Yep, sorry, I’m still going on about Singapore. Just a few more posts, I promise.
Right, so obviously this wasn’t our hotel. The Marina Bay Sands complex was built within the last few years and is definitely marketed to the rich tourist market (ie: not me). We had to go check it out at least though, if only to admire the incredible architecture. From the outside the main hotel part looks like a crescent sitting on top of three massive stalks (or a wicket, some people say) and is an impressive, if bizarre architectural feat. The inside is clean modern and very very big. The complex also has a casino, a huge high-end shopping centre, the ‘sky deck’ and a museum.
The shopping center is crazy. It has a stream going through it, that you can hire a gondola to row down. Not that I did, because I bet it costs an arm and a leg. But this to me is insane. I didn’t buy anything other than an ice-cream from tea snobs TWG, for obvious reasons, but I still managed to spend hours wandering around and marveling at the over the top design of the place. They don’t make them like this in Perth, that’s for sure. I didn’t end up going into the casino which is attached to the shopping center, but my mum was a fan. If you’re planning on doing some gambling, remember to bring your passport to prove that you’re not Singaporean – locals have to pay a hefty fee to get in!
The main reason I wanted to go to Marina Bay Sands was to check out the Sky Deck and the crazy infinity pool. Hotel guests can go up and down as they please, but the regular riff-raff have to pay a $20 entry fee and only have access to a small section on one side of the crescent (the first picture above). Three times a day they do run free ‘tours’ which basically lets you into the Sky Garden where you can see the infinity pool, although you’re not actually allowed to go into the pool. It’s not really a tour in that they don’t actually tell you anything (other than not to disturb the guests or go past the velvet rope to the pool area), but it’s worth booking in for the free tour if only to see a bit more and to get a free bottle of water.
Overall it’s definitely one of the better lookout towers I’ve seen, although it gets so hot up there that you probably don’t want to spend too much time there if you can’t go in the pool!
Apparently Clarke Quay is the place to go if you want to party in Singapore, although I didn’t really do any of that. We did have some excellent chilli crab there though. I’d heard that the area was nice to visit at night, so walked from Clarke Quay station along the river to the Merlion statue and took in the view, with the pretty lights reflected in the Singapore River.
If you are thinking of going for a drink in the area, keep in mind that alcohol is heavily taxed in Singapore and it’s an expensive place to be – the beers we had with our chilli crab were about $10 each! Yikes! I didn’t spend as much time in Chinatown as I would have liked – if I had more time, I’d have liked to a walking or historical tour. It’s much the same as Chinatown in most parts of the world I guess, but there’s a lot of little alleys of stalls to explore. This is one of the few places in Singapore where you can actually bargain too – one guy almost managed to convince me to buy a camera strap when I’d bargained him down to half the asking price, although it ended up too big for me!
Interestingly, Chinatown had the cheapest alcohol that I saw in Singapore, with some of bars doing a large size Tiger beer for $5. In general the place feels a bit touristy, although I didn’t have time to really explore properly.
Little India is another area that I really want to come back and do a tour and explore properly – I didn’t spend much time there at all, and barely scratched the surface really. The feel of Little India is very different to Chinatown (beyond the obvious) – it isn’t aimed towards tourists at all, but still extremely interesting for that fact. There’s lots of little shops selling fruit, vegetables and massive barrels of dried chillies and garlic. There’s also a lot of stalls selling beautiful and colourful flowers for their Hindu customers. When we walked through there was an Indian soap playing on a large television outside in the main square – there were so many people sitting there watching it completely silent, so it must have been a good one!
I’ll definitely be back to Little India, if only to have the amazing briyani I had again!