Waking up at 6am because of slight jet lag (Melbourne is 3 hours behind: sweet for waking up early in Singapore!) and getting a slow start to our day, Jackson and I started out on our first day of total exploration.
We decided to go check out Gardens by the Bay which everyone and their grandma has recommended we go see. They’re easy to find as the gardens are a sprawling mass of green contrasted with the grey waters of the bay and tall buildings.
The lines weren’t too bad for a Saturday and we got tickets to go see the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome which ran us about $28SGD each. The rest of the park is free to see, unless you want to see the large man-made metal “super trees” light up which is an additional $8 (that gets you into the trees themselves. Seeing the trees is free.) and only available at night.
The Cloud Forest was a beautiful indoor achievement of horticulture. It was quite cool inside compared to the heat and humidity outside which was really refreshing at first and then a little chilly after 15min.
Getting hungry, we walked along the edge of the bay toward Satay by the Bay: a food court. We ordered two dishes that looked appetizing from a food stall and they were delicious! The “Hawker” stands are SO WORTH A VISIT ALL THE TIME. After we ate, I watched as flocks of birds descended on the leftover trays of food. It seems the birds in Singapore rarely go hungry.
The Flower Dome was no less jaw dropping. It’s a sweeping playground of flowers, trees, cacti and ferns representing a variety of continents and climates. I especially enjoyed the bottle trees with their large extended bases that looked like butts. It was also really cool to get up close to Seguaro cacti like in the western movies. I’ve never been up as up close as that before: those cacti are HUGE!
Feeling exhausted, we went back to our hostel for a nap before heading off to find one of the Michelin-star food stalls that have been mentioned. It wasn’t far from our room.
The amazing thing about these stalls is that the menus generally consist of 1-5 items and the cook makes those items millions of times. To say that these dishes are “good” is an understatement. They are as varied and complex as the person who makes them, each plate an example of personal history, tradition and pride (if done well). The “Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle” stall is run by a guy who looks to be in his early forties and moves like a machine, carefully weighing each spoonful of ingredients into a bowl. He hardly looked up from his work as we stood in line to order. For $8SGD each Jackson and I had a delicious bowl of food.
Singapore is a land of foodie delight and we were starting to realize just how lucky we were. Later, we opened our bottle of aged blueberry wine and drank the whole thing in our dorm as a celebratory treat. Life is good.