As I concluded the third and final part of my Singapore 2014 saga I said that I would be returning one day with my wife in tow. Just over a year later and that came true as we arrived in Singapore following a night flight. It wasn’t just us two though as my mother-in-law was also with us for a little family trip as she returned for the first time since her honeymoon 40 years ago!
After the bonus inclusion of the Star Wars starfighters at Changi Airport, I was already more than satisfied with my Singapore experience but there would be a few more highlights on top of that. The taxi driver was a talkative one on our drive from the airport to Holiday Inn Atrium where we were staying. He was amazed that my mother-in-law had visited four decades ago and thought he needed to update us on all details of what had happened in the intervening period. Thankfully we were able to check in early and have a short rest before we headed out though not before photographing the breathtaking wellhole-style interior of the place.
The hawker centre’s provided the highlight of my trip 13 months ago and first up this time was Maxwell Road Food Center where we all had chicken rice from Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice restaurant which featured in ‘Anthony Bourdain No Reservations‘ (S04E01) on the Travel Channel in 2008. There was a huge line last year but amazingly there was hardly a line this time so we all snapped up a small-size helping of the national dish leaving me room for Lor Mee from the adjacent stall. This thick starchy gravy with thick flat yellow noodles was my favourite dish last year and the one that I wanted to sample again the most. Both were great and, washed down with a lime juice, I was in my element here.
A short walk from there took us to Tanjong Pagar MRT station where we went to Bayfront and visited the Gardens By The Bay; a new place highly recommended by my sister. This area behind the Marina Bay Sands hotel has two domes which you have to pay to enter; Flower Dome and Cloud Forest and we chose to go in only the former.
The gardens feature a diverse range of plant life from all corners of the earth with plenty of child-friendly additions dotted here and there. There were a fair few Christmas additions around the place but what was most interesting for me was the Baobab trees; something which I’m only aware of due to them being one of the special Pepsi Japan flavours five years ago.
Outside the worlds largest glass greenhouse was Supertree Grove which provided some nice photos (below) with a 22-metre high walkway (that I didn’t go up) amidst vertical plant displays and the landmark hotel in the background.
By this point my wife and mother-in-law were very tired (unlike me, they were unable to sleep on the night flight) so we took a break for tea at a cafe in Marina Bay Sands hotel before ascending Tower 3 to view the beautiful landscape from the Skypark. Terrific views and glad I did it, as I was initially against going up.
No messing about with walking or travelling by Metro anymore as we took a taxi back to the hotel. This form of transport really is the best way to get around this city-state-island-country and I learned my lesson at the start of our day. When you’re on a fairly tight schedule it really is not worth p*ssing around with walking around too much or using the metro which inevitably involves lengthy walks to get underground and for changing lines.
In the evening we went to Chinatown for dinner but were lacking in funds and unable to find an ATM (we’d all left our Japanese money in the hotel so couldn’t exchange any either!) so couldn’t quite enjoy ourselves as much as we’d have liked. Some of the dishes we had can be seen below but we were still a bit hungry afterwards so returned to the super-cheap Maxwell Road Food Center for some late night extras!
The following morning we headed off early to visit my sister and her family on Batam Island (Indonesia) and that was pretty much the end of my time in Singapore other than returning on the final night to basically sleep in the hotel before heading to the Airport the next morning.