Friday, October 30, 2015

Singapore: Malls on Malls on Malls

Heading out from Indonesia, I decided to do a day and a half layover in Singapore - just because I've never been and clearly I have a problem of trying to squeeze in way too much. Story of my life.

"There's nothing to do there but shop," warned my mother. My friend Kate sang the praises of their Night Safari, where you ride a train through the zoo and the animals all come out and frolic and dance (this is not exactly what she said, but it's what I envisioned). That was enough for me.

What It's All About:
Singapore! The great little city state on the Southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula.  Land of finance, transportation, and a zillion malls. It's known for being super clean, super rule-abiding, and super prosperous.

Financial district with merlion fountain in front; the symbol of Singapore.

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • Upon landing at the airport, I was immediately enthralled. So many ethnicities; what country are we in?! Everything's so clean and pretty! The airport itself was so nice and put together  (Cute cafes! Clean bathrooms! Amazing signage! Helpful, well-staffed info counters! Cool art!) that I may have putzed around for an entire hour after I landed, just marveling at all the things I've missed. My favorite part was stepping out of customs, and....there was no one waiting outside to harass you. Nobody seemed to even care that I had arrived (flashback to Bali, where I had exited and immediately been harassed by 20 people asking if I wanted taxis - I was so overwhelmed I beelined straight for the bathroom, where one enterprising man followed me the entire way, waited outside the bathrooms for me, and then pounced on me as I exited). Am I gushing over the Singapore airport too much here??
    The first cafe I saw in the airport - OMEN
    And look how cute the reserved seating on the train is!  NYC, take notes
  • The next day, I had plans to get some errands done - my backpack strap was fraying hard-core and was threatening to come unraveled (CRISIS) and I wanted to see if someone could fix it; I needed a visa to Sri Lanka (nothing like a little last-minute fire drill); and I also needed to purchase some more modest clothes for Sri Lanka/Egypt/etc. to not have the locals think I was some kind of disrespectful foreign hussy (looks like my work is cut out for me!).
Deep in the heart of Chinatown, while looking for a tailor to fix my backpack strap (and nerdily wearing my empty backpack, I'd like to point out), I came across PURE NAIL ART GOLD and got a little carried away. Unclear how I'm going to ever work in a professional environment again.

  • I didn't end up finding a tailor to fix my backpack (they kind of stared at me like I had two heads. Or like "I create beautiful wedding dresses, and you want me to touch THAT mangy thing??"), so I abandoned the search and just prayed extra hard that my backpack strap would survive until Sri Lanka. 
  • Then I took a boat tour down the Singapore River. I didn't mean to, I just happened to be walking along the river through the adorable neighborhoods of Boat Quay and Clarke Quay, and then saw the boats. Kitschy yes, but I looooved the tour. They had some amazing recorded commentary, and lady on the commentary would make little jokes and have ridiculous sound effect (case in point: when they talked about Singapore's former street gangs, there were gunshot sounds and sounds of men being punched and such. Amazing). 
Wandering down Boat Quay, Financial District in the background. I think quay means harbor. That's what I've decided it means.
Eeeeee how cute is Clarke Quay and all its super brightly colored buildings!  
One more shot of the Dr. Seuss-land that is Clarke Quay. And that was the boat tour I took!
I'm on a boat. It was almost like a private tour because there were only like 4 other people, and it was the best.
Cruising past the Financial District. Apparently I showed up to Singapore on one of their clearest, haze-free days! Hooray!
This is Boat Quay, where 75% of Singapore's imports/exports used to come through (thank you, narrator lady!)
My favorite building ever, because it's a rainbow. I forgot what the narrator said about it, but it's important. I think it used to be a prison. Or a hospital. Or both, maybe both.

  • The rest of the day, I wandered all of Singapore's amazing, ridiculous mega-malls. You can seriously just get lost for the entire day - there are staircases and passageways to different buildings everywhere, some escalators skip floors and you end up God-knows-where, and all the buildings are interconnected through a series of maze-like, winding, complex passageways. So you're walking in some shopping complex, you take a random passage, and boom! You're in another mall!  And then you find a staircase and go up, and magic!  It's yet another mall!  This place is like a paradise of malls. It's incredible. I wandered through the shopping centers of Raffles Place, ION Orchard, near Clarke Quay, Chinatown, etc. 
  • That evening, I met up with an ex-bf Joey (and the tabloids go wild) to catch up over a meal and a drink - he had recently moved to Singapore for work. It was really nice getting to catch up and hearing about life in Singapore vs. NYC.  For drinks, we headed to the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel, which is a famous building in Singapore - it has a boat at the top of the building, and the roof has an infinity pool that overlooks all of Singapore.
This is the Marina Bay Sands building - see the boat on the top of the building!?  Also, there's a music/laser light-show that comes on at night, kind of like the Bellagio in Vegas, and it's amazing
Joey and I each only had one $20 drink, but the view was more than worth it
Part of the view from the top of the hotel - these are the Gardens By The Bay
And from the other side of the roof, it's the prettiest view of all of Singapore! Siiiigh

Fun Facts of the Day:
  • The word "quay" is apparently pronounced "kee", and not "kwayy."  Why would you spell it like that then, Singapore??
  • After all was said and done, I didn't actually make it to the Night Zoo Safari, because the lady at my hostel said she'd been twice and it was rubbish because she didn't see any animals either time. Oh, and it's 1.5 hours by transit out of the city.
  • Speaking of transit, Singapore's MRT system is the loveliest and most easily navigable transportation system of all time! OF ALL TIME. All the trains come every 3 minutes on the dot, and everything is so clean and air-conditioned and orderly!  Not to mention the adorable patterned/themed reserved seating.
  • The roads area all super-British here. Like Clarke St. Or Upper Cross St. I can't handle how easy it is to get around.

The Hotel:
Omg guys. I'm staying at a hostel which I chose purely based on its name - The Beary Best Hostel.  And the entire place is bear-themed. It's kind of amazing.

Hoards of bears aside, the hostel is actually great and locally-run, and the front desk people are the greatest.

This is the common room. The bears are out. of. control.

Moment of the Day:
Oh, just the time I almost died when my boat from Gili T to Bali was super late (island time, people) - so when I got to the Bali port, there was minimal time to get to the airport (1.5 hours away) to catch my flight to Singapore.  A taxi driver promised he'd drive "like a race car" if I paid him a certain amount - I had nothing to lose; I was determined to make my flight.

And the driver stuck to his word.  He seriously shot out of the port like bat out of hell, and he maniacally ran every red light (except for one that had a policeman waiting at it, for which he apologized profusely), drove on shoulders, drove wrong ways down streets and up off-ramps and down on-ramps and everything in between. He would yell theatrically at cars stopped at red lights and make vrooming noises at the slow ones in his way. I think deep down inside, it didn't matter if I was in the car or not - this man was in his element and loving every second. Let's just say, it was a very adrenaline-filled hour-long ride (down from 1.5 hours!) to the airport, but I did make it onto my flight.


  1. Loved the Moment of the day! Glad he got u there super quick but safely too!!

    1. Haha, the safety was in hindsight - but yes, so glad I made the flight! xo