Sunday, 6 April 2014

Fascinating Singapore


“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson
On visiting Singapore I realized the true meaning of this quote. I had heard so much about Singapore from friends and relatives that I had my own idea of this wonderful country. I knew it was very clean, systematic, efficient and disciplined. To visualize the quote above is one aspect but to experience it is a whole new dimension.

My trip to Singapore was ad hoc. My husband had a conference and I decided to tag along (I would have been a fool not to !!). With only a few weeks in hand to plan our trip, I started utilizing my Google search skills to find places to visit, eat and shop. I ended up with a huge list of attractions.  With only 4 days in the country, it was important to pick the best of the lot.  We also wanted to explore the city on our own. Those who have been to Singapore often talk about the excellent public transport system and I wanted to try it. If you are planning a trip to Singapore in the near future read along
I discussed with some relatives who had visited Singapore. They suggested staying in “Little India” as Indian food was easily available. Though not pleased with the idea of eating dal rice or biryani in a foreign country I played it safe and booked Hotel Park Royal on Kitchener Road which is close to “Little India”.  However, since most of the Singapore travel blogs had praised food streets and hawkers centers in Chinatown, I wasn’t sure if this was the right decision.  

Well, on reaching the hotel all my doubts just vanished. Park Royal is a 4-star hotel.  With a lovely nutritious breakfast buffet every morning from 6 to 10, and spacious rooms, it’s everything one can ask for. Add to this a (City Square) mall exactly opposite that connects to the Farrer Park MRT station and it’s more than what you asked for.
Singapore is well connected by the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) . The EZ link pass is available at the  “Passenger Information Counter”. It costs SGD 12 out of which SGD 7 is available for travel.


A trip from Farrer Park to Chinatown is SGD. 0.98.  All the sign boards will direct you to the exit that leads to the street one wants to visit. On our first day in the city, we reached Chinatown in 7 mins and on Smith Street (the food street in Chinatown) in another 2. At the end of this street is the Mariamman Temple.  Walk another 400 m to visit the beautiful Buddha tooth Relic temple. Cross the street for a taste of Tian Tian (the long queue here is eternal!) or Ah Tai Hianesse Chicken at Maxwell Food Center for SGD 3.50. 



More about food in Singapore in another blog post.




Singapore flyer is a must see. Singapore flyer is a giant wheel that takes 30 mins for one rotation and you can view the entire island city from the high point during its rotation. The normal charge is SGD33, but our tour operator handed over tickets to us for 30SGD. A couple of our fellow travellers decided to give it a miss considering the cost.  My suggestion is once in Singapore stop converting the dollars to Indian rupees. Don’t miss the amazing experiences like Singapore Flyer on account of the exchange rate. After all it’s just a fraction of your air ticket price.
 
If you have some time in hand, try the bumboat ride /Singapore Cruise from Clark Quay. (This wasn’t included in our package. We explored this on our own).  The ride takes you along the coast from Clark Quay to Marina Bay and back. The best time to go on this ride is after sunset when the city is lit. The cost is SGD22 per person.

Sentosa Island and Universal Studio are the two most visited places in Singapore. Sentosa island has many attractions such as underwater world, dolphin show, 4D Adventure Land, Images of Singapore, Songs of the Sea and many more. We went on an  afternoon tour  of Sentosa  .The cable car ride to Sentosa from Mount Faber is the best way to start the tour. The view from the top is simple breathtaking. Cable car is the first one to span a harbor. Our package included Underwater World, Dolphin Show and Songs of the Sea.

Universal Studio is also located on Sentosa Island but a whole day or two is needed to explore this. Hence cannot be clubbed with the Sentosa Attractions. One-day and Two-day passes are available. The best way to reach Universal Studios is by taking a MRT to HarbourFront Station which is connected to Vivo City mall. The Sentosa Express runs from 3rd Level of the mall to Sentosa Island. Get down at waterfront station for Universal Studio.


There are many rides, live shows and street performances in Universal Studio. The transformers 4D ride is the best of all. No wonder that there is always a 50 minute wait for it. The trick is to go for this ride after the parade at 5 pm. The crowd usually decreases after the parade hence the wait time is less. We went on the ride at 6.00 and enjoyed it not once but twice. The Shrek 4D film is another must see. Spend a whole day in Universal Studios and plan well to get the most out of your time.


With only 4 days in hand, we couldn’t visit the Singapore Zoo, Botanical Gardens and Gardens by the Bay. If you are thinking of a trip to Singapore take some time to plan it in advance so that you get the maximum fun of the tour.


I can go on and on about Singapore.  Like my title to the post, I am truly fascinated.  This was the first time I was so comfortable in a foreign country. I loved Singapore and everything about it.

If you are  travelling from Mumbai, following are the details of my travel agent (Mr. Surinder Singh) who customised the package exclusively for us to suit our budget and requirements.


Shop No 10/11, A-103, Link Palace,
Lokhandwala Complex,
Near Raheja Infinity Mall,
Andheri (W), Mumbai - 400053
Tel No :+91 22 2634 6783+91 22 2634 6783 / 84 / 85
+91 9821159817+91 9821159817 / +91 9321159817+91 9321159817


They also have offices in Pune, Surat and Delhi.


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