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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Day 6 - Singapore: Rasa Sayang, Singapura!

Singapore: Day 6 - 1.4.2015:

Rasa sayang= I've got that loving feeling, hey!
Our first real sightseeing day in Singapore started with a walk from the Keong Saik Hotel to the nearby Chinatown. After taking a look at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple we walked through the Smith Street and went inside the Chinatown Complex, which is a shopping center where we visited the food section in the basement. 


When we continued along the many vendors in Chinatown a vendor showed us some of his "magic" tricks. My friend couldn´t resist to buy a "magic" pencil that you can stick through paper without breaking it and a "magic" heart, which could mysteriously become several hearts, as gifts for his nephews. It was still early in the morning, so Chinatown was still quite quiet and we soon reached the Sri Mariamman Temple. I took off my shoes and took a look at Singapore´s oldest Hindu Temple. It was actually the first time I`ve seen a Hindu Temple and the many little figurines where the most impressive.


From the Sri Mariamman Temple we walked through the Pagoda Street, where you find an abundance of mostly Chinese food stalls, to the Chinatown MRT Station. There we bought a Three-Day-Pass for the MRT-trains and the busses and took an MRT to Little India MRT Station, which is just three stations away, to take a look at the Little India area.

We walked from the Little India MRT Station past the somewhat nondescript Shree Lakshminarayan Temple and the first Indian restaurants, which already spread the scent of fine Indian food. It was just a short walk to the busy Sri Veraama Kaliamman Temple, where we took off our shoes and tiptoed around the complex, while people around us were worshipping.


 


It was already searing hot in Singapore and we're drinking and sweating all the time.  So we skipped our plan to walk all the way to the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple and just walked past many shops and restaurants until we came to the Mustafa Center. It is just a shopping center and we weren´t going to buy something, so we soon left and walked back towards Little India MRT Station. There we took a small detour to the more interesting Tekka Centre, another shopping center, but one with many Indian food stalls, where we had a spicy lunch.



There´s no MRT from Little India to our next destination, the Arab Quarter (Kampong Glam district). So we took the bus 960 from the main street at Little India MRT Station to Bugis Station and then walked northwards. Unfortunately the main attraction, the huge Sultan Mosque (Masjid Sultan) was being renovated and mostly covered. So we just walked towards the Malay Heritage Center and rested there for a moment in the shadow, before entering the heat of Singapore again to walk to a bus station opposite the Masjid Malabar, another Mosque. From there you can take several buses (2, 7, 12) southwards through the Victoria Street to Grand Pacific Bus Stop and you are at the Colonial district.




From the Grand Pacific Bus Stop we walked past Chijmes and through the mall Raffles City to the relatively huge St. Andrew´s Cathedral, which we entered. The variety of religions and the different architecture of their churches/temples was - for me - definitely a highlight of Singapore.




We walked from St. Andrew´s Cathedral past the City Hall and took a break at the Singapore River, opposite the Boat Quay. It was really cute, when a group of children with little cameras came along, who were having some kind of a photography learning tour. A couple of them actually approached me and asked something (in I believe a Singaporean "Singlish") which I failed to understand. I can only guess that they wanted to ask for some tips on how to photograph since I was carrying my big camera. (Lol) As the sky turned dark and it began to rumble, we proceeded to the nearby Asian Civilisations Museum, just in time before the thunderstorm and the pouring rain. When you´re in Singapore, you sometimes forget, that you are in an area, where naturally rainforest would be. The climate always reminded us, where we are. We're in the tropics.




The Asian Civilisations Museum unfortunately was just being renovated and large parts were closed. Fortunately therefore entrance was free and the remaining exhibitions of Asian culture and history were still interesting and not that small, as the museum is huge. You can see there a lot of the beginnings of civilisation in Asia, different tribes and how they lived. 



From the museum we crossed a bridge upon the Singapore River and walked further eastwards to the landmark of Singapore, the Merlion. It is a statue with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, looking into the Marina Bay and spews water out of its mouth. After some photos we walked away from the crowds there and around the Marina Bay to the Marina Bay Sands, which is a huge hotel and shopping mall. Inside we found a somewhat scary escalator (at least for people with acrophobia), that led to our next destination, the Gardens by the Bay. 

 
 


The Gardens by the Bay are something like a huge and spectacular flower park. The first thing we saw from afar are the "supertrees", which are partly connected by a skywalk. When we were buying the tickets we chose "just" to book a visit of the "Flower Dome" and the "Cloud Forest" and skip on walking the skywalk, which was a bit cheaper. Large parts of the parks with various gardens can be visited for free, only for the main attractions we needed tickets. 




We first visited the "Flower Dome" and were welcomed by "Tulipmania" an exhibition of tulips. It was quite beautiful and relaxing and there were many more flowers from different parts of the world, from Europe to South America.



The "Cloud Forest" was even better with a huge artificial waterfall, a somewhat scary skywalk ("Cloud Walk"), flowers of the cloud forest and even some educational area on the importance of preserving nature. O.k. - big cities and artificial waterfalls are probably not the best example of preserving nature, but I think it is a good thing, when children there learn about the beauty of nature in order to protect it and I think it´s also good, that the creators of the park didn´t make the park into an amusement park, but really a nature park.




It was already getting dark, when we walked back to the Marina Bay Sands and the Marina Bay, where we were surprised by a laser show. It was really cool, combined with all the skyscrapers in the dark. I took some photos and when it ended, we walked back around the Marina Bay to the Merlion for some night shots. It's a pity that I was not carrying my tripod on that day, which I normally carry all around, thinking that we're gonna be coming back to our hotel before the evening. But still, I tried or rather managed to take some long-exposure shots.




Finally we walked to the Boat Quay, where we found an abundance of restaurants along the Singapore River. We chose an Indian restaurant, where we had a great spicy dinner (chicken, lentils and lassi), while sitting outside at the river. It wasn´t exactly cheap but after a long day of sightseeing we just had to reward ourselves for all the walking and the food was great. 

However, there came more walking - we had planned to go to the Clarke Quay MRT Station from there, but unfortunately turned left one street too early and ended up walking for quite some time, until we finally found it. We exited the MRT in Chinatown as we still wanted to check out a nearby 7-Eleven to pile up our stocks, before returning to the hotel, where we soon fell asleep.

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