Saturday evening we arrived back at Helsinki Airport after twenty-four hours of travelling back from Singapore. We were gone for just over a week, spending the first three nights in Singapore, four nights on the island of Pulau Tengah in Malaysia and the final night back in Singapore before flying home the next day. It was an awesome trip and I wanted to share a few of the highlights with you here.
After a long and sleepless journey we arrived at the wonderful Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore at 7am. We couldn’t get into our rooms so we grabbed a bite to eat and wandered around the hotel like zombies for a couple of hours. When we got into the rooms it was time for a power nap, we wanted to try and force ourselves into the Singapore time zone so we only let ourselves sleep for a couple of hours.
After napping we headed over to the Garden by the Bay next to our hotel to check out the Super Trees and the Flower Dome. Some of the Super Trees are up-to-fifty metres tall and harness the sun’s energy by day, using it to provide some of the energy used to light them by night. They also act as the air intakes and exhausts for the surrounding conservatories and create their own microclimates in which to grow different plant species. Only in Asia…
For dinner we headed to the Old Airport Road Hawker stands for an eclectic mix of local foods. Singapore’s’ mixture of Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Western cultures make for some truly tasty food options. We ordered food from a number of the different stands including Chilli Crab, BBQ Stingray, Watermelon juice and my personal favourite, the Banana Fritters.
Sunday morning we slept in a little to catch up on our sleep and ate breakfast in the hotel, they had a pretty interesting mixture of western and Asian food and was a great spot to drink a coffee and people watch. After wandering around the lush Singapore Botanical Gardens we headed to Orchard Road where the ladies wanted to shop, I (as patiently as possible) accompanied them and managed to keep myself out of trouble by watching the world go by. It’s worth noting that prices aren’t much different from in Europe, but of course the girls didn’t let that stop them.
We returned to the hotel and went to check out what the Marina Bay Sands is probably best known for, The Skypark. The rooftop infinity pool, restaurants and bars offer amazing views of the surrounding Singapore skyline. At 146 metres long and 191 metres above ground level it is the world’s longest elevated swimming pool, time for a selfie.
In the evening we met some friends at the Clifford Pier Restaurant at the Fullerton by the Bay Hotel. A somewhat swanky affair with excellent cocktails but surprisingly bad service. We were recommended a number of local dishes by our Singaporean friend and the food didn’t disappoint, excellent noodles and chicken and rice. We were totally spent after a long day walking around and exploring so we crashed out early.
We awoke early Monday morning and grabbed a quick breakfast before jumping in our shuttle to Mersing, Malaysia where we would catch a boat over to Pulau Tengah Island. We quickly arrived at the Singapore/Malaysia border and it went pretty smoothly considering we were an interesting mix of Finnish, Swedish, Russian and English. The car journey from the border to Mersing was somewhat of a rollercoaster ride, the driver was texting whilst making some sketchy overtaking manoeuvres on twisty roads. We arrived in one piece and took the choppy boat over to the Island of Palua Tengah from Mersing, nine miles east of the mainland.
We got really lucky with the weather on the trip, we were expecting lots of rain but the sun was shining with some patchy cloud and temperatures hovering around thirty degrees Celsius.
The rest of the day we relaxed by the pool and had some good food.
After breakfast Tuesday morning the lady and me headed off to hike around the island, all of the buildings and infrastructure are on the south and west of the island so we wanted to try and get a feel for what the island was like without humans. We followed a rough trail that followed the coastline all the way around the island, popping out onto different beaches or stopping to take in a view. Some parts off the trail were further inland, in the jungle under the canopy layer, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit like Tom Hanks in Castaway. It took us two hours to go all the way round the island and we were plenty hot and sweaty when we arrived.
We spent the rest of the day Tuesday just soaking in the sun and in the evening drinking wine and playing the highly competitive board game Munchkin Fu. It got heated.
Wednesday morning we set off on an island hopping/snorkelling trip, we’d been warned we may have to turn back due to rough seas and that’s exactly what ended up happening. We headed north and as we left the shelter of the island the ocean became much choppier. We tried some snorkelling but the visibility was really bad due to the currents. We then set off south to a neighbouring island and dropped by their beach bar for a cocktail only to be told that the barman was away and no cocktails were to be had, then it started raining. The journey back to Palua Tengah was extremely rough and we returned to the island looking like drowned rats, soaked to the bone. Despite the boat trip being somewhat of a failure we were all in good spirits and made the best of it, definitely something we won’t forget.
Thursday was another chilled day on the beach not doing an awful lot. We did take sea kayaks out for thirty minutes or so but the current was pretty strong so we didn’t get too far in that time, it was definitely a good workout though.
Our last day on the island was spent packing up and getting a few last rays of sunshine on the beach. The boat back to Mersing was very choppy and took a long time as the captain had to hold back on the horses. We arrived in Singapore around six in the evening and managed to get in a little more sightseeing time. The Mustafa Shopping Centre in Little India was our destination, this huge shopping centre sells everything imaginable from all over the world and made for some great people watching.
We picked up a couple of bargains and some interesting food stuffs to share with friends back home before catching the super clean and efficient subway back to our hotel.
The entire day Saturday was spent making our way home back to Finland. The journey was long and arduous but went smoothly, the highlights of the journey were getting to watch Star Wars The Force Awakens for the third time and sitting in the pub at London Heathrow drinking a proper English beer before catching the connecting flight back to Helsinki.
I really enjoyed our time in Singapore and could have done with a few more days to explore some other areas like China Town and the Downtown area and I’m pretty sure the lady could have done a little more shopping. There is so much to see and do in Singapore and I feel like we only got a glimpse of it.
Palau Tengah was beautiful and so relaxing, I’d love to spend more time on the mainland and experience some of the true Malaysian culture.
Thanks for stopping by