Singapore first appeared on my design radar when the Marina Bay Sands first opened its impressive doors in April 2010. The now instantly recognisable rooftop infinity pool has dominated the pages of design and lifestyle magazines several times over and is unquestionably a magnificent architectural masterpiece.
On top of the Marina Bay Sands looking North over the city
If the hotel with the best view over the city wins the architectural points, then the interior design credits must go to its less-known companion just down the road, M Social designed by the awe-inspiring Philippe Starck. Complete with imaginative interior design concepts, such as iPads layering the walls of the restaurant, and guestrooms that will simply blow your mind away, the hotel shelters a modern, sexy and vibrant attitude that is also tasteful in all the right places – hopefully teaching other parts of South East Asia a thing or two about classy social scenes.
M Social, Singapore
It was the final stop scheduled on our swift swoop across South East Asia – and Singapore seemed to be the fitting corner of the region in which to finish the incredible experience. Although, I must admit, it was odd to think that we started this power-travel tour in Myanmar (1,580 miles north), which in all sense of the saying, could not be further from where we were seven days later.
Seeing the world as what it is yet to be as opposed to what it is today, the city and country carves its own path to create an opportunistic future – and that’s what I love about the country that sits boldly under Malaysia; it’s not afraid to change to meet demands but also to really just be something more than it used to be.
I’ve come to realise that people don’t look up in cities half as much as they probably should. They allow intricate details to pass them by. For all intents and purposes, it’s only in the middle of a metropolis where can you find the beating heart of a destination. Beautiful as it is in photographs, the real Singapore is alive and on the ball. Here, concrete is shaped into art that towers above clean streets. Ultra-modern, in both look and feel, it is immediately apparent that this island city-state follows nobody’s rules.
Although, the skyscrapers dominate the skyline, it is the landscape architecture that’s most impressive. How does your garden grow? In a patch of land outside your house, most probably, in between wooden fences. In Singapore, gardens commonly grow on the outside of buildings. ‘Quirky’, you may think and you wouldn’t be wrong. It’s also very contemporary, but its purpose is more than being aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Imprints of mother nature finally taking back what’s rightfully hers is evident around the city – from trees growing along the central reservation on the highways to the ban of chewing gum and spitting. Here you have two options: Live clean and respect nature, or leave.
The best example of clean Singapore looking after its future is situated at the base of the Marina Bay Sands and is aptly called the Garden Bay. Featured recently on the BBC’s Planet Earth II, the ‘supertrees’ are where the best of mother nature and the intelligence among mankind meet to work in harmony in order to create a better, fresher Singapore.
Aside from learning about the city’s ambitious aims to provide clean living, the tourist in me was begging to make an appearance. Firstly, I had heard that one cannot leave Singapore without experiencing the Long Bar, which is the birthplace (so to speak) of the delicious – and very sweet to the taste – cocktail, the Singapore Sling. There’s something about walking through the original bar at Raffles that makes you feel as if you’re stepping back into a time when bare necessities were capped at Monkey nut shells layering the floor and large fans providing what little cool air is left in the atmosphere. To put this into perspective, the temperature outside was plus 40 degrees celsius when we walked in at midday. Even wearing shorts and t-shirt made me feel overdressed…
Raffle’s Long Bar, the birthplace of the Singapore Sling
Our time was limited but we did what anyone with a few hours to kill in Singapore would do, and headed to the cheesy, corny, ‘we are too old to be here’ part of town. That place, which remains a guilty pleasure in both our minds is of course, Sentosa Island. Here we took ‘that selfie’ under the Universal Studios logo and to my complete surprise, we swam with dolphins creating some life-long memories that I truly will cherish forever.
Oddly, I love leaving a place with the feeling that I have only just touched the surface. When this happens, a mental post-it is stuck to my head reminding me that I must come back and visit in order to see and experience more.
Considering its position in the world, Singapore is at an advantage. Each year, millions of adventurous minds, like ours, pass through the boarder on their way to a different destination. Instead of spending the little time you have cramped up in some Airport lounge, get out there and soak up the opportunity to see a destination like nowhere else on earth. Singapore, I’ll be back.