Our time in this small city-island-nation was very short. There have been fires raging in Indonesia and the smoke has blown north and blanketed the city. Before we even boarded the plan in Fussa, they warned us about the air quality in Singapore. When we arrived, we could smell the smoke and our eyes were burning. The air quality was in the unhealthy range and did not appear to be getting any better.
We did our best to keep strenuous exercise to a minimum, but we did set out to see a few sights in our short time. After we arrived and unloaded our bags at the hotel (two very small rooms in the red light district), we took a cab downtown to get a view of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the Merlion fountain.
We then walked over to the Gardens by the Bay, which sits just behind the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Either everyone was indoors due to smoke, or people do not explore in the city because the park was dead quiet. Again, there were really no good photo ops as it was just too smoky, but there are 25 to 50-meter tall Supertrees in the garden, which are covered with beautiful flowers and orchids. They are also wired to light up at night and there is a light show every night. Also within the garden are two huge domes, one of which houses a flower dome and the other a cloud forest. We decided to take a break from the smoke and explore the Cloud Forest, which also offered a break from the evening heat. In addition to the plant life from tropical highlands, there is also a 35-meter tall waterfall, which is the tallest man-made indoor waterfall in the world. The flowers were beautiful and the the break from the heat and smoke was calming for everyone. We ended our day at a restaurant back by our hotel, where we were able to order our meals on iPads. Apparently, since Singapore is such a small place, it has invested heavily in being “connected” and boasts 4G throughout the city.
The next morning we set off to explore the Singapore Botanic Gardens and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. On our way to the gardens, it started to dump rain. By the time we got to the gardens, there was a torrential downpour and the lightening and thunder had started to roll in. We sat under cover for about half an hour with lightening striking all around us followed by booming thunder (see Ty’s vlog). It was deafening and, I would say, a wee bit frightening.
When the storm had passed, we made it to the National Orchid Garden and around the park a bit. It was amazing to have such a lush, beautiful place in the middle of such a bustling city. The kids were bored after about 15 minutes. I think the highlight for them was the storm! And, as luck would have it, the weather moved in again and we had to move on to get out of the rain.
Our next stop was the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, which claims to house the tooth relic of the historical Buddha. There are four or five floors of artifacts to see and a lot of information about Buddha. We all found our spiritual Buddha guides based on our birth year and then went up to see the tooth of Buddha. Neither photos nor shoes are allowed in the room that houses the tooth. The room had meditation space all around the sides and many artifacts in the middle. At the end of the room is a glassed-off area that is completely covered in gold. In the middle of this gold shrine is the tooth of Buddha. After viewing the tooth, we were then led to a monk who sang a blessing for all of us. We were then told to go back to the tooth to meditate for a time. At least we think that’s what he wanted us to do.We really just stood around like idiots for a few minutes wondering what we were supposed to be doing and, when we thought we had waited long enough, we left.
After lunch in Chinatown, we walked a mile or so to a museum the kids wanted to go to. The MINT museum claimed to have an enormous collection of toys from around the world, but seemed to be mostly American. It was a fairly small museum, but we did enjoy the escape from the rain and heat.
We decided to move north the next day in the hopes of getting some cleaner air. Off to Kuala Lumpur!
Here are a few more pics of Singapore…
Merlion Fountain on the waterfront in Singapore.
Ty having some fun with the Merlion…
Taking a break under a solar-powered fan.
Floating baby sculpture in the Gardens by the Bay.
Fly trap orchid.
Lanterns at the Buddha Tooth Temple.