Saturday 10 November 2018

Notes from a Travel Journal: Singapore Swim

Today I'm sharing a little snippet of a very recent trip: my partner and I spent two weeks travelling around Indonesia during the October half term which was absolutely incredible.  But on the way, we had an overnight layover in Singapore and we decided to treat ourselves to something a little bit fancy.  I love Singapore, and it's a city I've visited a couple of times, but never for more than a couple of days at a time.  One day, it would be fab to spend a good chunk of time there, but until then, it was lovely to make the most of one night. So here is the Singapore section from my most recent travel journal.

When we emerged into the humid heat of Singapore, it was about 9:00am to our body clocks. But it was actually 4:00pm on this side of the world. Some adjustment necessary. We were embroiled for over an hour in the world’s least efficient immigration queue, managed to make it to the luggage carousel just in time to stop the chap from assigning our luggage to the “abandoned” pile and then navigated the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport = the tube) slowly across the city to our hotel.

The Marina Bay Sands. Super fancy, with a matching price tag, but also with a matching infinity pool which we were itching to try.

But first, check in. For reasons I don’t quite understand which involved a mix-up between twin beds and a king size bed, they upgraded us (cool!) and gave us a room in Tower 2 on the 18th floor. And then they gave us a mini Cornetto each too because reasons.

Navigating inside the hotel was a whole new experience, with 55 floors which all look the same and have the same plush, quiet carpet in the corridors and the same decor. When we eventually found the right lift and Pete discovered our room, it was nice to finally ditch our bags and feel like we had made it!

The view from the room was wonderful: we looked right down over the super trees, across the gardens and out to the bay. The bed was huge and super comfy, the bathroom was cavernous with two sinks and overall, it felt pretty luxurious. It was nice to swap plane clothes for something cooler, and then we headed out into the now-dark Singapore night to find the super trees. The evening proved busy; there were lots of people out and about and as we made our way to the super tree grove, we had to weave in and out of tourists all hoping to get the perfect photo.

The super trees are amazing. I often don’t think modern design is “beautiful” per se, but the super trees achieve the effect of being at once geometric, modern, futuristic even, and beautiful.

We lay down on the smooth flags under the giant tree-esque structures and watched the moon shining between the branches. And then the rhapsody began: a medley of showtunes played out from speakers hidden in the massive trunks and light danced over the trees, flashing, glowing and pulsating along to the tunes. It’s just such a magical spectacle, and the songs were great. I felt suddenly very emotional: happy to be there and for our holiday to begin and appreciative of the performance . I couldn’t hold back happy tears as I snapped pictures of the lights along with the crowds around me, the sun-warmed flagstones hard against my back and Pete beside me.

After the show, we headed through the park to Satay by the Bay: a hawker market where we sampled satay skewers, a noodle dish and some spring rolls. While the noodle dish proved unexpectedly to contain several baby octopus (unceremoniously picked out by us) everything was tasty and I washed it down with a brilliantly purple dragon fruit and mango juice.

We prudishly avoided the frog options.

Full, we sauntered back to the hotel, navigating simply by seeing it poke up above the trees, real or indeed super.

Arriving back to our room, we changed into swimmers and set off to find the pool: that famous rooftop infinity pool, the whole reason behind springing for a stay at the Marina Bay Sands. Easier said than done: we knew we needed to go up, but a sequence of 3 lifts was required to get from our room to the hallowed 57th floor, accessible only if you have a key card to swipe in.

But the pool was spectacular. Slightly chill against the humid heat of the night air, the water beckoned and we threw our things down on a couple of poolside loungers and ventured in. Swimming to the side, we leaned over the infinity ledge and took in the view. Singapore was lit up beneath us: we could see the different bays and quays, the towering blocks of the finance district, the laser show on the water below and skyscrapers as far as the eye could see.

We spent quite a long time hanging on to the edge, enjoying the height, the sensation of being somewhere so ridiculous and implausible and iconic. We took the obligatory selfies, obvs, and every so often the surrealness of the situation made me laugh out loud for no reason.

After a good swim (by which I mean, a good long gawp at the view) and a decent lounge on our sunbeds in the dark, we decided it was cocktail hour. I mean, when isn’t it when you’re on holiday? We navigated back to our room somehow, changed into something other than damp swimwear, and returned to the roof refreshed and with a dim desire to imbibe some boozy liquid refreshment.

We hit up the rooftop restaurant Spago (terrible name) and Pete talked the lady into giving us a sofa with a view out over the gardens by the bay. The cocktail list had some crackers, with names like “smoke and mirrors”, “buyer’s remorse”, and “good girls gone bad”. I was particularly tempted by the last of these but I resolved firmly to be sensible and not to choose a cocktail based on its name. Which is about as sensible as you can possibly be when contemplating a cocktail. As Pete pointed out, it’s not horse racing: a field notorious for being all about the name of the horse. And so I went for the blend of tequila, passion fruit and chilli that made up a Devil in Disguise. It was absolutely delicious and I clinked against Pete’s grapefruit concoction and snuggled into his arm to enjoy my drink and a bit of a chat.

We eventually departed the bar around midnight, feeling tired. Even though it was technically only about 5:00pm for us, our previous night had been spent on a plane, and so we were both ready to turn in. 

The next morning dawned bright and sunny and we came around gradually from a lovely, very comfortable night’s sleep in the enormous bed. And then it was time for a swim! We donned the hotel dressing gowns (feeling that we hadn’t made proper use of them the night before as we didn’t find them!) navigated the crazy lifts back up to the roof and took in be panorama of Singapore sparkling beyond the pool. The sun was a-shining and we had a lovely swim, an excellent eyeful of view and a little bit of time drying off on our pool-side sun lounger, now living up to its name.

Sadly we had to check out of our little slice of luxury after that, but we ditched our luggage and went for a stroll around the marina.

Hotel review BTW: Swanky, excellent pool, lovely spacious room with v comfortable bed, but overall hotel overwhelmingly large and impersonal.

Breakfast was calling, but it wasn’t until we delved into one of the malls that we found food. Or, to be precise, a food court. The breakfast selection was somewhat perplexing to our palettes, but when in Rome, as the saying goes, eat an Asian breakfast. So I had some bao buns (chicken which also turned out to contain a boiled egg, and BBQ pork) and Pete had chicken with rice and veg. Standard. Plus we washed it all down with a Starbucks tea because although I would rather not be the person that goes abroad and will only have Starbucks, I also have needs. Tea-based needs.

We took our tea to go and spent the rest of the morning perambulating the perimeter of the bay, taking in the sights as much as we could and taking in the incessant heat as little as we could. We wandered past the Merlion and through the edge of the financial district, and everything we walked on was land reclaimed from the sea. It’s strange to think this whole part of the country was just added on when someone felt like it.

With 3 hours to go before our flight, we collected our bags and joined the crowds on the MRT again, this time back to the airport. The next step of the adventure was about to start.

Kisses xxx

P.S. This blog post is part of my November travel series; I'm spending the month documenting some of the trips I've taken this year, sharing extracts from my travel journal and my photos. My aim is to do this for each day in November as a personal challenge, to get photos and words put together and record some of my favourite experiences from the year. As the weather turns chilly, it's a lovely feeling to curl up in doors and reminisce about travels past, and plot travels for the future.


  1. Great pictures of the views from the pool - what a lovely place to swim.
    And I wouldn't want baby octopus or frog dishes either!

  2. I love Singapore - we haven't been since 2005, so we're due a return visit. Your tree photos are fab!