Our very last stop was Singapore. When we extended our trip by a few weeks, we were unable to get a flight end of April from Kuala Lumpur like originally planned, so swapped to Singapore. And boy are we glad we did! What an amazing city!
We were lucky enough to be hosted by Lori and Jim, whose children I was at school with about 15 years ago, but who kindly offered to have us stay (and completely spoiled us!)
They met us at the airport, although I made them wait a while as the first thing I did upon arrival was get arrested. Upon leaving the airport, they make you put your bags through a scanner and low and behold, the pepper spray Katie’s brother gave us at the beginning of our trip and we luckily never had to use was confiscated. Not only that, the police questioned me and gave me a formal warning. What a way to start!
Our first day we spent having a lunch of pizza and chianti with our hosts, and catching up on the last 15 years before having a quiet evening enjoying the view from their apartment.
We were then treated like queens the following few days, with trips to a fish spa, a pedicure and our own personal tour through the streets of Singapore. The city is a real melting pot of cultures. It has 4 main languages: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil, and a hugely fascinating history. Formally part of Malaysia, a visionary saw its potential about 50 years ago and turned it into its own country, created industries and an economy that is now booming.
We got the sense that whilst everything runs very smoothly, there is an aspect of ‘big brother’, as things are quite strictly controlled (chewing gum is illegal), but it seems to work very well and the city is beautiful and very clean and safe.
We spent our days walking through the cities many areas: Chinatown with its markets, Arab street with its amazing restaurants and beautiful mosque, Little India with its many clothes shops, and Emerald Hill with its restored Chinese shop houses.
Singapore also treated us to some culinary delights. One of its popular dishes is Chili crab, which was recommended by a friend, and was delicious (yet exceedingly messy). The Singaporeans opposite us put us to shame with their impeccable crab-eating skills. Lori and Jim also took us to the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant, called Hawker Chan. Originally street food, its speciality is chicken and rice with various sauces, all for the Michelin price of £2.50!
Our final day took us to Gardens By The Bay, a truly 21st century garden with 18 ‘supertrees’ – huge steel structures with over 160,000 plants growing on them! They generate solar power, act as air venting ducts for nearby conservatories, and collect rainwater. Although we had to dodge huge downpours to get out and visit them, it was hugely worth it.
We really didn’t know what to expect of Singapore, and certainly didn’t expect to like it so much, but we finished our trip on a real high.
It’s so hard to believe that this is all over. These last 9 months have gone so quickly, and so much has happened it will be hard to process it all whilst trying to integrate back into London life.
It’s safe to say we’ve both learnt huge amounts about ourselves, each other and the world we live in. It’s made us much more open towards people, and so much more grateful for what we have in our lives.
Thank you all for being a part of our trip and for encouraging us to carry on blogging. We’re so glad to have these memories down on ‘paper’.
So for one final time – bye for now!