Singapore Stopover5th January 2017 • Places to Visit • Stephanie Donaldson
On our way back from New Zealand we spent a couple of nights in Singapore – for the second time in three years. It was the hot and humid rainy season (34° and 90% humidity) but nonetheless it is a fascinating place to visit and having discovered how cheap the taxis were, we only walked (slowly) when we chose to. It is the greenest of cities, so although there is an ever-growing array of tall buildings, they are set amongst, or incorporate, an abundance of tropical foliage and flowers. Coincidentally, we were in Singapore on the day that Planet Earth 2 aired in the UK, so while David Attenborough was talking about Singapore’s green credentials and filming from Gardens by the Bay, we were on the spot amongst the tropical vegetation and walking along the gantries between the Supertrees. I’m not a great one for gantries, so I can’t say I found this a relaxing experience, I much prefer admiring these structures from ground level where I can wander amongst the spectacular flowers and the lush foliage. Entry to the gardens is free, but visiting the Supertrees, or the Biomes (we did this on our last visit) are charged for. It has to be said that the catering isn’t great, but if you are into plants it is a wonderful experience.
We also found time to visit one of the ‘wet’ markets where Singaporeans go to buy all their food. They are called ‘wet’ because the floors are constantly washed down to keep them clean. Lacking any need to buy any of the intriguing looking vegetables, dried or fresh fish, or flowers, I found a spice stall and bought black peppercorns.
The street food of Singapore is delicious and perfectly safe to eat, although only the most adventurous (not me) will try deep-fried fish heads, or frog porridge. But there is plenty of less-alarming food to choose from and eat at the communal tables in the covered streets of Singapore’s Chinatown. This experienced is further enhanced by the Tiger Beer ‘Aunties’ – women of middle years, dressed in bright red, who take orders and deliver Tiger Beer to your table – it’s the only thing to drink in the heat and humidity.
Visiting a place where the conditions for growth are near perfect is always exciting. Plants find their niches and growth is many-layered with climbers twining through trees and every nook and cranny – even a tree trunk – provides a home for opportunistic ferns.