Friday, November 14, 2008

If you have only one day in Singapore

If you have only one day in Singapore

I lived in Singapore for sixteen years and had entertained many visitors. If they have one day in the city state, I always recommend them two alternatives depending on what they wish to do.

The infrastructure of Singapore is very good. Visitors have awed at the rate buildings are pulled down, and a bigger one built in now time. They had dubbed Singapore as a Lego city. The public transport system in the form of MRT, mass rapid transport or the subway is fast and frequent. So are the public buses. They are relatively cheaper than most countries. They are clean too, chewing gum is banned and you are fined for eating or drinking or littering.

If you are in shopping, you are in the right place.

Orchard Road is the main shopping paradise. All the buildings are cool as they are air conditioned. You can buy anything from LV bags, to Gucci scarfs to jewellery to toys, clothing and almost anything else.

For diversity, catch a bus or MRT to Mustafa Shopping Center. It is owned by a Muslim Indian entreprenuer. You will think you are in India. This place is called Little India. In the big building, you can buy Indian spices, fresh vegetable and fruits. You can also buy cars, electronic good, toys and all weather clothing. The Center is open twenty four hours a day. You get about twenty per cent off electronic goods if you do not want a warrenty. This is popular with tourists, who wants a warrenty when you live thousands of miles in Florida.

However, if you want to be away from the hustle and bustle of city life and traffic jams. I always recommend my guests to take a route less traveled by. Take the MRT to the last station in the west, the Boon Lay Station.

Catch a bus to the Jurong Bird park. The birds will blow you over. Be there for the bird shows. They are simply awesome and will ball you over. If you are too hot, hiberate for half an hour in the cold icy Penguin house and observe the penguins and puffins. If you are lucky, you will see the birds being fed.

Retrace your route back to the MRT and bus interchange. Catch the 199 bus and tell the driver you want to go to the Tow Kwang pottery. You need to walk a distance along a jungle path to the pottery. Here you can buy a fifty cents souvenir or if you are rich, you can buy a fifty thousand dollars painting or pottery. The proprietor will ship your purchases back for you. Linger around to see the dragon kiln. Sometimes you will see the fire burning in the dragon's belly as the potter fire his kiln. In the vast garden, you will see macque monkeys playing in the trees. You will enjoy seeing babies clinging to the bellies or backs of their mums as they swing from branches to branches. The potters will let you fish in the pond provided you throw the fish back. For a dollar, he will sell you fish pellets to feed the turtles in the pond.

For a bit of History, go to the Kanji War Memorial and be captivated by the thousands buried there. Soldiers from England, Australia, New Zealand, India were buried in the graves marked by their white tomb stones in the manicured lawn. You are bound to be touched when you read the names of the 25,000 allied soldiers whose bodies were never found.

Finally in the evening, head off to the Night Safari. It is a different concept of a zoo. You can walk along on your own in the jungle trail or ride a tram. There are over 900 animals of 135 exotic species like the hyneas, rhino, Malaysian tapir, giant flying foxes. The zoo is designed to creat geographic zones like the Southeast Asian rainforest, African savanna, Nepalese river valley, South American pampas and Burmese jungle. Almost all visitors are impressed. Besides the animals, the cooler evening makes this trip an enjoyable one.

Depending if you choose the shopping trip, or the other route. You will enjoy yourself. If I were you, I would choose the latter. it is like Robert Frost's poem, Two roads meet, and I chose the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

*** Giant Merlion at Sentosa island, National symbol of Singapore***

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