The thing I love most about returning to Singapore for a fabulous 4th time, is how quickly we just slip back into our old travel friendship like a comfortable pair of shoes.
No need to race off and do all the flashy things that those in a new travel relationship do. We know each other well now so no need to pound the pavements in the heat, seeing things for the first time or ticking off the top 10 must do’s. Instead it has been 3 days of returning to old favourites and taking the place at a far more relaxed pace.
Returning to the Fullerton Bay Hotel, with her familiar signature fragrance, awesome rooftop pool and spectacular views, feels like home. It feels more like we live here than we are visiting and we have really enjoyed living like local for a change. As this has been our neighbourhood we have enjoyed walking around and getting to know it better than ever before – without racing off to the next destination.
There have however been a few surprises. And like locals this time, we did a bit of research around shows and events that we could take in while here.
We visited the Artscience Museum for the first time to take in a Marvel Comics exhibition and took the opportunity to add on the Future Space while we were there. Both were stunning exhibitions that catered perfectly to the small person and the Husband. No easy feat.
We walked the length of the river to Clarke Key one evening before deciding that we really ought to try a riverside restaurant at Boat Quay, as we never had before. The sun was setting, the river looked beautiful and the place was busy with Friday night happy hour drinks. It gave it a sense of energy and a feeling of locals rather than tourists. We stopped at one place, called Forum Seafood, without checking Trip advisor first. Oh what a terrible mistake that was. Singapore is a city known for its cuisine however The Forum on Boat Quay has no place in the same paragraph. . It was without any doubt the worst meal we have even eaten. The beer may have been “free” but you couldn’t pay me to go back there. Like all good locals do, we will avoid the tourist traps entirely in the future.
Having been here on 3 occasions in the lead up to the National Day (9 August) we have always just missed the rehearsals, but this time, we had front row seats. The National Day here is celebrated in true Singapore style. It is a choreographed triumph and in order to achieve that perfection every Saturday night for 5-6 weeks before hand, they have a full rehearsal. Fighter jets, helicopters, boats, lights and a massive fireworks on full view for all to enjoy. And these are just practice runs. The roar of the jets, diving in between buildings with the noise booming and bouncing off the buildings is truely a once in a lifetime experience and if you are ever in town, not one to be missed. The show of military strength, laser lights and fireworks are best viewed from a rooftop bar overlooking the Bay – our hotel just happens to be one of the prime locations.
The Fullerton Hotel (just across the road) also just happened to be celebrating her 90th birthday. So it made perfect sense to have on display literally 100’s of some of the world’s most amazing cars, clustered together in decades, stretching back 90 years. Wandering around cars worth millions of dollars kept the husband happy for hours. Giving us yet another reason to stick close to home.
You can’t go past a walk through the Gardens on the Bay when in town. They remain a highlight for me and the orchids seem to be bigger and better every year. It has been a joy watching the Gardens emerge from the sea on our first visit and to see them grow ever more beautiful on each successive visit. Within easy walking distance from our hotel, it was again another perfect thing to do in the neighbourhood.
Auckland could learn a lot from Marina Bay. It is waterfront living done right and it has been a great way to start the holiday at a more relaxed pace. Next stop Ho Chi Minh. I expect the pace will pick up a fair bit there.
Highlights from Small Heights
My mother did not do the Forum Seafood justice. That is, to say, she didn’t criticise it enough. I’ll give you my review: RUN!!!!!!
I must admit, staying in Singapore for the billionth time has it’s advantages. For one, more time relaxing, less sight-seeing. Two books down already, one of them of respectable size, thank you very much.
The Fullerton Bay Hotel is amazing. I can hardly detect the smell, but otherwise just perfect. Swimming pool, room, cuisine, (especially breakfast. Oh the breakfast…). Yep, it’s our favourite place in Singapore.
The malls seem never-ending and a visit to Orchard Road’s Kinokuniya bookstore is necessary. Vivo City is also great for clothes. But honestly, unless it’s in bookstores, shops are Mum’s dominion.
Mine, however, is relaxation. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to lie by the pool and read my book.
Charlotte’s Rating: 9\10.
Two top tips: Avoid the Forum Seafood, and book the Fullerton Bay Hotel.