Dazzling island nation brims with superlatives
I NEVER use the word amazing unless I really am amazed.
And I was recently on a visit to Singapore.
It was my first time back in more than 40 years and the transformation of that tiny island country in such a relatively short time was, well...amazing.
Four decades ago I recall just a botanical garden, many monkeys, a sprinkle of small buildings and a few hawker stalls.
Now, Singapore is an ongoing narrative of elegant skyscrapers bunched to form a soaring skyline, an international food and bar culture where everything is available, attractions that go beyond the imagination, a celebrity chef and wow factor on every corner, and a glam and bold lifestyle – all offered with ingrained hospitality.
If Singapore doesn’t have it naturally, it makes it. And with unequalled panache.
No reef? Let’s build an aquarium, and let’s make it the biggest in the world.
No CBD garden? Let’s make two. One a tropical rainforest, another filled with precious trees, lush lawns, flourishing plants and natural blossoms, all landscaped beneath massive light-flooding domes in 101 hectares of horticultural wonderland.
Not much beach? Buy in truck- loads of sand and create one, then fringe it with vibrant bars and stylish restaurants.
While we’re at it, why not build the world’s longest elevated swimming pool and place it in the sky?
The Marina Bay Sands hotel, with its three gracefully angled towers, is the heart-stopping building that supports the 150 metre infinity rooftop pool which cantilevers into the blue beyond and defies the mind's eye.
It is the most complex hotel ever built, now a global icon and a symbol of Singapore’s unabashed success.
The lotus-shaped Art Science Museum below Marina Bay Sands is as architecturally dramatic as our Opera House (but smaller, let’s save a little boasting for ourselves) and its outreached hand cleverly collects water and light for the museum.
Yet just minutes from these modern marvels is nature’s green tranquillity in the MacRitchie Forest where a free-standing suspension bridge has you up in the forest canopy with the birds and wildlife.
It’s essential to banish thoughts of ticking all Singapore’s boxes in one go. You must stay a while, dig deep into its multi-layered thrills and keep going back for more.