View Larger Map
Mean: 28°c Max: 32°c Min: 25°c

It's the end of the line

Sunday, June 30, 2013

We have to start by saying we absolutely love Singapore. It is an amazing city/country and one of our favourite cities in the whole of Asia, what a great place to end part 3 of our big adventure! We have had a fantastic action packed three days in Singapore and we can't believe we have had time to write all this stuff.

The Haze!

Luckily for us (sorry Malaysia) the haze has moved north and Singapore is getting a slight respite from the awful smog. So far the sun is shining, the sky is blue and we can breathe easily for now at least, let's hope it continues.


Before leaving the UK we posted a blog about what we were looking forward to and what we would miss. Firstly we mentioned the mighty Panthers who as we 'feared' won the league for the first time since 1956. A truly historic moment that we missed with our own eyes but after reading and hearing about it online we almost feel like we were back in block 13 for the homecoming game, if only in spirit. The only other thing we said we would miss is Glasto. We have been on several occasions and both love everything about the music festival, from the cows to the music it is simply fantastic. We are feeling a little sad we won't be visiting the cider bus this year and missing out on the New Year's Eve atmosphere that lasts a week. But we won't complain as we relax in our hotel in Singapore and not in a tent in Somerset. We hope you all have a fantastic time and hope it doesn't rain (too much :-)). Maybe not next year or even the year after, but Glasto we will be back even if by the time we do we are too old to sleep in a tent!

Take care and happy camping.

KL - Singapore

This was the biggest milestone trip on our adventure so far. We rolled into Singapore just after 4pm after spending a goodly proportion of our day travelling on the train 7 hours to be exact. The train is by no means the fastest way to get between KL and Singapore but it is the most comfortable and relaxing. We arrived in style in our sleeper bunks which cost just 45MYR (approx. £9!) we could have gone all out and had our own room with bathroom and fitted shower for about £28pp, but our sleepers were more than adequate and so much better than a flight or a sticky coach. Time just flew by and it's hard to believe we have actually reached Singapore by land. We have thought about this milestone on many occasions but actually seeing the bright lights of Singapore was quite a surreal moment.

So as part 3, the longest part of our adventure draws to a close we would like to reflect on some statistics:

  • 16 countries
  • 12 currencies
  • 24,752 km (15,380 miles)
  • 427 hours (just under 18 days!) on the road/rails
  • 9 time zones
  • 1 common language! :-)

Day 1 - Museum Day

Singapore may be a small island but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in sights and activities. This makes it an impossible task to try and fit everything into just 3 days but luckily for us we have been to Singapore before meaning we have visited some of what this city has to offer already, thus making our 'to do list' a bit shorter. Even with this knowledge we wanted to make sure that every day was strategically planned down to the tiniest detail to ensure that everything ran as smooth as butter, especially the transport between sights (no surprises there then). Fortunately for this duo as many people know Ross has a complete inability to turn down any challenge that involves 'organising stuff' :-) Funnily enough everything was sorted out (by both of us) before we arrived so with everything ship shape and ready to go we were really looking forward to getting back to long days out exploring and actually 'doing' what we had spent hours painstakingly organising.

The National Museum

On our first day we headed out to a bright blue sky, dotted with fluffy white clouds and most importantly there were no signs of the dreaded haze :-) Our first stop was the National Museum of Singapore which was just a short ride away by the subway. Before we could be impressed by what the museum had to offer on the inside we were first impressed by the building itself, as it had a really modern and fresh feel to it whilst still retaining a much older look. Once inside we could see that the building had been beautifully restored with some modern twists thrown in for good measure. What we found really impressive was the way they managed to cleverly merge the old with the new by adding a very creative extension using steel and glass that made it look seamless, almost like it had always been there. We thought it was pure craftsmanship that even the most qualified engineer would be proud of.

We purchased our tickets and made our way up to the start point, where we were given a nifty looking audio guide in the form of an iPad, very swish! We started our journey to discover the history of Singapore and using our new toy we punched in the relevant numbers displayed throughout the museum at which point, the audio guide told us stories of the past. The rooms seemed to be endless and it was amazing how extensive the information for each display was, with the average display having 5 different sub-headings, if we had listened to each and every one we would have been in there for days! We still managed to learn a vast amount of Singapore's history, starting with the famous Thomas Stamford Raffles who helped make Singapore the thriving city that it is today. There were many other displays and areas throughout this well put together museum that included stories of other leading men and women who contributed in some way to the rise of Singapore and included a large section on World War 2 which outlined many interesting facts that we didn't know about. Overall we thought it was a great place to spend a couple of hours.

After this we made our way across to Fort Canning Park, bang in the middle of the city. Although once inside no one would guess because it's so peaceful, all we could hear was the tweeting of the birds. After making our way up the many steps that led to the park, we went in search of the Battle Box Museum. This sounded like a unique place to visit as there are bunkers hidden in the grounds of the park that the leaders used when making important decisions about Singapore. Unfortunately it was closed 9 So instead we decided to take a stroll around the park and ended up at the spice gardens which were commissioned by Thomas Raffles back when spices were as valuable as gold. We didn't spend too much time here because we had to get to the next museum but if it was up to Sonya we would have looked at all of the plants, especially the ones with the lovely aromas!

Peranakan Museum

After lunch we visited the Peranakan Museum which is about the lives of the Peranakan community. Peranakan's are the descendants of foreign traders from around the world who settled and married local women. They adopted traits from their new home in the Malay world while retaining much of their own cultures too. The community is very diverse and has influences from China, India and Europe. Over generations they have combined these influences to establish their own culture.

The museum was very informative although some of the exhibits were just bizarre. A large part of the museum was dedicated to weddings which was historically a massive part of Peranakan life. Traditionally for wealthier families, weddings lasted for 12 days, yes 12 days! However this has now sensibly being reduced. As you can probably imagine filling 12 days is quite difficult and some of the activities were just bizarre, such as the virtual hair combing ritual. We say 'virtual' hair combing because the comb doesn't actually touch the participants head! This is undertaken between midnight and dawn on the eve of the wedding and is seen as one of the most important rituals of the whole 12 days, enough said.

The other strange exhibit at the museum was the modern art exhibit where you could purchase some pottery on the ground floor, before taking it up to the third floor and throwing it over the banisters back down to the ground floor. The end result is meant to be modern art, apparently when enough people have paid for the privilege to be part of the exhibit it will then become 'art'

Neither of us are art connoisseurs but in our opinion smashing a few plates does not constitute as art in any form.

The Asian Civilisations Museum

Whilst walking over to this museum we could have quite easily melted into the pavement as it was so hot outside. So it was with some relief we walked into a very well air-conditioned building :-) Having read about this museum in 'trusty' Lonely Planet we were hoping that it was as good as it sounded, and for the first time in a long time it was.

Firstly we were surprised by just how many countries, cultures and religions this museum covered from Turkey in the West right through to the Philippines in the East. It was a shame we didn't visit a museum like this earlier in the trip, as we could have skipped a lot of the national museums along the way, many of which were not as impressive.

It must have taken such a long time to merge the information together and the interactive displays were extremely good.

Harbour Skyline

We finished our day by visiting the harbour skyline to see the magnificent Marina Bay Sands. Built on reclaimed land Marina Bay Sands is an awe inspiring building that has to be seen to be believed. Three 55 storey towers connected by a 340m long sky terrace in the shape of a cruise liner. What better way to show off Singapore's heritage than putting a ship in the sky for everyone to see? Costing an estimated &8Bn this is one seriously expensive building and has just about everything you could imagine inside. We are planning on visiting the observation deck during our stay in Singapore; let's just hope the haze doesn't return!

Day 2 - Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island is situated just off the main island of Singapore and is billed as South East Asia's playground. An island full of entertainment venues, hotels, restaurants and beaches to relax on.... it lives up to its billing.

First stop the southernmost point of Continental Asia. A bold statement from Sentosa Island as anybody who can read a map can see, it is clearly wrong. If Singapore is going to sue Indonesia over the slash and burn wild fires we are sure Indonesia could easily do the same over Singapore's claim to be the southernmost point in Asia. Putting that aside it is the furthest point we can reach in Singapore and the furthest point we can possibly get to before we board our first flight. As we walked across the rickety rope bridge to the small island, it did feel like we had reached a special moment in our adventure. As we looked at the many ships moored in the South China Sea we took a few minutes to reflect on our journey so far. We have talked about getting to Singapore by land on so many occasions and although it has taken us 5 months and 14 days to get here we have finally made it!

Next stop was the maritime experiential (not a typo) museum. We had read about the museum in Lonely Planet and with Singapore's long standing heritage of shipping we were expecting great things. Since Lonely Planet has been written the museum has been combined with the world's largest aquarium and consequently the ticket price has risen substantially from &5 to &33! Although neither of us were that bothered about seeing the aquarium we decided to pay to see the maritime museum. Unfortunately neither of us were impressed! It was tiny and by far the biggest part of the exhibit is now the aquarium and what everybody else bar us, came to see. Considering Singapore's history the museum was a poor reflection of the importance of maritime trade for the country and was in a different league to the maritime museum we visited way back in Amsterdam, which was simply excellent and still one of the best museum's we have visited on the whole trip.

However after queuing up to get into the aquarium, we were not disappointed and we started to feel that the ticket price was better value for money. The aquarium was enormous and it was easy to see why it was the world's largest. When we reached the largest tank in the world it was just incredible and had such a varied marine life, it was hard to take it all in. Our only complaint would be it was just far too busy which made getting even near some of the tanks difficult. We certainly wouldn't want to visit at the weekend or on a special occasion and think they should limit the number of people allowed in per hour to improve the experience.

The jury is still out on whether the entrance fee was worth &33 as there weren't really 2 exhibits to see. By the way we didn't see Nemo, or for that matter any clown fish!

Hard Rock Café

Hard Rock 48! We have already been to 2 HRC's in Singapore on our previous visit but there is now a third on Sentosa Island. There was nothing wrong with this café but something has to be said about these new cafés that keep popping up all over the world they are like, what bars are to pubs, they lack atmosphere, exactly what Hard Rock is all about. They might have memorabilia on the walls, good food, amazing cocktails and the Hard Rock customer service, but they still lack something you can't create.

Anyway we creep ever closer to the big 5-0, but unfortunately because we dropped the Philippines out, there is only one more HRC on route that we haven't already been to. Although it won't count as number 50 maybe we'll have to make our last stop back in the UK, the home of HRC. Long Island anybody?

Songs of the Seas Show

Putting the cringe worthy singing and storyline to one side, the show had impressive water displays that incorporated the use of fire, water screens and lasers. The show only lasted for approx. half an hour but was reasonable value for money at &12. We can't give it rave reviews as we have seen better shows elsewhere, but if you do visit Sentosa Island and are in the area around show time, it is probably worth stopping by.


We ended the day at the free WonderFull water and laser show at the Marina Bay. We only found out about the show by chance and if we had known about it we probably wouldn't have paid good money to see Songs of the Seas. The water show runs twice nightly during the week and three times a night at the weekend. The impressive water show is set in front of the Marina Bay Complex and lasts for 15 minutes. We viewed the show from near the Merlion Park facing the Marina Bay Complex which gave incredible views of the laser and light show; however we were too far from the water show to make out any of the images on the water screens. If viewed from Marina Bay the water show would have been much closer but you would not get the full effect of the laser and light show.

Day 3 - Marina Bay Sands

Luckily we awoke to a light haze which was perfect for visiting the Marina Bay Sky Deck. We arrived bright and early to collect our tickets and ended up joining one of the free tours that only run three times a day. In addition to viewing the Sky Deck we were also taken on a guided tour to visit the infinity pool and roof gardens. The Sky Deck itself was amazing and is located at the bow of the boat, the world's largest public cantilevered platform which overhangs the north tower by an incredible 67m.

The views from the top were amazing and gave a 270 degree view of the skyline and South China Sea. The amazing infinity pool is an impressive 150m with the water appearing to run off the edge of the building and with the sun blazing down on us it was so tempting to jump in but alas it is reserved solely for hotel guests.

Finally we visited the roof gardens adjacent to the infinity pool. The hot tubs had equally impressive views looking off the other side of the building and were so inviting we had to leave before we jumped in. We have seen many impressive hotels on our travels, both this trip and other trips but we have never wanted to stay in one as much as the Marina Bay Sands. We made a promise to each other that one day (probably in the distant future) we will stay at the Marina Bay Sands if only for a night or two.

Having said in our last blog about KL how beautiful the Petronas Towers are, the Marina Bay Sands hotel is something else. It is simply stunning and our words don't do it justice, the saying a picture speaks a thousand words is so true, just check out our photo's! Although the light haze doesn't help to show the wonderful skyline it does show the enormity of this stunning building.

Red light district

Finding a cheap hotel in Singapore is not easy so when we found the Fragrance hotel chain which has several cheap hotels in a small area, we should have probably guessed something was up. Although we have been to both Amsterdam and Pattaya (read our blog 38 Disneyland for Adults) we have never seen anything like Geylang. Amsterdam's red light district is almost a tourist destination with hundreds of people walking the streets peering in the 'windows'. As we noted in our blog on Pattaya, people walk into bars alone and walk out as a 'couple' but things happen undercover. Walking the streets of Geylang however is very different to anything we have experienced before. With streets lined with rows and rows of brothels that look like normal residential houses, hey they even provide parking! When we first arrived we didn't suspect anything but the endless hawkers selling little blue pills was a bit of a give away! Naive as we are we didn't know that squeaky clean Singapore had such a thriving red light district, it seems crazy that in a country where chewing gum is illegal such an industry exists.

Hotel Review

We stayed at the Crystal Fragrance Hotel in a double private. We got an advanced promo rate and paid just $60 per night including free Wi-Fi which usually cost $18 per day, per device! The hotel is a 10 min walk to the MRT which is about 15 minutes from the centre of town. The room was basic but had all we needed including air-con and a private ensuite with shower. The TV wasn't worth turning on with just 2 out of tune channels. If you can look past the bright red lights and lots of flesh on show that surround the hotel it is a good budget stay.


© 2014-2021 All rights reserved.
All images and logo's are licenced. Please contact us before copying any content or linking to our blog - Thanks! :-)