Katie was so excited the night before that she couldn’t sleep. It has been a long time since Katie saw her sister, Lucy, and we have not been to Singapore since 1994.
The cruise ship docked at Marina Bay Cruise Terminal. Unsurprisingly, we passed many ships on the way to port as Singapore is one of the largest container ports in the world. We appreciated the smooth immigration process that Princess Cruise had facilitated, and we were able to disembark the ship with no delay.
Lucy and her partner, Eric, met us at the cruise terminal, where they had parked their car. We had a short drive around, and our first impression was that Singapore is an exceptionally clean and modern city. We did not recognise the place as it had changed so much in 25 years. There are several major new attractions, and Lucy had arranged for us to experience two of them–Marina Bay Sands and the Gardens by the Bay.
We had a quick breakfast of coffee and milk tea with sandwiches and toast at one of the food malls at the Marina Bay Sands. Milk tea is tea infused with condensed milk – very sweet and typically Singaporean.
Next, we visited the Sands SkyPark, which is the observation deck on the “ship” that sits on top of the three Marina Bay Sands towers. The “ship” is mostly a hotel. It has an infinity pool, but access is only given to guests. The observation deck is at one end of the “ship”. From it, visitors can get about a 270 degrees view of Singapore. It was very popular when we went up there on a clear Sunday morning. Lucy had also arranged for us to have a souvenir professional photo of our group, and we will treasure this.
Eric drove us to China Town, where we enjoyed lunch at the Peach Garden Chinese Restaurant. We had dim sum, flat rice noodles with mushrooms, yummy soup with scallops, and interesting sticky rice desserts served in young coconuts. Ian and Eric enjoyed their Tiger beers.
Our next stop was the Gardens by the Bay on 101 hectares of reclaimed land and opened in 2012. Lucy bought tickets for the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest Dome. These are huge, air-conditioned structures that house plants ranging from cool, temperate climates to tropical rain forests, including Australian plants and olive trees. It is difficult to explain these in words, so we took lots of photos. They have cost billions of dollars, and there is some controversy about whether it is money well spent. An interesting feature of the Flower Dome is the numerous sculptures made from pieces of wood.
To finish off we enjoyed a cool drink and snacks at McDonalds. Lucy and Eric had given us a very full and thoroughly enjoyable tour of some of the best of Singapore in the short time we were ashore. Eric drove the short distance back to the cruise terminal where we said our “goodbyes”. We thanked Lucy and Eric for their time and the generous gift of the Marina Sands SkyWalk photo. We insisted to them that they visit us in the Hunter Valley next year.
We were so tired after our hectic but very enjoyable tour of Singapore and catch-up with Lucy and Eric, that once on board, Katie immediately hit the sack and missed dinner, and Ian had to refresh himself with a Bodington so he could enjoy the Singapore sailaway sunset.