My last stop of this trip where I have been trying to dance as much tango as possible along the way, was Singapore. My main reason for stopping here was to participate in my very first tango festival. As I was taking classes during the day, I mostly limited sightseeing to the area where I was staying and where the festival events were taking place (central Singapore). Here’s what I got up to during those few hours that I wasn’t dancing or sleeping …
1. Crash course in Singaporean History
A good place to start is the National Museum of Singapore, where you can easily spend several hours. Established in 1887, this is Singapore’s oldest museum. Exhibits and multimedia displays tell the country’s history from the colonial period under British rule to independence up to the present day. The Living Galleries provide an insight into life in modern Singapore with sections on food, fashion, film, family life and the development of women’s rights. Entry to the Living Galleries is free from 6-8pm. Definitely worth a second visit.
2. A Walk in the Park
Just behind the museum is the entrance for the complex which was once known as Forbidden Hill and is now called Fort Canning Park . You can access it from the side of the National Museum via an escalator. It was called Forbidden Hill by the native Malays as it was the final resting place of the King of Singapura and it was believed that anyone who entered would have bad luck. Under British rule it became first the residence of the colony’s governors and later their military headquarters. This is where the British surrendered to the Japanese in February 1942, who took control until the war ended in 1945. Control of the Fort was eventually handed over to the Singaporean military as part of the process of gaining independence in 1963. Nowadays the site is a public park and is often a venue for concerts and festivals. Among the main sights are the Gothic Gates which lead into Fort Canning Green (pictured above), the underground bunkers used during the Second World War (known as the “battle box”), the Spice Garden and a hidden door known as a Sally Port which was used to enter or exit the fort without detection. You can download a walking tour guide from the park’s website here.
From Fort Canning you are a short walk from Orchard Road, the main shopping street in Singapore. Alternatively, you are even closer to Bugis street although this will be a very different experience. The once legendary Bugis street is now a cluster of stalls selling everything from t-shirts (apparently the cheapest in Singapore), underwear, touristy knick knacks to food and flowers.
4. Flying High
For 360 degree views of the city take a ride on the Singapore Flyer. The world’s biggest Ferris wheel until 2014 , it moves so slowly you can barely sense that you are moving (it takes about 30 minutes to do one turn). It’s good to do this in the early evening when it’s not so hot. When I went around 6pm, there was hardly anyone else, so no waiting time and I shared the capsule with only 2 other people. A multimedia exhibition inside explains the construction.
Although a bit pricey at 33 SGD, I would say that it’s worthwhile for the views.
5. By the water, at night
After the trip on the Flyer, I had some time for a walk along the harbour for a ground’s eye view of what I had just seen, before it was time to head to the airport. Unfortunately there was no time to visit the Gardens by the Bay which I’ve heard are spectacular. Next time!
Now that the big trip is (long) over and I’ve told you all about it, where next for Tanguera Travels? Since I came back I’ve been staying closer to home and in the coming weeks I will be sharing some posts about some of the places I’ve visited and will be visiting over the summer. You can therefore expect future content to mostly focus on dancing tango and travelling in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. Towards the end of the year I might be heading further afield again. Watch this space….
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