Summary: I flew in around midnight and had my first glimpse of Marina Bay from the taxi ride, and it left an instant impression.  It was just. so. beautiful.  When daylight came it did not disappoint, with dazzling views in spite of the Singapore haze from Indonesian forest fires.  My first day was spent crossing Singaporean icons off my list – Merlion statue, Marina Bay, Marina Bay Sands, ArtScience Museum (lotus-shaped building, The Esplanade (durian-shaped building), and the Supertree Grove in Gardens by the Bay.  These are all located in the downtown core within close proximity of each other, but it’s still quite a walk to see them all, especially in the summer heat.  After lunch and a break, I briefly visited Chinatown.

Singapore, Singapore and Malacca, Malaysia
Total Length of Stay: 5 days, 6 nights (first 3 days in Singapore, then 2 days in Malaysia)
Getting There: International flight to and from Singapore, local bus to Malaysia from Singapore

This Blog Post: Day 1 out of 3 in Singapore, Day 1 out of 5 for entire trip
Accommodation: The Fullerton Hotel Singapore
Tour Operator: Completely self-guided

Length of Day: 12 hours with 2-3 hour break
Activity Level: Large amount of walking through 80-90F heat
ITINERARY (times are very approximate and meant to only roughly illustrate the pace)
1.) Merlion Park (7:30-8am)
Jetlagged and unable to sleep, I was the very first customer to show up for breakfast at my hotel, and immediately went out to see the Merlion statue.  I was lucky to be staying across the street from this Singaporean icon, but it’s a great place to start a walk around Marina Bay for anyone.  This early in the morning, a good number of tourists had shown up but it still had a rather peaceful mood - almost like strolling through a suburban park and not the downtown core of a major city.  
2.) Marina Bay
Note: Everything described below is also very impressive at night, when the place lights up in dazzling colors.  Pictures of this are in Day 2, I didn’t come here at night today.
From the Merlion, I continued across Esplanade Bridge and walked along the Bay, which is surrounded by several unique architectural structures.  First I passed by the Esplanade, which is a performing arts venue thought to look like either durian fruit or the eyes of a fly.  Across the Bay was Marina Bay Sands, three towers with a ship-structure across the top, and next to it was the ArtScience Museum, a building shaped like a lotus-flower.  The Singapore Flyer was nearby, a giant ferris wheel analogous to the London Eye.  A full rotation of the Singapore Flyer takes around 30 minutes and gets 165 meters high, and supposedly offers amazing views of the city, but it was closed due to the haze when I was there.  
I had to walk across the Helix Bridge to get to the other side of the Bay, and it was by far my favorite attraction.  Yes it's probably the nerd in me speaking, as the Helix Bridge is shaped like a double helix to imitate the structure of DNA.
3.) Gardens by the Bay
 (9:00am – 12pm)
I got lost for a bit trying to find this – you have to take an overpass bridge that cuts across the Marina Bay Sands towers.  There is A LOT to do in the Gardens but I was most interested in the Supertree Grove, man-made “tree” structures up to 16-stories tall, with plants growing from their sides – undoubtedly unique to Singapore.  They harvest solar energy from the sun during the day which they use to light up at night (more on this in Day 2).  The OCBC Skyway (middle picture) looked like it would have been fun, but I think it was closed due to the Singapore haze when I was there.  Not a single person could be seen on it, and it was really hot, so I didn’t bother searching for the entrance.
The Supertree Grove was why I came to the Gardens, but I figured I should see at least a little more.  I went to the Flower Dome, which houses some unique plants; and the Cloud Forest, where visitors take a misty walk around an indoor, man-made waterfall with surrounding vegetation.  These places charge for admission and were fun, but if you’re short on cash, it’s not tragic to skip them.  The best part of the Gardens is the Supertree Grove, which are free, and besides the Supertrees there are several other free attractions.
Somewhere along the way I passed by the Colonial, Malay,  Chinese, and Indian Gardens but did not explore them in detail – they were nice but nothing special.  The walk around Dragonfly Lake was quite beautiful, and is so named because of metal dragonfly statues built in the lake.  A large baby statue was probably the most eye-catching thing of the day - it’s basically a giant baby that looks like it’s floating above the ground, which one of my friends later told me looked “creepy.”
4.) The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
After a full morning of sightseeing in a Singaporean tropical summer, this was an air-conditioned haven!  The stores are meant to cater to a wealthy clientele – it’s not a particularly “cultural” place to shop, more for people who want their Chanel and Louis Vuitton.  Not really my style so I just headed to the food court and got some Hainan chicken and rice for lunch, a Singapore specialty.
  Then I decided to take a break from the heat and headed back to my hotel.  
5.) Chinatown (4:30-7pm)
After relaxing and swimming at my hotel, I was ready to go out again.  It was about a 20-minute walk to Chinatown and before the 20 minutes was up, I was once again drenched in sweat – so much for that shower I took after swimming.  Along to way to Chinatown I passed by the Momentum Sculpture, which is Singapore's tallest public sculpture and looks like a giant, red Christmas tree.  In Chinatown, I passed by the Hindi Sri Mariamman Temple and the Buddhist Tooth Relic Temple but explored them in much further detail on Day 3, so I won’t go into them here.  There were some street markets, and the area around People’s Park Complex and People’s Park Centre had several places to shop and eat.  However, I left without eating dinner because the majority of food venues were not air-conditioned and it was above 80F outside.  Instead, I opted for an air-conditioned restaurant in my hotel, which concluded my first day in Singapore.
3/21/2017 11:15:58 pm

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