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el2995 Singapore - A travel report by USC
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Singapore,  Singapore - flag Singapore
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el2995's travel reports

East Meets West in Singapore

  20 votes
Page: 1 2 3

Singapore travelogue picture
Singapore, the small, ultra-modern city-state off the Southern tip of Malaysia, proved to be the perfect stepping-stone from San Francisco to Rangoon, Burma in that it offers all of the Western amenities you could ask for yet stills retains its sense of the exotic by virtue of its unique mix of the surrounding Asian cultures and traditions, which can be experienced through visits to Singapore’s various ethnic neighborhoods (Chinatown, Little India, the Malaysian quarter, Arab Street, and even a shopping center - Peninsula Plaza - that has become known as Little Burma.) Another benefit was Singapore’s proximity to the Equator, which prepared us for the Rangoon heat and humidity.

Favourite spots:
Singapore travelogue picture
Most people spell Singapore S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G, but there’s more to Singapore than just upscale shopping centers and cheap electronics along Orchard Road. The Botanic Garden, with its National Orchid Museum, is very impressive. So is the famous Jurong Bird Park, which you can get to by taking the MRT (Singapore metro) to the Boon Lay stop, and catching a bus for the short ride to the park. The Alligator Farm next door to Jurong was interesting (particularly the alligator show), but pales in comparison to the bird park. Be sure to see the Sri Krishnan Hindu Temple and the Kwan Yin Temple on Waterloo Street, Little India and Arab Street, Sentosa Island (especially the Underwater World Aquarium), Chinatown and the Asian Civilizations Museum near Boat Quay, and Kent Ridge "Reflections at Bukit Chandu" WWII memorial center.

What's really great:
Singapore travelogue picture
For me one of the most enjoyable Singapore activities is a balmy and aromatic evening walk along Boat Quay (and the similar Clarke Quay), which is a scenic promenade along the banks of the Singapore River that features a variety of restaurants with their tables set right along the water’s edge. The restaurants offer a large assortment of Asian cuisine, and part of the fun is being approached by the attractive hostesses (often in traditional dress) that try to entice you into their establishment with a sweet smile and a peek at the menu. It’s especially enjoyable at night, with the neon signs and lanterns along the promenade lit and the image of the illuminated Cavanaugh Bridge and highrise buildings reflected on the river.

Sights:
Singapore travelogue picture
If you fly Singapore Airlines, you can take advantage of the SIA Hop-A-Long Bus, which runs the circuit along Orchard Road from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a stop near Boat Quay; this is s good way to view one of Singapore's upscaled avenues, with the ability to hop off if you see something interesting and hop back on about 20 minutes later. The Sentosa Island Sky Tram (gondolas) gives you a more bird's eye view of the city and the harbor and is a nice way to view the sunset (fog, clouds and haze allowing). A 'bum boat' tour along the Singapore River and a trip out to Pulau Ubin should be on the itinerary. The Kent Ridge Tree-Top Walk along an elevated redwood walkway allows you to view the city through a lush canopy of trees. And then, of course, there are always the beautiful women of Singapore, an alluring mix of Chinese, Malaysian, Indian and Indonesian bloodlines with just a hint of a British accent in their sweet Singlish-laden voices. Positively intoxicating lait'dat, lah!









Accommodations:
Singapore travelogue picture
I've stayed at the Orchard Hotel and the Crown Prince Hotel on Orchard Road, and the Carlton Hotel on Bras Bassah Road. All were nice. The Carlton has some food courts a short walk away on Victoria Street, and some really good dim sum at Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant on the second floor. The Crown Prince Hotel is somewhat centrally-located along Orchard Road, where as the Orchard Hotel is at at the west end of Orchard Road at the junction of Orange Bloom and Tanglin Roads. To walk to the Botanic Gardens from the Orchard Hotel, head west along Tanglin and turn right on Napier, with the entrance to the gardens being just past Gleneagles Hospital. The best food court within walking distance near the Orchard Hotel is the Food Republic at the Wisma Atria Mall (the Thye Hong prawn noodles are exellent!), next to the Orchard Ion Mall at the intersection of Orchard and Scott Roads; also try the xiao long bao (Shanghai-style soup dumplings) at Din Tau Fung Restaurant in the Wisma Atria.

Nightlife:
Just returned from Singapore (12/8/06), I am now acquainted with a mini-redlight district near the end of Orchard Road that I never knew existed, that being Orchard Towers, which is close to the Thai Embassy. Come to find out, its four levels of shops, bars and what not beneath the apartment/office tower is locally referred to as "Four Floors of Whores"; when the sun goes down, the local lower-rung/priced ladies of the evening (a mix of Singaporean, Thai, Malaysian and Filipina) begin to troll the halls and the escalators looking for business, with the upper-class ladies working the bars, discos and karaoke joints for a higher price. Apparently, quite a few of the local like to pass the time on a Saturday night by having a drink or a coffee on the terrace at Harry's (at the corner of the alley beneath the parking structure across from the Orchard Hotel) and watch the working girls in their finery and their geneally over-weight/over-aged Johns hail cabs for their romantic interludes.

Hangouts:
There's more bars, KTV karaoke joints and clubs along Orchard Road than you could shake a stick at (though Orchard Road is generally so crowded you might accidentally hit someone - it's a joke, lah!); there's a Hard Rock Cafe near the west end of Orchard Road by Isetan and Tanglin shopping centers, and if you get bored with hanging out there you can walk over and watch the ladies at Orchard Towers, though "hanging out" there will probably cost you. I imagine that a lot of people would be content to just hang out at one of the myriad malls or shopping centers that line Orchard Road, all of which would likely contain a number of cafes and taverns (in addition to the obligatory food court) that would be suitable for the purpose. [As a side note, check out The Electric New Paper - http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/news/ - to see what's happening in the news and around town in Singapore from a more local/human interest point of view, as well as Yahoo Singapore News for local events coverage.]

Restaurants:
Singapore travelogue picture
Tambuah Mas (Indonesian); The Banana Leaf Apolo (Indian); Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant (dim sum); Charlie's Peranakan Food; Inle Myanmar Restaurant. Try the 'Thai Lana Kway Teow' noodles at Katrina Nasi Padang (Stall #7) in the Tasty Food Court at Tanglin Shopping Center (East end of Tanglin Road near Orchard Road) as it's definitely worth the Sg $4.50 price. Be sure to try Beard Papa, which is a Japanese chain sweet shop in the newly-opened VivoCity Shopping Mall (near the sky tram to Sentosa Island) that sells filled-as-you-wait cream puffs and great chocolate eclaires. Try some traditional kaya toast (w/ 'kaya' spread made from egg, coconut, sugar and sometimes a bit of pandan leaf) at Ka Yun Kaya Toast coffee shop at Holland Village; the coffee is strong and very good. Grab some curry puffs to go at the Old Chang Kee fast food stands that can be found around Singapore (one is near the West end of Orchard Road), and try an ice cream sandwich from one of the nearby tricycle vendors.

Other recommendations:
Singapore travelogue picture
Merlion statue (the symbol of Singapore) at the harbor entrance; Singapore Zoo and Night Safari. Chinatown was pretty slow at night, with lots of the restaurants and shops already closed by the time we got there later in the evening, so you might want to hit it in the day or early evening (or in the morning if you want to see the wet markets at their most active period - the same would apply to the wet markets in any of the ethnic enclaves). On Sunday nights, Little India is swamped with dock workers out to make the most of their only day off, which could be interesting to see or kind of scary/intimidating, depending on your point of view. I've only briefly sampled the Joo Chiat neighborhood while going to try some good Peranakan cuisine at Charlie's on East Coast Road one evening, but that is said to be a very interesting part of town to walk through given its history and collection of varied architectural styles - in addition to its variety of Southeast Asian hookers.

Published on Tuesday July 16th, 2002


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Sun, Dec 10 2006 - 09:32 AM rating by horourke

The night life and hang-out section recall to me a thought that first occurred to me in Arnhem in 1979----Everyone of the ladies watched in these episodes is someone's daughter.

Sat, Dec 09 2006 - 10:49 PM rating by eirekay

Full of lots of info! Great Report!

Sat, Dec 09 2006 - 11:42 AM rating by marianne

Very complete, everything a traveller wants to know

Sat, Dec 09 2006 - 06:48 AM rating by rangutan

Now a rediscovered report. It is great to see members updating reports, it is so important that information is actual, I really must too.

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