I don't think we could have taken Toddler SSG to such a wide range of attractions in the space of only five days in a city without Singapore's infrastructure and passion for efficiency. Taxis have proven to be an economical way for our group to travel while the shuttle buses and light rails that exist at the more touristy venues made it so easy for us to easily cover large areas of terrain over a short period of time. It does help that Toddler SSG is fascinated by public transport at the moment.
In addition to the above general positives about holidaying in Singapore, there were lots of of little things we discovered along the way that make the experience with young children much less stressful than they otherwise could have been in a fast paced, congested city. Lifts and travelators are plentiful - and fast. Walk ways between shopping centres and within them are wide and though its crowded, people are all wonderfully polite and accommodating of prams. I saw many parents carrying their babies in slings which you would think would be hot and sweaty work in such a humid city but again with plenty of air conditioning and places to stop for a break, it looked pretty doable. The restrooms are always easy to locate and there are always immaculate parents rooms with comfy change tables and private areas for feeding (there's almost always microwaves and hot water stations as well). There are the junior sized commodes we're used to in Australia but cubicles with a parent and child sign on their doors also have a flip down over seat that children can use.
And here endeth my observations on the ease of travelling with toddlers in Singapore. It can be done and it can be done fabulously!
Thursday was our last full day in Singapore and we decided to just 'do' one thing before heading off for lunch and some last minute shopping and swimming. That last bit was my contribution to the itinerary. Naturally.
The National Museum of Singapore is housed in a stunning building that I believe used to be an academic institution. Looking up in the foyer rewards you with this view of the stained glass panelled dome that commemorated the rule of Queen Victoria, which was the period during which the museum was built. There are 50 panes of glass to symbolize the fiftieth year of Her (do I need a capital there, I wonder - better put one in just in case) reign.
The standard entry fee covers the historical rooms which detail the history of Singapore as well as key periods that have since shaped the country's identity. There was a major refresh of the exhibits in 2015 for Singapore's Golden Jubilee. In addition to the permanent displays, there are a number of visiting exhibits that have a separate admission fee. An Egyptian antiquities collection is currently on show. The museum houses a fine dining restaurant as well as a cafe. Unfortunately, the cafe was shut for renovations when we visited but I think opens again next week.
One of my favourite exhibits was the one themed around growing up in Singapore. I especially love this quote from an older citizen about her memories of growing up in such a multicultural city, 'The best thing was, everyone celebrated everyone else's New Year'.
Did you know that Singapore even had its own pop music bands?
Or that Elvis and his Hawaiian shirts had such a hold on the fashion choices of our parents?
There are a number of interactive exhibits in each room as well. Look at what happens to this stand of what looks like standard athletic trophies when you press a little button....
Toddler SSG was in his element with the wheels that needed to be spun to animate some windows conveniently within reach. It's close to the end of term for Singaporean schools so many groups of students were at the museum while we were there. Toddler SSG loves a school group. So many new, kind and helpful friends.
The museum brought back many memories for my parents who were both educated in Singapore. Many good and some, relating to the struggle for independence, not so much. The exhibits gave me perspective on the things that mum and dad have talked about casually over the years.
Around 1960, the newly independent Singapore recognized the housing crisis afflicting its citizens and the Housing and Development Board (HDB) was established. Its aim was and still is to provide affordable housing for all Singaporeans. Back in the sixties, high density apartment blocks were a huge cultural shock for many who were used to living in kampungs or what had devolved to substandard slum areas. HDB flats brought order, sanitation and more living space to many but the appliances and living skills necessary to live this way took some getting used to, especially for the elderly.
Oh Singapore, you're so hip. Even your museums feature chill out spaced carpeted with astro turf. Toddler SSG and I kicked off our shoes and ended our morning at the museum gazing upwards at a short presentation about the local wildlife.
With it being my last afternoon / evening in Singapore, caffeine had to be sourced and walking had to be power paced. This was my $6AUD skinny cap from Paul. That's the same Paul I found in Dubai all those years ago, then London and earlier on, in Paris. We go a long way back, Paul and I.
Sprinted through the basement levels of Ion... with a few pauses at some pieces of home along the way.
Before finding myself in Zara. Where would a holiday in Singapore be without the obligatory line up for a fitting room there? It was just like old times. I even (mostly) wear the same size as I did in those crazy, pre toddler years.
I left with some new dressed but more importantly, a bit of my previously terminally ill fashion mojo resuscitated. Love you, Zara.
Then I finally found Muji, also in Ion. Can you believe I didn't even know there was a Muji in Sydney until I googled whilst writing this post? Anyway. I couldn't resist the children's range and now the nephews have matching breton stripe tops and dark denim jeans (with comfort track suit waistbands no less) for the coming winter.
Creature of habit that I am, I couldn't leave Singapore without having at least one lunch of highly processed carbs from an Asian bakery.
I always get a kick out of the creatively flavoured breads. I should learn to bake with matcha one day myself.
I had high hopes of enjoying my late lunch on the sun deck after my swim but it started to pour when I stepped out of the pool.
So I had to seek refuge indoors. Along with the Perrier was a cheese and spinach roll and a matcha steamed cake.
This is the view that greeted us when the rain stopped. My aunt and uncle took us to dinner at the Changi Sailing Club.
The area also features a number of holiday chalets that locals hire for a quick getaway from the city. There were more memories revisited as my parents reminisced about the holidays they took (pre kids) with my aunt, uncle and the rest of their extended families. Weddings, births and introductions to new members of the family, the chalets at Changi have seen it all with our family.
There is one particular salmon pink door in the midst of some hedges reinforced with wire, though. That's the spot where the Prime Minister vacations.
Okay, that's it from Singapore. We fly to KL this evening and in the meantime I have a toddler to wrangle and too many new things to fit into luggage I brought from home in a 'I won't have time to buy anything' frame of mind. Wish me luck!
Hope all is well with you.