My 9th time to Singapore and I wasn’t overly excited to be here. The anticlimax of no Grand Prix fun this time round and l’d pretty much exhausted all but a few of my site seeing options, I was stuck for what to do. Having previously had 10 days of annual leave where I’d drank myself into oblivion, managed to fall asleep at my friends engagement party and woke up when everyone had gone home, I’d concluded that my body needed a desperate detox. So I took my own advice and decided not to go crazy by drinking (a lot) whilst away in Singapore and Australia. Here’s to hoping.
Who is Singapore?
Ever wondered what that tiny red dot on the map or on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula is? On almost every map of the world the “little red dot” exists and is correctly known to us a Singapore. Once only used in casual conversation and sometimes by the media, the term “little red dot” quickly gained acknowledgment thanks to former Indonesian president Habibie. So the story goes that Habibie dismissed Singapore’s existence by pointing at the dot commenting he didn’t consider Singapore to be a friend. His dismissive reaction of “it’s ok though” outraged the government and Singaporean citizens.
On August 9th 1965, Singapore separated from Malaysia to become an independent and sovereign state. The separation was the result of deep political and economic differences between the ruling parties of Singapore and Malaysia, which after created communal tensions that resulted in racial riots killing thousands. Singapore’s union with Malaysia had lasted for less than 23 months.
Despite the union of the 14 states short existence, Singapore has become enormously successful after gaining its independence back. It’s believed that the key to it success lies with investing in its port, now one of the world’s busiest, the government capitalised on Singapore’s strategic location and easy access. Using clever tactics such as opening its doors to foreign business to help with the lack of other natural resources, which in turn brought skills and riches. About 30% of Singapore’s 5.5m inhabitants are on temporary work permits and it’s not exactly hard to notice the overwhelming amount of British and American expats here in Singapore (who all work for HSBC or something similar, Id dated one of them a while back)
So what did I do and did I manage to avoid a hangover?
Well the answer in its simplest form is no, I did however manage to culturally stimulate myself for at least one day by going to see the only attraction that I’d not yet seen, Singapore Botanical Gardens.
Singapore has silly amounts of greenery for a big busy city. The words ‘Lets make Singapore our garden’ are plastered along all the motorways from one end to the other and popular attractions such as ‘Garden by the Bay’, ‘ The Super Trees’ and the ‘Chinese Garden’ have firmly planted their routes into Singapore soil as must see destinations.
But is it as picturesque, peaceful and as delightful as one would assume?
Well not exactly, It still manages to fit numerous main roads running right through the middle of the city, hundreds of shopping malls, pollution runs riot of course and noise levels are crazy loud all through the night. Thick rain falls almost every day keeping the purpose built greenery alive and row after row of palm trees stack up along the white condo lined streets, which Ok is fairly pleasing on the eye. That is until you turn around and see a 24 hour McDonald’s on every street corner, When drunk however, youve landed in Mecca.
The city hasn’t however lost its Colonial charm, especially if you visit Raffles Hotel, this great example of colonial indulgence with Its long white corridors, rattan furniture and large palm plants surround you as you sip on your Singapore Sling or enjoy afternoon tea out of delicate China cups. The staff wear a traditional colonial dress and look like they have just stepped off a Carry On film set, remarkably friendly however and will go above and beyond to keep you happy. Raffles is charming, Smells like jasmine and if you can imagine yourself wearing a white safari coat with a white matching sun hat, shouting “darling, we simply must take home a tiger for the children” whilst riding an elephant then your in the right place.
Singapore Botanical gardens .
At about a ten minute cab ride from my hotel, the same if you stay anywhere near Raffles Hotel, the promise of absolute tranquility and a distraction from downing shots of tequila can be found in the form of Botanical Gardens. Here I found my inner calm. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a 158-year-old tropical garden located at the fringe of Singapore’s main shopping belt. It is one of three gardens, and the only tropical garden, to be honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Botanic Gardens has been ranked Asia’s top park attraction since 2013, by TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards. It was declared the inaugural Garden of the Year, International Garden Tourism Awards in 2012, and received Michelin’s three-star rating in.
Hundreds of people visit the botanical gardens everyday, fear not the gardens are big enough to avoid the majority of other tourists. The sound of running water follows you and once your in the thick of the greenery an orchestral like sound of crickets is hypnotising. The Orchid Garden is by far the most beautiful and at only five Singaporean dollars to enter it’s worth it. If your a gardener, plant lover or consider yourself a bit of a green fingers then this is for you. The diversity of colours doesn’t go unnoticed and looks great through any camera lense.
A little wonder around after getting lost about four times (which isn’t hard) I managed to find some rare orchids and took some photos.
The whole experience will last a couple of hours, there are children’s activities if you take children along and if you get hungry several restaurants are located inside the gardens. You can eat amongst the plants and be one with nature. I’d recommend wearing light clothing as I probably lost about a stone in sweat due to the humidity, drink lost of water too.
I have a love hate relationship with Singapore, maybe because I’ve been nine times in the past year or maybe because I feel more at home in Singapore than I do at my actual home. The woman in the manicure salon opposite the hotel knows my name for crying out loud!
The hater in me can feel the governmental control over this small in size but large in reigon island, the state controls the masses, harsh punishments are given to anyone breaking rules and even chewing gum is a strict No No. The artificial man made environment suffocates me.
Whereas the lover in me acknowledges its level of economical development in such a short space of time, education is a top priority here, people are polite and respect the rules set out for them, it’s also illegal to annoy anyone by playing a musical instrument. No jazz flute for you next door neighbors. Nobody seems unhappy and you rarely see any poverty. They have, in all senses “made it”
Until next time Singapore, I’m sure it won’t be long….
Safe travels, april x