After our time in Penang we were heading to the Malaysian side of Borneo, but decided to squeeze in a quick visit to Singapore along the the way. With the very high cost of accommodations in Singapore, and a nice small area to cover, we figured we could fit in all we wanted to do in one day. For me that mainly meant photographing some iconic locations I’ve seen online and had on my bucket-list for a while.
I’m (Howard) writing this post because it’s not one of our normal ones about a location… it was mainly about me being able to take some photos I’ve always wanted to capture, so this doesn’t follow our normal format. However, this wouldn’t be a D2 Detours post without a quick dive into the history, and although I don’t write them as well as Whitney, here are a few Singapore history facts:
- Ruled by Britain from 1824-1942
- Captured by the Japanese in 1942 until their defeat in 1945
- Unstable British rule from 1945 to 1963
- Became one of the members of the Federation of Malaya in 1963, but due to ideological differences with the other members it was expelled two years later, becoming an independent country in 1965
It is one of only three city-states in the world today (along with Monaco and Vatican City), but is often considered the world’s only fully functioning city-state, with full sovereignty, international borders, its own currency, a robust military, and substantial international influence in its own right. It only encompasses 721.5 square kilometers (278.6 square miles), but packs a lot into a tiny area that has some pretty impressive stats:
- #1 airport in the world, known for its efficiency, cleanliness, and wide range of facilities and amenities
- #1 for average internet speed in the world
- #2 life expectancy in the world
- #2 GDP per capita
- #3 most densely populated country in the world with 5.7 million people, or 20,459 people per square mile
- Despite the high volume of residents it is often considered one of the safest cities in the world
And the most interesting fact I learned about Malaysia:
- Chewing gum was fully banned in 1992 due to issues with gum littering and vandalism, but in 2004 restrictions were relaxed, and chewing gum with therapeutic benefits can now be purchased from pharmacies with a doctor’s prescription
What We Saw
We made our way from our hotel near the airport to the Singapore Bay waterfront area. The SMRT rail/subway system works very well, and you don’t need to buy tickets. You simply swipe your credit card as you enter the station, then again when you leave, and it will calculate the fare and charge your card at the end of the day for all trips that day. No need to purchase tickets or metro passes. Whoo-Hoo!!!
Singapore is a very impressive city/country, with the downtown core looking as impressive and modern as pretty much any city I’ve seen in North America and the rest of the world, both while walking around it during the day, and from across the bay at night.
The Singapore Bay waterfront is an impressive one, with the Marina Bay Sands on one side, and the modern city on the other. We made our way around it to arrive at the Supertree Grove at the Gardens by the Bay a bit before sunset.
The grove is a free tourist attraction that comes alive with a coordinated light and music show at 7:45pm and 8:45pm each evening.
We then walked through the Marina Bay Sands to the waterfront for the 9pm Spectra Light & Water Show.
It may sound strange, but one of the main attractions I wanted to see was the airport. For years it’s been rated as the best airport in the world, and they’re not lying! Aside from the great seating areas and comfortable chairs (we even found big comfy chairs with foot stools to stretch out), it has a building called the Jewel that features the Rain Vortex, along with a huge shopping mall. If you Google the Singapore airport the Rain Vortex is probably the first image that’s displayed. Unfortunately our flight left before the sun went down, but if you’re there at night there are light shows that are evidently quite something. Even so, the Jewel and the Rain Vortex in the daylight were very impressive to see in person.
Off to Borneo now!