Jen reviews fantastic guide to 100 things to do and experience in Singapore reminds me of my first visit to this incredible city state, almost exactly a year ago, writes The Money Cloud’s Edmund Ingham
Almost exactly one year ago, I found myself sitting in a nondescript waiting room in downtown Kuala Lumpur. Having bought my coach ticket I was ushered into a backroom with 15 or so fellow passengers. There were no refreshments on offer, and Home Alone was playing on a tiny screen above the door.
It was an inauspicious start to what would turn out to be more of a grand journey. A 6-hour coach ride from KL, all the way to Singapore. Singapore, the Lion City with a reputation for order, discipline, success, wealth (the only places with a higher millionaire per capita ratio are Monaco, and Geneva), and advanced, first world thinking, living, and experiences.
The journey was unremarkable for the first 5 hours – unless you happen to be a fan of palm oil trees, there was not a lot to see on the long, long highway that led pretty much in a straight line all the way to the border with Singapore at the Southern tip of Malaysia. The coach was luxurious – we even had our own television sets, no doubt showing another Macaulay Culkin film or three. The border crossing was mundane and quite exhausting.
Then we got back onto the bus and everything changed. Malaysia is a wonderful country with character, non-stop activity, and an adventurous vibe; a blend of eastern charm, a melting pot of diversity, passionate people and an ultra-modern, bubbling hipster vibe. Kuala Lumpur, from the top of the Traders Hotel in the financial district, to the sprawling vegetation bursting out on every street corner, to the Petronas Twin Towers lit up at night, has plenty of wow-factor.
But as first impressions go, Singapore is hard, if not impossible to beat. As we meandered our way towards the centre of the city, there is jaw-dropping-to-the-floor architecture everywhere you look; a new, seemingly impossible statement hotel, office block, stadium or rooftop garden around every corner. It is designed to create a favourable impression, you suspect, but oh boy, does it!
It’s hard to describe how impressive and intriguing Singapore looks, feels, and tastes (did I mention the cuisine – exceptional!) and my advice would simply be to go to the city and experience it for yourself. I spent two weeks there, and it was amongst the most memorable experiences of my life; from pulling pints (yes, pints; and yes, pulling), of coffee at my local Starbucks, to spending the day on Sentosa Island, where Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un held their power-craze-off summit earlier this year, to experiencing the Singapore National Day celebrations and being inside the National Stadium to see the military fly-by – it was hit after hit, all served up with a smile and enthusiasm by hospitable, engaging hosts, not to mention highly intelligent Singaporeans who enjoy life, generally succeed, and can certainly spin a yarn or two.
There’s no need for me to go on and on, however, about the extraordinary assortment and variety of Singapore that you can experience as a tourist, visitor, or expat. This handy guide, produced by the Jen Reviews blog gives you no fewer than 100 ways to enjoy the city-state, and everyone of them is worth trying.
Temples to visit, walks and hikes (some of them suspended in mid air, I warn you), beaches to explore, concert halls, science exhibitions, botanical gardens, train rides, journeys of historical discovery and glimpses of the future. Singapore can seem otherworldly, at times, and you would certainly be a little crazy not to resort to a guide when trying to explore the city, especially if, like many visitors to Singapore, you are time poor.
So, this guide comes highly recommended, and if you are keen to learn more about moving to Singapore, doing business in Singapore, Singaporean culture (and how to survive within it), and Singaporean history (utterly fascinating, all), then follow the links to read my blogs from last year, and please, feel free to contribute your own thoughts in the comments section below.
I hope you make it there. If you do, to paraphrase a song dedicated to another of the world’s greatest cities, you can make it anywhere! And I really do mean that.