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Singapore calling! its time...

9 mins. read

Published in the Saturday Navbharat Times on 16 March, 2024

I don't know about you, but the two things that instantly lift my spirits are a good shower and a nice strong coffee. I love to travel, and I'm sure you do too, but traveling often means enduring queues for security and immigration, and sometimes taking red-eye flights. However, the flight to Singapore is delightful because it's not too long, making it easy to reach. But sometimes, I wish it were longer so I could sleep more! Regardless, as soon as I land, I try to check in and take a quick shower to start exploring the city. If check-in isn't possible, as most international check-ins are only available from 3:00 pm onwards, I head off to get my cuppa!

As soon as I reached Orchard Street, the first thing that caught my attention was the tantalizing aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the air. Intrigued by the locals' passion for their beloved brew, I decided to embark on a coffee adventure of my own. Little did I know that ordering a simple cup of coffee would turn into a delightful journey of discovery. Standing and staring at the menu in the coffee shop, I realized it was a maze of options, with letters and numbers denoting various concoctions that seemed to belong to a secret code. I needed some help for sure, and I recollected the various discussions I had with Renjie Wong, my good friend from Singapore who passionately promotes tourism to Singapore as India's Singapore tourism director. With a bit of his guidance and some help from Google, I soon learned the ropes. From kopi to kopi peng, each cup offered a unique glimpse into Singapore's rich coffee culture, blending influences from Chinese, Malay, and Indian traditions. And as I savored my first sip of kopi c, with its creamy sweetness enveloping my taste buds, I knew that I was experiencing something truly special. Singaporean coffee shops often use a mix of Malay and Hokkien terms to describe their coffee. If you're wondering what is ‘Kopi-C,” here are some common terms you'll encounter: ‘Kopi’ by itself typically means coffee with condensed milk, “Kopi-O” means black coffee, ‘Kopi-C’ means coffee with evaporated milk, Kosong means without sugar, and Peng means iced coffee. And if you can't do without your afternoon chai, then order a “Teh”. And of course, like coffee, Teh comes with its own variations too, but I'll let you discover that on your own!

But coffee was just the beginning of my culinary adventure in Singapore. Eager to explore more of the local flavors, I made my way to the hawker centers – bustling food havens where aromas of sizzling woks and bubbling broths filled the air. Here, amidst the vibrant tapestry of sights and sounds, I discovered a world of culinary delights unlike any other.

From Hainanese Chicken Rice to Char Kway Teow, each dish offered a tantalizing fusion of flavors, a testament to Singapore's multicultural heritage. And as I sat down to enjoy my meal, surrounded by locals and visitors alike, I couldn't help but marvel at the inclusivity and accessibility of these food havens – where everyone, regardless of budget or background, could come together to enjoy a delicious and affordable feast. As with India, the food of any place holds many secrets to understanding the culture of the region. The locally sourced ingredients make the food and the cuisine unique to the region and it's definitely something you should try. On my many trips to Singapore, I have always ensured I'm surrounded by friends when I visit a hawker center so we can share many dishes and catch up on the latest offerings of Singapore too. When you visit Singapore with Veena World, don't miss the visit to one such hawker center where you can taste the local food. And if you really miss Indian food, then make your way to the dosa stalls here, for Dosa and the Tamil Language are both integral parts of Singapore’s culture. What I really like about Singapore is the cultural diversity in this nation-state. English serves as the main language for business and education, alongside Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and Tamil, all recognized as official languages. English is widely spoken and used in government, while Mandarin reflects the heritage of the Chinese community, Malay is the national language, and Tamil represents the cultural identity of the Indian population.

But my journey didn't end there. No visit to Singapore would be complete without a trip to  the Gardens by the Bay where you visit the Cloud forest and the Flower dome and. the super trees.  These magnificent structures, ranging in height from 25 to 50 meters, are not only architectural marvels but also serve as vital components of the Gardens' sustainable ecosystem. Clad in a striking facade of metal and concrete, each Super Tree is adorned with a myriad of tropical plants, ferns, and orchids, creating a breathtaking vertical garden that teems with life.

But the Super Trees are more than just botanical marvels – they are also technological wonders. Adorned with photovoltaic cells, these towering giants harness solar energy to power the lighting displays that illuminate the Gardens by night, casting a mesmerizing glow across the skyline. My next stop was  Sentosa Island – a tropical paradise offering a myriad of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages. When we think of Singapore, we think of world-class entertainment, and you will find just that on the island of Sentosa. From relaxing on pristine beaches to exploring underwater worlds at S.E.A. Aquarium, Sentosa is a playground of adventure and excitement. On a Veena World tour, we make sure you have ample time to discover the attractions here and the wonderful rides in Universal Studios. I remember when I went with my daughter a few years back, she just couldn't get enough of Universal Studios, and we ended up going on the same rides again and again! But Singapore isn't just for the little ones! On my last trip, I discovered an adults' pool party at the newly launched Tipsy Unicorn nightclub in Sentosa and also the wonderful sea resorts which are actually ideal as a honeymoon destination. From indulgent spa treatments to rooftop bars with stunning views, there's no shortage of ways to pamper yourself. For a taste of the high life, consider booking a stay at one of Singapore's luxurious hotels, such as Marina Bay Sands or The Fullerton Hotel, where impeccable service and lavish amenities await.

The Marina Bay Sands is the iconic hotel of Singapore, famous for its boat shape connecting the three towers and its infinity pool. The skylark at Marina Bay Sands or MBS, as it is known, offers fantastic panoramic views of the entire city. Enjoy the beautiful view from the sky park on Veena World’s tours with your fellow tour companions.

For a more cultural experience, head to the ethnic quays – vibrant districts where Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Eurasian cultures coexist harmoniously. Explore the bustling streets of Chinatown, where you can sample traditional snacks and browse for souvenirs, or wander through the colorful lanes of Little India, alive with the sights, sounds, and aromas of India.

Each day in Singapore is always action-packed, whether I am here for work or pleasure. As I finished my work, the sun began its descent over Singapore's skyline, and I found myself boarding a traditional bumboat for an evening journey along the historic Singapore River. I simply love boat rides on the river when the river cuts across the city. It is one of the best introductions to the city in a very relaxed manner. Gliding past illuminated landmarks like Clarke Quay and Boat Quay, I was mesmerized by the enchanting reflections dancing on the water's surface. The city's iconic skyline adorned with twinkling lights. As the day ended, I felt a sense of tranquility and awe, marveling at the juxtaposition of old and new, tradition and modernity, that defines Singapore, promising myself to return soon for another wonderful discovery of Singapore. This wonderful country is always reinventing itself and you can rediscover its magic on your next trip! so, when are you leaving?

March 15, 2024


Sunila Patil
Sunila Patil

Sunila Patil, the founder and Chief Product Officer at Veena World, holds a master's degree in physiotherapy. She proudly served as India's first and only Aussie Specialist Ambassador, bringing her extensive expertise to the realm of travel. With a remarkable journey, she has explored all seven continents, including Antarctica, spanning over 80 countries. Here's sharing the best moments from her extensive travels. Through her insightful writing, she gives readers a fascinating look into her experiences.

More Blogs by Sunila Patil

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