I went to Singapore as part of my Great Big Gap Year Adventure in 2010. After America and Australasia, it was my first ever experience of Asia. I was only there for a couple of days but during this time I stayed with the Gap Year Buddy’s aunt and uncle, who took us out and recommended some sites. At the time, I thought that a couple of days was enough to explore Singapore – a sentiment which I have heard expressed by others – but in hindsight I’m sure there is much that I did not get to discover. This guide, however, tells you what I did get to see.
Asian Civilisations Museum
During my stay in Singapore, I headed over to the Asian Civilisation Museum to learn about the different cultures on the Asian continent. In addition to the range of displays and beautiful artefacts, there were several interactive areas, which included some dressing up and colouring in. Admittedly, some of these may have been meant for children but they also kept me very entertained.
Bugis Street Market
Before I went to Singapore, I was told I should go to Bugis Street and it was certainly worth a visit. You simply cannot go to Asia without visiting a market and Bugis Street provides Singapore’s answer to that need. It wasn’t the best market I went to in Southeast Asia but I did manage to purchase a bag, purse, necklace, presents for friends and a shot glass for my travel collection. I would have bought more if Singapore hadn’t been my first stop on my trip through Asia. In particular, there were some harem pants that I really wish I hadn’t held out for.
Changi Prison Museum
Changi Prison was used by Japanese soldiers in World War II to hold prisoners of war. ONe of these prisoners was my great uncle, so when I went to Singapore I visited Changi to learn more about what had happened there. My audio guide was very informative and included interviews with survivors from the prison. It was heavy going but certainly an important place to visit.
Singapore’s Chinatown was buzzing and filled with souvenirs, food and red lanterns hanging across the streets. After a Dim Sum snack of a steamed pork bun and steamed sponge, I wandered through a nearby market, before sitting down to try a Singapore Sling cocktail. It was not the best cocktail I’ve ever had but y’know, when in Rome.
Sadly, I’ve never been to India but I certainly felt like I had got a little closer when I went visited Little India in Singapore, which was full of good food and decorated, colourful buildings, with the city’s towering skyscrapers in the background. Apart from sipping coconut milk, through a straw straight from a coconut, I had my fortune told by a bird. Apparently good things were going to be happening for me- my fate was like that of Buddha (that can only be good, right?), I would win my lawsuit and my son would be forward in the family (I’m not entirely sure what that means but it sounds positive).
Merlion and Marina Bay Sands
Singapore’s Merlion landmark – a fountain with a lion’s head and mermaid’s tail, which spouts water from its mouth – sits overlooking Marina Bay. On the other side of the water is the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, which looks like a boat balanced on three stilts. It’s pretty hard to miss. I’d heard there was rooftop garden but when I was there in 2010, it hadn’t officially been opened yet so I couldn’t go and see it for myself (there is now an infinity pool up there, where you can swim with views of the city below). However, the hotel led to a casino, which (then) I wasn’t old enough to get into and onto a shopping centre, which had an actual canal with boats running through it. It was possibly the snazziest place I had ever been.
Temples and Architecture
Singapore has some amazing architecture, including Hindu and Buddhist temples, Little India’s bright houses and some more classically-inspired buildings. It’s a great city to just wander around and explore.
On the surface, Ais Kacang looks like a mound of crushed ice, covered in syrup. The surface was tasty. However, hidden below was a surprising mix of beans, sweetcorn and agar jelly. Agar jelly may sound familiar to you – it was the stuff used in petri dish-related experiments in Biology lessons at school. Mhmm – tasty.
Banana Leaf Apolo
The Banana Leaf Apolo had been recommended to my Gay Year Buddy before we arrived in Singapore so going was a must for us. It didn’t disappoint. The restaurant’s speciality was fish head curry and we were given banana leaves to eat off instead of plates. A fish head may not sound particularly appetising – and indeed it didn’t look appetising floating around in the middle of the dish – but I am happy to report that it tasted just like any other part of a fish. We went with the Gap Year Buddy’s uncle who told us that it was the man of the house’s prerogative to eat the fish eye. We are absolutely fine with that but I think he may have regretted telling us that little fact.