Yes, we celebrated the 2018 Chinese New Year in style in Singapore! In my last post I wrote about our day 1 private tour with Su Ling of Hello Singapore Tours, and now I’m continuing this post on Day 2 as it’s now Chinese New Year’s Eve.
Our tour today did not start until 4pm, so we had a nice leisurely day in the neighborhood near our hotel, The Grand Hyatt Singapore. After breakfast in the Concierge Lounge, Steve (DOS) and I wandered around the huge hotel complex, and relaxed a bit by the third or fourth floor pool, depending which elevator you took to get there. It was a bit odd finding the pool tucked away between a square of skyscrapers, but quite tranquil when you found it.
From the hotel lobby the elevator sign says to exit floor four, but then you have a maze of a walk, followed by a staircase down to floor three! It’s actually connected to another building, which that elevator lands you at floor three, right by the pool. Anyway, it made for some relaxing conversation laying around the pool for a bit, even though we didn’t use the convenient red ‘service call’ button for the soda we brought down from the Concierge Lounge.
For lunch, DOS and I headed out thru our local neighborhood, exploring some of the nearby hotels and shops, such as the Hilton Singapore, all pretty quiet on this Chinese New Year’s Eve.
We ended up going to the Hard Rock Cafe Singapore for lunch. At the 12:30pm noon hour it was quite empty so we got waited on quickly.
I had an overpriced burger and coke zero, while DOS had Jambalaya and a coke zero. Seriously six Singapore dollars for a Diet Coke, and no refills!, and $27 for a bacon burger! (approximately $4.50 and $21 respectively US).
While not going to break the bank, it just shows the difference in a touristy ‘Americanized’ restaurant chain, vs the local Singapore dining we went to yesterday at Hawker Chan in Chinatown; granted one was waiter service and the latter was Michelin-rated fast food service. We always try to go to a Hard Rock Cafe in a major city, though, and this one had the typical rock-themed, museum-like theming, however with a Chinese New Year touch, decked out with the hanging red lanterns.
At least we didn’t order a pint of beer for $15! (In all fairness, the alcohol prices were typically high priced where ever we went in Singapore – they must have a high tax on alcohol? I took photos of the “happy hour” beer prices as we walked throughout the city as a bit of amusement compared to back home. And no we didn’t stop at any of these places; just passing by.)
Sorry, I digress; back to the Hard Rock Cafe. We had a nice lunch and service at Hard Rock, and then bought a couple souvenirs in the shop.
I had to add to my collection of HRC caps, so I got one of those, seen below wearing it on the way out of the restaurant.
We wandered around some more before going back to the hotel to change for our evening tour with Su. As it was New Year’s Eve, most of the stores had closed up early, and it was fairly quiet around town; the calm before the storm!
We met our guide Su at 4pm, and started off on our evening tour of Chinese New Year in Singapore.
Like yesterday, we took the subway a few stops, however unlike yesterday the subway was not crowded at all, as most people had gotten off earlier in the day for the New Year’s eve festivities. We exited the subway down by Marina Bay, and wandered around the exquisite Fullerton Bay complex of Hotels. We took several photos in this historic and grand 5 star hotel, which was beautifully decorated for the Chinese New Year.
Out on the back deck of the hotel, there was a nice riverwalk, where we took several photos of the waterfront and buildings beyond. There was even an amusement park across the waterway, with a rollercoaster and several rides, and the interesting white Science Center, which reminded me of the firework globe at Epcot, when it opens up to the sky at the end of the show. As we continued our stroll along the riverwalk, we passed many outdoor restaurants and bars, which were setting up for the evening activities. This area looked like it would be a lively and fun place to settle in and have a brewski and meal, but we were just transiting thru on our way to more adventures. (Love the sign – Happy hour 1 for 1! Whatever that means.)
The ‘must see attraction’ in Singapore is the historic “Merlion“, which according to this link from the Singapore National Library Board, was started as a marketing promotion in 1964. It was Singapore’s official logo until 1997, and today is still synonymous with Singapore culture and souvenirs. It’s part lion and part mermaid, and it spews streams of water from it’s mouth, providing plenty of photo ops for tourists, including us.
Throughout the evening we took many photos, including the spectacularly designed Marina Bay Sands Hotel at Marina Bay. While we didn’t get to visit there on this stay, we would definitely like to go back and at least have dinner and drinks on the top floor ‘ship-shaped’ deck, which features a pool, restaurant and bar, not to mention outstanding views. Here’s a look at their website, which features an aerial view overlooking the magnificent pool area. Note to self: maybe next Chinese New Year’s! We would later walk over this way after dinner towards the stadium on the left to see the Chinese New Year festivities.
After saying bye to the Merlion, we walked back toward the Fullerton Hotel, taking a few more photos along the way, of this ultra-elegant hotel.
We made a quick stop at the Lighthouse Rooftop Bar, which was one of those hidden places we would have never found if we weren’t on our tour with Su. While the bar didn’t actually open for the evening until 6:30pm, we were able to walk up the staircase to have a look. This too would be a nice place to while away the evening over drinks!
We took a couple last photos in the hotel, including this colorful display featuring the Chinese “Year of the Dog”.
We walked across the historic Cavenagh Bridge, which is one of the oldest suspension bridges (1870) in Singapore, and today is for pedestrians and bikes only. Su told us many couples like to have their wedding photos taken there, due to the scenic and serene view.
After crossing the bridge, we made a quick stop for ice cream, which DOS purchased from a street vendor near the bridge. We took a seat in this park-like area by the Asian Civilization Museum.
Next we walked over to the Arts House, which was formerly the old Parliament building for Singapore. As noted in this Wikipedia article, it was built in 1827, and is one of the oldest government buildings in Singapore.
The Arts House was used for Parliament from 1965 until 1999, when the Parliament moved to the adjacent building. We walked inside it, and as it was empty except for a security guard, were able to view the seating galley as well as the actual chairs where the Prime Minister and other top officials presided over laws and proceedings. While not used today, it would make a great set for a movie featuring a courtroom scene! I even got to sit in the former Prime Minister’s seat!
After leaving the Old Parliament building and walking around a bit more, a short bus ride took us to the “Little India” section of Singapore. Yes, we did not feel like we were in Singapore any longer, as DOS said this is pretty authentic to going to India!
DOS should know as he flew there a few times for work, never a huge fan of crowded India. Yes, it was very crowded here, so I didn’t (rather couldn’t) take many photos without getting bumped in to.
Glad we saw “Little India”, but fortunately our visit was short-lived, and soon we were back on the subway.
By now it was starting to get dark, and we took the subway to the main waterfront area where the Chinese New Year festivities were going on. We were near there earlier, but now we were up close and the excitement of the Chinese New Year was felt everywhere. We had appetizers, pizza and brewskis in one of the large docked boats along the river. It was quite nice and relaxing; away from the other busy restaurants along the wharf and indoor restaurants. Believe me, the understandably higher prices on the dinner boat were well worth it for the more exclusive atmosphere and ambiance on this Chinese New Year’s Eve.We watched the many boats go by, sailing to the Marina Bay area, which we would soon do after dinner.
It was quite a wonderful Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner, Singapore style!
After dinner, we took the 40 minute boat excursion around the bay taking photos of the mammoth skyscrapers. We had been watching these boats sail by us while having dinner, and now it was our turn to sail on one.
We arrived over by the huge mall “The Shops of Marina Bay” and had a walk thru this large multi-storied mall, with this semi-parabolic-domed ceiling.
We walked thru the mall a bit before joining the crowds outdoors by the waterfront festivities.
After walking thru the mall a bit, we ventured back outside for a walk to the main Chinese New Year site, admiring the crowds of people who had just watched the outdoor water show, with the Singapore skyscrapers lit up in the distance.
As we walked towards the Helix Bridge, we could see the science center up close, as well as the many outdoor activities going on across the water, as we walked with the happy crowds towards the bridge.
We walked across the unusual and fancy Helix Bridge, which as this Wikipedia link shows, opened in 2010 and the four colors represent DNA.
After crossing the Helix bridge, we were now literally at the site main site for the Chinese New Year festivities. While it was very busy and crowded (to be expected), like all of Singapore, it was very orderly, polite, and clean.
Not that I’ve been to Times Square on New Year’s Eve, (although have been to Disney’s Epcot a few times NYE which is probably just as crowded) it had none of the drunken revelry associated with that, or even most places Stateside on New Year’s Eve. Instead it was more of a family-oriented affair, with music, food vendors, lots of inflatables of previous year’s mascots, as well as 2018’s “Year of the Dog”.
It was really a happy and fun celebration, and we were right in the middle of it!
We walked thru and took our time, marveling at all of the many attractions, music, and activities before heading out around 10:30pm.
We then took the subway back to the hotel, and said thanks and bye to Su along the way.
While we didn’t stay until midnight, after two days of walking all over Singapore, our feet thanked us, and were glad to be back at the hotel! It was a fantastic two day walking tour of Singapore thanks to our guide Su, and we hope to do this again.
Thank you Su for such a wonderful time!
Happy Chinese New Year!