Southeast Asia Map

Southeast Asia Map

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Singapore - First Impressions

Wow, what a fabulous city! In truth, this is our second impression - we were very impressed by our first visit almost 8-years ago and vowed to return. After a smooth seven and a half hour flight from Tokyo we arrived at Paya Lebar Air Base. It was raining and overcast but the warmth and humidity hit us almost immediately and we couldn't stop grinning. The warm weather is definitely a welcome change! Singapore is the first stop on our tour of Southeast Asia. We'll follow the map above in an anti-clockwise direction, Bangkok becoming a base from which to do some side trips.

Our accommodation in the city is very basic; a quiet, clean and perfectly adequate room that we reserved through the airbnb website. Best of all is the amazing location and warm hospitality of our hosts, John and Flor. Our room is a little oasis in the middle of the city; in an older apartment building only four stories high on a spacious piece of premium land. We're surrounded by ultra modern high rises with minimal green space. Though our room doesn't come with a view, we love sitting on the front patio or in the garden (pictured below). Listening to the birds sing and soaking up the tropical ambiance while having breakfast is a very pleasant way to start each day!

Flor offered us some white dragon fruit for breakfast yesterday. Not quite as sweet as the pink dragon fruit but very refreshing. We love the wide variety of tropical fruit available here.

From the little bit of exploring we've done so far we've really come to appreciate just how convenient our location is. It's only a 10-minute walk to Orchard Street, a 2.2km (about 1.4 miles) commercial main thoroughfare that is the place to be for our Christmas celebrations this year. The sheer number of people is incredible but we've found ourselves more fascinated by the crowds than bothered by them. There is so much to see; the lights, the people, the street performers and food vendors. We walk slowly to make sure we don't miss anything, our heads spinning from side to side to take everything in! It's very easy to lose track of time.

The shopping malls are lined up one after another. Hunger drove us inside to look for a restaurant and more incredulity followed. This mall has an 'express' escalator which takes you four levels underground to the largest 'food court' we've ever seen! Actually calling it a food court is an injustice; here it's more accurately labeled a 'Food Opera'! More on food in a future blog ...

Orchard Street is brilliantly lit up at night ...

Here's a quintessential Singapore view - an ornate temple amidst the high rises!

The Singapore Buddhist Lodge (below) offers free food to anyone who is hungry.

We've done a lot of walking, finding treasures everywhere. For example, deserted parks; havens of peace in a modern busy city ...

... and noticing even the small things - like this beautiful caterpillar!

This was our Christmas tree this year; a delicate pastry drizzled in white chocolate and topped with sprinkles ... but it didn't last long; we ate it! Flor surprised us this morning with a freshly baked, deliciously moist cake which slipped down easily with fruit for a very special Christmas breakfast! Dennis is off to the market while I write this - we're looking forward to a community grill this afternoon. And this evening we'll brave the crowds to watch the grand finale Christmas concert on the ever-festive Orchard Street. We couldn't have hoped for a better day!

Merry Christmas everyone!


  1. Reminds me of our visit to Singapore while on honeymoon - almost 15 years ago :) We were struck by how clean and well ordered the city was. Is it still like that? It is definitely one of our favourite cities too!

    1. Helen, yes - it's still like that. Very easy to get around on public transportation that is both clean and efficient. There's been a lot of construction since we were here in 2006 and the new buildings don't just look modern, they look futuristic!