Marhaba’s Terry Sutcliffe is back with yet another travelogue – this time from Singapore! The trip begins at Singapore’s iconic Gardens by the Bay and explores the many ultra-modern infrastructure it has to offer.
If you are planning a short city trip, Singapore surely qualifies for one. Read on!
With the now iconic Marina Bay Sands resort as its backdrop, Gardens by the Bay is a great outdoor and indoor, day and night, experience for all the family. The superbly laid out attraction showcases flowers, bushes and trees from all round the world, using cooled greenhouses to shelter those from more temperate climates. The ‘super trees’ look fantastic, especially as the sun goes down and the multi-coloured lighting makes an even more dramatic impression against the dark sky.
Built on reclaimed land, Gardens by the Bay has become one of the garden city’s favourite attractions for both Singaporeans and for visitors. This most attractive city has grown 20% larger in area since its founding and amazingly the city planners have preserved the sense of space with acres of restful green areas in the midst of so much prime real estate.
If you enjoy cooking and experiencing new flavours, one of the best ways to find out about them, and to actually create them, is to go to the experts.
We were treated to a cooking class at Food Playground (Hands-on cooking fun) where Lesley and Helen know absolutely everything about the ingredients, the history, and most importantly the inside tips on how to recreate the delicious dishes available in Singapore. They are a mouthwatering blend of Singaporean, Malaysian, Chinese and other Asian cuisines and are another example of how food reflects a people’s culture and history.
And lunch was all the more delicious for being cooked by ourselves (with some guidance, of course!).
Some useful tips: if you see Nasi in the name, it means rice; Mee means noodles and Kwae means a snack, small piece of cake, a sweet nibble, And you may already have enjoyed the smell and flavours of Lemongrass and Panganus leaves, but here they are also kept round the house as they are effective at keeping bugs and mosquitoes away!
Getting there: Qatar Airways flies daily to Singapore
Food Playground is in Chinatown where because of prescient preservation, much of the ‘old’ Singapore is still in evidence. It’s interesting and enjoyable to wander round the narrow streets, especially Bugis Street, browse the little stores and shophouses (so called as the Chinese proprietors used to live above their shops) and see the brightly decorated Chinese temples.
While in Chinatown, take time to visit the popular Singapore City Gallery which gives a fascinating picture of the city’s past,present and future; it is well displayed with posters, maps, models and videos.
Opposite the gallery is Maxwell Food Centre were you can try out local authentic food as eaten by the average worker in the city every day. Apart from being very tasty, it’s also the cheapest way to eat.
Arab traders contributed much to the early development of Singapore and a golden-domed mosque, right next to a Chinese temple, is a prominent reminder of their influence and another still-visible part of historic Singapore.
A visit to Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort
This integrated resort has instantly become a gigantic hit with visitors and is now often seen as the face of modern Singapore. A truly stupendous building with three tall, graceful towers surmounted by a distinctive roof that is also the Skypark. The Infiniti pool, 150 metres long, is amazing and surely is not as dangerous as it looks as it is a magnet for children, and for those not so young, to be photographed at the very edge.
There are 1,500 rooms on the 50-plus floors of the three towers and occupancy is always very high. But it is the place to stay, at least once, on your trips to Singapore. The rooms are luxurious, the lobbies, the architecture and the views are stunning, especially from the pool area on the 57th floor; in addition to the hotel, there are innumerable shops of all categories and a casino.
Dinner at the Grand Hyatt ‘Straits Kitchen’ is a fusion feast of Singaporean cuisine – which means of course a modern melange of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and other Asian traditions. As it is a Grand Hyatt, the standards – of service, of presentation and of cooking – are impeccable. The kitchens are halal, so all faiths may feel at home here. All visitors are guaranteed to leave feeling sated, feted and served to the highest level of professional hospitality.
Author: Terry Sutcliffe
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