Together with Heike from Köln Format, Nina from Smaracuja and Milos from Trendlupe and Luxuslupe, I was invited by the Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore Airlines to experience a unique weekend at the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix. And I gotta say, this journey made it on my personal top three list of my highlights in September. It was AWWWWWWESOME!
For Singapore, you can check out my short summary of traveller tips that would help you get around. Just one more thing: For those of you who only have a VISA credit card, make sure to take along some extra Singapore Dollars, since many local taxi drivers no longer accept VISA.
Day 1: Swissôtel The Stamford – Shopping in Singapore – Skypark Swimming Pool – Ku De Ta – Equinox The Stamford – Podium Lounge @Ritz Carlton
I flew with Singapore Airlines directly from Munich to Singapore, Changi Airport. At the airport I was picked up by a very friendly driver who welcomed me. I have to admit that I forgot how hot and humid it is in Singapore – I could literally feel the water running down my spine, which reminded me that I had to drink lots and lots of fluids. Usually it takes a few days to become acclimated to the heat and humidity, but then you will notice things differently and get to appreciate the beauty of the city and its kind people. – But still, I so could not wait to arrive at the hotel to take a shower and change into something clean.
We all stayed at the Swissôtel The Stamford, a five-star hotel right at the Formula 1 circuit. I still get gossebumps just thinking about it and I can still hear the noise of the racing cars. When I entered the hotel, I stepped into a world of luxury and Swiss hospitality. The Stamford is one of the tallest hotels in Southeast Asia, located in the heart of the city, amidst world-class shopping, entertainment and the Singapore central business district, Swissotel the Stamford is seated at Turn 9 of the F1 race and 20 minutes away from Singapore Changi Airport.
The beautifully appointed guest rooms cater to the needs of the most discerning travellers, featuring state-of-the-art technology and exclusive. The facilities of this five-star luxury hotel leave absolutely nothing to be desired: 11 exquisite restaurants and four bars, such as the superb Equinox Restaurant and the award winning JAAN, two beautiful outdoor swimming pools, six tennis courts and a state of the art fitness club with yoga and Pilates.
My room was on the 56th floor and I had an excellent view of the city. The lovely staff members and their amazing hospitality made me feel at home!
After I unpacked and took a shower, I decided to walk around and discover the area by myself. Due to the central location of the hotel, everything was in walking distance. But since my body still needed some more time to get used to the climate, I decided to first stop by at the Raffles City Shopping Center, a contemporary and fashion-forward mall, constantly evolving to stay relevant to consumers’ needs through the years. Buzzing with convenience and extensive offerings from exciting new fashion tenants, enhanced food and beverage choices at Basement 1 to beauty-on-the-go at the Basement 2 Link way, there is definitely something for everyone at Raffles City. You’ll find a selection of stores online.
For those who are looking for local boutiques or unique yet unkonwon Asian newcomer designers, you should rather check out the Arabic quarter or Little India. But if you are up for loads of commercial shopping experiences, these are more places to go to:
Marina Square: Shop, eat, play and relax is the mantra at Marina Square, and you can do all this and more at this classy mall. Conveniently located next to Marina Bay and some of Singapore’s grandest hotels like the Mandarin Oriental,Marina Mandarin and Pan Pacific, Marina Square is filled with a range of high-street to high-end fashion boutiques, restaurants and lifestyle shops and more. Over at this shopping complex, you’ll find stores like Zara, Mango, Massimo Dutti as well as John Little, Marks & Spencer, Muji, Crocs and more, with over 250 shops. The mall also has special privileges and frequent promotions just for tourists. Marina Square is also a great place to have a meal, with its abundance of cafes and restaurants from casual eateries to comfortable restaurants, and fast-food restaurants like Carl’s Jr and Burger King. Once you’re done shopping for the day, you can relax, catch a movie at Golden Village Cinemas or have a game of ten-pin bowling at the bowling alley.
Louis Vuitton Marina Bay: The Louis Vuitton Island is a new luxury destination for demanding travellers who wish to transform every journey into a unique personal experience. Singapore welcomes a new luxury shopping destination and retail icon as Louis Vuitton opened its first Island Maison at the Marina Bay Sands. The Maison sits on the waterfront of the Marina Bay promenade and will be a distinctive landmark in the celebrated landscape around the bay. The Louis Vuitton Island Maison is a one of a kind concept for the luxury brand, and will feature nautical- inspired interiors exclusively designed by internationally acclaimed and award winning architect Peter Marino. Visitors can look forward to a unique and sophisticated retail experience as the first Louis Vuitton Maison in Southeast Asia will incorporate art and cultural elements in its retail space.
City Square Mall: City Square Mall, located at the junction of Serangoon and Kitchener Roads, sits on the site of Singapore’s historic New World Park. It is within close proximity to Little India, with a direct connection to Farrer Park MRT station. With over 700,000 sq ft of gross retail space, spread over five retail levels, two basements and four levels of lifestyle services, it is home to about 200 tenants. Offering a wide array of value-for-money merchandise and services, exciting promotional activities, street fare as well as international cuisine, City Square Mall is a miniature ‘town-centre’ which provides the perfect setting for the community to meet, play and shop while acquiring an eco-learning experience. City Square Mall is the first mall in Singapore to be integrated with an urban park. Named City Green, the 49,000 square feet park is like a green carpet in front of the mall to welcome visitors. Filled with numerous wonderful surprises, City Green is designed to provide a learning experience about ecology and the natural environment.
Orchard Central: As Singapore’s tallest vertical mall, Orchard Central is an exciting and inviting spot to do your shopping. Designed such that glass is a central feature throughout, the mall has a breezy and welcoming feel. Billed as an experience for the stylish shopper, Orchard Central has everything from fashion to food, including Singapore’s first Mediterranean-style marketplace, which also gives it a clear point of difference from other rival malls. The mall is divided into different clusters, with separate areas for pampering, fashion, active lifestyles and food. From German fashion items to bsc Lingerie and DZ bags, you’ll find it all at Orchard Central. You can also experience alfresco dining in the sky, with restaurants on the seventh and eighth floors, making this a perfect place to grab a bite to eat after a long day of shopping.
Millenia Walk: If you’re looking for some of the best fashion and lifestyle stores, look no further away from Millenia Walk. It is home to flagship stores such as Harvey Norman, a specialist in electronics and furniture, and Cortina Watch Espace, Asia’s largest watch gallery. What’s more, it also boasts a wide variety of designer stores including Eyes@Work, Trixillini and Alain Figaret, as well as high-end brands like The Hour Glass and BOSE® by ALTAS. If you are in the mood for Japanese, do visit PARCO Marina Bay, a departmental store known for its Japanese fashion outlets as well as Japanese dining favourites. Speaking of dining, the 280-metre-long food street outside also offers a world of dining options. Look out for Singapore’s first microbrewery Paulaner Brauhaus, and the island’s only Outback Steakhouse from the famous American restaurant chain. Designed by Pritzker Architectural Prize Laureate Philip Johnson, this mall will draw you in with its spacious interior and aesthetically-pleasing environment, making your retail experience much more enjoyable.
Plaza Singapura: modern, hip and urban – Plaza Singapura is one of the most popular malls in Singapore because of its simplicity and great location. It’s always packed with kids, teenagers and young people, and it’s not hard to see why, with everything all available in one place. The mall has nine floors in all, each set to a specific theme, as well as a large internal courtyard. A number of popular local and international eateries takeup the lower floors, while clothes shops dot the higher levels. Some keystores in Plaza Singapura include John Little, Yamaha and Spotlight, and its multiple dining options ensure that you’ll be well-fed. You can also satisfy your entertainment needs with a large Golden Village cinema on the top floor, while the large Carrefour hypermart in the basement and ground levels handle your grocery or homeware needs.
Except for the Millenia Walk, I checked out all of them on my first day to get a good overview where to shop for the next days. It was a six hour shopping sightseeing marathon and pretty exhausting as well, which is why I knew I would not be able to make a night of it.
In the early evening hours I hooked up with the other bloggers as well as with the represantatives from Singapore Airlines and the Singapore Tourism Board. Our first stop was the famous bar Ku De Ta. Ku De Ta is a restaurant and bar located in the top floor of Sands SkyPark, an iconic building consists of three separated vertical building, connected by a boat-shaped building on the top. From Ku De Ta, you can see the longest and highest swimming pool in Singapore, right beside it. Ku De Ta’s restaurant provides about 230 seats with alfresco dining and circular bar where we can witness the amazing of Singapore. Accompanied by beautiful songs, you will get an unforgettable experience here. Besides that, there is Ku De Ta Club Lounge consists of a bar where all the drinks mixed and also a dance floor.
When you are there, you also need to check out the magical Skypark Swimming Pool. This infinity pool is simply breathtaking!
Afterwards we went back to The Stamford where we met the incredibly friendly staff and were invited to the Equinox Restaurant. Located on Level 70 of Swissotel The Stamford, Equinox Restaurant emphasises simple yet bold design elements such as suspended Ming-inspired wooden trellises and a luminous floor-to ceiling wall of mother of pearl. The menu has been designed to offer an abundance of choice with world-class cuisine so patrons are treated to a varied and multi-dimensional culinary experience. Adding to the restaurant’s uniqueness are the breathtaking, panoramic views of Singapore and the isles of Malaysia and Indonesia.
Day 2: Tree Top Walk – Kampong Glam and Haji Lane – Wild Rocket – The Fullerton – Amber Lounge
I have to admit that I thought our tourist guide Danny was kidding when he told us the night before that we were going hiking. Well, as it turned out, he wasn’t! We actually did go hiking at the Tree Top Walk. The TreeTop Walk is the highlight of several long hiking routes in MacRitchie Reservoir Park that brings you through different stages of mature secondary forest. The first of its kind in Singapore and in the region, this free-standing suspension bridge connects the two highest points (Bukit Peirce and Bukit Kalang) in MacRitchie and offers a bird’s eye view of the community of plants and animals that live in the forest canopy. The total length of the walkway is about 250m and its height from the forest floor varies, with the highest point at 25m.
Besides providing another avenue for nature recreation for Singaporeans, the Tree Top Walk also plays an important role in forest canopy research, an area many researchers were not able to get into because of lack of access. This bridge will help to facilitate surveys and plant identification work and further our understanding of how forest ecosystems work.
The Tree Top Walk was officially launched by the Minister of State for Finance and Transport, Mrs. Lim Hwee Hua, on 5th November 2004. The event also marked the start of another collaboration between NParks and HSBC that will reap benefits for the community. As part of efforts to enhance the Tree Top Walk as an outdoor classroom to promote an interest and appreciation of the natural sciences, HSBC and NParks established the HSBC-GCF (Garden City Fund) TreeTop Walk Fund to support a host of programmes and activities for conservation, education and outreach. This includes programmes for school children, workshops for teachers, training of nature guides as well as the production of educational materials.
The distance to the entrance of the TreeTop Walk is approximately 4.5 km (1.5 – 2 hour walk) from the MacRitchie Reservoir Park and 2.5 km (45 mins – 1 hr walk) from the carpark at Venus Drive. Therefore, a round trip including the TreeTop Walk is about 7 to 10 km (3-5 hours depending on your walking pace). The walkway only allows for one-direction traffic. The entrance to the bridge is from Ranger Station via Peirce track.
Although it was a bit tiring due to the hot weather and humidity – my pink dress was soaking wet afterwards and I felt like a little dirty baby pig – it was amazing to explore this beautiful piece of nature, in the middle of the city. It was definitely worth it!
Afterwards we were starving and stopped by at a local food court, far from any tourist attraction. There I had some rice and chicken, together with one of the best soups ever: Laksa – a popular spicy noodle soup from the Peranakan culture, which is a merger of Chinese and Malay elements found in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
The next stop was at the Arabic Quarter – definitely my favorite district. Maybe you have already read my article on Arab Street in Singapore. Arab Street lies between Victoria Street and Beach Road in the Kampong Glam area, and is located in the Rochore Planning Area of the Central Region in Singapore. Sir Stamford Raffles designated the Kampong Glam area as the most appropriate area for Arabs in Singapore to live. Other streets nearby are also named after Arabian cities. Arab street is in the centre of the original Muslim section of town, famed for its speciality shops, Muslim restaurants and more. For me personally, it is much more interesting than Chinatown or little Italy and less touristy. I fell totally in love with the little boutiques, cafés and bars and could have stayed there for hours! But make sure to have plenty of time when strolling through the little alleys and take loads of water with you, since it’s incredibly hot.
Alright, in the early evening hours we then went back to the hotel, ’cause we all needed to take a shower and get dressed for a fancy evening. First we were having a delicious dinner at Wild Rocket @Mount Emily (their fish is to die for!!!) and afterwards we went out for drinks on the rooftop bar of The Fullerton Hotel so that we could watch the Formula 1 Qualifiying.
Then we were ready to party at the Amber Lounge. Saturday night saw the famed Singaporean designer Frederick Lee unveil ‘The Night Flight of the Gargoyles’ haute couture collection, especially designed for Amber Lounge Fashion. Five Formula One drivers (listed below) joined the runway models on the catwalk, hosted by MTV VJs Hanli Hoefer and Alan Wong. VIP guests enjoyed a live performance from John Martin, a Swedish vocalist sensation known for his work with the Swedish House Mafia on #1 hit songs such as “Don’t You Worry Child” and “Save The World.
Well, I gotta say, it was one of the longest or shortest nights during our trip. But what happened at Amber Lounge, stays at Amber Lounge. ;-)
I think we got back to our hotel at around 5:30 in the morning or something like that. It was definitely a crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy night!
Day 3: Gardens by the Bay – Tim Ho Wan at Plaza Singapura – Formula 1
Actually, at our hotel they serve an amazing breakfast buffet, but unfortunately I never made it ’cause I rather stayed in bed for 30 more minutes so that I could at least get my four hours of sleep. But I heard it was delicious.
On Sunday Sept 22 I actually did not wanna take off my sunglasses. Boy, we were all completely wrecked. Thus, we were all happy that we got see something as incredibly beautiful and peaceful as the Gardens by the Bay – a park spanning 101 hectares (250 acres) of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. The park consists of three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden.
Gardens by the Bay is an integral 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. First announced to the public by Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally in August 2005, Gardens by the Bay is intended to become Singapore’s premier urban outdoor recreation space, and a national icon.
An international competition for the design of the master plan, held in January 2006, attracted more than 70 entries submitted by 170 firms from 24 countries. Two firms – Grant Associates and Gustafson Porter– were eventually awarded the master plan design for the Bay South and Bay East Gardens respectively.
This one should definitely be on you sightseeing list when bein in Singapore!
Afterwards, we checked out another local restaurant: Tim Ho Wan at Plaza Singapura where we enjoyed affordable Michelin star dim sum at Tim Ho Wan. The restaurant offers authentic Hong Kong style dim sum, including the BBQ pork buns that earned the brand global recognition. With 28 items on the menu, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The food was to die for!!
In the afternoon and evening it was all about the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix. Darn, I got goosebumps all over and was soooooooooooooo excited. Of course, I was cheering for the Red Bull team, especially for Sebastian Vettel, and it was really cool to be live on site. I still cannot put this experience in words, ’cause it was just incredible: the show before the race, the race itself and the freakin’ hot concert by Rihanna. I think, the best thing would be to let the pictures and videos speak for themselves.
Let me tell ya: if you ever get a chance to join this marvellous event, don’t hesitate, it’s pretty darn awesome – something you will never forget. And I was very glad to enjoy this with such wonderful companions!
I remember that we went for drinks afterwards at around midnight, but somehow I lost track of it. I only remember that they were actually already closing, but we managed to get two rounds of drinks. Some of our group than went on to another bar/club, but Milos and I were craving for some pizza – it was sort of a 2.00 a.m. snack. And afterwards it was time for me to go to bed – I was so exhausted and still needed to pack.
Day 4: Singapore Airlines Training Center – Sentosa – Dolphin Experience
Darn, this morning I overslept and did not hear my alarm. We were supposed to meet in the lobby at 9.00 a.m. and I woke up at 8.30 a.m. I guess, you can imagine how I felt. Still sleepy, I jumped under the shower and just picked anything to wear out of my suitcase. Then I ran out of my door to the elevator where I noticed that I forgot to brush my teeth. So I ran back into my room, brushed my teeth and then hurried down to the lobby to still be there on time. Boy, I was dead tired.
But then again, I was also excited because the Regional Public Relations Manager Europe at Singapore Airlines made one of my wishes come true: getting an exclusive interview with one of the beautiful Singapore Girls to get some jetsetter tips. You can read this interview later this week in our beauty section as well as in the Singapore Travel Special.
We all got a special tour to the Singapore Airlines training facility located in Singapore and were pretty amazed. We were able to get a look at the different type of airplanes, the class rooms, the grooming room and to experience part of the safety trainings.
For me – besides the exclusive interview with a Singapore Girl – the most impressive areas were the ones where the cabin crew gets (re-)trained on safety protocols. There were a number of different interior mock ups and the most interesting was the hybrid slide trainer. This was a unique set up with a Boeing 777 in the front and an Airbus A380 in the rear. The aircraft is used to allow flight attendants to practice evacuating passengers and jumping down the slides themselves. Inside the mock up, the interior was made up of earth-toned seats and the emergency doors had LCD screens located in the windows to simulate what might be on the other side (e.g. fire). Other mock ups in the facility allow cabin crew to practice opening emergency doors, escape from crew quarters and learn the proper operations on different aircraft. Of course, we did not take a slide down, especially since it’s quite scary to think about these emergency situations.
Thus, we moved on to the pool training facility, where the flight crew practices jumping into the water with their uniforms. The pool is able to simulate waves and rough conditions, providing an additional challenge for the new trainees. Much like the slide trainer, the interior has a full cabin set up, giving as much realism as possible to an actual water landing event.
I gotta admit that it was pretty impressive to actually get behind-the-scenes and also get a better understanding of the airline, their culture and their brand image. If I wasn’t already a huge fan of this airline, I would be now. :-)
After this great experience I was finally awake. Three members of our group headed back to the airport, while Heike, Nina and I got to spend a little more time in Singapore. Heike and Nina stayed for two more days at a different hotel and I just wanted to use my private time to explore Sentosa and some other things, sincy my flight was leaving that day at 11.00 p.m.
Sentosa is a popular island resort in Singapore, visited by some five million people a year. Attractions include a 2 km (1.2 mi) long sheltered beach, Fort Siloso, two golf courses, two five-star hotels, and the Resorts World Sentosa, featuring the theme park Universal Studios Singapore as well as the world’s largest Aquarium. For me personally, it was the perfect place for a relaxed afternoon.
Afterwards I spent my last hours at the dolphin lagoon at the Underwater World in Sentosa. I have wanted to experience a dolphins behind-the-scene enrichment play session ever since I was a child. At the dolphin lagoon they offered a “swim with the dolphins package” for individuals where you get to take a closer look behind-the-scenes, swim with these magical creatures and learn a lot about their natural habitat. I still cannot describe this precious moment – it was so heart warming and simply made me incredibly happy; the perfect feeling to fly home with. :-)
Well, this was my “little” summary of our four-day trip and I guess, now you can imagine why I still need to digest some of these precious moments and am still screening pictures and videos. I will upload all photo sets on flickr so that I get to share some of the highlights with you.
photo and video credentials: V’s World
Special thanks to Singapore Airlines and the Singapore Tourism Board for inviting me and hosting this event.