Starting the Holiday Season in Singapore

With the four day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we decided to check off another “places we want to visit” so we headed to Singapore.  Just a quick 5 hour flight from New Delhi, but the contrast between those two locations is pretty stark.  It was a great destination to kick start our holiday season with the beautiful decorations we saw throughout the city.

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One of the MANY Christmas trees lining Orchard Road — a road where our hotel was and the shopping never ends!

Singapore consists of one main island with 63 small islands as well, many uninhabitable.  Singapore was a major port between East Asia and Europe with the British establishing a trading station there in the 1800s.  Japanese aircraft bombed this beautiful city in December 1941 placing the country under Japanese rule until 1945 when British regained control at the end of the war.  Singapore’s first general election was held in 1955 and based on what we saw, it is a very well run government that has created an orderly, clean, safe and efficient place to live.

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Some of the Japanese cannons on the island of Sentosa — we played a laser tag game in one of the old military buildings.

One of the policies that has created such a clean city in one of the most densely populated countries in the world is the fines that are enforced and posted throughout the city.  Many Indians that have traveled to Singapore told us about the fines and how you are not even allowed to chew gum there.  We actually never saw a police man in the city but I have never felt safer in a large city in my life.

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This was the first “Fine” sign we saw as we moved from the airport to the subway system.

The public transportation system is amazing — super easy to use and very efficient.  We left the airport via the subway system and used it throughout our vacation.  They also have a great bus system in the city and taxis are also available.  On our double decker bus tour we learned that owning a car in Singapore is extremely expensive.  Car buyers must pay duties one and a half times the value of the car.  In addition, you have to apply for an “entitlement” that allows you to drive the car on the road for ten years.  That entitlement cost runs the same amount as a purchasing a Porsche Boxter in the United States.  As we walked the streets, though, Conner finally heard a horn and said, “Wow, their traffic is so quiet here.”  You can tell we are coming from a much different environment.

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Some of the highlights of our visit included:

  • Gardens by the Bay:  At this incredible location, they have a flower dome and a cloud forest pictured below in the two domes facing the water.  In the flower dome they have created diverse plant life sections from all over the world — tropical to desert.  There were olive trees a thousand years old, vertical gardens, and way too many flowers for photographer Hailey.  The boys on the other hand enjoyed the cloud forest much more.  There was a 35 metre man made mountain and waterfall.  It felt like you were in a rainforest.

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A view from a very tall hotel of the Gardens By the Bay

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In the Flower Dome

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Conner at the rain cloud waterfall

  • Sentosa Island was another fun attraction.  One takes a very small 5 minute tram ride out to the island where you are greeted by the Merlion (the symbol of Singapore).  There are a few resorts on this island and the beach is there but “there were no waves”.  Universal Studios is located here along with other rides.  We loved the Luge Ride which is similar to an Alpine Slide except you are not contained — a driver can pass another.  It was fun!  We also did a small Segway ride and then the laser tag game.  The humidity made the visit to 7-Eleven all the better as we walked around the island that day.

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The Merlion — a key figure in Singapore’s tourism industry

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Second time up for the luge ride.

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Ready to do our short Segway ride — putting on the gear and signing all the waivers took longer than the ride but it was fun.

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Sweet Slurpee!

  •  Food also had to be one of the highlights of the trip — and not just the Slurpee.  It was nice to be back in an environment where we didn’t have to worry about the hygiene of the food and to finally get some beef again.  There are food courts EVERYWHERE and the city is not just what is above ground — there is an entire city underneath the street level where shops and food courts go on and on.

Singapore is definitely an amazing country.  We experienced warm temperatures, too much humidity for Hailey, a little rain and thunderstorms along the way but after sightseeing, movies, restaurants, and shopping, it felt good to just feel normal for a few days like we were in an American city.  Definitely made some memories this Thanksgiving!

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