After a long day at Universal Studios, our plan for Day 2 was to get some rest and start easy. The first stop for the day was a well-known breakfast place called Tolido’s Espresso Nook. This joint was walking distance from our hotel and is quite famous for its pancakes and general breakfast items. When we got to Tolido’s, the place was absolutely packed. We initially found some seating outside. However, while we were ordering, one of the indoor tables got vacated. So, we sat there instead. There were not a whole lot of vegetarian items on the menu. Most had eggs and meat in them. We had gone there especially for the pancakes and that is what we ordered. Along with a splash of maple syrup and some New Zealand butter, the pancakes turned out to be the perfect breakfast. The coffees there are pretty good too, and there is a wide selection to choose from.
(walking to Tolido’s Espresso Nook – Masjid Sultan on the way)
(colourful buildings as we approach Tolido’s Nook)
(sea salt caramel mocha at Tolido’s Espresso Nook)
(buttermilk pancakes at Tolido’s Espresso Nook)
After breakfast, we walked to one of the bus stops on Victoria Street and decided to head to the Raffles area. It was Saturday morning and we figured that it would be great to walk around the city when everything is quiet and peaceful. One great thing about the bus network of Singapore is that every stop has a clear route map of every bus that passes through that stop. If you want to go somewhere, then you can simply show up at the bus stop and see for yourself which bus number to take. You can also use this cool website to plan your bus trips. While we were figuring out our journey to Raffles, we meet an interesting French tourist at the bus stop. His traveling philosophy was unique; he looked up Google Maps and searched for the most crowded places in the city. Regardless of its popularity, he would go to those places not knowing what they will be like. We both ended up boarding the same bus. After a bit of small talk, our stop arrived and we wished him well.
(Masjid Malabar near the bus stop)
At the Raffles area, we walked around for a bit. However, it was getting very cloudy and rain was around the corner. So, we decided to cut our city tour short and instead headed to the Orchid Garden. The blue line took us straight to the Botanical Gardens station. However, the station was about a 1-km walk from the actual gardens. As we were walking towards the garden, it started raining. The rain had followed us from Raffles! We had to take cover for a few minutes. It stopped raining after about 15 minutes. Having a short spell of rain just before we entered the gardens was the best thing that could have happened. It made sure that we got some stunning pictures with droplets of water hanging from the petals of the beautiful orchids.
(At the Orchid Gardens inside the Botanical Garden complex)
(beautiful walkway inside the Orchid Garden)
(lovely orchids inside the garden)
(best time to visit the garden is just after some rain)
(more colourful orchids)
(ginger plant near the Orchid Garden entrance)
(a unique banana lotus plant inside Orchid Garden)
(waterfall at Orchid Garden)
(a swan swimming in a pond at the gardens)
(these turtles were very friendly, they thought we had food!)
The Botanical Garden at Singapore is excellent and a highly recommended visit in our opinion. Keep in mind that you will have to walk a lot (2 km to and fro between the station and garden and then a good 1-2 km inside the garden). By the time we were done, it was lunch time. We decided to get the famous dim sum and hotpot buffet at Ling Zhi, Novena Velocity. We took the blue and red lines to get there. However, when we reached, we discovered that there was a wedding function going on and the restaurant was closed to outside visitors. It was a big disappointment. But, we had many other food options and one of them was at Serangoon, which wasn’t too far away from Novena. We headed to Nature’s Vegetarian Delight – a place famous for its Tze Char Chinese cooking. The place was a good 20-minute walk from Serangoon station. It felt more like 40 mins after all the walking at the Botanical Garden. On top of that, it was raining as well! Our entire schedule was thrown out of gear and we ended up having lunch at 3 pm. The lunch was pretty decent, all items on the menu were vegetarian. The cooking was so good that even meat eaters frequent this place. Review of the restaurant is posted here.
Our plan for the afternoon post-lunch was Gardens by the Bay (GBTB). We had originally planned to get there by afternoon and walk through the two domes before watching the Garden Rhapsody show in the evening. But because of the lunch situation, we got to GBTB at around 5:30 pm. It took us really long to get there because we took the bus to the downtown area rather than the MRT. The bus dropped us close to Chijmes and we had to walk across Helix Bridge to GBTB. It was a long walk and not a good decision considering the fact that we had walked so much throughout the day. With only 2 hours to go before the Garden Rhapsody, we had no choice but to skip the domes and simply go on the skywalk. The skywalk is a paid attraction but worth the money because you get excellent views of the Supertree Grove and the surrounding city area.
(Singapore’s famous ice-cream uncle at the start of the Helix Bridge)
(the amazing skywalk at Gardens by the Bay)
(looking down from the skywalk)
(walking on the skywalk at Gardens by the Bay)
(one of the many supertrees)
(excellent view of the city and the port from the skywalk)
There are many small gardens and relaxation spots throughout the garden complex. You need a few hours to walk through all the zones. But most people visit just the domes and the skywalk. Tired from all the walking, we relaxed at the base of one of the supertrees until the Garden Rhapsody began. We found a nice spot and ended up lying down to view the show comfortably. The Garden Rhapsody is a popular tourist attraction with good reason. It is a unique show unlike anywhere else in the world. The entire GBTB area is unique. Which city has a huge man-made vertical garden complex in the middle of the city? Too bad our schedule got messed up because we could not finish the domes. We would have to come back another day to visit them.
(people sat wherever they could to watch the light and sound show)
(the garden rhapsody show was colourful and impressive)
After the show, as we were walking back to Bayfront MRT from GBTB, we tried to find some dinner at the mall inside Marina Bay Sands (MBS). But being a Saturday night, every restaurant we went to was ridiculously crowded. There was another light and sound show called Spectra which was about to happen in 20 mins. The Spectra show happens every evening (8 pm and 9 pm on weekdays, and a third 10 pm show on Friday and Saturday) at the Promenade area outside MBS mall. Since we were already at MBS, we figured that it was wise to see the Spectra light show. The weather was clear as well that night. Dinner was pushed back. The Spectra light and sound show was pretty decent and free of cost, like the Garden Rhapsody.
By the time we headed back towards our hotel, it was quite late and most of the restaurants were closing. We went to Syed Alwi road hoping to find something to eat at 10 pm. The only decent place open was Murugan Idli. There was complete chaos at Murugan. The restaurant had no one to get you seated. You basically had to stand around the restaurant and grab the first chair which got vacated. Tables were being shared by multiple families. The food at Murugan was top notch and worth all the hassles. The idlis were soft as cotton, and the chutneys served there were completely different from anything I had seen in India. A really long and tiring day 2 ended on a positive note.
(cotton-like idlis and flavourful chutneys at Murugan’s Idlis Shop)
(no South-Indian meal is complete without the classic filter coffee)