An unexpected return to Singapore, a decade after spending four days there in 2012. The plan had been to transit through there on my way to Kathmandu, but a five hour delay flying from New Zealand to Singapore meant I would have missed my connecting flight, so Singapore Airlines rebooked me on the same flight a day later (and put me in a decent hotel near the airport and covered taxi and meal costs). Luckily I had four days in Kathmandu before starting the Kanchenjunga Circuit hike so one got swapped for Singapore.
After the coolness of Wellington (which I rather like) Singapore’s heat and humidity was quite overwhelming, particularly when the clouds cleared to sunshine. I spent the day trying to find as much shade as possible, and made good use of the umbrella I brought in case of a tropical downpours (a learning from my last visit). I ended up walking 25km plus three decent MRT journeys to visit two of the most popular places in Singapore.
My hotel was a rather flash four star golf resort in the middle of a huge industrial park full of warehouses close to the airport. The rooms and breakfast area looked flash but to be honest I slept and ate much better in the three star hotel I stayed at in Kathmandu. More expensive doesn’t always mean better.
It was a good 20 minute walk from the hotel to the nearest MRT at Expo, passing the under construction Xilin MRT station. This became a theme for the day, walking by four nearly finished, but not yet commissioned MRT stations. If I redid this day in a few years time I’d easily be able to halve the distance walked.
From Expo it took nearly an hour by MRT to reach the Botanic Gardens. The downtown line is entirely underground so there isn’t anything to see, but it still remains one of the best public transport systems in the world, super clean and efficient.
Singapore Botanic Gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only one in Singapore. They’re impressively well maintained and well designed, and proved understandably popular on a Sunday morning.
They are sculptures scattered throughout the gardens.
Plus the occasional monitor lizard and chicken.
The most famous part of the gardens are the world class Orchid Gardens, my favourite part of which was the Sembcorp greenhouse, both for the design and welcome respite from the heat.
The orchids were also rather beautiful…
There were some large, and reflective, lakes at the southern end of the gardens.
Other than the climate Singapore is a good place to walk around, with wide pavements and sufficient pedestrian crossings, plus a fair amount of shade from the wonderful rain trees that line most major roads.
I passed the yet to open Napier and Orchard Boulevard MRT stations before finally reaching the open Orchard MRT, though my hoped for destination Gardens by the Bay station had also yet to open so I walked from Marina Bay. I’ll cover these gardens in another post.