Gardens by the Bay, Hawker Centres, and Merlion Park - Singapore




With its luscious plants, beautiful buildings, and easily accessible districts, it’s hard not to like Singapore. Just as Brandon and I suspected, it was the perfect way to ease ourselves into the Asian culture.

After our 17 hour flight from San Francisco (flew there from Los Angeles), we landed around 6 a.m. Singapore time. The first thing I noticed, especially after living in San Diego for the past six months, was how green the environment was.



The county’s national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim (or Singapore orchid), along with the bougainvillea and ixora, were all along the roads and even wrapped around the guardrails.

Kampong Glam Malay Heritage District Walking Tour
Our first activity was taking a free walking tour around the Kampong Glam and Burgis Village area. Kampong translates to ‘village’ and Glam refers to the glam tree found throughout the area. The bark of the tree was used by sailors to seal gaps on their boats and the leaves contain an oil which is used to treat muscular pains and other issues.

Our guide Wei was excellent. He shared with us the meaning behind the artwork around the Parkview Square building, also know as the Gotham building. Many bronze sculptures of famous people such as Pablo Picasso, Shakespeare, and Abraham Lincoln can be found around the complex.


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He also took us to Haji Lane, a street where the government encourages new business start-ups. For the first two years of their business, Wei says the government will cover 80 percent of their rent. From a cafe where you can pay to play with cats and drink coffee (Meomi Cat Cafe), to a cafe which prints an editable selfie picture to put on top of your coffee (Selfie Coffee), and a bar where you must tell the bartender a story and he makes the drink based on that (Bar Stories), the shops definitely captured my attention.
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Haji Lane
From there we ventured to the Malay Heritage Centre, a place where Sultan’s Palace once stood. A short walk away, we visited Masjid Sultan, a Sultan Mosque, which many locals of all religions contributed to its construction. Then we walked across to the street where Wei shared the story behind the contentious battle between two of Singapore’s most famous restaurants, Singapore Zam Zam and Victory, which sit right next door to each other. Sorry Zam Zam, Brandon and I only got a chance to try Victory! We tried its chicken murtabak (stuffed pan-fried bread) and it was delicious!

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Malay Heritage Centre, where Sultan’s Palace once stood
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Malay Heritage Centre, a place where Sultan’s Palace once stood
Of course it wouldn’t be a complete walking tour of the area if he didn’t take us to the Albert Centre, one of the many hawker centres around the city. Hawker centres are known for their incredibly cheap prices and variety of food. They are basically like large outdoor food courts. Our walking tour also included Bugis Food Street, a great place to get cheap souvenirs, fortune teller stands, the Hindu temple Sri Krishnan Temple which was built in 1870, the Chinese Buddhist temple Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, Church of Saints Peter and Paul, a Catholic Church, and the Singapore Art Museum.

On our guide’s advice, Brandon and I took a ride up to the 11th floor of the National Library to get a bird’s eye view of the city. It was a neat way to see several of the cities main attractions from above.

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In the area of Rochor
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Sri Krishnan Temple, a Hindu Temple
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Albert Centre, Hawker Centre
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Bugis Street
Gardens by the Bay

After dinner at one of the hawker stands at the Albert Centre, and a short nap at the hotel, we took a bus to Clifford Square. Here you can see the beautiful night light and water show (Spectra) put on by the Marina Bay Sands. It appears we would have seen an even more spectacular show if we had walked to the opposite side to the Marina Bay Sands. From there we walked to one of my most anticipated attractions in Singapore, Gardens by the Bay. We caught the light show put on in the Supertree Grove area.

Here are videos of the night shows:



Although the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest (the two main domes home to thousand year old trees, changing floral displays, and a man-made waterfall) are not open at night, the rest of the park is fun to walk through because many of the attractions are lite. It’s a relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. My favorite part was walking underneath the vertical plant displays and looking up in awe at how these pieces of artwork could be constructed.

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Merlion Plaza and Singapore Cable Cars

The next day Brandon and I had a crunched schedule, trying to squeeze in as much as we could before our flight to Bali. We had to skip a few areas we had hoped to visit, but we ended up doing the Sentosa Cable Cars and seeing the Merlion in Merlion Park.

Originally I had hoped to do the Mount Faber cable cars, but they were shut down due to maintenance. That left us to go into Sentosa (the island south of Singapore we were avoiding because we felt it was too touristy) to take the cable cars there. For only 13 US dollars, the views did not disappoint!
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From there we caught a bus to Merlion Park. Although crowded, the merlion was neat to see. The area also consists of the Jubilee Bridge and walk which was built to celebrate Singapore’s 50th year of independence in 2015. Southeast of Merlion Park you can find the Youth Olympic Park and The Helix bridge which links the Marina Centre and Bayfront areas. It opened it 2010 and was the world’s first curved bridge. For engineering and architectural nerds, this bridge should not be missed!
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Merlion Plaza
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The Helix bridge, which links the Marina Centre and Bayfront areas
Regrets
My only regret in Singapore was not being able to try the sweet corn ice cream. One of my favorite parts of visiting new countries is trying a unique food or dish. Our tour guide explained to us sweet corn ice cream is popular with locals. Since it is seen as an expensive treat and it melts quickly in the heat, the ice cream (usually cut from a block of it) is sandwiched between two pieces of bread so none of it is lost. Our last ditch efforts to try some were not fruitful. Before we knew it, it was time to prepare for Bali!




Gardens by the Bay, Hawker Centres, and Merlion Park - Singapore Gardens by the Bay, Hawker Centres, and Merlion Park - Singapore Reviewed by Brandon on November 02, 2017 Rating: 5

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