When I was 5 months pregnant, my husband and I took a trip to Singapore and Malaysia. It was my first trip back since the 1990’s and my husband’s first time there at all. He had recently acquired a job with an international company, so we were fitting the trip in before his work trip in Singapore.
Singapore had modernised over the last 18 years, the Chinatown had shrunk and big sleek high-rise had popped up everywhere. We stayed in the Riverview Hotel where there were lots of lovely old buildings, most which had now been given a fresh coat of paint and a face-lift. Necessary, I suppose, but sad that it also meant a loss of authenticity.
I started our tour of Singapore with the iconic Raffles Hotel. The Indian doorman I remembered, but not the fancy expensive shops. The Singapore slings also seemed a bit out of reach expensive this time around.
We headed for the waterfront, past the futuristic looking Esplanade Theatre, to my favourite white Merlion fountain. It was now overlooked by the new Marina Bay Sands which was three towers with a curved cruise boat shaped roof, shimmering in the sunlight.
Passing the Fullerton Hotel, we walked to Clarke Quay with all the bronzed statues of buffalo’s and children jumping into the river. We had lunch at one of the many riverfront restaurants boasting fresh seafood and good beer. Here it felt a bit more like the Singapore I remembered.
My husband is a bit of a fan of markets, so we headed to Bugis Street markets to see what we could find. We also stumbled upon Chijmes, a church surrounded by a new courtyard complex of restaurants, including a very nice Tapas restaurant. Chijmes was one of the nicer new developments where I could see improvements to the old.
That night, the bus picked us up from the hotel to take us out to the Singapore Zoo for a night safari. I love zoo, but had never heard of a night safari before and was quite excited to be embarking on a new experience. We sat in a jeep vehicle train with zebra stripes for the safari.
The light was not good enough for my camera to be able to take photos in the dark, which turned out to be a good thing as it forced me to sit back and enjoy the animals rather than concentrate on recording them all. There were Indian wolves, elephants and Himalayan Tahr.
Some of the animals were not naturally nocturnal which was a bit worrying, but I guess animals are adaptable, just like humans. After the drive, we got out of the jeeps and took one of the walks to see the bizarre fishing cats which I had never seen before. They became a new favourite of mine.