Posted by: Laura | June 2, 2010

Singapore’s Wild Side

I cannot believe it is June already! I guess as the old saying goes, “Time flies when you’re on holiday!” Or something like that.

After spending a few wonderful months in Kilronan, Ireland, I needed to get my itchy feet off the island for more travel adventures. First up? Singapore.

Honestly I’ve never really had any strong desire to go to Singapore. Nothing against going there, it just never really came up as an obvious place to visit. However, when I was looking for a plane ticket to Australia (to begin my one-year working holiday visa in May – which obviously hasn’t happened as planned) a friend suggested stopping for a quick holiday in Singapore to possibly reduce the airfare. By adding in a two-week layover in Singapore, I could save myself almost $1,000 (yes, American dollars) so I figured “why not?”

Skyline at night from the Singapore Flyer.

I read that Singapore is one of the safest cities in the world, very clean, and overly commercialized (read: expensive)…and none of these are an understatement. Upon arriving in the city, you can see the beauty almost immediately. After getting over the shock of going from a chilly 9°C (when I flew out of Shannon) to over 32°C with about 75% humidity (upon landing in Singapore) I immediately notice the flower beds in, and around the airport are a work of art. And there are lovely, pink, flowering trees in the medians along the interstate. When I commented on the huge trees flanking the outside lanes of the highway, my cabbie proudly tells me that when they originally built the road there was a lot of disagreement surrounding the removal of the trees to make room for the new infrastructure. In the end the city adjusted the route of the road in order to preserve the old trees who’d been there long before the development had. Amid the abundance of uniquely-shaped skyscrapers, and the high volume of both people and cars on the road there is still a very sophisticated yet quaint vibe to the city.

While Singapore houses plenty of businesses, people, shopping, dining, and recreation, it is still a small city/country and one can see quite a few of the major sights over the course of a few days. The biggest drawback (and the most prohibitive) to touring around Singapore is the cost. It is EXPENSIVE. Everyone talks of how Ireland is the most expensive country in the EU but they ain’t got nothing on Singapore! Food, beer, shopping – it’s all expensive so be sure you have plenty of money to enjoy the city as you’ll be pretty sad (and bored) if you don’t properly save up for the trip. The cheapest we could find a pint of Tiger (read: cheap, nasty beer) was for €5.50! Compare that to a pint of Guiness for less than €4 (at a pub) on Inis Mor and you’ll see why I was so annoyed at the price of beer. And don’t even get me started on wine. The prices are absolutely ridiculous.

Monkey enjoying his big enclosure in the zoo.

Now for the wild side.

As an animal lover, what I wanted most was to go to the zoo. The park itself was laid out nicely and kept the flow of sun-scorched people moving throughout the paved pathways. There were plenty animals to see – and their enclosures were housed close enough to the pedestrian path so you can actually see them quite well. I most enjoyed how the monkey enclosure was completely open so that you felt as if you were walking through the jungle alongside playful monkey’s walking the ropes and jumping among branches high above your head.

If I have any complaints at all about the overall zoo experience, I would say I was disappointed in the live shows. Maybe I’ve been overly spoiled by Disney World, but I felt the zoo’s shows didn’t really have a good storyline, and combined with poor acting, the performances came off as elementary and just plain-down cheesy. Still one can’t help but “ooohhh” and “aaahhh” when the various animals do their trained tricks.

The zoo is located outside of the city so you will most likely want to take a taxi to get there. You can also get there via city buses. While cheaper, beware it can take well over an hour to get from Orchard to the zoo on the bus so plan your day accordingly.

n addition to the zoo, there are two other attractions for those still hungry for an animal experience. The Nighttime Safari and The Jurong Bird Park are both run by the same group as the zoo but they are located in yet another part of the city – therefore costing a bit of money to get out there via taxi. I am not overly fond of birds so I didn’t visit that park, but I can say the nighttime safari was absolutely worth it. It was very interesting to get to see nocturnal animals (such as tigers, hyenas, and rhinoceroses) actually walking around instead of lying in their pens all day looking lethargic. The Safari boasts over 1,400 animals with more than 110 different breeds. Walking around in the darkness is also a neat experience that adds to the realistic feeling of walking among animals.

Logistics:

Cab to zoo from Orchard Road area: about a twenty minute ride, €14

Adult entrance to zoo: €10.50

Adult entrance to all three parks: €26.60

Dwarfed by the props at the entrance to the thrilling ride, 'The Mummy Returns.'

When I randomly saw in a generic entertainment brochure that there was a Universal Studios in Singapore, I thought to myself, “How have I not come across that while researching different things to do?” Well, that would be because I arrived in Singapore on the 4th of May and it only opened a few days prior. I’ve always been a Disney girl and never have gotten a chance to visit a Universal park so I was very excited to get a chance to do so. I was very impressed by the level of details they used when designing and decorating the park. You enter via Hollywood Boulevard and continue around the park to star in your own fairytale in the land of Far Far Away (Shrek), then head to The Lost World (Jurassic Park) to cool off on water rides, discover artifacts on ‘The Mummy Returns’ ride in Ancient Egypt, race on dueling roller coasters in Sci-Fi City, enjoy a fun family meal in Madagascar, and  walk along familiar streets from your favorite movie in New York. The are fun experiences that the whole family can enjoy while there are also a few more intense rides for the thrill-seekers of the group.

Since the park hadn’t even celebrated its official opening (at the time I was there), not all the rides or shows were open to the public. I did get to see the Waterworld stunt show which was fabulously done. A neat touch was having the cast shoot the audience with water guns prior to the show, it not only kept us literally and figuratively cool (and therefore kept the angry mob at bay) but it also got everyone involved in the fun of the storyline. With park tickets only costing €40 and coupons for discounts on food and souvenirs, I found the price to be very reasonable considering the fun experience you are sure to have with your friends or family.

Logistics:

Metros (from Singapore business district) to Resort World: €5

Park ticket: €40

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