Monday, 23 November 2015

South-East Asian Adventures: Singapore

Singapore was absolutely amazing. I loved it. 

As a city state, you have to go through immigration to get in. And they have some strict border control! You're not even allowed to bring in chewing gum and our awesome Russian guide, Masha, was kept back for hours, seemingly purely because she's Russian. 

The lack of chewing gum is just one factor that makes Singapore a crazily clean city. It was incredible. 

Singapore is also basically a western city. It felt and looked more like America than Asia to me.

There were lots of cool-looking eateries and quirky shops - I only wish I could've stayed longer!

However I got a pretty good feel of the place in my 23 hours there. We arrived around lunchtime and so naturally, food was the first port of call. Luckily we stumbled upon a fab little place just near our hotel (the Bencoolen, which was great): Toast Box

It would seem toast is a bit of a thing in Singapore, after a couple of weeks of mainly noodles and rice, we were more than happy to indulge in a spot of western fare. 

I can barely put into words my joy at seeing peanut butter on the menu. 

Thick wholegrain toast, smothered in peanut butter. 
 It was so so good. PB had been absent from my life for too long (the cravings were real, and the houmous ones are yet to be abated) and so of course, multiple slices occurred.

With limited time in Singapore, we had to prioritise, and top of my list was the Gardens by the Bay.

We walked there, down through the city amongst the shiny shiny skyscrapers.
The gardens are huge and absolutely beautiful. 
There are winding paths on the ground and walkways high up between the trees. 

You wander by the water and look up at the incredible skyline and the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel (we'll get to that, just you wait).

In some ways it reminded me of being in Central Park in New York: a lush green oasis in the middle of an urban metropolis.

The sculptures are incredible too.
After a couple of hours exploring the gardens we headed back to our hotel to freshen up. 

If you ask people for recommendations for what to do in Singapore, there is only really one answer: get a Singapore Sling at Raffles - the very famous cocktail from the very famous hotel.

And we did just that. 
It just so happened that 2015 is the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Singapore Sling, which made it seem extra special to me. 

I love the story behind the drink too: back in 1915, women weren't allowed to be seen drinking alcohol (not OK), so a very clever man created a bright pink cocktail that looked like it was simply juice. And just like that, the Singapore Sling was born. 

You need to go to the Long Bar in Raffles, the interior of which takes you back in time and isn't swanky or pretentious, but rather nice and relaxed. 
Although I'd have loved the classic Singapore Sling, Raffles also does variations on the standard which are both a little cheaper and a little bigger than the original. So, no-brainer, right?

And readers, the cocktails are not cheap. At about £14 per drink, they're cocktails to be savoured. But boy, are they delicious. They're also blimmin' strong!

Both mine (yes, I had two, because yolo) had the perfect balance of strength and deliciousness - nothing worse than a cocktail that tastes either of pure alcohol or just fruit juice.

First I had the Tropical Sling, then I had the Courtyard Sling.
They were so so tasty. 

Another thing I loved about Raffles is the peanuts - on each table you find a big bag of peanuts (yum), and the tradition is to eat them and throw the shells on the floor. How funny is that? 
Apparently it's the only place in Singapore where littering is permitted. 

Feeling suitably merry, we wandered down to the waterfront to see the city sparkling away. 
It was actually mesmerising. And not just because I was two cocktails down.


The lights, the way everything sparkled, the reflection on the water... I loved it.
We decided a little food was probably in order so were happy to stumble upon yet another toast place (not Toast Box, this one was disappointingly inferior).

Yes I had more toast and peanut butter and yes I think I ate more peanuts in 24 hours than the previous two weeks. (I also had it at breakfast the next morning.)

And after toast... More cocktails! (Please drink responsibly.)

There is perhaps one bar in Singapore that's as famous as Raffles: Cé La Vi on the roof of the Marina Bay Sands hotel.

So that, dear friends, is where we went.
Oh my days, it was so snazzy. 

Coolest bar I've ever been to. 

They have a bar, restaurant, club, spa and infinity pool up there. I KNOW!
Sadly the spa and pool are reserved for hotel guests but hopefully I'll go back one day when I'm rich. 

Sure, the drinks are expensive (again), but given everywhere else we've been on this trip has been so cheap I figured I could afford one night of indulgence. 

Berry Bellinis all round then, please!
The views were breathtaking.
It was so gorgeous I can't even find the words.

The skyscrapers, the lights, the water, the feeling of being above the whole rest of the world. It was awesome.
And who doesn't love feeling a bit snazzy in a snazzy bar with a snazzy cocktail in hand?

It was just a weeknight but the atmosphere was fab.

Unsurprisingly, the design of the whole rooftop is super stylish, just like the clientèle.

The staff were a delight and they even came round with free delicious pizza to sample - totally getting our money's worth for the cocktail, right?

It was so much fun and a night I'll never forget.

The next morning (after my toast and peanut butter, natch), we went for a wander up the main shopping street, Orchard Road, which was conveniently located very near our hotel.
As we walked up the street, I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd left Asia and been transported back to the Western world.

We passed shopping malls, museums, cute cafés and everything from your high street faves (Forever 21, Zara) to designer brands (Chanel, Burberry).

What was also extremely bizarre was that everything was really Christmassy.
Well it's fair enough considering it was mid-November, but it was the first place I'd seen any sign of Christmas throughout my Asian travels.

It felt very odd to see the Christmas trees, street decorations and a little grotto yet be melting in the heat, in just a vest and shorts.

I have to admit I kinda loved the little dose of festiveness though. It's my favourite time of the year and I am gutted to be missing most of the build-up. Gaaaad, I'm gonna eat so many mince pies when I get home mid-December!

And after a couple of hours exploring it was time to don our backpacks once again and head to the airport to fly to my next destination - off to Indonesia I went, but Singapore has thoroughly wowed me and I'm definitely going to go back. Maybe when I'm rich.
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2 comments

  1. This looks incredible - until now, Singapore hasn't really appealed to me as somewhere to go, but you may have just convinced me otherwise! I love the photos from the Gardens - and I bet they're even better in real life. Keep enjoying your travels!
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad, Jenny! Thank you so much :) x

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