Singapore Diaries | My Birthday

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Our first full day in Singapore just happened to be my 26th birthday, and the first time I've ever actually spent a birthday abroad. We started the day in a weird, jet-lagged funk, jumping between being wide awake or snoring away. We finally got our shit together and left the hotel room about 11ish with one thing on our mind: food.

We were staying in Little India so we got our first taste of the local area; hot, busy and colourful.

Keen to start the trip with some traditional Singapore food, we went on the hunt for kaya toast and eventually, after getting a bit lost in a shopping centre (a recurring theme of the holiday), we found Ya Kun Kaya Toast.

Kaya toast is a well-known snack in Singapore and Malaysia and it’s kinda a hard one to explain. Basically, imagine a toasted sandwich with slabs of butter, sugar and kaya (described as a coconut jam… but it doesn’t taste like coconut so that doesn’t really help. It’s a sweet jam. Let’s just leave it at that.). It’s served with two eggs in a bowl on the side and a milky coffee (drank with a spoon).

Honestly, we had no idea what was going on but it was a bit of a laugh, and I’m glad we tried it. We weren’t entirely convinced by the enormous slabs of butter but I did like the taste of the kaya. We very quickly learned that kaya toast was very popular in Singapore – the place was absolutely packed!

Once we’d finished our somewhat unusual breakfast, we headed back out into the heat to find the beautifully air-conditioned metro, buying an EZ Link Card (aka an Oyster) and hopping on a train to the Bay area.
Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

The metro came out into an enormous shopping centre meaning we had our second getting-lost-in-a-shopping-centre experience of the day. Honestly, it was huge (with a mini river running through it) and it took us an embarrassingly long amount of time to escape. We did eventually though and we emerged under Marina Bay Sands, the famous luxury hotel which has become a landmark of Singapore. The difference between Little India and this area surprised me a lot. I felt like I’d been transported to some futuristic city in a sci-fi film. It was extremely clean and green, with a lot of unusual and impressive architecture, most notably, the hotel, the helix bridge and the science museum. We had a little wander around the waterfront before heading into Gardens by the Bay. Right at the top of my to-do list was Supertree Grove so I was very excited to finally see those avatar-style trees.

But first up, we bought tickets to go into the Cloud Forest, one of the conservatories in the gardens. It was a pretty gorgeous experience. The Cloud Forest is an enormous, mist-filled conservatory containing hundreds of lush, tropical plants. The two main attractions in here are the world’s tallest indoor waterfall (35m) and the cloud walk; a pathway that snakes in and around the mountain-top waterfall, surrounded by floral gems and giving you a little hint of the city that lies beyond. We spent a good while in here before heading back out to get lost in the gardens.

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay
Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay


Singapore, Gardens by the BayThere are so many nooks and cranny’s; you could easily spend hours and hours in the gardens. My
favourite area was, of course, Supertree Grove; those man-made beauties wouldn’t look out of place in a sci-fi film and I had a lot of love for them. We lost track of time wandering those gardens but eventually the heat became too much and we decided it was time for a drink and/or ice cream. We took a walk (aka got lost in a shopping centre) back under Marina Bay Sands and emerged back on the water front, where we quickly found somewhere selling ice cream and quickly learnt we needed to eat said ice cream fast if we didn’t want it in liquid form.

Slightly more revitalised (fighting jetlag in that heat is no joke), we walked over the helix bridge and around the bay. I love a good skyscrapers-on-the-water view so it was all very much up my street, but we were ready for another break by the time we got over the other side. We stopped for milkshakes at Over Easy which has a perfect view of Marina Bay Sands across the water. It was the perfect way to spend an hour; drinking a strawberry milkshake in hot weather on my birthday (not something that happens a lot when you’re born in February) and planning out the week ahead.

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Next up was a birthday cocktail! I decided the best way to justify spending $30 on a cocktail was to make sure it was the original Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel, and that it was on my birthday. I was a tad disappointed to discover that Raffles Hotel is under refurbishment until mid-2018 so we didn’t get to see inside, but luckily they have a little pop-up just round the corner so we could still try the famous cocktail. The barman whipped up our pink, gin-based cocktail and we took a seat on the bar stools. The first thing we noticed was that there were monkey nut shells all over the floor which didn’t really seem in keeping with a posh hotel. However, the barman explained to us that it’s an old tradition, supposed to bring luck and prosperity. So we dipped our hands in the hessian sacks of nuts and got eating/throwing!

When we were done drinking, we went back to the Marina Bay shopping centre (on purpose this time) to grab some food at their food court. It was a bit manic but we got some Indian food, and split a naan, for just a few dollars.

We then did a last minute dash back to the gardens to catch the Garden Rhapsody, the signature light and music show. Those Supertrees explode into a neon light show twice an evening, every evening, and yeah okay, it was basically my favourite thing about Singapore. We got there a bit late (it takes surprisingly long to get through that bloody shopping centre and into the centre of the gardens) so we just collapsed onto the floor wherever to watch the magic happen.

Once it had finished, we headed straight back to the hotel, completely dead on our feet.

First day: done

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

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