Singapore | Best Zoo EVER

Landing in Singapore is breathtaking; the landscape is dotted with ethereal islands and more boats than I have ever seen. It was easy to get to the city from the MRT system, but we had quite the time finding a hotel and ended up chatting with a rather erratic old man in a Little India cafe just to put our packs down for a little. Finally, we settled on a hotel nestled near two temples in a pedestrian square, right along a thriving market and down the street from the art museum, which proved to be an entertaining, if short, affair. Hilariously, durians are not allowed inside our building (they are also banned in most public places, sometimes with S$1000 fines), which makes us really want to try one.

After resting and eating, we set out to explore the city, and ended up on a quest to find the Henderson Waves. The Waves are a fantastic bridge, made of 7 wooden ribs overlooking both trees and city. Remarkably, we had the most difficult time finding this luring creation — nobody seemed to recognize it, though it is extremely unique in architecture and was on the cover of several Singapore brochures. The directions in the city guide proved no help either. Thus, an MRT ride, long walk, several questions, bus ride, and 5 km trek later, we were there. Happily, the trek was also fantastic; the way there runs along the Forest Walk, which begins at the Alexandra Arch, and consists of a gently illuminated, elevated metal path, which you can look through or peer over. Throughout the walk, one can see nature at its finest: both from above and inside. It was rather deserted, as the dusk was settling by the time we started out. The Henderson Waves were well worth the adventure — the bridge is beautiful and serene, with little enclaves cocooning picnicing couples and chatty friends. While laying in one of these organically-shaped nooks, we felt the bridge slightly swaying in the wind and took pictures of the urban sights winding around us. It was rather peculiar, but remarkable, to be among nature, hearing monkeys and birds, while seeing the city lights in the distance. Singapore has done a truly remarkable job in this department, and the locals seem to utilize the benefits of being in a city that remains largely jungle. The bridge connects two enormous parks, so we decided to descend in the other direction. Unfortunately, this side was more of a traditional trail (i.e. not lit), so we spent most of the way stumbling in the darkness, praying that no snakes would emerge for some starlight.

Somehow, we found the strength to see the Fullerton Hotel, lit up in its grandeur, on the most famous bank of the Singapore River. This area was covered in riverside honey holes, catering to the rich tourists with $40 plates of crab. Naturally, we quickly dashed in the other direction, finding refuge by sitting along another bay, watching the construction of endlessly impressive skyskcrapers and gaping at the glamour around us. The next day, we did the art museum and saught another apparently obscure elevated nature trek, the Tree Walk. Unfortunately, it took us so incredibly long to find this one, that by the time we did the 5 km hike through the jungle, it was on the brink of twilight, and we had no choice but to turn back. We did get to see monkeys about, and they seem to be ignored by the locals as if they were cats, just meandering down the trails.

In the evening, we visited the Night Safari, which turned out to be well worth the admission price, and trip to Singapore. It is truly the most amazing zoo either of us have ever seen, filled with interactive walks and nouveau techniques — the place does not use cages, in fact, but opts for more natural barriers, such as streams and bridges. The entire place is lit with ethereal light and stocked with the most interesting of animals, including fishing cats, deer mice, clouded leopards, lions, and capybaras. The best part is the occasional glass barrier, which lets you get up close and personal with the scariest beasts. Josh and I sat inches from a Malaysian tiger, smushing our faces next to his for over half an hour. (We theorized that they air condition the little section next to the glass, as he walked about there for ages.) We got to have a similar experience with the servils and clouded leopards, the latter of which even climbed trees and played around for us. Also, the pack of Indian wolves was just waking when we sauntered by, resulting in a 20-minute howling performance unlike anything we had ever seen. One of my favorite experiences was the trek through the bat caves, where fruit bats flew inches from one’s face, and no barriers of any kind existed. Madness…

Tip: For the Night Safari, walk by the cages several times. The animals are always doing something different; we didn’t see the tiger until our second round. Also, the trolley ride, though somewhat entertaining, is probably not worth the extra money. For food, utilize the city’s many cafeterias and hawker stalls. Mains at a restaurant in Singapore seem to average about $20, but you can eat gloriously at these other centers for about $4 each. They are everywhere, and serve anything from fresh sushi to curry.

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One Response to “Singapore | Best Zoo EVER”
  1. Night Safari is truly one-of-a-kind. At nighttime, the animals are more active and seeing them in that state really change how we view these creatures.

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