Singapore is one lovely garden city. One of the finest cities in Asia.
People affable. A huge cultural diversity that generates a welfare society.
The look is lost in architecture, is dazzled by the beauty of women with the most varied costumes.
A deep harmony. The new with the traditional. The concrete with green areas. Innovation with conservatism.
A reference city in Asia. A mandatory and easy visit for any tourist, although not a cheap destination.
I visited Singapore in 1987 and promised to return. The charm was even greater after 27 years.
My first visit to Singapore was a stopover of Singapore Airlines, i decided to stay two days and the city deserved more time.
I promised to come back, what happened in the 2014.
It is one of the most expensive cities in the world but should also be at the top in quality of life. Some residents said me they are proud to live in a city that reveals fascinating.
The combination of old and new is fantastic.
The strong feature of British colonization is evident in many places.
The English have been here over 200 years and Singapore became independent in 1963.
The local government had the intelligence to preserve many of the colonial buildings and turn them into public buildings. This is the case of Parliament. A complex of colonial buildings surrounded by a beautiful colonial garden. Today it is a museum.
The materials and colors typical of colonial traces of houses make a vivid contrast to a modern city.
Skyscraper with modern architecture skies populate the island but, at same time, the everyday life, is a traditional routine of habits of Chinese, Malay and Indian.
They are the vast majority of the nearly 5 million people from all over the state.
On the streets you can feel the bustle however, without strong constraints.
Circulating is easy and there are parks and green areas in many parts of Singapore.
It's called the Garden City. Even in many modern buildings it's common to find small gardens. On the 15th floor of my hotel I saw a park in other building, far. Then, more closely, I noticed there wasn't a park but a large garden with several trees, on top of the skyscraper and mingled on the horizon with green park.
The river area is wide, designed to walking. Markets with fresh produce. Buddhist temples. The tents with food sales, especially fried. There are several water channels and small ships.
The main difference is the respect for the rules.
The usual confusion and indifference to Western codes, typical of some Asian countries, there is not in Singapore.
Road signs are respected. Smoking only in places designed for that purpose. No gums. Little or no garbage on the street. Pedestrians do not cross the road without being the green light. Only in Litlle India these rules are violated quite often.
We feel safe. There are many people walking. We can do it without any fear. Some shops and restaurants are open late. Particularly Indians and Arabs. They are friendly.
The marina is stunning. The towers of the marina bay sands are the most beautiful buildings I've seen to date within modern architecture.
It is a surprise for all visitors. From several points of the bay there are lenses with focus on the hotel towers.
The construction of the boat at the top, with trees, is unforgettable.
I got up at night and watched a show on the water. Fountains of water which reflects the light and act as a screen for projections of drawings with children and someone to sing the Rainbow Louis Armstrong. Beautiful.
A lot of people watching, right across from the commercial center, in a space like an outdoor auditorium.
Just in front, across the bay sparkles with the colors of the buildings. The modern, high, as well as the colonial architecture. It's the case of the Fullerton hotel. The hotel and the restaurant. Elegant and reserved for certain portfolios.
The museum of art and science is also very beautiful and unusual but is stifled by the towers. As well as huge galleries, luxury brands. The shopping center is luxurious, with huge carpets and an artificial river in the middle. From one of the sides we can access at the top. It is a general view of the interior space. We can still go out, to the hotel.
Lot of people on streets at 10 pm, they give their ride. Many do jogging, strolling and some others, upright, go to ceremonial dinners. The city, with huge illuminated buildings, does not seem to fall asleep.
The temperature is pleasant. The only problem in Singapore is the frequent rain. Sometimes very strong, with fearful lightnings.
The path beside the river is very beautiful.
One of the walks is to start at Clarke Quay and go ahead towards the marina.
The view is wide because there are enormous gardens and parks on one side.
There are still old buildings such as the Asian Civilisations Museum, the Arts House and the Parliament.
Some of these spaces are hangout at night and there are always people strolling in the parks.
Small illuminated bridges add an even more pleasant atmosphere.
One of the busiest areas is the Boat Quay with many restaurants, bars and massage. Some of the restaurants have terraces along the river. They are illuminated. Brighten and colored the river of brown water that sometimes is crossed by small cruise boats at night seem small power stations, with so many lights.
I stayed at the Ibis Bencoolen. Easy access to various areas of the city and near a metro station. These transportation system covers the entire city. There are tourists passes. Three days is 30 Singapore dollars.
The Ibis Bencoolen is close to a shopping area called Bugis.
Shopping centers are very large and proliferate throughout the city. They are very frequented by locals. Women are beautiful, cared for, with closer clothes and behavior of the West. They joined, however, to the fast-food.
In some streets, in addition to shopping centers, there are street vendors. Counterfeiting of sunglasses, watches, trinkets and souvenirs.
In Bugis, right next to a temple there is a street full of such vendors.
One of the must-see is the Chinatown. In particular Sri marianman temple. They do not let take pictures.
It's very big. The interior space is very large with huge statues of Hindu deities.
It is imperative for a walk through the streets of Chinatown.
Old houses are painted with great variety of colors. In bright colors.
The ground floor is for shops and restaurants.
The streets are full of people. Many tourists and street vendors. There are shopping streets where they sell everything and decorated with typically Chinese objects.
I walked down the street Pagoda, temple, mosque (near there is a small mosque with green walls) and Sago. In this route there is a square, the Kreta Ayer, where the old people play cards.
Ahead is a closed market. Surprising the second floor, all filled with restaurants. It's a huge space. As if it were a shopping center catering. Lots of tables and chairs in the central area. But at chinese way.
Form here to Sago is an instant.
It is worth to see the museum and the Buddhist temple, called Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum.
It has a huge lounge, all decorated with three very large statues that capture immediate attention.
The ceiling is decorated with lamps. All material is wood. On the other side, there is also a large room with other deities.
Many local people pray without being harassed by the presence of tourists.
It is still possible to scroll through the corridors on the second floor where there are pictures and statues. This floor has a global view of the main hall. On the third floor there is another exhibition of the most relevant personalities of Buddhism in Singapore.
Another cultural district is by Malay and Arabic influence. It's not very big. It is northeast of Bugis.
As in Chinatown, the houses also maintain the colonial traces. The explanation is simple. The strong development of the city has led to urban renewal. The poorest neighborhoods did not undergo this transformation and, in the meantime, began to be preserved.
This area has a lot of colorful houses also.
The streets are narrower than in Chinatown but we walk well because there is no street vendors and all the space is very careful.
Trading is typically Arabic with many vendors, cafes and restaurants that are frequented by tourists.
The Arab street is highlighted in the guidebooks but I liked most of Haji Lane. Less commercial, more informal and varied, with traders sitting on the doors. Young people.
The Malay Heritage Centre is located in front of Kampong Glam. The historic district of Malays in Singapore where the Sultan's pallace was built. The space is a cultural center, can be visited and has several permanent exhibitions.
The most important place is the sultan mosque which is just next door. It is large and its marinetes are visible from almost every street.
Access to public ends at 16h.
The Little India is also not far from Bencoolen. We can go walking from the Ibis.
There are several houses with colonial architecture. They are small, made of wood.
There is a mansion built by a chinese and is very beautiful. It was recovered and has very bright colors. Each wall has various colors, also the windows and the shutters are also made of wood.
The Little India is like the other old neighborhoods. The main difference - and it's quite noticeable - is the waste and the lack of compliance with rules such as smoking anywhere.
The trade is mixed, by indian and chinese people.
The streets are full of shops. The central streets are wider and trade is more varied. There are many jewelers from China. Indians prefer electronics.
Outside the central areas, the streets are narrower, the atmosphere is a bit disorganized and there are several shops of spices and food products.
It is common to find many places to do shopping in these streets.
In small platters dominates the street trade.
In one of these streets stands out over a Hindu temple. Very beautiful.
Around this temple there are several flower shops and often see men working petals, with an ancient technique of the Hindus, very elaborate, to make necklaces. Each takes a lot of time with hundreds of petals.
Also worth is visiting the market. It's right on the main street in the center of Singapore and where there is a metro station.
On the ground floor they sell fish, meat and vegetables.
Upstairs most stores are selling clothes and linen arrangements. Men sitting in front of a sewing machine are making clothes or arrangements. Nobody bothers with tourists. They watch with some indifference the passage of visitors.
Other useful information: there is a wide variety of accommodations. In most cases the prices are not cheap.
The meter can provide support for transport within the city. Many of the routes are easily done on foot. People are helpful and can quickly answer questions. Many of the local people speak two languages, English is the most common.
The airport shuttle can be done underground. We must change in one station to go to the city center. There is also a bus that runs through the major hotels. When returning to the airport should say in advance at the hotel that you want to use the bus. The easiest way is by taxi. It costs about 30 Singapore dollars which is not much considering the distance, about 20km.
Singapore has many convenience stores but we find the same products at much lower prices in supermarkets. There are many and are usually on the ground floor of shopping centers.
There are many ATMs and the use of credit cards is not subject to constraints.
Required cover or umbrella because the rainstorms. But do not despair, half an hour later the sky reopens.
Smoking: in fact, what Singapore requires is civility. It has nothing to do with highly restrictive policies. I did not feel the phobia smoking, "how will I get? If not let me smoke." Not at all. There are many sites where you can smoke. In almost all places where people are concentrated there is a space with an ashtray where you can smoke. Do not bother others and the garbage is much lower.