We just spent six days wandering through Singapore. We ran ourselves ragged (Chad has the blisters on his feet to prove it) doing all we could in the bustling city-state in Southeast Asia. I decided to split all that we did into six posts, as we did so much, and I wanted to be able to tell you all about it.
There were a couple of expectations I had of Singapore, one was that it would be extremely clean and pristine, the other was that it would be busy and crowded and crazy. I had come to the conclusion of its cleanliness after reading about the fines in place for things like chewing gum or not flushing the toilet. And I had assumed that the city was crowded and overly busy after reading about the fact that Singapore is not only a powerhouse in the Southeast Asian business arena, but in the world arena.
As it is with most assumptions and expectations, I was wrong. Singapore is very sculpted, it’s sidewalks wide and lined with trees and shrubbery. There was nature on the edge of everything that was carefully crafted to look natural. But it was not a sterile, gleaming place of cleanliness. No, I did not see any chewed gum on the street, but ironically I did see a few breath mint boxes littered on the ground at points. And the whole thing about having to flush the toilet law must have been overturned or something, because I can honestly say that I rarely went into a public restroom without having to clean off the toilet seat and flush it before using it.
I was also wrong about how overly busy the city would be. Yes, it is a huge metropolis, but it is so well set up, that I never felt like it was crazy or chaotic. Even traveling on the MRT at rush hour was manageable as far as how crowded it was because the infrastructure was prepared to handle it. In this aspect, I absolutely loved Singapore. Everything seemed to be planned to perfection and we were able to move about with ease.
Despite these little hiccups of my expectations being unreal (again, ack!) Singapore had much to do and see that made our trip fun and worthwhile.
We arrived at Changi Airport in the middle of the day and were quite excited to see many of the companies we knew and loved back in the States. We ate Quizno’s for lunch, which is not one of my favorites, but Chad was pretty happy about it. Our trip was starting out pretty well it seemed (because truly it is mostly about the food for me).
We had rented a room in someones house on airbnb.com (you can read about that here) that was supposed to be a quick walk from the Marymount SMRT station on the Circle Line. Honestly all that was like a foreign language to me until I looked at a map of the SMRT lines. It was incredibly easy to figure out where to transfer from one line to the next to make it to our destination. And with the airport being one of the terminal stops on the East West Line, it made it even easier to find our way. We bought 3 day tourist unlimited SMRT cards for S$30 (plus a S$10 deposit) because that was the highest amount of days possible. We hopped on the train and although we had to transfer two times, it was a piece of cake. Each station was clearly marked with where to go and all of the stations were baggage and stroller friendly. We arrived at the home where we were staying within an hour.
I unpacked while Chad researched where to find good beer and food in Singapore. Chad is a home brewer of beers and has been missing the hoppy beverages since we left California. In every new place we visit, Chad is on the look out for any place that may have beers from home.
Chad found a place called “The Good Beer Company” that was located in the Chinatown Complex. We hopped on the SMRT and arrived smack dab in the heart of Chinatown within 20 minutes.
Chinatown reminded us both of Taipei somewhat. Hearing mandarin being spoken, seeing the arts and crafts being sold at the booths, and smelling the delicious Chinese fare made us feel at like we were home. We wandered around, looking for the Chinatown Complex without much luck until we finally used Google Maps. We finally came upon the massive open building (resembling a parking garage really, but with booths selling food or clothing instead of parked cars), we quickly made our way to the second floor and found the little hole in the wall that sells all the good beers one could wish for. We picked up a couple of delicious dishes at some food sellers around there and sat down with our food and drink and enjoyed. Chad’s favorite dish was the carrot cake, or Chai Tow Kway, which is radish cakes fried with seasoning and egg and has a sweet and smoky flavor. Z and I had dumplings and they were made so perfectly that I had to go get a second plate.
After we had all had our fill, we waddled out of the complex and noticed that there was a stage right outside the door where some sort of celebration was going on. There were girls dancing, singing, and some sort of comedy routine as well (it was in Mandarin so I am not sure). I think it had something to do with Chinese New Year. We watched for a little while because Z loves dancing lately and really loved watching the dance troupes with their fans.
Right next door to the stage was the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. As we walked past it a parade started, four men dressed as lions and 5 or 6 men making a dragon on sticks dance around came out of the temple followed by monks playing drums and a long line of people holding what looked like large books walking behind them. They circled the temple a few times before we got up and started walking again. It seemed almost magical that all of these things were going on just as we arrived in the area. It was just perfect.
We ended the night by walking back through Chinatown, taking pictures, looking at the Chinese goods for sale, and just enjoying each other and the atmosphere. We hopped back on the SMRT and headed back to our home away from home and crashed early, preparing and resting for the next amazing day in Singapore.
Have you ever been to Singapore’s Chinatown? What did you think? Leave a comment and let us know!
(*** Chad took some amazing photos for this post and I was unable to get them to work, I will put up a gallery tomorrow)