7 Days In Singapore – Day 2 – Chinatown, Little India and Gardens By The Bay At Night
Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist
A first-time encounter.
Did you miss my day 1 walkthrough? Click here to catch up.
Despite the heat, I managed to have another huge walking day in Singapore. Perhaps it was wanting to be outside my windowless hotel room as much as possible. Or, perhaps it was the joy of no jet lag since I had come from Australia. Either way, I logged another 25,000 steps. 😮
I started my day by trying to find the Tiong Bahru market. I ended up in a sort of residential neighborhood. Eventually, I found a market, however, due to Covid, much of it was closed. I momentarily visited the food hall. I hesitated to go because I wasn’t sure it was safe food-wise (little did I know I would soon come to LOVE these food halls!) and there were so many people I didn’t feel safe with Covid.
I soon returned to the MRT and headed for Chinatown. The MRT had signs and frequent announcements that we shold avoid talking; on our cell phones, or to each other. I first thought Singapore was an overly strict country. Then I realized, this is a really smart move with Covid.
I took the MRT direct to Chinatown. I soon learned there are many exits at MRT stations, and you’ll do yourself a huge favor to write down the names of exits you choose for any stations you plan to use more than once. Depending where you want to go, a given exit may require a lot more walking. When it’s really hot outside, you’ll be glad to find the exit closest to your destination when in Singapore!
A Few Covid Test Challenges
On this Chinatown trip, I was heading to a pop-up rapid testing center. One confusing part about the process was that I considered this day 2 – my second full day in Singapore. The government, however, considered it my day 3, testing day, because when I flew in to the country, it was 10pm, so those 2 hours counted as day 1!
Tests aside, I ended up spending a lot of time in Chinatown because I tried a few hotels (more on that in the next post!) and one was right next to Chinatown. It ended up being one of my favorite parts of the city.
Food And Face Masks
I got obsessed with face masks in Singapore. They came in every color and pattern imaginable. Chinatown sold packs of 10, the paper kind that are supposedly better than fabric, for about $2 USD per pack! The center of Chinatown, where most of the shops are, is fairly small. There you’ll find tons of souvenirs, name carvings on rice, and more. There’s a small, covered shopping mall (of course!) as well as shops along the main streets. The outdoor shops are a little nicer, and also, more expensive, than the indoor mall.
One of my favorite places to eat was a no-name cafeteria on a corner near the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. It looked like a literal mom and pop were running it. They were adorable! Their English wasn’t great, but they understood what I wanted, and made me feel welcomed and taken care of. I ended up there for a couple of breakfasts. About $2.50 USD each time.
The Buddha Tooth Relic temple seemed closed apart from a small opening where there were many offerings. Passerby stopped to stay a prayer. It was lovely to watch.
I bought some postcards at a small shop on one of Chinatown’s side streets, and, for the first time ever, was charged extra for the stamps! Apparently, it’s a long walk to the only post office and they wanted to be paid for their efforts.
Apart from the face masks and post cards, I didn’t find anything in particular to buy, but greatly enjoyed strolling along the streets, people watching over several days.
After Chinatown, and my rapid test (thankfully negative!), I headed to the Little India MRT. Once again, I completely mis-judged the exit. It seemed Race Course Road was the better exit to be closer to the heart of Little India.
By this point, the heat of the day was getting to me, and when I found what looked like the center of Little India, I found it felt very touristy, and was a bit disappointed. (Happily, I found a more authentic area on a second visit later in the week.)
I did enjoy the beautiful decorative hangings along the main street, and, had I been less hot, would have explored some of the sidestreets further. I ended up choosing a different path back to the MRT and finding a colorful building and temple.
A Night At Gardens By The Bay
I loved those flowers so much I obviously had to return to see them at night! Here’s where that Gardens By The Bay Friends pass totally hooked me up. I made a booking in advance. It happened to be the first night of the Christmas light show. There was a HUGE line to see the flowers. Because I had the pass, I showed it, and bypassed the entire line!
If I fell in love with the view and flowers by day, the nighttime view left me babbling in amazement. It’s hard to understand walking high above the ground, surrounded by these beautiful trees, all lit up. And I was in the middle of them. They somehow uplifted my spirit even more. When I went down to ground level again, there was an extra light show, with holiday music all around us, and I couldn’t leave. This is an absolute must-do, no matter how tired and hot you are! The light shows happened on the hour.
I slept very well after my full day in Singapore, as well as took another shower before bed! Not the heat, nor the sweat, could take away the loveliness of this day.