The diversity of Singapore is so rich and specific that you might feel you have to pay close attention not to miss out on something along the way. That is how I came across a villa not far from the Orchard Road that looked like it was emerging from the foundation of the high glassy building.
Some streets are “decorated” with colonial style buildings, while just around the corner you might find lush greenery, small tropical park area, and than – the skyscrapers!
A very Long Bar
When going around the city you would have to notice various districts. Even though different in style and size, they still stand harmoniously side by side.
Next to the Central Business District you will come across the Raffles Place, another business area, all built in white. In that strange February light, while the sky was covered in white and grey clouds, there was a strange reflection coming from this district making it even more shiny.
If you are interested in British heritage in general, there are few buildings in Singapore you can visit, the house where Sir Thomas Stanford Raffles actually lived, the old Parliament building and the Raffles Villa. Try not to miss the last one, since there you will find the popular, colonial styled Long Bar.
It deservedly bears its name since it stretches from the ground floor – where you will come across a courtyard with chairs and tables, a fountain and a local girl dressed in an evening gown, singing old Western hits – across the first floor and along the vast terrace.
You actually need to go all the way through in order to get to the bar where you eat peanuts right from huge sacks while peanut shells crack under your feet and you try to juggle with those elongated cocktail glasses. If you like the atmosphere of an old 1950’s movie, you will fall in love with the place! It is really popular tourist destination and you will often hear that “you cannot really say that you have spent the night in Singapore, if not being up until dawn in the Long Bar”.
The Night Market
And yet, after this small excursion into the past, if you continue strolling around the center, you will stumble upon another even older tradition.
The place with mixture of fast food scents, strangely shaped vegetables, but also souvenirs’ stands, clothes of not so good quality, imitations of famous brands’ products. If you come at dusk, you will witness the area coming to life like a bee hive! This is where I have found postcards and souvenirs with Merlion embedded to every possible item – from belts and lighters to key rings. This is the Night Market.
If you are interested in art and museum, the city has it all – from the Opera I have mentioned earlier, theater, to the Museum of Arts located in the colonial building that once served as a church.
The underground life
When it comes to means of transport, take the metro if you are in a hurry, but if not – just go by bus. You will have a chance to look outside and see all the diversity of the city. Taxi is also a solution – not expensive and drivers are nice. Metro stations are spotless, clean. The first level is usually transformed into a shopping mall and there are stores of all kinds selling food, clothes, while narrow passageways can take you down to the station.
According to the rest of the city, subway is also quite automated and well “organized”.
The “machine” will ask for your destination, sell you a ticket and you just need to go through the small gate. With a nice and simple map of trains stops, it is quite easy to go from one part of the city to another, while the subway goes above the ground on the outskirts of Singapore and descends underground by getting closer to the center.
I did not find it crowded or noisy, it was just a pleasant ride. And I have to say that I was amazed by the fact that the underpasses and subway stations were extremely clean, and how ardent the citizens were to even stand in marked areas!
Off the beaten track
Subway was the option for visiting some locations further away from the center, that came out to be really authentic and among the most beautiful in the city. These places were not included in tourist tours with local agencies. The entrance fee was symbolic and I have spent almost the whole day in those – Chinese and Japanese gardens. Will tell you all about it in the next Glimpse!