Imagine my delight when a lovely woman at Thomas Cook phoned me to ask if I wanted to take my family to Singapore to experience what it had to offer for teenagers. FOR A WEEK! ARE YOU KIDDING?? Not something I was prepared to turn down for anything. So off we went – myself, two of my children and a borrowed one, on account of the fact that my eldest son had to “work” (what he actually meant was that he had to stay at home and have numerous inappropriate parties in my absence, destroying my house in the process…
We had the most amazing time and if I was responsible for coming up with a simple title, then I think “Singular Singapore” would fit the bill perfectly. “Singular” means “exceptionally good or great; remarkable, extraordinary and outstanding”. Singapore is outstanding in many different ways and it’s progress over the last 30 years has been remarkable. With no noteworthy natural resources – early prosperity was based on a healthy free trade policy that Sir Stamford Raffles put in place in 1819 when he very wisely recognised the island’s incredible potential for providing a deep water harbour thanks to it’s unique location. During the 20th century, industrialisation increased the economy and with thirty years of the influence of Lee Kwan Yew and the party he established, today Singapore proudly has the world’s second busiest port after Rotterdam, minimal unemployment and an incredibly efficient infrastructure.
It has to be one of the best Asian countries to take children to – especially if you are a single parent like myself. I often find it overly stressful in foreign countries to get from A to B and to feel responsible for their safety and wellbeing. Not so in Singapore. You couldn’t find an easier place to get around. English is the common language (although Malay is the national language) so it is rare to not find someone who speaks English. The public transport is second to none and the taxis are cheap and easily available and all the drivers spoke English and were incredibly friendly. The place is ridiculously safe, clean and small enough to get around it fairly easily. Not only that, but owing to the fact that Singapore is just one degree above the Equator the weather remains the same all year round. You either have “Hot Summer” from March to November, or “Wet Summer” from December to February. Whilst we were there in August, it was indeed hot and humid, but as long as you are staying somewhere with a pool attached and you are wearing something you expect to sweat in (not a grey T-shirt) then all is fine.
Spending a week there meant that we managed to step behind the glossy exterior of Orchard Road, the street that formerly used to be full of nutmeg trees but that now boasts over 22 shopping centres. We discovered and spent time in all the different precincts, Chinatown, Little India, The Arab Quarter, becoming fully absorbed in each micro culture and relishing both the culture and the food that each distinct one has to offer.
My teenagers were positively squeaky about almost everything we did – which resulted in us having one of the most successful teenage holiday we have ever had together. We stayed in a serviced apartment which is a good choice with the children as it means you’re all together in one space and also it means you tend to go out and explore more frequently. We didn’t spend much time there to be honest, because we were too busy exploring and trying out all the incredible food.
The zoo experience was our ultimate combined favourite thing to do – as you would expect. The Singapore Zoo is one of the most world renowned zoo’s, not only famous for it’s wide variety of animals, but for it’s advanced approach to conservation and the interactive shows and feeding opportunities they offer. The zoo is divided into a River Safari, the main Zoo itself and a Night Safari and we all agreed that you should do all three, but not on the same day. Do it in stages so that you make the most of it all and don’t rush it.
We also all agreed that we experienced some of the best food we have ever had in the various restaurants and street food markets and enjoyed several sightseeing tours on the river as well as visits to rooftop bars to feel on top of the world.
I am going to write a few different posts about where and what we did and what we’d recommend for ease of reference. But in the meantime, here are just a few photos to whet your appetite:-
This post is written on behalf of Thomas Cook and the Singapore Tourism Board. All opinions are my own. Find out how you can Get Into Singapore by booking a trip with Thomas Cook here: –https://www.thomascook.com/holidays/singapore/