Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Singapore: Something Old ~ Something New

There are those among you who still are shaking your heads; trying to wrap them around the idea of anyone wanting to sail from Bangkok, Thailand to Istanbul,Turkey via the Middle East. It sounded to many like a route full of foreign ports with strange sounding names and in some cases undeveloped, perhaps even unsafe – at times -countries.

Not all our ports of call were like that.  Take, for example, Singapore. Our first port of call on this 34-day adventure is officially known as the Republic of Singapore, a Southeast Asian island country that is a sleek, modern sovereign city-state with a population of 5.4 million people.

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Singapore skyline
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In terms of purchasing power parity, Singapore has the third-highest per capita income in the world. It is a major commercial hub, the fourth-biggest financial center and ranks second on the list of the world's busiest ports.

It also ranks high when comparing its education, healthcare and economy with other countries in the world.

Touring the Town

We chose to explore this first port of call on our own.  For those of you who scoff at cruises because of those ‘cruise ship herd tours', let me assure you that Oceania Cruises gets a gold star for on-shore passenger flexibility. At all of our ports of call, those who wanted to take the ship-sponsored tours  could do so. Many arranged small independent group tours by use of the Cruise Critic web site in advance of the cruise. Others, like us,  just walked off the ship, planning to see the town on our own. 
 
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Singapore is a tourist-friendly town

NOTE: Singapore is a tourist-friendly city, which makes it easy to tour on your own.  There were signs in English to explain the history of streets and neighborhoods and public art.

We opted to take the “Hop On, Hop Off” (HOHO) shore tour bus. We simply walked to the HOHO Bus tour desk in the very modern and cruise-ship-welcoming terminal. A short wait there and we were on their shuttle bus that transported us to the tour bus hub, tucked away among those towering buildings pictured above. 

NOTE: Similar buses operate in numerous cities around the world – as their name implies you can hop off, explore a particular site and hop back on the next bus that comes along to get to the next site or stay on the bus and simply sightsee.

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Hop On, Hop Off bus tours
The open-air upper deck featured on Hop On, Hop Off buses is always a favorite with us. Sunglasses and sunscreen are musts in climates, like Singapore, where we were but a few miles north of the equator. 

It was a good way to cover a lot of ground as we were docked in Singapore from 8 in the morning until 8 in the evening. Admittedly a single day in a port of call isn’t long enough, but it is a good sampler of all that a place has to offer. We use these stops as research – the overview can either bring us back on a future extended land trip or we can check it off as a ‘been there, done that’ sort of place.

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Historic Raffles Hotel, left and Marina Bay Sands to the right
In our case, we had been here before – decades ago.  So it was good to compare the old places that we recalled with that which was new. Trust me, there was much that was new! Our tour took us past the old British Colonial Raffles Hotel, (which had been old even way-back-when we first visited). The Singapore Sling, a gin and tropical fruit juice cocktail, was created in this place more than a hundred years ago. The stately old hotel was miniscule when compared to the towering Marina Bay Sands – yes, much has changed since we were last here.

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Atop the Marina Bay Sands (my former boss and The Scout, top left)

We “hopped off” the the tour bus at this towering hospitality hub and rendezvoused with my former boss, now Superintendent of the American School there, and his wife.  We headed to the bar and restaurant at the very top – 57th floor. With a healthy fear of water and heights, the infinity pool that stretches some 150 meters across the rooftop Skypark didn’t call out to me – but it was spectacular.

Showcasing Ethnic Diversity


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Sri Mariamman Temple
Asians make up the largest segment of the population. About 75% are Chinese, yet there are significant populations of Malays, Indians and Eurasians.

With limited time we couldn’t visit every ethnic quarter so rode through Little India’s eateries and shops en route to Chinatown.

At its entry (and near the bus stop) we – like countless others – stopped to admire and photograph Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple (opened 1827) in Singapore.

Then we wandered up and down the market streets visiting with vendors and shopping. 










There were so many restaurants from which to choose in this colorful and lively quarter that one could easily eat every meal here for a week and never visit every eatery.

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Chinese Quarter food street
Our day too soon came to an end and we climbed back on to our Magic Carpet, aka Oceania’s Nautica. We’d have another day at sea before reaching our next port of call: Phuket Thailand. Watching sail away is one of our favorite parts of cruising – on this particular sailing it seemed the perfect time to sip a Singapore Sling ~

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When in Singapore, have a Sling
We know you are busy, so we appreciate the time you spend with us!  Safe travels to you and hope to see you back again soon as we head out through the Straits of Malacca for the Bay of Bengal. . . .


Linking this week with:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

34 comments:

  1. Enjoyed your article and will look forward to reading more on your other ports of call.

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    1. Thanks for commenting and glad you are enjoying 'the cruise'!! Singapore was a beautiful city!

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  2. How exciting this all must be...and how lucky you are to be able to travel like this.
    Have fun !

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    1. It was fun, BJ. We are lucky and have decided that as long as we are able to do so, we'll throw logic and caution to the wind and travel! Thanks much for the visit~

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  3. Honestly, now, did you really like the Singapore Sling? I had one at Raffles, and brought home the glass and a poster, but it was like overpriced KoolAid with a splash of alcohol.

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  4. Honestly, now, did you really like the Singapore Sling? I had one at Raffles, and brought home the glass and a poster, but it was like overpriced KoolAid with a splash of alcohol.

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    1. I prefer wine but when in Rome. . .you know the saying. . .I drink Mai Tai's in Hawaii and Margaritas in Arizona, so it had to be a Sling in Singapore! However, we weren't tempted by the pricey ones at the Raffles, we opted to return to the ship where it was the drink of the day at $5.50 - not $25! ;-)

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  5. I love Singapore - I'm off to their GP again this year - they know how to throw a party...

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    1. What is their GP Lydia? Thanks for stopping by~

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  6. I so agree that you can see a lot in one day in a City Jackie. Indeed we have done that very thing in Singapore. In our case we caught the train from the airport and did our own thing too. The train is an easy fast and clean way to get from A to B in Singapore. You were lucky to get into Marina Bay Sands. Did you have a booking?

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    1. We didn't have a reservation at the restaurant and frankly, lucked out, in getting a table. However, the sun (as I mentioned) was intense and the table partially in the sun so we ordered ice teas, visited for a brief time and then took off to tour the city. The drinks were not inexpensive, but less than had we bought the tourist 'tickets' to go up to the other side and have a view of the town. . .we can thank our friends for tipping us off to that trick.

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  7. How cool! I will like to explore on my own too. Was there something specific you had to do to get to the top of the Marina Bay Sands? I have heard you have to at least buy a drink or something like that.

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    1. Hi Ruth, You were expected to buy either a drink or drink and food in the bar, which was fine with us. It was expensive but less than buying the tourist ticket to go up to the other side and stand on the viewing platform like section. It was hot - very hot up there so make sure you take a hat and sunscreen should you get up there!

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  8. I've heard such amazing things about Singapore. :-) And your post confirms them! That drink at the end looks so refreshing. :-)

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    1. I am not a real fan of sweet tropical drinks, but every once in a while there is nothing better than one of them! Singapore is an amazing city-state!! Thanks for the visit~

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  9. Sounds like you got a bird's eye overview of the city on the hop-on, hop-off bus and how fun to meet up with old friends. I'd love to see the Sri Mariamman Temple as well as many of Singapore's other sights and sample some of its amazing food, too. For now, I'll enjoy the virtual tour.

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    1. Thanks for the visit Anita! I just this week (I am always the last to join in technology) joined Google + so finally could get to your page there. Hope you'll find some of these reports worth sharing and I will do the same - once I figure it out!

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  10. I'd love to see Singapore someday. That poo! Oh my! I think I'd have to go in just to look over the ledge!

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    1. Maybe I'd have felt safe enough in the pool but that view was one long, long way down from there! Thanks for stopping by Amy!

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  11. My gosh, girl...you lead a very exciting life...and seeing the world.
    Love all your beautiful photos of Singapore. xoxo

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    1. Oh BJ, thank you for such nice comments. Have a great week ahead~
      xxJackie

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  12. What a city - love the pictures, but would have skipped the skyline pool too. Hah!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by you two! Always fun to find a comment from you~

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  13. That must have been a wonderful month-long cruise. I've been to Singapore a few years ago and the way they build more and more each year I know that the Singapore I saw is entirely different from what you saw.

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    1. It was an amazing cruise and the month flew past. Singapore is growing by leaps and bounds and was certainly a bigger, sleeker, city than the one we visited so many years ago. Thanks much for your visit and taking time to comment!

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  14. A very interesting post. It is a spectacular view from the 57th floor. I too have a fear of such heights but the view is worth to behold is worth getting up that high.

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    1. I share your dislike of heights so I wasn't real taken with the elevator ride to the 57th floor, but the view, I have to admit, was simply amazing! Thanks for commenting today!

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  15. Hi Jackie. I love Singapore, and you and Joel definitely made the best of your day. The last time I was there the Marina Sands had just opened. It is an amazing complex. I don't think they had hop-on-off buses, which I think are fantastic. Thanks for linking up this week #TPThursday

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    1. I am such a fan of hop-on, hop-off buses! I do look for them when we travel as they seem always to be the best deal in town for seeing a lot, learning a lot and not spending a lot to do so!

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  16. One of the best cities in the world! Small and compact, it has the essence of all those things that a traveler looks forward to.

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    1. Indrani, you are so correct about the small and compact, but with a wealth of cultural charm and history intermixed with sleek and modern 21st century world construction. Thanks for the visit!!

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