I arrived at the airport around 7pm and it was fairly easy and quick getting through immigration. Olivia had been waiting for me and the same with her roommate from grad school (all arriving around the same time). We planned to meet at the Jewel, which is apparently the tallest indoor waterfall in the world. The airport itself was huge and as you walked into this one area, you could see the waterfall from a distance, changing colors and powering down from the ceiling. There was foliage surrounding it and a train above with tons of people taking pictures around it. Then we found each other!! It felt so great seeing Olivia (a familiar face from home) and then met her roommate from grad school. We decided to get cash out and grabbed a Grab (which is Uber in this part of the world) to the Airbnb they had rented for the month. It was pouring down rain, the most complete downpour flash flooding I've experienced in a while. We chatted in the Grab and arrived at the apartment complex where we were greeted by the British Airbnb host who provided us with slippers as the floors were marble and had to leave our shoes out front. We talked to the Airbnb host about logistics and what food we could get in close proximity so went on our way to the food center 5-10 minutes away as it was getting late. It was packed with locals eating at these long picnic tables in the center of this square with different store-front restaurants of a variety of foods I couldn’t understand it was in Chinese but thankfully there were some pictures. I ended up ordering chicken and rice which had this spicy red sauce on it, it was really yummy. We were tired so we went to bed after catching up and the next morning we took the bus to this casual hipster retro area with many cafes nearby. We stopped at this French-style one with tons of people out and about as it was a Monday (on a holiday) late-morning. Many Europeans and locals in the area with restaurants of seafood and stores with Chinese symbols so wasn’t sure what they were half the time. After a lovely poached egg and cap for breakfast, Olivia and I kept walking around. We went to a cool book store and then stopped at another cafe to do 2 hours of work, which was necessary. Then we walked to this other food court area that was recommended and stumbled upon Chinatown, filled with traditional restaurants, markets, and various popups.
It was all eye-opening to me, the buildings were all tall skyscrapers and many apartment complexes with clothes drying from a rod hanging out the window (similar to Europe in a way as it was very clean looking). There was definitely a Hindu/Buddihsm culture around with buddhas, temples and various other religious decorations. We stopped to order this yummy bubble drink with milk/caramel flavor - I love those bubble drinks! The market we were planning to eat at was closed since it was a holiday but there was one store-front open so we got dumplings and a noodle dish that was delicious. Then we walked around the downtown area which was very different than anything I was expecting Singapore to be like, with tons of corporate skyscraper offices and a bay in the middle of a museum/opera looking house and then of course, the Marina Sands, the tall hotel everyone knows about with the infinity pool. It’s a very symbolic building in the middle of prime downtown Singapore with a mall, surrounding gardens and museums. We walked around there and the Gardens by the Bay - it was pretty well-kept with a feel that it was meant for tourists. Everything on display and modernized. Once we were done walking around we went to Level 33 which was this bar/brewery with an amazing view of Marina Bay and the light show that starts at 7:45pm every night. So we sat out on the rooftop to enjoy happy hour without realizing 3 hours later how much time had passed (not to mention it being the Indian holiday, Diwali so the show was probably a bit longer). It was a really remarkable light show and then we headed to this famous chili crab restaurant where we were the only ones in the restaurant since it was about to close since it was almost 10pm at this point. They gave us bibs and some lime vinegar bowl (to wash our hands with) and we sat there in the middle of this ballroom style restaurant just the two of us feasting on this chili spicy crab that was delicious. We were so full afterwards and headed to the grocery store to get some things before grabbing the bus home. Olivia had to be up in the morning for grad school classes the next day so we chatted before going to bed around 2am. I slept in and she went to classes all day, swam some laps in the pool (which was surrounded by a temple) and did some research before she came home at 5pm. We got dressed up and ready to go to Marina Sands where we were going to try to go to the infinity pool, but apparently you have to be a guest, so we went to the bar on the other side with a view of the pool as well. The whole experience at Marina Sands was just too bougie and posh with fancy things we both didn’t enjoy it as much as we had hoped. They make you pay $22 to enter and the cocktails were $23 each (with taxes included it came to be $26 each or more). It was too much and the customer service wasn’t great so we left since we weren’t feeling the vibe. For dinner we decided to go to this ramen restaurant that was recommended and then bars afterwards that were recommended but stumbled upon this disco bar with loud music playing so we decided to check it out. There were all these locals crowded in the back room and as soon as we walked in this cute Vietnamese girl with straight bangs walked up to us and started chatting. It was impossible to understand her but she was so interested in where we were from so the three of us sat and talked for a little as we ordered a fire shot. The shot wasn’t lighting on fire properly and I don’t think the bartender knew what he was doing, the whole thing was hysterical. There was hip-hop music playing, boys in the back room playing some type of video game and just a pretty funny scene overall. After saying goodbye to our friend from Japan, we headed to this speakeasy bar called Operation Dagger and it was really hard to find at first (had to ask around). The bar was down in this dungeon which was apparently used during the Chinese and British immigration to Singapore so a strong history scene with lightbulbs on the ceilings and fancy drinks. I ordered this corn/oil drink which was very strong and tasty. We chatted with the bartender from Australia about his time in Singapore and Australia and he told us about the drinks and history of the bar. Then we headed to this other part of town to our last speakeasy which was this hidden bar inside a Marriott where we ordered more fancy drinks (one that came in a book and another that had steam coming out of it). These guys came up to us asking if we were Skandinavien which was super random but we ended up leaving around 3am and ordering a Grab home. We went to bed really late and then woke up to explore on our last day together…we went to this park about 30 minutes away by public transportation to this tree walk which was neat with monkeys everywhere and a nice long trail by a lake. It was originally supposed to take an hour or two but turned into 3 hours including 13km walking and it felt amazing to sweat and talk about our future plans. At the end of the trail we drank coconut water and had lunch at this cafe by the lake and then headed to a grocery store (in a mall) and stumbled upon India town which was swarming with people as they were still celebrating the holiday. We bought liquor at this tiny shop with incense everywhere and next door many Indians lined up to have food at this one person’s shop, which must serve traditional food. Then it was time to get back to get ready for the Halloween party Olivia’s grad program was hosting! We couldn’t decide what to be at first and finally came up with “K-pop stars” so we wouldn’t have to buy anything and it actually all worked out surprisingly. It was really fun, we pregamed like old college days while getting ready and having a snack out by the pool while listening to music. We were then on our way to the Halloween party where I was introduced to all her classmates from around the world. It was fun with a live DJ and some dancing and chatting and then we headed to another bar with a couple of her coworkers upstairs and randomly started chatting with these guys from South Korea. Turns out at the end of the night, Olivia’s phone was missing so we did everything possible to find it but it was nowhere to be found. The club was closing and everyone was looking for her phone, but no luck so we headed back to the apartment since Olivia had to catch a flight to Hong Kong. I ordered her a Grab and she was off on her way to the airport by 5am after packing and getting zero sleep. I was so exhausted I slept in until mid-afternoon and woke up to my hometown baseball team, the Nationals, winning the champions (score!) and then went to the pool to swim and feel better.. but that didn’t work. I ate something and started doing some research on the rest of my trip. I was in a funk, it was a low day as Olivia was gone and I was stuck in this random Airbnb with a weird mood. I was going to do yoga but chatted with my sister and mom then went to bed. I woke up late again and called my dad since it was his birthday and then went to the pool before planning India. It was a lot of planning and I was getting sick of it, but felt better after cooking a nice dinner and then went to bed late again.
On my last day, I decided to go to Sentosa island to see what the fuss was all about and it was exactly what I expected but a little better I guess because of the beauty. I got there by the express train which I picked up from Vivo City mall with all these shops and modernized restaurants, it was quite the ordeal. I arrived with the feeling as I was in an amusement park with many families and children running around. It was a very hot and beautiful day with white-sand beaches and a long walking bridge to another small island with surrounding battleship cargo boats in the distance. It was relaxing to be by the ocean again but so hot and sweaty so I kept walking just to find more touristy things such as indoor skydiving, water sport games, zip-lining, and bars and lounge chairs for parting. I walked to the other side of the island to find another private resort and refugee fort (historical site) with a cool view of Singapore. I had to get McDonalds after all that walking, I was craving it for some odd reason and it was surprisingly just what I needed. Then I headed back to the botanical gardens that was relaxing to walk around in and then had to pay $5 to go into the National Orchid Garden with so many different orchids, I loved it. It was a beautiful scenery where I would’ve wanted to come to take nice pictures but I looked like shit and was all sweaty and gross. Not only did I get a McFlurry but also got a soft frozen Himalayan salt ice cream after the gardens so I think from all the sweating, my body was just craving these things. I saw this huge lizard that was near a lake and looked like a dinosaur with turtles and birds nearby and interesting animals I had never seen before. As the sun was setting, I took the train back and packed up my clothes, went for my last lap in the pool and finished doing some planning before going to bed late again. I I slept in really late before I was off to the airport with plenty of time so I walked around this major airport where they do security at your gate instead of before the gate, which was interesting. At the airport, I tried some other foods I hadn’t had before and bought some Durian (the smelly fruit) to bring home. Then I was off to Indonesia, Bali for a week!
In all, Singapore was super modernized as expected, with well-kept public transportation, restaurants, hygiene and everything pretty simplistic. Nothing special though and you really only need like 4-5 days to see everything. Sentosa was definitely a whole other world with touristy things, but nothing I would really enjoy if I wanted to stay there.