Jordan Blaza Olsen
Singapore in 4 Days
March 14-17, 2020
“When I was in Singapore…” I laugh at myself when I start telling someone about my travels even when they didn’t ask about it. But this vacation happened as a continuation of my emergency visit to see my parents in the Philippines. On top of that, covid has become a pandemic and the world was starting to panic. I brought them some emergency supplies, made sure they were ok, thankfully they’re doing really well at that point, and I continued on to one of my next stops.
Ni-hao, namaste, selamat pagi, Singapore! I remember seeing a giant waterfall in the middle of the airport then being whisked away in a taxi, crossing the bridge to the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and seeing the “boat” on top of 3 towers. Magnificent! It’s actually a park with a couple of restaurants and an infinity pool. One side overlooks the bay to the city and the other overlooks the Gardens by the Bay. The check-in process was a little crazy and overcrowded but there’s attendants helping guide guests to open counters. Somehow I was brought to the front of the line to check-in through the casino VIP guests and was taken to my room in less than 10 minutes. And the view overlooking the gardens took my breath away. It was mid-day, really bright, but just seeing the supertrees, the flower dome, cloud forest and all the different garden sections from above, just spectacular.
After a quick dimsum lunch at Blossom, one of the lobby restaurants, I went up to the infinity pool to get some sun. I noticed people were leaving the pool and was told they clean it throughout the day because it gets so packed with guests. I laid in one of the beds in the middle dividers, took some pictures, and when the pool cleaners were finished, I went in the pool and walked to the edge. At that moment, I knew I had to come back during sunset for an even more amazing view. I went back to my room to get ready for dinner at CÉ LA VI in the sky park.
The next morning I went to the Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay, as soon as they opened to see the “clouds” that formed at the top because it’s like a biosphere. Sure enough, there were clouds just slowly dissipating as the sun got higher. I walked around the garden and checked out all the different kinds of plants, especially the orchids and other tropical plants. There’s also different sections featuring plants from arid regions, a flower garden, an area called the lost world. When I was there they had a Japanese installation featuring a cherry blossom walkway under a row of torii with vignettes along the side depicting cultural scenes. I continued my garden adventure with a quick walk outside but it was getting too hot and humid so I returned to the hotel.
For dinner I went to Koma at The Shoppes at MBS where I had an assortment of nigiri platter and dessert. The ambiance was amazing starting with a dense row of orange torii like the ones at Fushimi Inari Shrine leading to a giant brass door. Inside there’s a wooden bridge centerpiece with a massive bell in the middle and seating was arranged almost like in an opera house. I chose to sit at the sushi bar since it was early and I was by myself. But mostly, I love watching the chefs prepare the food. They gave me a welcome dessert, which filled me up so nicely for my walk back to my room through the shops and casino.
I don’t remember which day it was but I went on a quick morning walking tour of Little India where I found a row of beautiful brightly painted houses next to the local marketplace. I also went to the Art Science Museum for the Future World Exhibit featuring various light and digital artworks and other high-tech experiences. When I got back out on the street to walk to the Merlion statue, I noticed there was no one around. It was great for pictures but it was making me worry so I headed back to the hotel.
The lobby only had a handful of people and the staff were wearing masks, someone handed me one, and hand sanitizer, then I heard an announcement about distancing and to wear masks. I rushed back to my room to watch the news and it was announced that international travel would be suspended throughout Asia. That was March 17, same day as my return flight home. Thankfully there were no problems at the airport to get back to Manila for the flight to LA. I was even able to walk around the Changi Airport Shiseido Forest Valley. The main attraction, the rain vortex, is now a core memory for me. Being greeted by it when I arrived and the last magnificent view before I left. I would come back.