Jet-lagged, we would return to Singapore after the Bali and Lesser Sundra explorations in Indonesia. For now, just moseying around both sides of the Singapore River and Marina Bay was enough. The Singapore River is where Sir Stamford Raffles landed in 1819; its banks are lined with places that celebrate Singapore’s past and showcase Singapore’s now, and future, transformations. I particularly loved all the sculptures along the way. Everything from statues of Sir Stamford Raffles at his landing site…to Salvador Dali’s Homage to Newton…to First Generation by Chong Fah Cheong…to pigtailed Chinese coolies…to Fernando Botero’s Bird. The Fullerton Hotel had a free and extremely detailed brochure called “The Fullerton Heritage Trail” with four different routes mapped out.
We began walking outside the Fullerton Hotel on the river walk next to Singapore’s oldest bridge, the Cavenagh Bridge which opened in 1870. Another colonial-era bridge, the Anderson Bridge is right behind that. Get “Your Essential Singapore Guide” (free) wherever you stay, at Changi Airport, or a Tourist Information Office. It is filled with four-hour walking tours that cover Singapore’s important sights. The Civic District, Orchard Road, Singapore River, Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glen, East Coast, and Marina Bay. But be forewarned, it will take days to walk them all. Singapore has a bad rep as “nothing to see”which is not true! Don’t feel like walking? Take a fun “bum boat” or river taxi up or down the river for a different perspective of Singapore and learn about its history.
Boat Quay was our next stop upriver from the Fullerton Hotel. Boat Quay is filled with century-old shophouses occupied by bars and seafood restaurants. I wouldn’t know how to choose one. Each seafood restaurant appeared to offer the same menus, same prices and had tanks filled with crabs from all over the world. Alaskan Crabs, King Crabs, Snow Crabs, Flower Crabs, Champagne Crabs, occupying separate tanks in monster sizes. Restaurants charge by the Kilo so don’t just glance at the menu and assume that is the crab price. Not!
If you continue walking upriver, Clarke Quay is next followed by Robertson Quay. Again, both have hundreds of shops, restaurants and bars. We crossed over the Singapore River and made our way around the Marina Bay Basin, beginning that circuit in front of the Fullerton Hotel. There are a series of restored buildings, home to nightlife and more restaurants. The old Customs House, Clifford Pier and The Fullerton Waterboat House are Art Deco masterpieces that have been restored. Fullerton this. Fullerton that. A fast stop at the Fullerton Bay Hotel to gawk upwards because a man had jumped from the bar roof terrace to his death the other day. Supposedly, on a dare that he could land in the Singapore Basin (water). Think, just a few too many?
Past the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, The Float @Marina Bay (the world’s largest floating stage with 30,000 seats, the Singapore Flyer in the distance. The Marina Bay Sands Hotel and complex. Now I wouldn’t mind scoring one of their over 2,500 rooms and heading up to their SkyPark on the 57th floor for incredible views of Singapore. I was told the general policy is “guests only.” You can dine at Sky on 57 with minimum charges that match the height of the SkyPark. Do they have a casino? Duh…this is part of the Sands chain. Do bears @*!# in the woods?
Back to the Fullerton Hotel along the Waterfront Promenade enjoying more sculptures, vistas of luxury condominiums, and outstanding new architecture that now makse up the New Downtown Singapore.
We’ll be b–a–c–k…. For now, let’s fly to Bali.