1. Lavender Street Food Court
First things first, let’s talk about food. Singaporeans are obsessed with their scran and thanks to their heady ethnic mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian can stake claim to a wild array of dishes being their very own national cuisine. One of the best things about Singapore is that although some things are expensive, food most definitely is not. And it’s good food. The best place to enjoy this cheap, good is in one of the many food courts peppered around the city. The first one we visited and by far our favourite (we ate there about six times in total) was Lavender Street Food Court. Close to lots of backpacker hostels this little food court sold pretty much everything that’s good about Singaporean food and the dim sum, teriyaki and wan tan mee are pretty much why obesity happens.
2. The Esplanade
We fancied seeing a show or hearing a bit of live music but we couldn’t really afford theatre tickets or cocktails in a classy bar so we went to the Esplanade theatre for one of their freebie ‘theatres on the bay’ evenings instead. Expectations were low but despite no outdoor boozing allowed and lots of kids running around, I loved it. The band, the view across the bay, the sunset, everything was perfect Singapore.
3. Botanical Gardens
Someone (me) had the bright idea of buying a picnic, that largely consisted of crisps and chocolate, and heading to the Singapore’s Botanical Gardens for the afternoon. We arrived and found a nice spot under a palm tree. I was exhausted and sort of fell asleep/passed out in a sweaty feverish nap for about ten minutes before we realised it was way too hot and humid to be here. We spent the next two hours getting horribly lost and walking for miles to find our way back out. I like nature, I really do, I just think I like it in more of looked at from a shaded porch with a cool drink kind of way. That said, the gardens are absolutely beautiful and anyone with an interest in trees, plants, flowers and being ouside will enjoy it very much. Also free.
4. Singapore National Library
Libraries have always been my safe place. I miss my afternoons spent in the dust and hush of Newcastle’s Lit and Phil library more than I can say, so when I read about Singapore’s 16 storey National Library, complete with gardens, cafe, exhibition space and drama centre I knew it would be the perfect place to spend a few hours. We visited on a Saturday and the place was chock full of people actually holding onto books made of paper with their hands and reading the words printed onto them with their eyes. When I was growing up my mam used to take me to Wallsend library, a tiny concrete structure on the high street. The children’s area was a few low bookcases in one corner with a few tattered hardback picture books. I still loved but I have a feeling I would have loved Singapore’s woodland wonderland even more. I managed to wander around for a good fifteen minutes before people realised I had no child and started giving me funny looks.
5. Arab Street and Shop
In Singapore there is a Chinatown, a Little India and and Arab Street. The former two are staples of most big city tourist maps, but the latter I had never heard of before. Arab Street? I was thinking sheesha and hummus and I was sort of right. The area around Arab street is a nice place to eat if you’re sick of Eastern food and are craving a lamb shish but the real draw here is the shopping. Surrounded by rows of shops selling prayer mats and cheap fabric, there is a lane full of little boutique, vintage, handmade, up-and-coming designer shops that is definitely worth a look. It’s called Haji Lane and it’s the only place I found anything I wanted to buy.
6. Chinese Gardens
After the Botanical Gardens disaster we thought twice about spending a day walking around the Chinese Gardens but there was talk of a little turtle sanctuary tucked away in the grounds that considerably swayed our decision. It’s a bit of a schlep to get to but it’s worth it. It’s nowhere near as big as the Botanical Gardens and has lots of ornamental sections for those of us who can tell the difference between grass and a tree and not much else. The turtle sanctuary, though. That was something else. There are hundreds of the little buggers just wandering around and you can feed and pet them at your will. It could do with a bit of investment for a refurb but overall a very cute place with a tiny entrance fee.