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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

Speed dating Singapore….!

Day 84/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise. Day 3 Singapore. (1/2 day)

Initially when we docked in Singapore a couple of days ago, we didn’t realize our back on board time for day 3 (today) was 1pm. 1pm! That meant we certainly did not have much time today to see the sights we had missed in Singapore!

We planned with Gene and Margaret to meet at 7:30am on Deck 2, to go out through immigration so we could start our day early enough to jam pack our time left in Singapore. Richard has taken to calling me ‘Ruthadvisor’ instead of ‘Tripadvisor’ and I had planned out our route for the day that would maximize our time in Singapore to make sure we hit the highlights we had missed so far on our visit to this amazing place!

Here we go again on the MRT!

We took the purple line from Harbourfront one stop to OUTRAM Park and then transferred to the green line and got off at Raffles Place in the downtown area. Gene is really good with the MRT having lots of experience with the NYC subway and the Boston MBTA. It was nice to have a fellow rapid transit user to confer with when deciding which line and stop to use! Having spent all of my career in downtown Toronto, I am very familiar with the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission subway) and ‘GO’ commuter trains and I’m a whiz on the Paris metro too!

We exited the MRT at Raffles Place and in amazing Singapore fashion, there was a map helping us to determine where the statue was that we wanted to see.

We started strolling along the Riverwalk in Singapore after we figured out where we were going and we saw this cool bronze sculpture.

‘The River Merchant’ Sculpture by Aw Tee Hong.

The sculpture shows Scotsman Alexander Laurie Johnston a prominent merchant of early Singapore mediating between a Chinese Trader and a Malay Chief while Indian and Chinese coolies load sacks onto a bullock cart which was a common sight around the river, as trade expanded in early Singapore. Alexander Laurie Johnston & Co. was set up at this spot in 1820 and it was popularly known as ‘Tanjong Tangkap‘ meaning ‘catch’ in Malay. Johnston could ‘catch’ the merchant captains as their boats entered the river to trade and he was known as a highly respected businessman and arbitrator for public matters, including being the head of the Chamber of Commerce. The building that Johnston had owned for his business eventually burned down, and on that same land now sits the large Maybank tower (which will be in some upcoming photos).

We continued walking towards the monument we wanted to see and didn’t we come across another neat bronze sculpture. Singapore just continued to delight us on this early St. Patrick’s Day morning!

The ‘First Generation’ sculpture is by Chong Fah Cheong. The Singapore River played a pivotal role in the history and development of Singapore. This is where the first migrant communities settled to pursue their dreams of a better tomorrow and the children living by the riverbanks enjoyed swimming in the river. In 1983 Singapore undertook the ‘Clean Rivers’ project and families, hawker and bumboats were removed from the area and the swimming in the Singapore River stopped. The bird in the photo had just stolen that bag from somewhere with food in it, and he dropped into my photo, just as I was shooting it! I really liked this sculpture!

The neoclassical Fullerton Hotel built in 1928 which was once Singapore’s General Post Office, the Exchange, Chamber of Commerce and the prestigious Singapore Club. For nearly a century it played a pivotal role in Singapore’s history and now it is a 400 room luxury, heritage hotel. It was noted as a National Monument in Singapore in 2015. The monument we wanted to see was supposed to be near the Fullerton Hotel, so I knew we were on the right track!

What a stunning bridge over the Singapore River!

The Cavenagh Bridge is the only suspension bridge spanning the Singapore River in the Downtown Core. Opened in 1869 to commemorate Singapore’s new Crown colony of the Straits settlements status in 1867, it is the oldest bridge in Singapore that exists in its original form. The bridge was originally known as the Edinburgh Bridge but was changed to honour Major General Orfeur Cavenagh the last India appointed Governor of the Straits Settlements. Built at a cost of $80,000 it was shipped in parts and reassembled by convict labour before opening in 1869. Rickshaws and ox carts used the bridge to cross the Singapore River but the bridge became overloaded in the late 1880’s, and another bridge was built. The Cavenagh bridge was spared demolition to become a passenger bridge.

The police notice is still preserved today at both ends of the bridge restricting the weight of 336 pounds and to cattle and horses from crossing!

We knew we would soon see the monument we were looking for but first we saw this small monument in a park.

What? That’s not what we were looking for! I thought the Merlion was much bigger! This Is the Merlion’s cub!

There we go! The Merlion! The Merlion is the official mascot of Singapore. With the head of a lion and the body of a fish, it is widely used to represent the city state and its people. The Merlion’s fish like body symbolizes Singapore’s origins as a fishing village, known as ‘Temasek’ a name which comes from the word ‘taser’ or lake in Malay…… The head represents the city’s original name of Singapura or lion city in Sanskrit. The Merlion statue stands 8.6 metres (28.2 feet) tall and weighs 70 tonnes.

Giving Richard heart failure again! In the back of my head I’m hearing “BE CAREFUL!”

A little fun with black and white. The Merlion is a gorgeous monument on the Singapore River at the mouth of the harbour. The tallest building directly behind the Merlion is the Maybank tower.

Trying to imitate the Merlion!

The requisite selfie! If you saw the movie ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ the Merlion makes an appearance as the movie was filmed in Singapore.

The Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay which is a performing arts centre completed in 2001 and located in the downtown core of Singapore. The concert hall seats 1,827 and has room for 1,950, if the venue is used as a theatre.

Our next stop was to get over to this gorgeous spot!

The Marina Bay Sands resort again designed by Moshe Safdie, whose work we saw yesterday at the Rain Vortex at Jewel at Singapore Airport.

We walked back to Raffles Place MRT stop and got on the red line for one stop to Marina Bay, and then transferred to the brown line, to get off at Gardens by the Sea.

Figuring out our MRT transfer with Margaret.

When we exited the MRT we were at Gardens by the Bay, Bay South and had quite a long walk along the waterfront promenade to get to Gardens by the Bay. There is a difference and we probably should have exited at Marina Bay on the red line instead of going all the way to Gardens by the Bay station on the brown line. Oh well, we were getting our steps in!

The waterfront promenade was absolutely gorgeous and because we were so early, there were not many people around.

Mother & Child bronze by sculptor Dr. Ng Eng Teng from Singapore.

The ‘Singapore Flyer’ perfectly framing a building in the Central Business District. The Flyer was opened in 2008 and has 28 air conditioned capsules each able to accommodate 28 passengers. The Flyer was the largest ferris wheel in the world until the 9 foot higher ‘High Roller’ in Las Vegas opened in 2014. The Flyer was closed for renovations when we were in port. To the right of the photo, where the green space is located, was where we played golf at Marina Sands Golf Club.

Richard with the Raptor at Gardens by the Bay.

Gardens by the Bay is home to over 200 sculptures from around the world. We did not have time to try and visit many of the sculptures today, but what we did see was very interesting!

Some of the sculptures we did see at Marina Bay without going to look for them! I liked the guy on his cell phone leaning on the lion’s back, obviously not a sculpture but hey? Even a sculpture comes in handy now and again!

What we really wanted to see at Gardens by the Bay, the 250 acre park adjacent to the Marina Reservoir in downtown Singapore, was the ‘Supertree Grove’.

Supertree Grove in Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. You can just glimpse a bit of the pink tree grove from this photo.

I will do almost anything to get the ’shot’, including lying down on a wet stone bench!

Supertrees! This is what. I was shooting from the bench.

The Supertree Grove is made up of 18 tree-like structures that dominate the Gardens landscape with heights that range from 82 feet to 160 feet. They are vertical gardens that perform a multitude of functions, which include plantings, shading and working as environmental engines for the gardens. The Supertrees are home to unique and exotic ferns, vines orchids and lots of bromeliads. The trees are fitted with environmental technologies that mimic the ecological function of trees; photovoltaic cells that harness solar energy which can be used for some of the functions of the Supertrees (lighting) similar to how trees photosynthesize and collect rain water for use in irrigation. The Supertrees also serve as air intake and exhaust functions as part of the surrounding conservatories cooling systems.

Irrigation pipe on the Supertree and bromeliads growing on the side of the Supertree in planting bags.

Air plants growing on the side of the Supertrees.

We saw that there was a walkway we could go up to get a better view of the Supertree forest, as well as have a great view of the skyline of Singapore. We were able to use our phones to scan the QR code for the admittance fee and then pay with a credit card to ride the elevator up to the Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) Skyway.

Heading up the elevator to the Skyway. My Mazda CX-50 backpack that Richard is carrying which Mazda Canada gave me last summer sure has come in handy on days when we do not want to bring Richard’s big pack back. The Mazda backpack is as light as air and I use it for carrying my golf shoes when we go golfing too. Its important to have a light bag with all of the day trip travelling we are doing!

Look! A cruise ship, but not our cruise ship. This is a much bigger ship, so it has a different place to dock in Singapore.

Taking in the view of the magnificent Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

A great view of the OCBC Skyway.

Every night between 7:45pm and 8:45pm the Supertree Grove comes alive with a coordinated light and music show which changes every month or so with themes such as ‘A World of Wonder’ or ‘A Night of Musical Theatre’ which features pieces or excerpts from films like Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean. When we arrived back from Jewel last night, some of the crew of the Neptune were in the immigration line up with us and they were showing us their pictures from the light and music show at Supertree Grove. Unfortunately we did not have another night in Singapore to go and see this amazing sight. Had we known about the the show, perhaps we would have gone the first night, after we went to the Raffles Hotel for a drink! So much to see, and so little time to see it. Having only 2 nights in Singapore was definitely not enough time!

A great view of the Singapore skyline framed by one of the Supertrees.

Margaret holding up the railing of the Skyway!

Looking at everything that is growing on the Supertree.

The cost to go up to the Skyway was $12SGD each. It was worth the cost of the ticket to be able to see the Supertree Grove at the top, and to view the skyline of Singapore, from a different perspective.

We walked over a bridge to exit the Bay South Gardens to try and find our way to the MRT station. This quick morning tour of Singapore was not over yet and we had to get going to make our next stop!

After wandering around for awhile we finally found the MRT station at Marina Bay and jumped on the brown line to transfer to the blue line at Stevens, and we then took the blue line for one stop to the Botanic Gardens.

Gates to the Botanic Gardens.

The Singapore Botanic gardens is a 164 year old tropical garden. It is the only tropical garden to be honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is ranked Asia’s top park attraction by Trip Advisor.

We saw that the famed National Orchid Garden with more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of orchids, which is the main attraction within the Botanic Garden was a 1.5 km walk away from the MRT station. There was no closer MRT station we could take to see the Orchid Garden, so we started walking!

A rooster crossing our path at the Botanic Gardens.

A reflexology foot path in the Botanic Gardens.

Beautiful flowers along the path to the Orchid Garden.

Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage which offers free concerts in the Botanic Gardens in Singapore.

The orchids grow outdoors in the National Orchid Garden. I wasn’t sure when we got to the garden whether they would be indoors or out. For $3SGD to enter (senior’s discount), the gardens were a steal! WOW! Everywhere we looked there were orchids more beautifu than the ones we had just seen. I know my brother in law Norm would have loved this garden!

Such delicate flowers. Stunning!

The VIP orchid garden displays hybrids of the most popular VIP orchids. Notable ones include Princess Diana (Dendrobium Memoria) and Dendrobian Margaret Thatcher. We did not have enough time in the National Orchid Garden because we needed to do the 1.5 km walk back to the MRT station. Our back on board time of 1pm was looming!

Richard was our leader walking ahead of us and setting the quick pace to get to the MRT station.

Quick walking back to the Botanic Gardens MRT station.

We jumped on the yellow, Circle line, for our journey back to Harbourfront station where we arrived back to drop our 3 day Tourist MRT passes back at the ticket office. We still had some time left on our passes, but of course, we had to be back onboard by 1pm. In the barely 3 partial days of using the Singapore MRT we went on everyone of the coloured MRT lines. I would say we definitely got around the city amazingly well for never having been on the MRT before in Singapore!

Dropping of our Tourist MRT passes to get $20SGD back.

While I was waiting to return my passes I had Richard buy me a fresh squeezed orange juice from this machine that was by the ticket counter. Since we could not drink on the subway, I was pretty thirsty with all of the walking we did today.

For $2SGD a large glass of fresh squeezed orange juice! Perfect!

We had $44SGD to spend still and there was a grocery store inside the Harbourfront terminal, so we made our way to the store and stocked up on some snacks and things that we cannot get onboard the Neptune. There were quite a few other passengers and crew also stocking up, so the line up to get through the one person check out was quite long. We headed up the escalator to security and immigration and made it through with little time to spare. We arrived back to the Neptune at 1pm on the dot, with quite a few people still waiting in line at immigration.

Heading back to the Neptune and leaving Singapore.

We sailed out of Singapore promptly at 1:55pm. We didn’t have enough time in Singapore, but we sure packed a punch by speed dating Singapore on our 3rd day in this most beautiful place. We missed too much, but that is the benefit of doing this world cruise. We can go back and see all of the things we missed another time, at a much more leisurely pace. Thank goodness for good walking shoes, an outstanding MRT system and being able to move at the speed that we move! We loved not being on any guided tours so we could move at our own pace, see what we wanted to and then move on to the next scenic stop. Singapore we will be back!

Next stop Port Klang, Malaysia.

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Allan Yoshimura
Allan Yoshimura
Mar 19, 2023

Outstanding use of time! Makes me want to spend a couple of weeks in Singapore. All my trips there were on business which is so much different!

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