An August 2006 trip
to Singapore City by writeonthespot
Quote: Some say that one can tour Singapore in just a day. I say, "it's not enough!" To truly appreciate this small island nation, you have to embrace it fully.
With its history and strategic location in Southeast Asia, Singapore is a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Eurasian cultures. Religion is freely practiced here as it brings Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and Christians to harmoniously live with each other.
Despite its lack of natural resources, Singapore thrived to preserve its greens and create a habitat for its animals. Surprisingly, it has a beautiful Night Safari, Singapore Zoo, Botanic Gardens, and Jurong Bird Park, not to mention the beautiful sea animals in Sentosa. Major highways are filled with trees and plants. Because land is scarce, houses are built vertically and not horizontally.
Singapore’s picturesque attractions also include skyscrapers and beautiful architectures. The Esplanade is a durian-shape inspired building. Across it is the popular Merlion and the Fullerton Hotel. Old buildings are painted and decorated colorfully. The National Library, on the other hand, is a major attraction with its glass structure that brings in natural light to the building.
Their Visitor Center has all kinds of brochures and maps that will guide you in your tour. In fact, Singapore is a city of brochures. Everywhere you go, even inside the Carlsberg Skytower cabin at Sentosa, there’s a bunch of brochures to keep you informed and updated. I wonder how much they spend for those materials. But they come in handy and you can even take them back home and share with others who plan to visit Singapore.
Buses can cost about one Singaporean dollar depending on the distance you will take. However, to make it more convenient, prepare coins so you can just drop them off at the driver’s area as you board your bus. The MRT is even much better. You pay S deposit fee for the Standard card plus the cost of the ride. But after the ride, you can always claim back the S at the card vending machine.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 21, 2006
121 Penang Road
Singapore, Singapore 238464
+65 6737 8828
Attraction | "Orchard Road Hawkers"
To kick-off our tour, we first took the pink HiPPO bus for the Sentosa trip and stayed at the recreation island for about half a day till the sun was out. After the Magical Fountain show, we boarded the red HiPPO bus for the Moonlight trip that took us to the Bugis Village, a bargain shopping center, Chinatown and Orchard Road. With the heavy rains, only five of us took that night tour. Still, it didn’t dampen our "tourist" spirit as we looked forward to another day of HiPPO touring. It helped that our tourist guide that night, Gareth, was such a wonderful conversant who gave us interesting points about Singapore that couldn’t be normally found in travel books.
On our second day, we took the Heritage tour aboard the red bus (alternate purple bus) which basically covered the Eastern part of Singapore. We hopped off at Little India and spent the morning there. The next stop was Mustafa Centre. Although it was a few blocks away from Little India, we decided to wait on the HiPPO bus to avoid getting wet from the rain. Just a few minutes off its deadline, the bus arrived and took us to Mustafa where we spent 75 minutes, enough to look around the place and have some Indian lunch.
After that, as we boarded the bus, we never got off and enjoyed the sights until we came back to Suntec City where the three buses converge at certain times of the day. There we got off and took the yellow bus for the City Tour. Actually, we are touring the entire city already but the City Tour is just a distinction from the Heritage Tour and the Sentosa Tour.
For the city tour, we went around the Raffles Hotel, Clarke Quay, where we hopped off for the free boat ride, Esplanade, Botanical gardens, and Orchard Road. It’s the southern-central part that we toured for this particular ride. Again, we ended at Suntec City and had a fine dinner at the Esplanade. These HiPPO tours are a good activity for tourists who do not have an itinerary or for those who want to see every nook and cranny of this small city-state.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 21, 2006
We took the MRT going to Ang Mo Kio, got off at the station and waited for bus 138 to take us in the Night Safari. It was about an hour traveling time before we arrived to our destination. Excited as we were, we posed in front of the Night Safari signage designed with torches on both sides that greeted us upon arrival. We paid S$28 for the entrance fee and the tram ride that will take us around the 40-hectare secondary forest.
Aboard the open-air tram, the lights were dimmed and the tourist guide warned us from taking flash photography. Truly, you’ll never know what those animals would do when they see a flash of light. The tram ride took us through various animal exhibits, namely, Himalayan Foothills, Nepalese River Valley, Indian Subcontinent, Equatorial Africa, Indo-Malayan Region, Asian Riverine Forest, South American Pampas, and Burmese Hillside.
What’s good about the tram ride is that you can hop off and hop on at the various stops. We hopped off at the Equatorial Africa area near the giraffes. Two sloth bears gave us a fright as they had a small skirmish. We were supposed to grab something to bite but food is a bit expensive here. We decided to walk around the periphery and found ourselves staring at a majestic view of the reservoir. Then, we continued with our tour.
Capping our tour was a night show at the amphitheatre. The host knows how to greet the audience in various languages that made the tourists light up as they hear their mother tongue being spoken. Then one-by-one the animals did their own acts. One particular scene was a woman from the audience who apparently lost her pet snake. Well, it was all part of the act but that got the audience jumping.
80 Mandai Lake Rd.
+65 6269 3411
As the balloon ascended, neighboring buildings like the Raffles Hospital, Inter-Continental Singapore and Suntec City Mall came to view. It went higher further and the skyscrapers at Orchard Road slowly appeared. We stayed on air for about 10 minutes and the balloon descended steadily.
It is a one-of-a-kind experience that I would recommend to friends who visit Singapore. Since we took the ride in the morning, I would like to try at night to see the city lights glowing in the dark night.
Regular rate would be S$23 but since we took the HiPPO package tour we only paid S$13. I think there were about 20 of us or more who were allowed to ride the balloon at a time. For inquiries, you may contact 6-33-868-77. It is open from 11am to 9:30pm.