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Hello Singapore! Part I

July 22, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

If you’re a Hong Konger and you’re old enough to read this, chances are you’ve moaned about the summer heat for at least a decade. Every time June rolls about, we are placed at the mercy of the sweltering sun, who, if it could take on a persona of its own, would most likely be a sadist who enjoys watching SAW movies.

Sounds exaggerated? Try walking along one of those Mong Kok streets at noon and you might for the split of a second consider immigrating to somewhere like Iceland, even though you don’t know the language there and probably don’t have enough money to do that. But then you’re hardly to blame – the summer heat makes people irrational, and I suppose anyone would too, if they were stuck in a sauna like Hong Kong, minus the exit, the tropical drinks and the hot swimmers near your neighborhood. I wouldn’t be surprised if the probability of getting heatstroke here is higher than the CIA checking on civilians’ private information anyway (thanks to Snowden, we now know that it occurs on a frequent basis), so maybe we should watch out first for the heat and safeguard our gadgets later.

So it might come as a surprise that, being the thermophobic person I am, I chose to travel to Singapore for my trip this summer, which is essentially going from a hot place to, well, an even hotter place. However, despite the intense heat, Singapore proved to be a travel destination; with its numerous attractions, scrumptious food and the nice people around me, I had a most pleasant stay there.

Day One

When I first arrived in Singapore, I was immensely relieved because the air quality wasn’t as bad as I had expected. Just a few days ago there had been warnings of serious smog problems in Singapore due to the spreading of smoke from the Indonesian island of Sumatra, so I was pleasantly surprised when the air there seemed to be even better than that in Hong Kong.

We had booked a room at the Pan Pacific, a hotel situated at MarinaBay, the heart of Singapore. The hotel had just been refurbished recently; hence, despite the fact that it’s been around for a while, it looked fairly modern.

Our first stop in Singapore was Gardens By the Bay, a park built on reclaimed land at MarinaBay. There are three areas at the park, namely, BaySouthGarden, BayEastGarden and BayCentralGarden.

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The gardens were quite pleasant to walk through, and there was a nice view of the Ferris Wheel and MarinaBay. The main attractions, though, were the conservatories situated along the edge of the Marina Reservoir. The complex contained two cooled conservatories – the Flower Dome (the world’s largest columnless glasshouse) and the Cloud Forest.

When I first stepped into the Flower Dome, the oddly-shaped trunks of the trees inside caught my eye, some of which were as bloated as the bodies of oversized eggplants. I thought those looked curious enough, because it isn’t every day that you see trees like these, but as I went further down the aisle, I spotted many more exotic species, such as flowers that resembled eggs (sunny side up) and some weird flowers that resembled a kind of brown banana, except that it had hair. There was also a beautiful rose garden.

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The Cloud Forest gave me a bit of a surprise when I went through the entrance. I was greeted by a massive waterfall, and even when I was a few feet away, I still felt water splash onto my face. It was freezing there too, but I suppose it was necessary for the survival of the plants, since the Forest was supposed to replicate the conditions found in tropical mountains between 3300 feet and 9800 feet above sea level.

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After visiting Gardens by the Bay, it was already dusk. We headed across MarinaBay to Makansutra Glutton’s Bay for dinner. Glutton’s Bay is an evening food market situated outdoors, and it offers a variety of local treats such as Hainan Chicken Rice, oyster omelette, chili crab…and the list goes on.

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As we headed back to the hotel, we passed by Marina Square, a huge shopping mall that housed trendy labels like Bershka and Pull & Bear. For some reason I felt that the clothes on sale had better designs than those in Hong Kong, because certain outfits were definitely unavailable here the last time I checked. I made a note to pay a visit the next day – indeed, it was going to be a busy day.




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