The city-state is one of the cleanest, safest and most organized I’ve ever been to, and still rivals Dubai in terms of architecture. Another positive factor is that English is the main language, since British colonization was strong and recent. The only drawbacks are the heat of the day, as it lays at sea level and almost over Equator Line, in addition to prices clearly higher to other countries in the region.
Singapore Botanic Gardens and MacRitchie Reservoir Park
Leaving the subway airport, my first stop was the free Singapore Botanical Garden. Divided into specific sectors, such as medicinal plants, grasses, bonsai and evolutionary scale, it has an impressive number of specimens and species, including Brazilian Victoria amazonica. A lot of people also use the place to practice jogging and picnicking.
Surprisingly, Singapore Botanic Gardens is listed on UNESCO. According to the organization, the site demonstrates the evolution of a British colonial tropical botanical garden that since its inception in 1859 has become a modern world-class scientific institution used for both conservation and education.
Continuing, I stopped at a nearby station to get to know the also free MacRitchie Reservoir Park. Around the oldest reservoir in Singapore there’s a trail with curious monkeys, turtles and lizards in sight, as well as the secondary forest.
It was dark when I arrived at Marina Bay, the most famous bay in the country. On one side of the waterfront are the incredible artificial mutant trees of the Gardens by the Bay, added to greenhouses and other artistic and natural elements (outdoor gardens are free).
On the other hand, the majestic 5-star hotel in the form of a suspended ship, Marina Bay Sands. Do you want to stay there? The cheapest room rate is at 379 Singapore dollars, about 279 US dollars.
A good amount of tourists pointed their cameras everywhere, because there wasn’t even a single space not worth being photographed.
In order to stay, I chose the great hostel River City Inn (26 Singapore dollars ~19 US dollars). While I was taking a shower I learned another impressive fact of Singapore. As there are practically no sources of freshwater, which forces them to import from Malaysia, they have developed a system called NEWater, which produces drinking water through various steps of effluents treatment including reverse osmosis. The use of water by desalination is also high.
Museums and shopping centers
The other day, I ate the included breakfast and started touring the Asian Civilizations Museum. I was expecting more information about Singapore, but the main focus is on the other peoples of Southeast Asia.
Around the museum there are squares, historical monuments and the recently cleaned up and revitalized Singapore River. Over there, for 1 dollar I tasted a delicious ice cream sandwich, the symbol of Android 4.0.
Luckily, I was in one of the most technology-connected countries. So it wasn’t difficult to find a mall specialized in this, where I was able to buy another battery for GoPro (my previous one failed in Bali), but this time a Japanese one.
While I waited for the time to enter for free at the National Museum of Singapore (normal entrance costs 15 dollars), I went to Little India, an Indian square where it’s possible to buy many cheap things, and where there’s a lot of gold; Logically, I restricted myself to handcrafts.
Back in the museum, the same exhibition I’ve seen the previous month in Porto Alegre, by the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, was taking place there. It’s so nice to see a fellow countryman standing out like that.
I also went by other rooms with random expositions.
In sequence, I returned to the seashore, this time to admire the Singapore Flyer, the 2nd largest ferris wheel in the world, after only Las Vegas one.
Next to it is the Formula 1 street circuit. As a big fan, it was exciting to walk down the lanes and pit-stops, in an area open to the public.
Jurong Lake Gardens
The little time I had on the last day was filled by Chinese and Japanese gardens, a portion of green area with pagodas, Confucius statues, Chinese horoscope and bonsai…
…As well as waterfowl freely standing on Jurong Lake, the water body which gives the park its name. In the photo, a collared kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris).
The gardens, which don’t have entrance fees, are also accessible by public transport.
I had to follow a flight to Krabi, Thailand, without visiting the amusement park and aquarium of Sentosa Island, as well as the fossil coral reef of Chek Jawa. One day I’ll be back to this incredible place.