Our Asia Trip Diary – Part Twenty One

Check out Part Twenty here!

On Monday we were kicking the week off in Chiang Rai, north Thailand. For anyone who hasn’t read last week’s update; we just explored most of the north of Thailand and took a bus back to Chiang Mai. Here we stumbled upon the flower festival that was being celebrated! Tons of flowers are kept in a small park in the centre of Chiang Mai for representation.

Tuesday, we had a relaxing day. We took this day to plan our coming countries and have some food in the neighbourhood.

Wednesday, we woke up early to take a grab to the airport. We flew to Singapore! Everything went smoothly, as we already filled in the required information beforehand online. Before leaving the airport, we HAD to check out the biggest indoor waterfall in the world; and it’s huge! We strolled around in this (literal) shopping mall at the airport for a couple hours before deciding to go to our hostel. 

Our hostel just cancelled our booking out of nowhere so we had to quickly adapt and find something new. We found a small dormitory in Little India. Pros: location. Cons: expensive, bad hygiene and low comfort. We tried to find some local food in the area (Indian, wooh!) and went to bed for our big day tomorrow. 

Thursday was our first full day in Singapore and we walked over 40k steps (27km). We started in Little India. At our hotel, there was a map with a small exploration tour written on there. Little India is widely known for its (duh) Indian culture and heritage. There are also lots of murals everywhere to discover!

From Little India, we moved on to Kampong Glam, The Arabian quarter. Here is the Sultan’s Mosque located. The quarter has some interesting history about the Islamic background of Singapore and how the country came to be. Everywhere in Singapore are informational signs in English. This is so nice as it is so fun to read about the history of the locations you are walking in without having to look up everything yourself (this is especially hard in places without WiFi or if you do not have a SIM with data). 

We then moved on to Bugis street. Here there are lots of small stalls cramped up together at a roofed square and surrounded by a couple of huge shopping malls. Here is also the Albert Hall, a hawker centre (a place with lots of food stands together) where we had some rice and chicken for lunch. 

We then walked further to the Armenian Church and to Fort Canning. The latter is a park on a hill, where the first settlement of Singapore started. Lots of history here!

From here we walked to the Merlion, a signature statue of Singapore. It’s a big lion/fish hybrid fountain and honestly quite boring. Here it also started to pour suddenly. We took cover at a nearby Seven Eleven and eat a hot lava cake and drink some coffee to regain some energy. We have been walking all day and we were tired.

After the refreshments, we continued our trip to the helix bridge, passing the Esplanade (futuristic venue) on the way. From here we walked to The Shoppes. This is an enormous mall, right in front of Marina Bay (you know, the three huge skyscrapers connected by a gigantic bridge on top). We spent some time admiring all the luxury brands, looking at the long tail boats in the middle of the mall (no joke and there is also a vortex you pass by!), and enjoying the air-conditioning. 

Helix Bridge, Singapore

Hereafter, we walked to Lau Pa Sat, a local hawker centre in downtown Singapore. After some Turkish Kebab and Mexican Burritos, we go back to the front of The Shoppes to watch the light show on the water! Quite fun, and it’s free! We were a bit early so we were right in the front, awesome! 

Still not done after all this, we continued to Gardens by the Bay, another huge highlight of Singapore. It is behind Marina Bay, and after some struggling to find the right entrance, we arrived just in time near the huge, metal trees for another light show. This one is even more spectacular (and a little silly)!

We went back to our hotel, spending 14 hours this day was maybe a little much but we just wanted to see and do everything! Exhausted but satisfied we go to bed.

A new day, more of Singapore to explore! On Friday morning, we first went back to Gardens by the Bay. Here in this park with its majestic, men-made super trees lay two big domes. Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. 

We bought a combi ticket and first entered cloud forest. This huge dome contains tons of different kinds of plants, trees, flowers and avatar creatures! Huh, what? Yeah, they have a special exhibition currently, where they show some fauna and flora seen in the new Avatar movie. A bit… special, in our opinion but it doesn’t have much-added value to us, since we haven’t seen the new movie. (We were going to see it in a mall in Cambodia, but it wasn’t available in English..) A cloud forest is where tropical vegetation meets high mountains. The forest is bathed in moisture every two hours. 

Cloud Forest, Indoor waterfall

Next up, is the Flower Dome. Here many flowers are well-kept from regions all over the world! Less impressive than Cloud Forest in our opinion, but definitely still a fun experience to walk through and see some very special plants we have never seen before in our lives. Visiting both Cloud Forest and Flower Dome took us roughly four to five hours with a lunch break in between.  

Flower dome, Singapore

We went back to the hotel for a siesta. We were still tired from our big trip yesterday and we haven’t slept very well in the not-so-well-maintained dormitory. After our quick nap, we took the metro to the botanical gardens. Singapore’s only UNESCO World Heritage. It is big, and we enjoy strolling around here as we learnt more about its history. 

We then continued to walk to Orchard Road. This was a mistake since it was more than a 15min walk next to a busy road. Orchard Road is known for being Singapore’s retail heart, with lots of discount outlets, department stores and luxury brands. We found a small underground food square and eat some Indian and went home for some well-deserved sleep.

Saturday was our final full day in Singapore, and of course, we still had lots of things planned to do. We first went back to Gardens by the Bay (again), to actually walk around the park this time and casually explore its kind nature. We actually wanted to do that the day before but the domes took us more time than expected. 

Gardens by the Bay Super Trees

We then go to the ArtScience Museum. The building is easily recognisable by the resemblance to a lotus flower. Here we do the “Future World” exhibit. To be honest, we found it quite childish and very short. They let you draw a fish and a plane and it would appear on the screen in front of you. Together with some other small experiments, we got out quite disappointed. 

ArtScience Museum in Singapore

Then we move on to Chinatown! Another buzzing neighbourhood filled with local cuisine! We visit three temples in one street (a Hindu, a Mosque and a Chinees one). We have some dinner at the nearby hawker centre (Maxwell Centre) and go back to Gardens by the Bay (once again!) to watch the light show again, but this time from a better perspective!

China Town Singapore

Sunday, we were exhausted. We have had only one small neighbourhood left to tick off our box before we leave. Joo Chiat is a super cute, well-out-of-the-way district. It has tons of hip and trendy bars and cafes and the houses are coloured in tons of different pastel options. We also got invited to a pop-up flea market and bio market that is only every other weekend. Around 4 pm we packed up our bags from the hotel and walk in the pouring rain to the bus station. Soaked we get on the bus and on we go to Malacca, Malaysia!