travel | 23 April 2016
I have fond memories of Singapore. When we were little, we used to travel to Asia through Singapore with our grandmother a lot. Some years we would have a layover of hours and we’d spend it wandering around Changi Airport. In our family photo albums, you’ll find a dozen of photos of me and my sister at the airport, posing in our cute little floral dresses (floral dresses were all the rage – at least, according to mum). Other years we’d spend the holiday in the country. Jurong Bird Park, Sentosa, Orchard Road. Singapore always had a sense of home to me. It was the place where my mother tongue was a legit form of communication and would not render my grandmother odd looking faces when she asked for directions on the street (my grandmother had the tendency to sometimes disrupt in a hokkien rant without a care in the world to whom she was talking to).
This trip brought us to the Shangri La Singapore near Orchard Road, where the Valley Wing offered us a temporary home away from home. The French riviera style wing with an oriental elegance, features acres of lush greeneries that evoke a resort-like feel. We arrived when a heat wave hit the country. Which, coming from a cold and rainy Hong Kong, made us sigh in relief at first. But the pleasant heat in the night was nothing compared to the unbearable heat during the day. Needless to say, the pool was mostly visited by two wimps who could not stand a little bit of Southeast Asian heat.
Gardens by the Bay was one of the things I wanted to visit in Singapore. In the Netherlands, we have a park in nearly every corner of the city, but the parks here do not measure up to the parks in Singapore. Granted, our government does not have a billion dollar budget to invest in parks, but I kind of wish we did because Gardens by the Bay is a park like no other. The nature park consists of botanical gardens, a supertree grove (with trees between 25 metres (82 ft) and 50 metres (160 ft) tall) and two conservatories, the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. The conservatories, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, are columnless and energy sufficient glasshouses that feature a variety of plants.
– Marina Bay at sunset –
No trip to Singapore is complete without visiting at least one hawker center. From chili crabs, oyster eggs, bak kut teh, chendol, hokkien mee, biryani, nasi lemak, satay,laksa and roti prata, you cannot find another place in the world with this many different food cultures in one area. And while other things in Singapore can be rather expensive, the food is relatively cheap here. I remember hawker centers as the place where we would get our breakfast, lunch, dinner and evening snacks. Hawker centers are the inspiration to food halls all over the world. Don’t be surprised to see people drinking tea out of a plastic bag here – it’s all about being able to eat or drink your food on-the-go.
Back at the Shangri La Singapore, it’s a peaceful and tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Valley Wing guests get to enjoy champagne and cocktails throughout the day, which we were not going to pass up on. Drinks are served in the spacious, marbled lobby hall, adorned with grand crystal chandeliers with the soothing sound of the harp playing on the background. Not too shabby, at all.
Breakfast at the Shangri La Singapore starts with a fresh juice and a la carte dishes like nasi lemak and banana waffles with caramel. I wish I could say I passed up on the latter, but my will power is
weak non-existent when it comes to food. It was mighty good though.
It has been another good trip, Singapore. Until we meet again.