All the lights of that part of the world shaping the irregular and mind blowing skyline of the city that stands as a country. Called by some Sing city, by others Sun city, by me, that evening, simply like this: “Hello, Singapore!” I done it with style, raising a chalice of Stella on top of Marina Bay Sands. The most expensive Stella I ever had for the best night city view I ever got. Singapore is as promised: hypnotising.
Trip to South East Asia
Was about time to set my foot in Asia. For too long I have postponed this.
A few weeks before that, while wandering the white streets of Polignano a Mare, in beautiful Puglia of Italy, I was wondering how can a far away and so different place can make me happier than what I already loved: summer in Europe.
But before tasting summer in Asia, I got hit hard by an early fall in Switzerland. Fortunately was just a layover in Zurich. I jumped on a plane in a summer day, with 30C temperatures and landed in a rainy and cold Zurich where late August meant 14C temperatures and people in coats. This October mood with leaves starting to turn yellow took me by surprise. I was wearing a t-shirt here…
But a bit of luck was there for me: I got right in the middle of a Swiss fest that took place in the old town, with Swiss street food, loud music, people singing and dancing and lots of beer and… pot smoke clouds. It is legal there and this seem quite ironic. I was flying to a country where you could get 10 years in prison for that and soon after to another one where you could face death penalty.
Finally, Zurich was perfect for a long walk before a 12h flight. Was just enough.
The 12h flight
I successfully survived this, my first long haul flight, thanks to Swiss Airlines which was best.
A bit tired, a bit numb and a bit disoriented I landed in Singapore. I’ve learned that an airport tells many about its city and so was Changi Airport: so cool and so… automated. Somehow took me an hour to finally ASAa~ÛXC FVGtake the MRT, the train, to the city centre.
I arrived in Little India, an area in Singapore, little after sunset. I easily found the hostel, took a refreshing shower and I was already out on the streets, ready to explore Singapore.
First impression: it’s a jungle of skyscrapers. Second: it is the cleanest city I ever been to.
1st mission: food! So I headed to Chinatown. The more Singapore I saw, the more perfect it looked. Clean, rich, developed, organised. It looked too perfect to be inhabited but still it is by 5,8M people.
No homeless people, no beggars, no dirty street or funny smells. Like a utopia that makes cities in old Europe look savage and rough.
I arrived on a street full of restaurants on both sides and what surprised me was the high number of options offered by each. Some had the description in Chinese only.
A little further I saw and immediately smelled from meters away the king of fruits: durian. I postponed this so long awaited foodie adventure due to the price: 30S$.
Encouraged by hunger, I finally take a sit at one table on a large terrace. In the kitchen, partly visible from the outside, was a noisy madness.
I played it safe and ordered dim sum with shrimp, a beef meal and some Asian beer. As I wait, I hope I will leave from here full and satisfied. Next to me a family of 4 Americans has a table full of seafood in front of them.
My dim sum arrives in a nice basket. It’s hot and steamy, tasty and perfectly done. The source is hot as hell and I don’t like spicy. I was warned about how spicy Asian food is. Here comes the second course. I taste and OMG! I feel I’m melting. The beef was from another world. The first bite got me straight to the Heaven of foodies and let me there. It was so spicy that half of my body was burning but I couldn’t stop.
I then wandered the streets downtown Singapore, feeling the size of an ant among the tallest buildings on Cecil Street, Central Blvd and thinking: Gosh, what a city!
Gardens By The Bay
I saw the icon of Singapore, Marina Bay Sands, from the distance, mirroring its three silhouettes in the bay. What a view!
I headed towards Gardens By The Bay first, which is near by. I saw the blue supertrees getting bigger as I was approaching. Impressive is too little said, it’s perfect but still… There’s a still. It looks so man made. Nature does it better than us when it comes to natural landscapes. It’s the master after all, we’re just copying.
The view with the lake and the supertrees changing their color in the night is sublime.
I spent a lot of time there, admiring. I found a tree with pink flowers everywhere around it. The perfume was divine. And so I met frangipani, the flower that will later become the light motiv of my trip to Asia.
Marina Bay Sands – At last!
I read so much before this trip about Marina Bay Sands and how to get to its iconic infinity crazy pool. The conclusion: it is impossible if you are not a guest.
I also read about all the scenarios made by people desperately trying to get there, sometimes changing to white bathrobes in elevators and pretending they forgot the key or trying to make friends with guests only to find a way to get there. But the vigilance of personnel has no weak points so I have found no stories of success brought by tricks instead of credit card.
I also took into consideration for a while to book one room, but hell, we’re talking about 350$ here! I soon came back to my senses. All I wanted was a glance to the pool and a photo but from what I read I knew they won’t even let you enter to take a look for a sec if you’re not a guest at MBS. So here’s what I did:
First of all I got all the info: I found out there is an Observation Deck. To get there you have to pay an entrance fee, about 23S$. But you don’t see the pool, since this is a level under the pool, so not interesting for me.
I got some hope after reading about the restaurants which were part of Sands SkyPark, at the top floor, no 57, where the pool was. Apparently to get there during the night you had to be also a guest, non guest were not allowed after a certain hour. You could go during the evening, the early hours, if you made a reservation and payed for a voucher of about 20$. That seemed ok of but in the end I didn’t make any reservation.
I decided to just try to get there as I arrive in Singapore, no tricks and no lies.
Marina Bay Sands is a top luxury hotel, famous worldwide. So rule no1 is a common sense one: to dress accordingly. So I did. I was wearing flip flops during my walk in the city but changed those with a pair of nude flat sandals while in Gardens By The Bay. I made sure before I left my hostel in Little India to put on a light summer dress and to change my regular traveling bag with a nice classic one.
I approach the huge entrance of Tower 3 at Marina Bay Sands, the entrance for my destination. A number of luxury cars were parked around, limousines were arriving one after another as if it was the Oscar’s night in Asia.
It looked spotless inside and very glam. I thank myself I did put some lipstick on before.
I pass by the large doors of glass and enter the immense lobby with concierge offices on both sides. I talk to someone there and tell him I would like to have a drink at one of the top floor restaurants and ask if it is possible at that hour. It was passed 11PM. He answers politely “yes, please, welcome!” and directs me straight in the front. This side is as big as a boulevard, with luxury stores on the left and a fancy lounge bar on the right. I find the entrance at Lavu restaurant, which I have read about before. I ask again for directions for CÉ LA VI Club Lounge. I am directed a little more further. A few more steps and I’m in front of a young woman and a men, both tall, good looking, impeccably dressed. I’m so glad I wear that Chanel lipstick.
After all stories I read online, I was expecting a long look and a “Sorry, but…” type of answer.
I repeat the question about the drink. They are both very welcoming and I get a “Yes, please, welcome!” answer and the woman approached me to mark my wrist with a stamp. I’ve read about this too so I wasn’t surprise. I ask if I have to pay anything, as previously red on a few blogs, and she said was no need to. She leads me in front of the elevators.
– It’s floor number 57, she repeats before the doors close.
I am quite surprised. So no reservation, no hour limit, no access fee, no questions about the room key to get to floor number 57, the forbidden one for outsiders. The spot in Singapore where everyone wants to get to.
The elevator doors open and as I look a bit disoriented in that dark lavish lobby, a girl approaches right away, smiling. She welcomes me and directs me to the lounge.
There were few people left there. I take a look and I realise it’s not the side with that spectacular view the pool offers. I can’t even see the pool from here and I have no idea where it is. I try to order a beer but they don’t serve anymore at that hour. Damn!
No awesome view, no pool and no drink. I want to leave, that’s it! I tried…
As I head back to the elevator, I see the top deck has multiple security points, with stuff present there to ensure exclusivity for its hotel guests. Would be quite silly to try to fool them. And embarrassing, in my opinion.
Before I reach the elevator, I see a door opened on another side. I want to take a look. It’s another entrance to the terrace. The moment I am outside and feel the fresh breeze of level 57th floor, I see it! There it was, the most famous pool in the world! A girl smiles as she sees me and probably my expression, she is one of the three personnel ensuring no non guest will pass through there. I approach and tell her that I am not a guest but I would love to see the pool, I won’t spent there more time and I promise not to jump in the water. We laughed and surprisingly she says that she would have allowed me to enter the pool area for a look with no problem but, unfortunately, the pool was closed just minutes before. She gives me a confiant look. She apologizes again for the inconvenient and as I turn around to leave she stops me and says I can still see the pool from the night lounge, adding I can get a greater view from there. She points the right direction and yes, she was so right!
I enter the lounge club, pass through the interior and arrive again outside, on its terrace. This time I was on the right side: next to the pool, in front of the best part of the city skyline. The pool is indeed impressing, covering the entire rooftop. It is much bigger in reality. Facing the city’s skyline and its millions of lights it looks so blue and so posh, with white sunbeds by the clear water and high palm trees. Just being there you feel spoilt.
I find the perfect table right at the edge, where the view is spectacular. I rest my head against my arm and stay like this for minutes. Nothing else matters in moments when what’s front of our eyes is so overwhelming.
I ordered my chalice of Stella and stare at this marvelous skyline of Singapore, feeling as if I was on top of the world. Wishing to come back here again.
Next: Malaysia: Trekking through a 130M years jungle