was located more or less opposite to the metro station of the same name. Just at the entrance, there was a shop selling all kinds of sausages and other delicacies with a huge array of drinks for as low as $1!! Naturally, that was our first stop. We got three kinds of drinks, and at least 4 to 5 kinds of sausages and pastries. All of them were just fantastic. The market reminded me very much of our New Market; it had the similar vibe. We shopped quite a much from there, prices were neither too high nor too low. There were discounts in almost all the stores. Again, many stores were not open, so I think it is better to come here in the afternoon.
After shopping and some eating, we took the metro to the Chinese part of Singapore. And when we came out, boy oh boy, the sight was like a wonderland for any foodie. There were neat rows of shops selling all kinds of Chinese, Singaporean, Korean, Japanese, Malaysian and other kind of delicacies. There were stores selling freshly made Chinese desserts and cakes as well as all kinds of juices. The neighboring shopping mall had variety of shops including a Watson from where I picked up some real good deals on face masks.
But you don’t go there to shop; you go there to eat. So, the first thing we decided was to see what was on offer. We bought some sweets first and then found a table to seat. It was lunch time and had to share the table with strangers. We ordered some juices (sugarcane) and of course Iced tea. Then got some fantastic chicken dishes, a pork dish and some breads. Each of the items were marvelous; even remembering them now makes my mouth water.
So, tip no 2: Don’t order from the first shop that catches your attention; grab a table (let one of you sit there) and then see what’s on offer before ordering.
Another thing that I noticed here and also in most South-East Asia is that, there is no concept of giving water to the patrons like they do here in India. As Indians we are used to getting at least a glass of water even from the most basic roadside eatery; but in Singapore, in the matter of fact anywhere in South-East Asia, you don’t get free water! In fact, water is quite costly there. A 1.5 L bottle of water can cost between $1.75 to $2 SGD which is something between 75 to 90 INR!! Frankly, on the first day, that kind of pinched because, let’s face it, we are not used to paying so much for water! We got two complimentary water bottles from our hotel every day; we brought one for road and bought water as we needed. In fact, it is cheaper to drink Iced Tea and other such drinks than water! On the plus side, the tap water of Singapore is perfectly good enough to drink. So if you are not squeamish about it, feel your bottle from hotel for a day long trip in the city. That is my Tip No 3.
The breads we had there were so good, that we bought some more while going out. And tried the famous ice cream sandwich where they put a bar of ice cream between breads. For god knows what reason, I chose mint, which was horrible to eat. It was like eating cold toothpaste!! The boys had better selection and I begged them to share some!!
Next was Marina Bay Sands, and you will be glad to know that the metro basically drops you at the ground level of the hotel arcade. Inside was a shopper’s paradise; of course, you need to have a solid bank balance to shop there!! We being not from that category, we spend the time gawking at the stores and the brands that I have only seen in the movies, magazines and television. Thanks to a friend, who had given me money and a shopping list, I shopped for her from the Charles & Keith shop. The whole shopping arcade was also beautiful to look at; there is this Venice like vibe with a canal and gondola as well as a water fall that comes from time to time. Then there are little bridges for taking pictures!!
After window shopping for some time, we came out to go to the Science Museum. My husband was not too much interested, so it was mom and boys that enjoyed the interactive sections of the museum. My favourite was the last section where you draw a marine creature and then put it in a machine and then you can watch it come to life as an animation!! The sons loved the museum and didn’t want to come out!
Tip No 4: If you have children, make sure to visit the museum. Otherwise, you can give it a skip.
Then it was time for hubby to take care of the boys as I went in search of the Sephora store I knew was there in MBS. Some more shopping later, (and so happy to get quite a good amount of samples with my purchase), we made way to the double helix bridge.
Our aim was now to go to the Merlion statue but couldn’t locate it!! Then I spied it while taking pictures on the bridge. It was a long walk, but actually adjacent to the hotel. We crossed the bridge, crossed the stadium and Esplanade by the Bay and by that time, we were getting really tired and the boys refused to go further. So, it was only me and hubby who went to see the Merlion and of course take some touristy snaps near it.
We then came back to the Esplanade – Theater By The Bay area, found a 7-11 and got some packed food and watched the sunset from there. It was really beautiful; as the sun went down, the lights the skyscrapers came to life and they also had a sort of light show going on. The hotel looked magnificent from that point, especially its spaceship looking roof top swimming pool.
Our next aim was to see the Avatar like forest (which we had glimpsed a bit from the Double Helix bridge) which was best seen after sunset when the lights were turned on. For that, we had to go back to where we came from, and then walk all the way through the shopping arcade and emerge in the other end of the hotel. Naturally, the sons revolted and refused to go!! So, it was back to home for us. Before leaving the arcade, we stopped at the food court. We thought that it will be exorbitant given it was food court of a luxury hotel shopping arcade; but to our surprise, there were quite a many items that were reasonably priced. We had this huge bowl of shaved ices which we shared. This is one thing you should not miss trying out, when you are here. That will be my Tip no 5.
We got off at Dakota metro station and from there we took the bus to get down at Dunman stop. The boys went back to hotel while we went to the Dunman Food Center to get dinner. I got pad Thai for the boys, laksa for Susanta and noodles for myself. And of course, some more ice tea while we waited for the food to be prepared.
Back in hotel, we were too tired and after finished the meal, it was straight to bed. Next day was for Universal Studious and more than my sons, I was looking forward to the visit!!