Top ten things we did in Singapore
by Laguna Lupie
1. Universal Studios Singapore.
I haven’t been to a world class theme park in more than ten years (last time was Disneyland in LA way back in 2000 when I was still a college student) so everything was fresh and fun especially since I was enjoying all this with my kids this time around. The lines are long though and the food horrendously expensive. If you can afford it, take the Universal Express Pass as it can take more than an hour of queuing for popular rides even on a weekday and you might just end up wasting your day in long lines.
2. Luge and Skyride at Sentosa.
This is by far my eldest boy’s favorite ride in Sentosa Island. The downhill drive on the luge was exhilarating and the skyride to go back to the top of the hill was a bit scary at first but the views were great.
My eldest boy excited and scared on the Luge Skyride
3. Siloso Beach at Sentosa.
I have this awful bias when it comes to beaches, after all we have some of the best beaches in the Philippines so I wasn’t all that interested in seeing the beaches of Sentosa Island but I surprised myself and enjoyed it a lot actually. It was very clean and there were no crowds and to be honest, being a natural beach bum, I could have stayed there all week. Hehe.
4. Songs of the Sea show
This show was a revelation. It lasted just a little over thirty minutes with a mythical story of a princess of the sea trying to break free from a curse with the help of the beautiful songs of a mortal man. It was set on Siloso Beach with gigantic water fountains that danced to music and great big fans of water projected with the animated characters’ images. There were gusts of fire and water and fireworks at the end of the show. My boy was awestruck and my husband said it was worth the expense and he remembers this show as one of the highlights of our trip.
5. Walk to the Merlion Park and dessert at the historic Fullerton Hotel.
The Merlion is the mythical symbol of Singapore, a creature with the head of a Lion and the body of a fish. If visiting Singapore for the first time, a picture of you with the original Merlion at Fullerton Road should be top priority on your trip. We did the whole walking tour to the Merlion Park and then we had desserts at the lobby café of the historical Fullerton Hotel just across the Merlion Park.
6. Gardens by the Bay at Marina Bay.
Another must see in Singapore, the Gardens by the Bay’s iconic tree sculptures that looked like something not-of-this-world (or out of the movie Avatar) are a great photo op for visitors. Many areas of the gardens are free but if you have extra cash you can enter the two big domes/greenhouses in the gardens for a fee. I didn’t really want to spend extra but my brother insisted and I must say, I’m glad I relented. What struck me when we entered the domes was that it was air-conditioned, a relief and a pleasure in a hot and humid place like Singapore. I honestly expected the greenhouse to be hot, as is everything else in a tropical country, but the fact that it wasn’t made it a cool haven of peace. I loved it. I could have stayed all day but it we were sightseeing tourists so everybody else was anxious to be ticking attractions off the “must see” list and we left the gardens before I was ready.
Outside the Gardens on the way to the Marina Sands Hotel
Me and my mother with the otherworldly tree-like structures in the background.
7. The view on top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
Tourists visiting Singapore usually have their pictures taken with the Marina Bay Sands in the background and of course, either you go up the Hotel or the Singapore Flyer for a great view of the city. We opted for the Hotel and it was a great view indeed. A warning though, like everything else in Singapore, going up the view deck doesn’t come cheap and once you’re up there, there really isn’t much to do except look at the view. Bring a jacket or sweater if you want to stay up there for longer as it is windy and cold at night. And yes, do stay for longer, it would be such a waste to spend all that money on the view and just end up taking pictures and leaving after a few minutes.
8. Shopping in Chinatown.
This was everyone’s favorite of course. My mother was astounded there were cheap souvenirs to be found in oh-so-expensive Singapore and we all went crazy buying knick knacks like t-shirts, keychains and ref magnets for our staff at home. There were also very affordable clothes but the choices were mostly for women. Chinatown was very crowded but that was mostly because it was almost Chinese New Year when we went there. This Chinatown is very picturesque with colorful neo-colonial shop houses lining the streets and really nice temples along the roads. After shopping we went to a hawker center for dinner. Yum.
9. Eating Chicken Rice.
We all fell in love with Chicken Rice. Also known as Hainanese chicken rice, this dish is often considered as Singapore’s national dish. It’s a simple meal composed of boiled (blanched or steamed?) chicken with really flavorful and fragrant rice and a side dish of greens (baby bokchoy with light soy) and chicken broth. The rice was a revelation. We thought at first it was just plain old rice but it had its own chickeny flavor and we found out it was cooked in chicken stock with pandan leaves. Ahhh, I could live on that rice alone for days. A simple dish like this is not so simple at all because apparently, it takes many hours and a lot of effort on the part of the cook to compose this meal. Having read up on how chicken rice is cooked actually made me appreciate this dish more.
We stayed in Singapore for around eight days and we ate chicken rice maybe half that time. On the way home, at the airport, I still ordered Chicken Rice at the food court. Everybody was laughing at me, saying I just couldn’t let go of that dish. I miss chicken rice already.
10. Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Well they say it’s the best airport in the world. Having been there, I must agree with everybody else. It is the best.
I love airports. Have always loved them since I was a kid and this one, the Changi Airport, is a kid’s dream come true. They have this giant slide at terminal 3 that’s four storeys high and a family play area and an entertainment section where you can play games, an area where people can watch movies, a spa if you want a shower or a massage, a quiet area where people in transit can sleep. It has gardens with fresh orchids where people have their pictures taken. It’s a huge mall where rich Asians go crazy over duty free shopping – I could go on and on you know.
We checked in very early for our departure because we wanted to spend time at the airport before leaving. The three hours was not enough. Our gate was already open and people were lining up to board the plane but our group was still busy having their pictures taken in the gardens, my husband and eldest boy still doing the coloring activity at the block art section for kids. I had to do my serious “Let’s go guys!” shout to break up everything and have everybody get in line to go back home. It would be funny if we weren’t all so sad to leave that happy place.
Everybody busy with the art activities at Changi Airport right before our flight.