Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Hotel
We stayed at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel so we could swim in their iconic rooftop pool, located 57 floors high and it was worth the experience. Warning – the water is freezing (at least for this Miami girl), so I didn’t stay in long.
The only way to get in this pool is to stay at the hotel, otherwise, visitors can go up to the SkyPark or dine in nearby restaurants. Spago is adjacent to the pool and has good views, so if you don’t care about getting in the water, that’s a good way to go. BTW – You can get drinks and food when you are by the pool, but it comes from Spago and is expensive. Read the rest of this entry
We got the day going with a short river cruise on a traditional “bumboat” which used to ferry cargo here. We cruised around the interior bay for a nice perspective and enjoyable 40-minutes. Then we trekked over to the iconic Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay, eventually figuring out how to get a ticket for the OCBC Skyway, 66 feet up.
Walked over the Dragonfly Bridge to view the dramatic evening light show among the Supertrees. Standing by Dragonfly Lake was a perfect spot to take in the perspective. They do the 12-minutes show twice a night – at 7:45 and 8:45. The complex is huge, with domes gardens and a wide array of specialty gardens, you could spend a week.
No visit here would be complete without a visit to the adjacent Casino and the huge, multilevel high-end shopping mall, all by the Marina Bay. The good news was the Casino has seriously limited smoking, the bad news was the minimums were $50 in honor of the Chinese New Year. In case you’re wondering, maximum bet allowed (at a normal table) was $500K. We did not see any craps tables and no, we did not win money. The mall mirrored shops like Prada, Tiffany and Armani found on Singapore’s famous Orchard Street. They love to repeat stores here, so for example, you might see three Cartier shops within a block and a half. You could spend some serious money here.
Our final dinner in this great city was for typical dumplings, wontons and egg fried rice at Ding Tai Fung a famous Taiwanese spot, rated one of the top ten by the NY Times. Floor to ceiling windows allow visitors to watch the young men make the intricate dumplings. The food was great, we were not disappointed.
It’s hard to find anything bad to say about Singapore. It’s clean and buildings are either new, freshly painted, or painstakingly restored. Lots of former British Colonial buildings have been repurposed as things like cultural centers and even hotels. It’s actually reminiscent of EPCOT, except for the lurking presence of a Universal Studios on one of the adjacent islands. The only downside is the heat and humidity, but then that’s just like summers at home in Miami.
Growth here is controlled, there is good rapid transit, and cars are very expensive ($125K for a Toyota sedan); therefore, traffic is under control. This island city/state is very green with good use of vertical and rooftop spaces. Feng Shui also plays a key role in architectural and planning decisions. Our Miami-Dade planners should come over here and take some notes.
There is a bit of Big Brother here with cameras pretty much everywhere, even on many cars. Petty crime is low because they WILL have your crime recorded. International crime may be another story – we saw a huge Interpol building, and the banking laws attract many uber-wealthy à la the Swiss and Caymans. There are all sorts of fines for bad behavior, and you’d better not chew gum because that is one of their many rules. People here do follow the rules, and I enjoyed the security and order of it all.
We really enjoyed our time here. To make the most of it, we hired a great, young guide (contact info below) recommended by some friends, and spent an entertaining six hours touring the various neighborhoods and important sights. When we visit a city, we always love to see the neighborhoods, and we covered the gamut here, from the upscale Dempsey Hill area, to the ethnic enclaves of Indians, Muslims and Chinese, as well as the beautiful embassies, mansions and restored (now-coveted) black and white houses from the Colonial days. We also went up to Faber Peak for the cool breeze and nice view back towards the port area.
One highlight was a visit to one of the traditional hawker areas (Tiong Bahru) for some delicious local food. Hawker stands are like food courts, but with more of a food-truck vibe and cuisine; one even has a Michelin star. We trusted our guide to just get different types of dishes for us to try, with our one caveat to not be too spicy! We had an amazing eggplant dish, chicken, noodles and some sort of wrap. I do have the names of the dishes, but doubt I will ever find them on a menu again.
We caught one of the two evening light shows on the Bay, where they did some incredible things with holograms. Having managed to eat and drink quite a bit during the day, we settled for a late-evening tea and pastry before calling it a night.
Tip: Great guide Phil Choo: email@example.com
I finally got to go to a Cat Cafe!
I knew they were popular in parts of Asia and was thrilled to find out there were several in Singapore.
There were 15 cats – all rescues. Very cute with their individual collars, bows and scarves. The $15 (Singapore dollars) fee goes to their support and maintenance. Visitors leave their shoes at the door and Purell their hands before entering this kitty-haven. You can stay as long as you like, order a coffee or food, pet them, play with them or just let them sleep on your computer while you do your homework, whatever. Cats curled up on table tops and backpacks, one was walking along beams about 10′ off the ground and another was trying to escape. They had plenty of play towers and special beds. Most were sleeping soundly and all were hard to photograph.
I wish I could’ve stayed longer and I hope my kitty, Pippi, never finds out . . .