Singapore: Top 5 Highlights Of A Wonderstruck First-Timer

First things first: “Happy New Year”, or as we say in Māori, “Ngā mihi o te Tau Hou”.

I trust this finds you well, and that you witnessed the coming of 2016 in your own unique fashion – I certainly hope so.  In my case, I spent my second consecutive New Year’s at a milestone birthday.

Last New Year’s Day one of my favourite people turned 21, and so the more socially-inclined festivities were more-or-less saved for that very special occasion; I had a couple of commemorative beverages at home, and partook in a more enthusiastic way the following day.

Beautiful.

This New Year’s Eve another of my favourites turned 80, and given the nowadays frequency whereby the 80-something birthday person is actually fit-and-able, and present in the moment, ’twas an honour to spend time celebrating alongside.  Equally, beautiful.

Couple of cheeky beers at home after the party and before too long I’d seen midnight, and was sleeping peacefully in the thought: new year, new start.

Now, I don’t know about you (and please do feel free to comment accordingly), but I totally revel in some concentrated goal-setting at the beginning of each new year.  However, what I’ve loved most about ’16 is that said goals have tended to come-about and to my attention in a completely organic way.  I’ve been privy to some incredibly kind gestures and suggestions, and my peeps have either pulled out, or followed through – as you do.  But, already a few metaphorical ducks have lined-up in something of a neat little row quite naturally, and I just love it.

All feels very right, and that’s all I care about.  To reflect-upon and pinch my own words from a previous post:

It’s all about the “feels” – whatever “feels” right, and makes you “feel” good.

Indeed.

So, here’s what I have thus-far in the way of goals for this year: I, Intrepid Māori plan to will do this/these in 2016:-

  • Evolve this/my blog (new camera, different experiences – stuff like that);
  • Weekly – local – hike/s;
  • The occasional endurance event (cracked 5 in ’15, so aiming for 5+ this year, and am already signed-up for the Tussock Traverse (done), and the Rotorua Marathon (Quarter);
  • Somewhere overseas, mid-year (*tick*);
  • Mount Taranaki’s Summit Track (yup);
  • One of Rotorua’s ‘canopy tours’ (*tick* – was awesome(!));
  • Volunteer more (I have 2 very exciting opportunities on my radar: locally through ‘Greater Wellington’ (*Regional Council, *tick*), and further afield with our Department of Conservation in the deep south (specifically, Fiordland) – massive-massive-massive heartfelt thanks and gratitude to respective and relevant peeps for their part/s in sussing it all).

So-far, so good.  I’m beside-myself excited – not surprisingly.

Something else that tends to come along with the new year is that old friend, ‘reflection’.  Of course, it’s far too easy to do a fair bit of it, and something I really chose to reflect on most recently was my birthday (there’s that b-word, again) vacation in Singapore.  So-much-so, I thought I’d kick-start the year with a quick-and-dirty “Top 5” run-down of highlights, solely from the perspective of a Singapore first-timer…

5 – The S.E.A Aquarium:-

Specifically, the ‘Open Ocean’ attraction-cum-experience.  This, in a nutshell, is a floor-to-ceiling theatre-sized glass window that provides a truly next-level view of some serious deep-sea locals.  Reason enough to get yourself t/here…

The rest of Sentosa is pretty darn special, too.

4 – Singapore Zoo:-

If you book-in for a Zoo tour (*perfectly respectable and expected, for a first-time visitor), seize the opportunity to stay-on afterwards and make your own way back into the city via public transport.  And if you can go the distance, opt to stay late and do the ‘Night Safari’.  The thing I loved most about the Zoo was how free-and-easy the monkeys were allowed to roam about the place – massive, and not at all what we would usually see here in NZ.  And, the Night Safari was the perfect chance to observe a whole bunch of the Zoo animals in their natural night-time routine/s, just doing their thing/s.

#MustDo.

3 – The Food:-

Singaporean food is, by all accounts, “next-level”.  Intersecting cultures and ethnic groups mean that at any given time, wherever you go, you’re in for a culinary treat of some description.  My advice is to take the time to explore your local neighbourhood first.  When we did this, Mave and I found the coolest little coffee-house that actually served NZ coffee, and we also discovered that our local pub was an incredibly friendly and welcoming space – we all need some of that while we’re travelling, right??

The food really is spectacular, no matter which style or genre of cuisine you choose.  We pretty much did them all – we’d halve our plates and share meals too, because we could.  Best of both worlds, and all that.

He pai katoa te kai, whānau – *big thumbs up*.

2 – In The Neighbourhood:-

Singapore comprises a handful of ethnic neighbourhoods, and my 2 personal favourites were both spectacular and delicious in their own right/s.

Little India, for the fact that it was an absolute feast for the senses; the sights, sounds, and smells on the street/s were beyond incredible, and we experienced so many rich and remarkable happenings there.  And Chinatown, with its bustling street-markets, treasure-troves, and trinkets.

In either space, you can’t escape the persuasion/s of your taste-buds, and eating-out’s a given (and so very worth the bother).  But Little India contains some pretty special little temples, and in my case I’m filled with mad-as warm-fuzzies whenever I think back to the sheer good-fortune of getting to observe a true Singaporean-Indian pooja from the safety and serenity of the Sri Veeramakaliamman sanctum with my best home-girl, with nowhere else to be but right there in that exact moment.

Likewise, Chinatown also has its temples, but I’m more enamored of the memories I still have of the seemingly infinite market stalls, and of purchasing one of those old-school carved bamboo wall-hangings – you know, the flat ones that are tied together at the ends in a slat-like fashion (mine’s a Chinese tiger).  Not-to-mention the most “to-die-for” fried rice I’ve ever tasted, period.

#MindBlown.

Exploring Little India – Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple…
Got here just in time for lunch… And a restaurant fire.
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple (*still in Little India).
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (SO many fucking *amazing* little temples in Little India(!)).
Funky little Chinatown corner.  Outer-bounds of said ‘seemingly infinite’ market stalls.

1 – Gardens By The Bay:-

Where do I start?  In “wow-factor” terms, if you were to imagine the most truly exquisite man-made space you’ve ever been to and multiply that by, say, a hundred, then you’d be part-way there.

“The Gardens” are truly the most far-fetched and indescribable thing/s I’ve seen.  The ‘Cloud Forest’ and ‘OCBC Skyway’ are total “must-do’s”, and will demand a decent time-chunk to get ’round.

Take an entire day, and have a proper nosey with no short-cuts.

If the Gardens were the only thing you opted to do on a stopover visit to Singapore, then that would be perfectly acceptable, IMO.

This is bucket-list merch right here, people.

You’re welcome.

The entire ‘OCBC Skyway’ – complete with a couple of peeps at the bottom to help provide a sense of sheer size, and grandeur.
About to embark… Excited, and revelling (truly, *grins*).
Cloud Forest.  Lucky to get this falls-shot.  Like all fabulous things, when it’s busy here, it’s busy-as.
Lion Door (yes – we’re still in the Cloud Forest).  Damn good luck to walk through these (*apparently).  Lovingly carved from the stump/s and root/s of a couple of ancient lychee trees…

Honourable Mentions:-

  • The fish foot-spa at the Singapore Flyer;
  • Singapore’s cable-car;
  • Merlion Park – and the whole ‘Merlion’ myth/story, in general.
Singapore’s beloved “Merlion”.

Okay – we’re done here.

Now, allow me to revisit a previous point – specifically, this one, where I emphasised:

It’s all about the “feels” – whatever “feels” right, and makes you “feel” good.

And I feel really good about sharing all of this “stuff” with you.

Some of it’s personal – sure; that’s true/est whenever you’re talking goals, and self-reflection.  But I’m okay with all that, and here’s why:

Already, there’s a definite air about 2016, and to me it feels like the beginning of a fabulous adventure, of-sorts – don’t you think?

And, no matter what, we’re all in this “life” thing together.

Whatever happens here-on-in, whānau, I’m certain we’re in for the ride of our lives this year.  Promise me you’ll buckle-up and join me in being fearless in the pursuit of y/our dreams – we deserve nothing less than to have them all.

Believe;

IM.

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