Day II: From Singapore to Seafaring

Today, we embarked on another tour of Singapore, this time highlighting the more traditional, culutural side of this gleaming modern metropolis.

We began today’s journey at the Singapore Botanical Gardens, specifically the sprawling complex’s orchid garden. 

Walking through the colorful gardens in the early morning mist was beautiful and almost surreal. 

Next, we departed for Kampang Glam, the city’s traditional Malay quarter. The name translates to “Eucalyptus Village”, named for the many eucalyptus trees that dot the area. Most of the buildings date back to the nineteenth century and are protected historical landmarks. The district is nestled in the heart of SIngapore’s central business district, surrounded by towering residential and commerical high-rises.

This mosque, Masjid Sultan, is the largest and most ornate mosque in Singapore. Built in 1824, the building’s designer cleverly made use of limited resources when constructing the building. Some of the building’s trim is made from empty soy sauce bottles!

Here, the unique juxtaposition of crowded, narrow streets and modern skyscrapers.

The old Malay quarter is surrounded by new buildings, including Duo, a superluxury condominium complex designed to look like a honeycomb:

and this office building, which our guide compared to a building in Gotham City! It’s a beautiful and ridiculously ornate Art Deco-revival structure. Postmodernist architecture at its finest.

Next was Singapore’s Little India, a neighborhood of narrow, winding streets and colorful buildings. 

Merchants and vendors set up shop in the street, selling everything from food to clothing to carpets.

Next was Chinatown, where we visited a magnificent Buddhist temple. Built entirely with private donations, the building houses an archaelogical relic which is claimed to be one of Buddha’s teeth.

We stopped at one of Singapore’s hawker centers, or food markets, where we tried a traditional Malay lime drink.

 As we made our way to the port, we passed many of Singapore’s newest and most innovative buildings:

The Oasia Hotel, a truly “green” building. The facade is covered in plants which absorb heat and sunlight, helping to cool the building and reducing energy usage.

The Pinnacle, Singapore’s premier public housing project. The complex of seven towers features shops, restaurants,  swimming pools, and a rooftop jogging track. Despite its amenities and premier, bayfront location, government subsidized pricing makes these apartments accessible to the masses.

We boarded the Voyager of the Seas in the early afternoon and set sail at around 5:00, en route to George Town, Penang though the Strait of Malacca. George Town is a beautiful old colonial city on the island of Penang, said to have the best food in all of Malaysia.

- Hayden M. Strong

© Knstrong 2013