Singapore – The kaleidoscope of cultures

“I am planning to visit Singapore”; wow said my friend; “with my family including my husband, parents, brothers, sisters-in-law and their kids.” and her reaction changed completely. She suggested me to plan this trip only with my husband but on contrary, the big fat Indian family get together proved to be the best trip of my life till date.

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From kids to teens to adults, Singapore is the one stop destination for fun, adventure, shopping and relaxation. It is also a dynamic mix of culture with four official languages, Tamil being one of them. For the first time visitors like me, Singapore proved to be a trip with everlasting memories and full of surprises – off course the pleasant ones.

In Sanskrit, ‘Singa’ means lion and ‘Pura’ means city. It is believed that a king spotted an island with blinding white sand that intrigued him. He found an auspicious beast identified as a lion by his chief minister. And so he re(named) the island Singapura. In the darkness of the violent storm, we’ll forgive him for mistaking what was in all probability a Malay tiger to be a lion. Also recent studies have claimed that lions have never existed on the island.

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Before highlighting the trip’s candid moments, let me come up with the logistics first:

Best season to visit Singapore : July-September is the best time to explore Singapore because of its Great Sale and food festival. Weather is quite pleasant during the months of February-April as well; also a lot of outdoor activities become available then.

Travel and visa cost : The tourist visa cost for Indians is INR 2k per person which is valid for a month. Apply the visa at least 15 days before the date of travel to get it on time. We travelled during the month of February and the flight tickets costed us INR 18k per person (return).

Accommodation: With kids in family, we were looking for a good kitchenette hotel/service apartment. After doing a lot of research, we booked ‘8 on Claymore’ serviced apartment. It is also the winner of the 2015 Certificate of Excellence from Tripadvisor and  located very near to the Orchard Road. The cost of this strategically located serviced apartment was INR 10k per night including breakfast. We thoroughly enjoyed our 7 nights stay here.

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Transportation:  We used to book Uber to visit different tourist spots during the first 2-3 days of trip. Then we got to know about another taxi aggregator app called Grab; it worked out slightly cheaper than Uber. Everyone is well versed with English in Singapore; so communication was never a problem.

Food: Singapore is full of restaurants serving some of the most delicious and varied cuisines in Asia. Right from street food to fine dining restaurants, it has plenty of amazing options to suit everyone’s budget. Everyone in Singapore has their own favourite Hainanese chicken rice stall. It’s a signature dish of Singapore whose recipe couldn’t be simpler: tender steamed chicken, served slightly cooled, fluffy rice, sliced cucumber, coriander – and two key ingredients – a homemade chili sauce and bowl of chicken broth. Chinatown’s Maxwell Food Centre has about a hundred tempting hawker stalls, but the longest queues are at Tian Tian, where a plate of chicken rice goes for less than S$4. Missing Indian food? Little India is one of Singapore’s liveliest quarters, with scores of reasonably priced restaurants  and cafes. We visited a restaurant named Kailash Parbat in search of Indian food and thoroughly enjoyed the mouth watering chats and main course; butter chicken and naan being my personal favourite.

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Here comes the highlights of this beautiful place :

1. The Merlion Statue: Merlion has been the country’s iconic trademark symbol since 1966. It is a half-fish half-lion statue  in Singapore and its significance is exactly what Eiffel Tower’s is to Paris. You cannot resist yourself from taking selfie with this 8.6 m-high and 70-tonne-heavy statue. The best part, you guessed it right, it’s entry is free.

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2. Wings of Time : The first of its kind, Wings of Time at Sentosa island is the only permanent night show in the world set in the open sea. It is a mesmerizing show of water display, laser show, fire effects and spectacular music. This magical show is about 20 minutes long. We booked the tickets online for the 7:40 pm show. The cost of the ticket is S$18 for standard seat and S$23 for premium seat. We booked the premium one and believe me, the experience is worth each penny. Highly recommended.

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Want to know more about Singapore, wait for my next post.

To be continued…


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