On my second day in Singapore, I went to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, and the Observation Deck. The hotel is impressive, super modern, all clean lines and very sleek looking. The hotel itself has 3 big high rise towers, so it has 3 check-in desks, plus restaurants and at least one gift shop, all in the very big lobby. It is, quite frankly a destination in-itself. I probably wasn’t the only person there at that moment just visiting, and the staff don’t seem to mind. Access to the observation deck from MRT is also via the main lobby, adding to the number of people there.
The observation deck offers unparalleled views of Singapore. In one direction you’ve got the city skyline, (assuming it’s not about to pour with rain and covered in clouds) and in the other direction you’ve got The Gardens by the Bay, with great views of the Supertrees, and the open water behind. Plus, you’ve got the area immediately under the hotel, the esplanade and if your eyes are good enough you can even see the Merlion, which is the national symbol of Singapore. You can also see the infinity pool, which is sadly only open to hotel guests – what views while you’re swimming and sunbathing. It was another very warm day, with the added fun of being breezy up there – I carelessly wore a dress – and it kept trying to rain. But, it was worth it.
After I’d seen all I could see, I went back down the lift, and headed to The Shoppes, as the mall attached to the hotel is called. This was more glitz and glamour, more modern sleek lines, and home to dozens of the big, luxury names – Dior, Burberry, Bvlgari, Hermes, Cartier, Chanel, Gucci, to name but a few. Oh, to have that kind of money. I even saw an old friend from Paris – Cafe Angelina. At one point there’s a big waterfall cascading into a canal, with a gondola you can take a ride in, just like in Venice. It was all very impressive.
From there, I went to Fort Canning Park, which is a big park built into the hillside, north of the river. It has previously been the home to palaces of various 14th century kings, and more recently was the headquarters of the Far East Command Centre and British Army Barracks, and is actually where the surrender of Singapore was signed in 1942. These days, it’s used for recreational purposes – walks in the gardens and amongst the trees, plays and festivals take place here, and old buildings have been preserved and are now used as galleries and museums.
I had a lovely couple of hours there, pottering about taking in the views, and enjoying the relative peace and quiet. I visited the gallery there, which is used as a museum and talks about the surrender of Singapore, culminating in life size models sitting around a big table of everyone who was in the room when the papers were signed – they were slightly unnerving, especially as I was in the room alone…
After that, I had a walk around the local neighbourhood, ending up at Raffles Hotel. This is another luxury hotel, but where The Marina Bay Sands is all modern, Raffles oozes old world charm and beauty. It was built in the early 1830s, and was originally a beach house, eventually becoming a hotel, Emerson’s Hotel in 1878. That was a short lived venture, closing after the death of the person who had leased it from the owner in 1883, and was then used a boarding house for a few years after that. But, new people took over the lease from the owner, and The Raffles Hotel opened in 1887. Over the years, it’s been extended and had many new buildings added, and had several renovations and has grown from 10 rooms to todays 115. It’s also no longer on the beach – Singapore uses land reclamation to expand its land, and the seafront is now several miles away. These days, it is a high end luxury hotel, which maintains its original charm – lots of balconies and verandas, and big ornate staircases, and peaceful gardens. Some of these areas are open to the public, as there are no gates but whereas The Marina Bay Sands was busy, Raffles wasn’t, it was lovely and peaceful as night fell.
I had one more thing on my agenda that day, which was a return to The Marina Bay Sands hotel for their nightly free light show. This was another impressive show, a combination of fountains and colourful lights creating all sorts of shapes and patterns above the water in front of the hotel, all set to music. It definitely pays to get there early though which sadly I didn’t, I had a couple of people’s heads in the way at times. But, it was an amazing end to a busy day.