Singapore: no Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll.
When we were organizing our holiday to Thailand and Vietnam, everybody told us:
“Are you going to Phuket too? Just use that horrible, touristic destination to get to the islands in the South, but get as fast as you can away from it!”
Well … we liked Phuket a lot! Maybe we were lucky? We booked through Booking.com the lovely Perennial Resort, close to the airport. Our boat from Koh Lanta arrived around 3 in the afternoon and we took a taxi to the North of Phuket. The taxi ride took us this time one hour. Our hotel runned by a Thai family was in Sirinat National Park and walking distance of Nai Yang Beach.
The staff behind the reception desk of the hotel was very kind. We right away felt home in this colonial style hotel. We discussed the breakfast time at the reception and the bell boy brought our backpacks to the third and highest floor. It had a romantic balcony with a lovely view on the garden and swimming pool.
That evening we walked from the hotel through the National Park to the beach and had dinner of fresh fish at cosy Phen’s Restaurant, while watching a spectaculair sunset. After dinner we went to an area with bars, where we sat on the laid back terrace with nice music, which reminded us about Funky Monkey at Koh Lanta. At both the restaurant and bar we had super friendly waiters.
The next morning we had a great breakfast downstairs next to the lush garden and the sister of the owner brought us to the airport, which is only a 5 minutes drive.
Organizing our flight from Phuket in Thailand to Hanoi in Vietnam hadn’t been easy. Finally we found a flight with Tiger Air with a stop-over in Singapore. This means that you fly all the way over the South of Thailand, over the country Malaysia to the country Singapore. And the next day, again with Tiger Air, from Singapore to Hanoi. A total of 4,470 kilometers! We should have visited the North of Vietnam when we were in the North of Thailand. Flying to Hanoi from Chiang Mai would have been 1,223 kilometers.
At the check-in we asked the flight company if they could check through our cabin luggage, so we would go into Singapore with only our hand luggage, but the ground steward told us we had to pay 55 Euros extra for this service. A lot of money, but how great to be in Singapore without the two backpacks. So we paid the extra.
After checking in at the hotel near the airport we had lunch and wanted to go into town. On our bucket list was Gardens By The Bay which is at Marina South so we took a taxi. Gardens by the Bay is part of a strategy by the Singapore government to transform Singapore from a “Garden City” to a “City in a Garden”. The stated aim is to raise the quality of life by enhancing greenery and flora in the city. What we could see out of our taxi window was that Singapore is green, super clean and has beautiful buildings. Pity it was raining that day.
The tickets for the attraction Gardens By The Bay are 28 Singapore dollars (18 Euro) for both parks: The Flower Dome and The Cloud Forest. For 5 dollars more you can walk the OCBC Skywalk at the Supertree Grove, which are vertical gardens of 25 to 50 meters tall. But because of the rain, we could not book this skywalk the moment we were at the cashier.
We started with “The Cloud Forest” because the time of the mist – which is on every two hours – would start in 45 minutes. This conservatory starts right away with an impressive waterfall. The mountain itself is 35 meter tall and has three floors. It replicates the cool moist conditions found in tropical mountain regions between 1,000 metres and 3,000 metres above sea level, found in South-East Asia, Middle- and South America. Beautiful plants and also nice views on the Singapore Skyline.
From the third floor we had a great view on the Singapore skyline with the beautiful Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The hotel has three 55-story hotel towers and has 2,561 rooms, includes a mall, a museum, two large theatres, seven “celebrity chef” restaurants, two floating Crystal Pavilions, a skating rink, and the world’s largest atrium casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines. The complex is topped by a 340-meter-long SkyPark with a capacity of 3,900 people and a 150-meter infinity pool. The hotel is billed as the world’s most expensive standalone casino property at 8 billion Singapore dollars, including the land cost.
We waited for the mist to come out and after that went to The Flower Dome.
But The Flower Dome conservatory was a bummer. If you are used to our Dutch “Bloemencorso” (flower parade with trucks or boats) or our “Keukenhof” (park with colorful tulip fields) this looked like a classic English garden. We expected more. Maybe we were only ten minutes inside and left to see the Supertree Grove. At this time you could walk the Skywalk, but it started raining harder, so we took a taxi to the shopping mall area of the city.
The next morning we had to be up early for our morning flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. We were just in Singapore for one afternoon and one night.
Would we go again?
Well … we loved the architecture and that the city is so green and extremely safe and clean. But do we like their very strict laws about not flushing toilets, selling chewing gum, nudity at your own home or their liquor bans?
For instead: if you do not flush a public toilet after use it can cost you 500 Singapore dollars if the police catch you.
It is also illegal to import or sell chewing gum. This law is designed to keep the city-state tidy and well-behaved. Those who do chew gum for medical reasons (like Nicorette) are still subject to fines if they are caught spitting gum out on the street.
For instead Johan bought a package of cigarettes which was 9 Euro (and in Thailand he only paid 2 Euro).
There is a law in Singapore about nudity in the privacy of your own home! If a passer-by happens to catch a glimpse of you in the nude, you get fined. So keep those blinds completely shut if you want some naked time at your own home!
And don’t bring a sex toy with you. Singapore law defines sex toys as “obscene objects” and the possession of this toy can land you with a fine and even some jail time.
And while probably hard to enforce, suicide is actually illegal in Singapore and police can arrest you after a botched attempt.
And make sure you love the “correct” gender. While many countries are currently debating how to recognize same-sex relationships, the gay community in Singapore is arguing for the right to even exist. Although Singapore changed their laws in 2007 to allow heterosexual and female same-sex adults to engage in some good ol’ fashioned sodomy, sex between men remains illegal. Although the law is apparently rarely enforced, the punishment can include a fine, a two-year jail sentence and even caning.
But that night we did wanted to see the gay nightlife, even after reading about all these laws. And it wasn’t bad. But the prices! In the Singapore bars we paid more than we pay on Ibiza in the expensive clubs! There is a new law since april 2015 for drinking alcoholic beverages in public places from 10:30 PM. Those convicted for the first time could be fined up to 1,000 Singapore dollars, while repeat offenders face a 2,000 Singapore dollars fine or up to three in months jail or both!
Gatherings of three or more in public after 10 PM are illegal in Singapore and can get you stopped by the police asking what’s up. If you are out that late, be prepared to show your ID and explain why you need to be hanging out with more than one person out in public.
And don’t get busted in Singapore with drugs! Not that we were planning that. But if Singaporean police caught you with drugs, even when it is a relatively small amount, they will assume that you are selling drugs. And if you are convicted of selling drugs, you will be sentenced to death!