We only had one day (about 10 hrs) in Singapore but still managed to do quite a bit! I was first amazed at the port terminal…by far the most developed port we've been to. The walkway from the ship to gate felt like I was in an airport terminal and once we got through immigration, there was a mall, coffee shops and little kiosks everywhere! The city is just a concrete jungle with beautiful high-rise buildings everywhere, in every shape.
I was on an SAS-sponsored trip called :Ancient Temples, Mosques & Churches of Singapore where we visited several of the religious centers of the city. First we visited the Sultan Mosque which has a beautiful dome and is situated right in the middle of the Muslim part of town. My favorite part about this place was seeing a little bird just walking around the empty prayer hall. It was very serene. Then we went to a Roman Catholic church which had a service going on in Tagalog which was cool to hear, especially since I didn't know there was that large of a Filipino population in Singapore.
Then to St. Andrew's Cathedral which is right by the port and the old harbor area. This was a pretty cool church and had some cool stained glass windows. There's also a beautiful view of the Marina Bay Hotel which just opened last year. It has three towers that connect at the top in a structure that looks like a ship. It's so beautiful. I didn't pay to go up to the rooftop bar but I hear it was quite spectacular and even has an infinity pool.
Then we went to Chinatown to one of my favorite parts of the trip , the Taoist/Buddhist Temple. It was so beautiful in here! The main deity was the Goddess of the Ocean and there were several other minor deities (including Confucius and the Buddhist Goddess of Compassion). We got to offer incense sticks and learned about some unique aspects of Chinese spirituality & architecture. Then we went off to the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple, also in Chinatown, which is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. We made it just a few minutes before they closed the shrines for the afternoon so I got a pretty cool service and the priest even gave me some delicious yogurt rice and Kesaribath to share with the group.
We got back to the ship and re-gathered with folks and went back to Chinatown on the subway (which was really clean and well organized) to get lunch at a Hokkier which is like a food court with all these little stalls. You go with a group, pick a table and go pick up food and bring it back to eat at the table. I found a vegetarian stall that that delicious tofu, brown rice, some type of spinach greens and a curry sauce. I also had the local beer and sugarcane juice. Then we did some shopping in Chinatown and went to Raffles place. Here some folks got some food at Starbucks and we walked over to the Merlion Hotel. The Merlion has become a symbol of Singapore from the time when it was called Singha Pura (City of the Lion). The Merlion has the body of a fish and head of a lion. Usually it's just in the open but right now there was an arts festival going on across the city and a Japanese artist had enclosed the Merlion to create a one-room luxury hotel with the merlion in the middle of this room. From 8:30am to 8:30pm, it was open to the public and from 8:30pm to 8:30am it was rented to people for about $300 a night. This "hotel" was just scaffolding and drywallis up for only two months. So we waited in line and went in to see this thing up close. It was pretty cool to see the detail that went into make this outdoor statue into the centerpiece of a temporary luxury hotel. I was able to convince the guide to let me take a picture with me sitting in the bathtub! Then we just walked around a bit before heading back to the ship for Gangway duty.
It was a pretty nice city and a fun port but I didn't get much feel for a local culture. Everything seemed very superficial and touristy. But I did enjoy my time and may come back someday. J