Monday, August 21, 2017

Singapore City Tour

The day I went on the City Tour of Singapore was one of my favorites while I was there, despite the fact that I don't generally enjoy predetermined, group-type outings. 

Our first stop of the morning was to Little India, which was as colorful and intriguing as you would imagine it to be. It's probably a good thing I didn't have more time or space because I probably would have bought more food than my belly could hold and more decorative items than my suitcase could bear. 

There were so many incredible handmade items here, and the shop tenders were lovely about telling you all about the items, where the materials were sourced from what different symbols meant, just very friendly in general.

After our quick tour of Little India, we found ourselves at Merlion park, home to a statue of the country's national animal, the Merlion, as well as home to some rather spectacular views. There were stalls selling all kinds of delicious foods and drinks but I was most impressed by the man making sugar cane juice by literally juicing stalks of sugar cane.

I probably looked rather silly staring like a fool as they juiced as fast as they could and still couldn't keep up with customer demand.

That giant building that looks like a spaceship is the Marina Bay Sands hotel and an architectural marvel.

Our next stop was Chinatown, where this gorgeous Hindu Temple resides. Right next to it you'll find stall after stall of souvenirs; full of everything from pocket watches to faux silk robes as well as plenty of food and drink.

You might think that after a day at the Gardens By the Bay, it wouldn't be high on my list to find myself at the Botanical Gardens. But you'd be sorely mistaken, it was 100% worth the trip.

I only got to see a small portion of the extensive gardens as our time with the tour was limited, but what I did get to see was so calming and beautiful that I didn't want to leave.

A Few Notes From One Traveler to Another

- I would absolutely recommend the City Tour but if you have more than a few days to explore, it's a good idea to start with this tour to give you an idea of where you'd like to spend more time later in your trip since you only get 20-30 minutes of time to explore each stop

- The flower wreaths that you see in Little India are made for taking to the temple. As such they are not to be touched by women because a woman gets a menstrual cycle, which they consider to be "unclean". So if a woman touches them, the flower wreaths (made by men) are no longer fit for the temple. Even if you don't agree with this, please be respectful and aware of their beliefs and customs. 

- Haggling over prices in Little India is acceptable --- as long as you are inside the shop. Prices will not be discussed outside the storefront, even if the item you wish to buy is displayed outside.

-Haggling in Chinatown is not acceptable. The prices listed are the prices they will accept. Most things here are cheaply priced anyway so there is no need to haggle anyway.  

-Pay attention to the time that your guide tells you to meet back with the group, we left quite a few people in various locations around the city as they couldn't make it back when they were supposed to. If you want to stay at one of the stops longer than the tour allows, simply tell your driver so that they know not to wait on you, they're very used to this.

- Lastly, this is a rather strange one but something that might help fellow travelers. If you decide to return to the Little India area at night and need to arrange a ride home afterwards, it's best to do this beforehand. Many Indian taxi drivers, for whatever reason, will not pick you up if you are not Indian. Uber is available and there are many Metro stations in the area so you're not short of options. This might save you from wandering the streets unsuccessfully trying to hail down cabs like my companions and I had to do before we realized what was happening. 

As this is the last of my (rather drawn out) Singapore posts, I hope you enjoyed them or at least learned something useful for your future travels!

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