On 5 December we took the Aeroline Bus from KL to Singapore. It is a comfortable way of traveling, but it takes time, about 7 hours (with an unexpected 1 hour queue at Singapore immigration)!
From the bus terminal at Harbourfront is was only a few stops by MRT to our hotel Keong Saik in the heart of Chinatown. We had stayed in this hotel before, friendly staff, free coffee in the lobby, breakfast included.
Our program for this trip was mainly social and food, mixed with some culture.
After some rest, we walked around in Chinatown.
The Keong Saik road has been beautifully renovated. Difficult to imagine that in the sixties of the last century this was Singapore’s red-light district!
Later that night, our friend Beng Hooi picked us up from our hotel. He brought us to Toa Payoh Central, where we had Penang food and later Yam Bubble tea with him and a few of Aric’s diving friends.
One reason for our visit, was to meet our friend ST Lee. In July 2018 I had visited him and stayed a few days in his Pearl Bank apartment, click here for a report. He was recovering from flu, but feeling fit enough to have breakfast with us and Benny, another friend, in the Chinatown Complex, near to our hotel.
A few more nice buildings in Chinatown, near our hotel. The Jinrikisha Station was a station for rickshaw carts, carrying one passenger and pulled by one man, popular in those days. Kreta Ayer road , around the corner from our hotel was another street with brothels and prostitutes 😉
Beng Hooi knows about Aric’s interest in laksa, he had found some interesting places and took us for lunch to a famous laksa stall, Sungei Road Laksa at Jalan Besar. A long queue, delicious curry laksa, that is eaten with a spoon only, because the laksa has been cut into pieces already !
Before Beng Hooi drove back to work, he took us to the Masjid Sultan, passing on our way two modern architectural buildings on Beach Road, the iconic Concourse and the brand-new City Gate complex.
The Sultan mosque was built in 1932 on the location of an earlier mosque in Kampong Glam, the center of the Malay community in Singapore.
Pity that we could not enter the mosque because it was Friday. Must keep Kampong Glam in mind for a next visit, it is an interesting, bustling neighbourhood, with a rich history.
Beng Hooi dropped us at the Fort Canning park. During my last visit I had spent many hours exploring the hill, this time we only walked around a bit.
Aric was interested to take “artistic” pictures of a pedestrian underpass in Fort Canning, nicknamed the “Tunnel of Love”, but when we arrived, the name became clear, bridal couples were queueing for a photoshoot, so we gave up 🙂
On our way back to our hotel, we passed the impressive Majestic, originally built in 1928 as the Majestic Theatre , a Cantonese Opera house. Almost back, Aric received a message from his Singapore uncle David, that he was having coffee in the Chinatown Complex. Of course we joined him, to make our visit even more social 😉
And that was not yet the end of our socialising.. 😉 . ST Lee had asked us if we were interested to join him that evening to a performance of Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake in the Esplanade. We accepted his invitation gratefully and met him that evening in the Singapore Cricket Club for drinks and dinner.
After our dinner we walked from the Club to the Esplanade , enjoying the Singapore skyline and the many open-air activities taking place. Singapore is a vibrant city!
Taking pictures during the performance is not allowed. Here one picture before the start and one taken after the finale.
We enjoyed the ballet very much, actually more than I expected. I am a lover of modern ballet, see for example my blog Le Sacre du Printemps, but had never seen a classical ballet! Here is one of the gems of Swan Lake, by the Royal Ballet. Captivating!
After the show we walked home. The left picture shows the Esplanade Theatre, making clear why it is nicknamed the Durian. The right picture has the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel as background.
The next morning we had first breakfast with Aric’s diving friend Letitia, again in the Chinatown Complex. This time at Jia Ji Mei Shi, famous for its yam cake.
Waking around Chinatown, we had passed already a few times a monumental temple. It is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, we decided to visit it. A new temple, construction started in 2005.
Very impressive, both the outside and inside. It has become a major tourist attraction, we only visited the ground floor.
During our visit, there was praying and chanting going on. Will visit in more detail during my next trip.
After this visit we took the MRT to Woodlands where Beng Hooi was waiting for us. He brought us to a nice restaurant, the Anson Town Bistro, where we had a delicious assam laksa.
We visited the apartment where he is living with his family and walked a bit in the Woodlands Waterfront Park, from where you can see the skyline of Johor Bahru.
In the afternoon we visited ST Lee’s new apartment in The Quayside. Built in 1998, along the Singapore river. Nice location.
After our dinner ST dropped us at Orchard Road, where we had a look at the “famous” Christmas decorations. We had been warned already that it was not as spectacular as in the past, and indeed, it was rather disappointing.
The next morning we had breakfast with half-boiled eggs and toast, before taking the MRT to Changi airport.
We wanted to see the Jewel, and we were not the only ones, quite a crowd was admiring the Rain Vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
On our way back, we had lunch at Chew Kee Eating House. The original one, we almost went to the “wrong” one, Chew Kee Noodle House, a few doors away. Nice soy sauce chicken noodles. Click here for a comparison of the two eateries 😉 .
Dinner that evening in the Chinatown Complex with David and his wife. We had warned him not to order too much, but, as usual, that didn’t really help. Vert nice food, very nice people.
To lose some calories, we decided to visit the Gardens by the Bay and have a look at the Christmas Decorations there. Approaching the Gardens you pass this lake with mysterious floating decorations.
The Gardens are free but for Christmas Wonderland you have to pay an entrance fee of 10 S$, really worth the money.
The Walk of Peace tunnel
Artificial snow 😉
Christmas Angels 😉
Walking back from the Gardens to the MRT station, we passed Sol Lewitt’s mural painting. I had planned to visit Singapore’s National Gallery again, but we had been too busy with food and social activities. Next time.
The next day we took the bus back. No queueing at the immigration this time, but still it takes about 6 hours.