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Splurging in Singapore

Splurging in Singapore

After three weeks eating delicious food in Malaysia, we decided to head to Singapore for a little modern city living.  Singapore, a city-state on the southern point of the Malaysian peninsula, is one of the smallest countries in the world, but there is a lot to do packed into a small area.  Make no mistake, though, Singapore is expensive.  A hostel for the night cost us around $25 per person, a meal cost around $20, and a beer around $10 which is a stark contrast to the largely budget-friendly region in which it’s located.  But for a few days it was nice to enjoy some modern conveniences and visit some world-class attractions.  Attractions such as…

Universal Studios Singapore

We didn’t learn until just a few weeks prior to visiting that there was a Universal in Singapore, but once we knew it was hard not to include it on our list despite the cost.  We were season passholders to Universal Studios Hollywood and have visited the Orlando branch numerous times, so we knew we had to compare and contrast, similar to our visit to Disneyland in Tokyo.  It’s very similar to the other parks in many ways, although there were some noticeable differences.

Similarity #1: They have a spinny globe

Similarity #1: They have a spinny globe

The most popular theme lands are present, including Jurassic Park, Ancient Egypt, and New York.  Singapore also has a few unique lands including Far, Far Away (a Shrek-themed fairy tale land) and Sci-Fi City, which has a Battlestar Galactica aesthetic.  New York is similar to its counterparts at the other parks except for a disproportionately high Sesame Street presence; apparently Big Bird and the gang are still in the spotlight in this part of the world.  New York is also particularly interesting due to the clearly non-American staff trying their best to affect a stereotypical Bronx accent and act like 50’s greasers.  It’s what I imagine it must be like for a Japanese person to visit the Japan section of Epcot.  Notable absences: no Harry Potter land, and an extremely limited Minion presence.

I can tell you how to get to Sesame Street.  It's right across from the Irish pub.

I can tell you how to get to Sesame Street. It’s right across from the Irish pub.

Far Far Away, the Shrek-themed land. Not a Disney castle.

Far Far Away, the Shrek-themed land. Not a Disney castle.

One particular adventure was our experience riding the Battlestar Galactica ride, which is a dual-coaster similar to Dueling Dragons in Orlando.  After putting our things in a locker to appease the extremely strict entry guard, we got in what was purported to be a 30-minute line.  Our first annoyance was the large group of teenage Indian tourists who thought it was the most hilarious game in the world to see how many people they could blatantly cut in line.  Our second annoyance was realizing that after 30 minutes in line we had barely moved.  Two hours later, as we were finally nearing the front, the ride broke down because of course it did.  They told us they couldn’t give an estimate as to how long it would take before resuming, but we had already waited two hours so we were going to ride the ride if it killed us (which I guess it might have if they hadn’t shut it down).  We ended up only having to wait around 20 minutes; the annoying teenagers got the first ride after the maintenance (I was fine with letting them be the guinea pigs).  After almost two and a half hours we got our ride!  We finished our loop and waited to pull into the unloading area.  And waited.  And waited.  Eventually we hear over the loudspeakers that the ride had broken down again.  Not sure what exactly happened during our ride that made them say “uhh, shut it down”, but the scenario didn’t exactly inspire confidence.  Eventually they had to come around and manually release the restraints so we could get out of the boiling sun by walking down the catwalk.  We got a free single-use FastPass out of the deal.  The kicker: because of the extra time we spent stuck on the ride, we exceeded our free locker use, so I had to pay six dollars to get all our stuff back.

I blame cylons

I blame cylons

It was nice to get a little taste of home in the form of Universal; a lot of the park was nostalgic for us even though we’ve never been to Singapore before.  Overall a good way to spend a day in the city.

Gardens by the Bay

Singapore is an exceptionally green city, boasting a number of parks and nature reserves.  None are more iconic than Gardens by the Bay, a huge nature park featuring a Flower Dome, Cloud Forest, and the famous Supertree Grove.  The Flower Dome is a garden replicating various biomes from around the world with living examples of trees, flowers, and other plants native to each region.  They do a really good job capturing the feel of each place; walking around the California section felt like home and the South American sections were extremely reminiscent of our time down there.

Inside the dome

Inside the dome

This is a tree

This is a tree

This is not a tree

This is not a tree

The Cloud Forest side is a reproduction of a high-altitude rainforest, one of the most vulnerable ecosystems in the world today.  It shows off the unique flora and fauna that can only thrive in those conditions, and features a large cliff waterfall that you can ascend to view the foliage from above.  The cliff itself is covered in a multitude of different plant species, making for a cool, lush aesthetic.

It's all contained in a large dome to approximate the cloud forest climate

It’s all contained in a large dome to approximate the cloud forest climate

The walkway around the mountain

The walkway around the mountain

Then there’s Supertree Grove, an array of humongous tree-like structures that form a forest of sorts.  In addition to their visual appeal, they serve as environmental engines for the rest of the park, attempting to show how nature and function can coexist.  These are one of the more famous sights in Singapore; you’ll see them on postcards, skyline shots, and other souvenirs.  Apparently they’re quite beautiful all lit up at night, but we unfortunately didn’t get the chance to see that.

That's a walkway threading in between the trees, to give you an idea of scale

That’s a walkway threading in between the trees, to give you an idea of scale

The trees and ferris wheel, another of the Singapore skyline's main features

The trees and ferris wheel, another of the Singapore skyline’s main features

Singapore Zoo

Singapore is a city extremely intent on successfully coexisting with nature, and the quality of their zoo is a testament to that.  The zoo is extremely well-done, and the animals all seem to be housed and treated comfortably and ethically, which can definitely not be said about all the zoos in southeast Asia.  There’s actually a few different parks at the zoo because it’s so large, including a “night safari” which lets you enter at night to view the nocturnal animals while they’re active.  We weren’t sure we were going to visit the zoo, but when Bridgette learned that they had Red Pandas there was no stopping her.

They have a unique monkey enclosure that essentially lets them roam the treetops of the zoo at will, so it's not uncommon to look up and see monkeys

They have a unique monkey enclosure that essentially lets them roam the treetops of the zoo at will, so it’s not uncommon to look up and see monkeys

AAAAAAAHHHHHH!

AAAAAAAHHHHHH!

Bridgette's reason for existing

Bridgette’s reason for existing

Marina Bay Sands

No trip to Singapore is complete without checking out its most famous building, the Marina Bay Sands.  Its three distinct towers are joined by a surfboard shaped sky deck on top, which has an observation deck, a couple bars, an infinity pool, and more.  It costs about $15 USD for access to the bar up top, but that gets you a drink credit for the same amount, so really it’s an expensive one drink minimum.  It’s worth the inflated price for a great view of the Singapore skyline.  I’d recommend going around sunset, as you can see the sun go down on one side and the city lights come to life on the other.

The Marina Bay Sands from afar

The Marina Bay Sands from afar

The skyline as viewed from the roof of the Marina Bay Sands

The skyline as viewed from the roof of the Marina Bay Sands

We couldn’t have afforded to stay much longer than the five days we did, but we managed to see and do a lot of Singapore’s highlights in the limited time we had.  It’s a great city with some amazing sights (and food), and I’m definitely glad we went despite the cost!

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