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Simply, Singapore is mind-blowing!

It’s incomparable to other cites we’ve visited on our trip so far and was made so special because of two of the kindest and most generous people you will ever meet, and who we were lucky to spend time with in Thailand last month. They took it upon themselves to make us feel at home in their homeland. Thank you Serephina and Calvin!

In Singapore, it’s as if a giant creative team of architects constantly work together to craft an ever-changing stunning skyline of complementary modern architectural designs, alongside existing historical structures.

Unlike the blocky high-rises of Hong Kong that seem to emerge from the forest and reach up to the sky, or the brash modern development of Bangkok alongside deprivation, Singapore’s vast array of styles is mesmerising – it appears that everything has been planned as pieces of art.

Walking around its clean streets and lush parklands, feeling the effervescent vibrancy and energy, and admiring the scenes was enough, but Singapore offers so much more. Having visited the city for a couple of days on our honeymoon, Jake and I were so happy to return with more time on our hands and children in tow, and we, equally, were in awe of the changes.

Much to our surprise, we actually liked the hotel mammoth that is Marina Bay Sands. We couldn’t stop looking at its impressive structure, inside and out, underneath and from afar, day and night, and work out where the rooms, swimming pool etc were, and how on earth it was built!

We’ve been reading about Gardens by the Bay since it was built, and longing to visit, so this was one attraction we weren’t going to miss!). Giant trees, seemingly formed from tangled wire, loomed above us in beautiful garden surroundings. There’s only one tree you can go up, to a restaurant, but it’s the two domes (flower and cloud) that provide your learning experience. The flower dome isn’t dissimilar to something you’d find at Kew or The Eden Project, but the cloud dome houses a cloud forest, which you climb up, to explore the layers of a rainforest complete with cloud and waterfalls. There’s a big conservation message here, and it summed up what we’d been discussing on our travels through Asia.

Beautiful landscaping frames Gardens by the Bay.

At night, the trees transform into huge sparkling Christmas tree-like affairs, with endless colour and pattern changes. We had to lie on the ground and watch the magical show all around us in awe!

A trip to Sentosa Island and her beaches was an adventure. Using the easy public transport system of MRT (underground) and tram, we arrived in a Disney-style playground where Universal Studios resides alongside thrill rides and chilled beach bars. We weren’t too sure about the cleanliness of the sea as tankers cruised close to the shoreline, but it made an interesting view! As night fell, we kicked back at the beanbag cinema, joining the locals.

We were unsure about visiting the zoo, but being the world’s biggest, Lola and Albie really wanted to check it out. It’s basically a controlled and well-managed jungle, where the animals aren’t caged and freely roam around their natural habitat enclosures. We weren’t sure about the elephant shows or the lone polar bear, but Lola and Albie loved seeing pygmy hippos, white tigers, orang-utans swinging above us and the red bottomed baboons.

Although Singapore is well-known for shopping, we didn’t have the budget to splurge, so instead enjoyed the ubiquitous child-friendly water fountains usually found outside malls (and there a lot of malls!). We lost count of the number of times Albie got soaked!!

We had already decided that we’d try to visit different schools on our journey around the world, to look at teaching and learning in different environments, so it was great to visit an international school in Singapore; Lola and Albie were amazed by the facilities, large open plan classrooms, small class sizes and the mix of ethnicities. I enjoyed chatting to the teaching staff about the similarities and differences, and felt right at home in their classrooms (I do still miss my school, classroom and children – hello everyone at Hove Juniors!!).

Our eating experiences were also fabulous, and a lasting memory will be of Albie joining the ‘City Satay’ team as they touted for business in a busy food hall: with a grin on his face, he shouted as loud as the staff, ‘satay, satay!”, bringing in extra customers for them!