Travel stories to discover

Pure Singapore

Singapore is a tightly packed metropolis in the south east region of Asia. The location on the island means that any further expansion is not possible. The only thing that remains is to compact and raise the existing structures.

This general notion becomes clear to me upon arriving at Central 65 hotel. The real estate prices are horrendously high in Singapore (I mean the range of € 15000 per square meter for an apartment). So hostel owners in order so to be able to offer budget solutions have begun offering rooms filled with so-called one-person capsules. This is an interesting solution. I suppose it might have been inspired by the arrangement of the morgue boxes. In any case, it works perfectly. Everyone has their own capsule, big enough to straighten their legs, perhaps one elbow and to connect the phone for charging.

With no time to waste, we leave our bags inside the capsule and get on metro. Having experienced Abu Dhabi previously, I would say that getting around in Singapore is straightforward and you can do it even with your eyes closed. It is very easy. I just close my eyes and when I open them, I would see China Town station. So I just get off and grab some Chinese food.

Singapore is a very cosmopolitan and multicultural city. Singaporeans are representatives of three major ethnic groups: Chinese, Malaysian and Indian. The conclusion is that there is really no one like “Singaporean”. The four dominant religions are Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism and surprisingly these four can get along well despite the limited space. Within a short walk you can see four different temples. The Buddhist temple “Buddha Tooth Relic Temple” is a four-storey building with a lift, a rooftop terrace and a museum for visitors. Sri Mariamman is a Hindu temple and Jamae Mosque is right next to it. In each of the temples the woman has a to be dressed differently so Ela takes on the role of assuming the right clothing in order to keep up with the changing fashion as proposed by each of the religions. We stroll along Orchard Road, one of the main streets where there is an infinite number of shopping centers, restaurants, cafes, hotels, banks and other establishments. High-rise buildings dominate this part of the city and the very precious open space is rare.
The real power of capitalism has found its place around Marina Bay. Just in front of us there is the icon of contemporary architecture and the domination of human thought over the seemingly contradictory laws of physics. Singapore is one of the last world jurisdictions to respect the banking secrecy, so the huge amounts of money flowing into the city have found their embodiment. This is the third most expensive building in the world, the construction cost is estimated at USD 5.5 billion. It is Marina Bay Sands.
In the lower part of the building is a shopping center. From there it is possible to go to an open hotel lobby or take an elevator to the top. The terrace, looking like a giant surfboard, connects three towers of the hotel. On the terrace there are restaurants, bars, a casino and “infinity pool” – a swimming pool with a shore at the edge of the building. Another fact that works on the imagination is that the casino located on the terrace of this building has a higher turnover than all casinos in Las Vegas put together. High rollers have found their favorite spot. The experience of having a beer with a view of the city skyline at sunset justifies the inflated price tag.
We come to Gardens by the Bay. It is a recreation zone occupying over 100 hectares. One hundred hectares of this almost priceless land!!!
After a while having immersed yourself into the green area, you might forget that there is a thriving metropolis beside. We walk along the Skyway track suspended in the air, from where there are spreading views of the gardens, canopy of illuminated fifty-meter super-trees and a powerful triple tower connected with a giant surf board in the background. Punctually at 19:45, a concert at Gardens by the Bay begins. This is one of two everyday performances (the other one starts at 20:45). The entire show is about creating perfectly matched atmosphere by  combining amazing display of light fireworks in a futuristic world with music. Strolling around the bay, the panorama of the city changes and looks different with the changing viewing angle. This evening we come across several other interesting forms of architecture. Museum of Art Science is a building in the form of an open hemisphere. The Floating Platform is a football pitch floating on water. We’re stop by Maklarutra Gluttons Bay. It’s an evening street food market, a good place to stop and have one of Asian specialties for dinner. Finishing our walking loop around the bay we reach the viewpoint at Merlion Park. Here is the Merlion statuette, the crossing of a mermaid with a lion, a symbol and one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city. On the way back we pass the Fullerton Hotel, recognized as one of the most luxurious hotels in Singapore, and then we come back …. to our budget capsules in Central 65. While in Singapore, it is also worth visiting the Botanic Gardens, botanical gardens included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The admission to the main part of the garden is free, and for a small extra fee you can get to one of the “premium sections”. We enter the National Orchid Garden, the world’s largest garden with orchids boasting a collection of over 1000 species and 2,000 hybrids with other species. The history of Botanic Gardens dates back to 1928, the time when Singapore did not exist as a autonomous state yet. Other sections are Healing Garden (with medicinal plants), Fragrance Garden (with fragrance plants), there is also a garden with poisonous plants and many others. We set off from the gardens to the island of Sentosa. Did I just mention the topic of most expensive buildings in the world? Allegedly the construction cost of the Resorts World Sentosa is estimated at US$6 billion, which is more than Marina Bay Sands in this respect and makes the building number two in the world ranking of most expensive structures. I told you that local banking rules attract capital. Unfortunately, but the number one does not belong to the Singaporeans. The world’s most expensive building is the ultra-luxury Abraj Al Bait hotel complex in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Despite scoring second, Sentosa Island still makes a decent amusement park. There are hotels, tourist attractions and shopping centers. One could probably spend a few weeks here, but we have only one goal. We want to visit the second largest aquarium in the world called South East Asia Aquarium, or simply S.E.A Aquarium.

There is a total water volume of 45 million liters which host over 800 species and a total of 100,000 of marine wildlife in ten different simulated climatic zones. Marine Life Park boasts the largest observation panel measuring 36 x 8 meters, which has a 70cm thick glass and gives the visitor a feeling of being at the bottom of the ocean. Ah these records … Singapore is a city-state, it contains sizeable business and financial districts, entertainment island, parks and green areas, and a lot of industry, shipyards and historically the world’s largest container terminal (until 2010 when Shanghai took over the lead). We arrive at Little India with an autonomous unmanned subway. It’s time to eat something Indian for dinner before the long evening of getting to know whereabouts of Singapore and an even longer walk back to the hostel.
Tomorrow we have planned a departure to the island of Batam, which would become our starting point of the Indonesian adventure on Sumatra island. We are leaving Singapore, but we will certainly come back…!