It was good to get back to Singapore after two weeks living out of our rucksacks. We arrived back just in time for the bank holiday weekend. Naomi’s Dad had a Friday off work so we were out for cocktails with some of his friends on the Thursday evening. We don’t want to name and blame anyone, but Mike has lived in Singapore for 14 years so he was responsible for the expert cocktail bar crawl that ensued that night. We began at ‘The Horses Mouth’, continued on to ‘Manhattan’ (an amazing list of creative cocktails), proceeded to an Irish pub called ‘Muddy Murphy’s’, and ended in a seedy bar/club called ‘Ipanema’. It’s safe to say the standard of venue decreased as the night went on and we moved on from classy cocktails to warm beers. By the time we’d reached Ipanema, in which they have to limit the number of men entering the bar to keep a gender balance, it was already midnight. A live band singing cheesy music and a couple more beers made a good end to an unexpectedly boozy night.
We awoke the next day feeling slightly groggy to say the least and it was a very slow start for us all. Naomi in particular wasn’t in any position to leave the house, but we dragged ourselves for some brunch at ‘Toby’s Estate’. Luckily, we were all feeling much perkier by Saturday morning, just in time to celebrate Silvia’s birthday. We headed to a French restaurant for a meal, dining on steak, chips, red wine and profiteroles.
To end the first long weekend back in Singapore the four of us made our way to MacRitchie Reservoir, a popular destination for runners, water sports enthusiasts and nature lovers. MacRitchie feels miles away from Singapore’s city centre upon entering the huge park and allowing the canopy of trees to engulf you. Boardwalks skirt the edge of the reservoir and walking trails snake through the dense forest. We passed many locals running cross-country in the stifling heat but decided to stick to a gentle, but lengthy 11km-walking trail loop.
We reached the TreeTop Walk half way through our hike, a 250 meter suspension bridge spanning Bukit Peirce and Bukit Kalang, the two highest points at MacRitchie. From here we could appreciate the panoramic views of the surrounding rainforest, reservoir and Singapore Island Country Club golf course. Along the way we bumped into a few over-confident macaques as well as giant ants and a monitor lizard.
The two of us walked to China Town on Tuesday to get some fresh air and to have lunch at ‘Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle’, a popular Michelin Star Hawker restaurant. We had to wait in a queue before ordering, evidence of its excellent reputation, but it was worth it. They serve a combination of rice or noodles, with chicken or pork. It’s a very simple menu with basic canteen style décor, but the meat was so juicy and tender. We ordered rice with chicken and another with pork so we could sample both, and everything was cooked to perfection.
Mid-week, Silvia and Naomi’s Dad managed to convince us to come along to an Orange Theory work out session. The fitness sessions are split into intervals of cardiovascular and strength training with heart rate monitors to track intensity. The gym operates on a traffic light system of green, orange and red in relation to how hard your heart is working and ideally, you want your heart rate to be in the ‘orange zone’ to maximise metabolic burn and to earn ‘splat points’. The two of them have been members of Orange Theory Gym for some time and always come back from the hour-long classes looking beaten as they crawl through the front door. We were both terrified and intrigued by the concept so decided to give it a go. It was a pretty intense hour of sprint running, burpees, weighted squats, and on the rowing machines, but we made it through the session without throwing up, earning a bucket load of splat points.
We had a leisurely day after our introduction to Orange Theory at Sentosa Beach. We caught the MRT and Sentosa Express monorail to the island and spent the morning wandering around the beaches. There are three man-made beaches at Sentosa: Siloso, Palawan and Tanjong. We explored all three but decided against bringing our swimsuits as the water wasn’t all that tempting due to the never-ending parade of ships sailing across the Straits. The sun was very unforgiving that day and we ended up getting a little sunburnt so the idea of jumping in to the sea became more appealing as the day continued.
Our trip to Sentosa coincided with ‘Sentosa Sandsation 2017’, Southeast Asia’s largest sand festival. Larger than life sand sculptures on display depicted local life, inspired by Singapore’s culture, quirks and colloquial slangs.
Sentosa is more of a family orientated complex consisting of Universal Studios, Madame Tussauds and feels similar to an amusement park. The beaches are backed by a variety of hotels and resorts, with a slightly uninspiring selection of restaurants and bars lining the seafront. We weren’t blown away by what Sentosa had to offer, but it’s great that Singapore has created this slice of beach holiday fun for families to enjoy and to escape the city.
We couldn’t resist taking a detour to the Fabulous Baker Boy café on our way back from Sentosa. We’d learnt our lesson from last time and only ordered one gigantic slice of cake with coffees this time.
We spent the weekend enjoying more of Singapore’s bars and restaurants with some of Naomi’s Dad’s work friends. We’re getting quite a flavour for the bar, restaurant and café scene in Singapore and enjoying dotting around town to try all of the top spots on Mark and Silvia’s list before we leave! Saturday brunch was spent at ‘Forty Hands’ coffee shop in Tiong Bahru before venturing to the five star iconic Fullerton Hotel for a tour.
Located near the mouth of the Singapore River in the Downtown Core of the central area, the grand neoclassical Fullerton building has an interesting history that can be discovered by attending one of the daily afternoon tours. Built in 1928, it was once home to Singapore’s General Post Office, and the prestigious Singapore Club. For nearly a century it has played a pivotal role in Singapore’s rich history and today is transformed into a 400-room heritage hotel. Our excellent tour guide, ‘Slick Bill’ explained how the Fullerton building was commissioned as part of the British colony’s centennial celebrations and lead us around the grand lobby and up to the rooftop bar where we enjoyed a 360 degree view of the city we feel we know pretty well by now.
We spent the rest of our weekend packing in preparation for our trip to Hong Kong. We’d spontaneously decided to squeeze in a five-day mini-break to Hong Kong when Lawrence discovered he’d been owed a healthy looking tax-rebate. Wanting to make the most of our time in Southeast Asia and in the knowledge we had a little more money in our back pockets than previously thought, we searched for cheap local flights out of Singapore airport. As we’d seen so much of Singapore and still had a week to spare before flying back to the UK, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to explore yet another magnificent Asian city.