Visiting Singapore in 3 Days – Day 2

Singapura - 342nd DAY

– Singapore Botanic Gardens, National Orchid Garden and Dempsey Hill

We started the day with one of those breakfasts that almost seem like a brunch, and we were ready for another day of adventure!

For today we had scheduled to meet one of the places I was most interested in, given my passion for orchids, and so it was… we arrived to paradise: the Botanic Gardens, which included the National Orchid Garden.

Singapura - 36The beauty of this place is indescribable, the sensation of purity it transmits is so, but so great that for a moment my mind parted from my body.

The Botanic Gardens was inaugurated in 1859, after a failed attempt in 1820. It occupies a giant area, really giant, a day is not enough to discover it, nor two or three by the way, moreover, we heard that many Singaporeans haven’t completely discovered it yet, falling in love for a new spot at each visit.

Singapura - 43It has an area of 74 hectares and works also as an important centre of plant’s investigation and conservation. Keeping many of its original structures, it allows us to follow the evolution of the tropical botanic gardens created by the British colonizers.

Bottom line, the Botanic Gardens makes us feel like we’re in the middle of nature, while being on a giant metropolis, we are so surrounded with nature, lagoons, waterfalls, centennial trees and flowers that we forget we are in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Singapura - 53The space is home of a primitive jungle but also of perfectly preserved gardens, including fountains and several sculptures that arise in the middle of the vegetation and make the space even more interesting.

The locals tend to use the park for a walk, jog and take the kids to enjoy the best nature has to offer.

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Speaking of children, the Botanic Gardens has a space completely directed to them (to the age of 12), the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.

The garden also has a space constructed in a way to assure great acoustics, where usually some concerts and plays take place.

But the highlight of the Botanic Gardens is its main attraction, the National Orchid Garden, the only paid area ($5 – almost free, I must say!) that preserves more than a thousand species and around two thousand orchid hybrids.

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Singapura - 41It’s an important centre for science and Botanic investigation, plant preservation and environmental education.

It’s, for sure, one of the most masterful places I’ve ever seen. Can you imagine more than 1000 species of orchids?

I saw orchids with colours, colour combinations and forms I never even imagined existed.

The unmeasurable beauty of this flower is measurable here in this place! Perfect!

Singapura - 51Obviously, UNESCO registered the Botanic Gardens of Singapore in the list of World Heritage in 2015.

The Botanic Gardens is open from 5am to midnight, and the National Orchid Garden opens at 8.30 am and closes at 7pm, as well as the Jacob Ballas Children´s Garden that opens at 8am and and closes at 7pm.

Use and abuse of this place, we just spent a morning there, but if you have the time, spend a day.

If you’re using the subway, you must take the yellow line and leave at the station botanic gardens, here entering the garden by the northern entrance.

Singapura - 35From here we headed to Dempsey Hill, a beautiful hill filled with restaurants, stores and local businesses. We enjoyed an excellent lunch in one of the oldest restaurants of Dempsey Hill, the Long Beach, like a Chinese seafood place. And what a lunch, that spicy crab ended my diet in the blink of an eye!

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Singapura - 60When the Chinese talk about fresh fish, they mean alive! 

Singapura - 61Live Alaskan King Crab at Long Beach

– Kampong Glam and Little India

Full bellies, we were ready for another afternoon of adventure! It was the time to meet two of the small and traditional neighbourhoods of Singapore, the Kampong Glam and Little India. Which revealed to be so different from one another, but so full of culture, history and harmony.

Singapura - 68The Sultan’s Mosque

We started by Kampong Glam or Arab Quarter and its imposing Sultan’s Mosque, that tears the blue of the sky with its vibrant gold, transmitting a peace like no other (or at least I would think if it weren’t for the grey skies).

Singapura - 67Bussorah Street

Well, here is located the heart of the Muslim Singapore. Being the place where you most can see the Muslim richness, however, don’t think it’s an abandoned neighbourhood or different from the cleanliness and organization from the rest of the city, it’s just a place full of tradition and Arabic influence.

When Sir Stanford Raffles elaborated the Singapore project in 1822, he reserved this region to the Muslim traders.

Nowadays, this area is an authentic spotlight for tissue, tapestry, saris and perfumes stores. The atmosphere is vibrant and the sensation we get is that we left Singapore and entered an Arabic country.

The main street is the Bussorah Street, a pedestrian street full of colonial houses that takes us to the Sultan’s Mosque.

 Singapura - 70 The famous Teh Tarik at the even more famous Sarabat Stall

The area has also numerous coffee shops offering the traditional Teh Tarik, a traditional Malayan tea with a peculiar way of serving, being transferred several times of a certain height between two cups. Prepared with black tea and condensed milk, or other kind of teas; and also coffee with condensed milk. And they still put sugar in it! It’s extremely sweet, ask for it without sugar.

Singaporeans are addicted to glycose!

On the central axis of the quarter, and the main reason so many Muslims are attracted there, is the impressive Sultan’s Mosque. Its golden dome can be seen from everywhere in the area. Non-Muslims are welcome, but advised not to enter the main area of prayer. Therefore, the view is allowed but around it.

Singapura - 65 The Sultan’s Mosque 

The closest subway station is the Bugis in the Green Line.

Approximately 15 min of distance (walking) we find Little India, the Indian Quarter! So, like in the Arabic Quarter, this place is full of the Indian culture and traditions. The fruits, vegetables, spices and flower markets fill the streets with colour and life and make of it one of the most joyful and agitated places in the city.

Singapura - 72Here, we can find Indian life in all its splendour, being, probably, the ethnic quarter that most keeps the features of the original community.

We observe the Indian culture and religion in a less marked way, and not so dense, than in India, but it gives us an idea of the costumes of that intense country. Of course this quarter surrendered to the cleanliness and organization of Singapore, making of it an even more perfect place, which certainly is not common in a country like India (I don’t know it yet, but’s on my bucket list).

Singapura - 74Serangoon Road

At Little India we see women with their colourful Saris, we feel the strong aromas of the spices, listen to the joyful Indian music and glimpse the Hindu Temples.

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Singapura - 79Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple

The one that fascinated me the most was the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple.

I must be honest, Buddhist temples have a special place in my heart, I can’t explain why, but they give me an immense interior peace, but the Hindu temples are so, but so sublime! The colours, the forms of the statues, the combination of all the art is vibrant!

The main street of the quarter is the Serangoon Road, which groups narrow sidewalks and all types of commerce.

Singapura - 78Little India’s colours

If you don’t want to shop in street stores, you can also use the Mustafa Centre (the one where Anthony Bourdain gets lost during his episode in the city), which is open 24h a day, it’s like a supermarket with narrow halls full of shelves and counters filled with the most varied Indian produces.

To eat, besides the restaurants you find on the streets, you have the Tekka Centre, with a simple Hawker, besides, the complex has also a fruit, vegetables, meat and fish market.

Filled with this mix of traditions and costumes we feel our world a bit more complete, happier and evolved.

It’s amazing how you can be in one of the most vibrant cities in the world and have the capacity of traveling in thought to so different worlds and cultures.

From here we went to a great dinner at the Wild Rocket, which was elected number 38 in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Guide (see).

Singapura - 88

– Clarke Quay

We didn’t want to finish our day without trying the joyful night of Singapore, reason why we headed to one of the most famous streets in the city, Clarke Quay.

The place is a former secondary port, totally revitalized that gave place to several bars, restaurants and stores. These are harmoniously distributed through the original construction of the port, being that we are awarded with several colourful houses that gain life and colour at night, when lighted, full of people and loud music! All this on the riverside, giving an even more interesting look to the place.

Singapura - 85The space works day and night, but at night is for sure much more fun and contagious. And if you think that because it’s a night environment you’ll find disorganization and dirtiness, you’re wrong! It’s all super clean. Singapore is amazing, have I said that yet?!

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Singapura - 82Well, another day is gone, finished in the most perfect symbiosis of sensations – we walked through nature, got lost in the different cultures and traditions that gave origin to this intense city and finished the day in the craziness of the night by the river!

Where to Stay 
The South Beach
The Fullerton Hotel

More Information 
– Singapore Botanic Gardens
 Long Beach at Dempsey
 Mustafa Center

Versão Portuguesa

 Text: Cíntia Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses

Flavors & Senses in SIngapore with the support of Samsonite and of Singapore Tourism Board (STB) – #YourSingapore.
– During our trip we were accompanied by the tireless Naseem Huseni – STB’s Guide  

This is the 3rd of 5 articles for our Singapore Guide 

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