My quick trip to Singapore last week combined a few of my favorite things: family, food, and fitness. In my book, there’s nothing better than spending an active day outside then following it up with good food and drinks. Singapore’s the place, and my mom is always up for working and playing hard.
This was my second trip to Singapore and I loved it just as much. It’s the perfect antidote to Hanoi. Hanoi is fascinating, busy, and energetic, but it’s also loud, chaotic, and constantly launching multi-front attacks on my senses. Living downtown, I can’t walk 20 feet without a motorbike honking at me and there’s no green space. It’s exhausting.
On the other hand, Singapore is quiet, clean, and green – perfect for the organizationally obsessed like me. I knew I’d like it when the first thing I saw after exiting customs was a touchpad screen seeking my feedback on the customs service. Wait, there’s an actual service standard? AND a tracking system to benchmark performance? I wasn’t in Hanoi anymore, Toto.
It’s also diverse, a cool melting pot of 5.5 million people, cultures, and religions.
Trip highlights included: a bike tour, sunset drinks on the 57th floor Ku De Ta Skybar, Botanical Gardens, a durian ice cream sandwich, and chili crab and lala at Satay by the Bay.
Fitness & Frolicking
After reading great reviews on Trip Advisor, we booked a bike tour with Let’s Go!. Singapore is HOT. Last time, I packed like an idiot—skinny jeans and long-sleeved dresses—but this time I came prepared. Even though Singapore is the land of flashy labels and Chanel sunnies, I was also equipped with running shorts, workout tanks, and new sneakers. Gotta earn my night out.
Rene was an enthusiastic guide and pedaled us throughout the city to see the Speakers’ Corner, China Town, the Malay area, Robertson Quay, Clarke Quay, and Marina Bay. While we pedaled, Rene gave us a dose of Singapore’s history and unique insights on life there. Glitzy malls abound, but Singaporeans love their outdoor space – Rene showed us one government-financed apartment building with a green jogging track on the 50th floor. We also sampled Singaporean coffee (the beans are caramelized in butter!), pastries, and bread.
We loved a subsequent stroll down Orchard Road and a visit to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Orchard Road is a mall-shoppers paradise. I’ve never seen so many Louis Vuitton stores in such a small radius. Even if shopping’s not your thing, it’s worth a stroll to marvel at the mass consumerism and wonder, “Who buys this stuff?!” At the end of Orchard Road, not far from the U.S. Embassy, is the Tanglin Gate entrance to the Botanical Gardens. Pure heaven. Walking trails meander throughout beautifully maintained gardens… $5 SD was well spent for orchid garden admission.
Food (and Cocktails!)
After a day of biking and walking amid skyscrapers, we wanted to get a top-down perspective and headed up to the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands building to check out the Ku De Ta’s Skybar. Heights aren’t my thing, and the journey up crammed next to a sweaty man wasn’t the elevator ride I was looking for. But the minute we got out to the rooftop it was all worth it. Awesome atmosphere, fabulous drinks, and the city skyline spread out before you.
You can’t visit Singapore without checking out one of its famous “hawker centres” – an outdoor food court of sorts that serves amazing Singaporean cuisine. Last time I visited, my husband and I went to Newton Circus and housed some l chilli crab and beers, and I intended to do the same on my second trip. This time we checked out Satay on the Bay – in the Gardens by the Bay. We ordered chili crab, oyster omelette, and the day’s special, lala, clams sautéed with onions and awesome stuff I couldn’t even identify. I was not disappointed. (Except for with the beer prices – $13 SD for a pint!) Next time: BYOB.
Singapore, I’ll miss you, but I’ll be back!