Dr. Chun

June, 2015


The second stop during my backpack travel to Southeast Asia was Singapore, a small island city-state off southern Malaysia.  Singapore is now a global financial center with a tropical climate and multicultural population. It is an economic powerhouse which was built upon migration, with people from all over Asia travelling to this port town and adding their cultural traditions to the eclectic mixture. There are so many things to see and to do in the world's aspiring "City in a Garden," but I had only one and half days for the Singapore experience.

013The express bus from Kuala Lumpur finally arrived at the final destination near HarbourFront in Singapore.  After a quick lunch at VivoCity, I took a cable car to Faber Peak where I saw the first Merlion, an enduring icon of Singapore that's half-lion and half-fish. 023Headed for Sentosa Island from Faber Peak by cable car. The popular island resort is filled with exciting attractions, golden beaches, and luxury hotels and resorts. Because of its strategic location, it even served as a British military fortress up till World War II.
033I found the second Merlion, which is a traditional creature with a lion's head and a body of a fish. In Singapore, it has become a marketing icon used as a mascot and national personification of Singapore.  It looks cute! 043Came back to HarbourFront by cable car and took a subway train to Haw Par Villa. It is a unique theme park that uses giant statues and dioramas to depict historic Chinese legends, folklore, and religious mythology.
053After checked into the hotel near Fort Canning, I walked towards Clarke Quay.  The old harbor area was filled with restaurants, shops, and clubs. Enjoyed street musicians and acrobats. You can hop on a river cruise and relive moments from the past. 063Many skyscrapers and buildings on both sides of Singapore River, which I think is as beautiful as the breathtaking Hong Kong skyline at night. I strolled down further to the Merlion Park, looking hard for a restaurant for dinner.
073Merlion Park is a nice place to enjoy spectacular views across the harbor and snap a few photos with the Merlion, shooting water from its mouth. The park was so crowded that it could take forever to get good pictures with the Merlion. 083Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort developed by Las Vegas Sands that houses a casino, a hotel, a convention center, shopping malls, a museum, theaters, and restaurants. Every night,  you see a series of lasers which light up Marina Bay Sands and the ArtScience Museum.
093Had a late dinner at a Korean restaurant at Esplanade and strolled along Singapore River at night. I found the Fullerton Hotel which is a luxury heritage hotel located near the mouth of the river. 103Next morning, I walked towards Orchard Road, which is the retail and entertainment hub of Singapore. Just walked around the shopping enclave, but found few interesting things. Had a breakfast at Starbucks and then took a subway to Bayfront.
113Marina Bay Sands is one of the Singapore's largest luxury shopping malls in Bayfront.  You can find a refreshing mix of international luxury brands and emerging labels in runway and street style.  Not a shopaholic, I just enjoyed the architectural and interior design. 123ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands, which is claimed to be the "Museum of Creativity" where you can explore "the creative processes at the heart of art and science and their role in shaping society."  In Singapore, local residents are paying less for admission tickets.
133Walked towards Garden by the Bay, which is a vibrant horticultural oasis of lush greenery and floral displays. The famous Supertree structures offer an impressive skywalk over the gardens, and over-sized seashell-shaped greenhouses recreate chilly mountain climates. 143Strolled around the garden in the sun. I saw the 165-meter-high Singapore Flyer across the river, which is Singapore's answer to the London Eye.  The best time to hitch a ride must be at dusk when the entire row of downtown skyscrapers is softly lit.
153Do you see a soccer field on the river? The Float at Marina Bay is a floating venue for sporting events or large-scale concerts with a seat capacity of 9,000. And Helix Bridge is inspired by the curved form of the structure of DNA 163Had a late lunch at the same Korean restaurant. Kept walking with a backpack on my shoulder in the middle of hot and humid afternoon.  I saw St. Andrew's Cathedral and other beautiful buildings on the way to Singapore Art Museum.
173Finally arrived at Singapore Art Museum, which is adjacent to Singapore Management University. Housed in a restored 19th century mission school, the museum focuses on contemporary artworks. 183Took a subway train down to Chinatown. Sri Mariamman Temple, paradoxically located in the middle of Chinatown, is the city's oldest Hindu temple that features a tower densely ornamented with Hindu gods and goddesses.
193One of the tourist attractions in Chinatown is Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum.  The temple is based on the Tang dynasty architectural style and is built to house a relic said to be a tooth from Buddha. 203Visited another temple in Chinatown. Thian Hock Keng Temple is the city's oldest Chines temple and is dedicated to Ma Zu, the Goddess of the Sea. The entire structure was assembled without nails. The temple is an architectural masterpiece of stone, tiles and wood, dragons and phoenixes, amazing carvings, intricate sculptures, and imposing columns.
213On the way to the airport, I stopped by by Sultan Mosque in the historic Kampong Glam area. The city's oldest mosque was under major renovation. The Saracenic flavor of the onion domes, topped with crescent moons and stars, is complemented by Mogul cupolas. 223Arrived at Changi Airport for the evening flight to Bangkok. At Terminal 1, I was mesmerized by a breathtaking art installation, Kinetic Rain. It is a moving sculpture made up of 1216 bronze droplets, dancing to a specially choreographed sequence.
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