De-stressing on the Little Red Dot

I LOVE Singapore, as you know, and so does Mum, so we can’t wait to start our trip off here, getting pampered and relaxed to start our holiday off on the right foot. Stepping out of Changi Airport into the early morning heat (it has been an abnormally humid week for this time of the year), we grab a taxi, load our bags in the boot, and are soon driving along East Coast Parkway towards the city. Arriving at the financial district, the roads are busy with commuters heading to their offices, ready to start their day.  In the near distance, we can see our hotel emerging, and our sense of excitement begins to build.

We have been eyeing off the Parkroyal on Pickering for years now – in fact, ever since we saw it magically arrive on the little red dot known as Singapore. ‘One day’, we thought, ‘one day we’ll stay there’. And just like magic, a good rate appeared on Agoda and that day has now come….

The Parkroyal on Pickering is a ‘green’ hotel – in more ways than one. It was the first eco-friendly hotel in Singapore – check this out:

  • there are 15,000m2 of sky gardens at the Parkroyal on Pickering;
  • it features zero energy sky gardens;
  • light, motion and rain sensors regulate the use of precious resources;
  • 32.5 Olympic sized swimming pools are saved through water conservation every year; and
  • their annual energy savings could power 680 homes!

But that doesn’t mean that it’s all heart and no soul, because this hotel does ‘green’ very well. Apart from the super lush greenery sprouting from numerous floors of the hotel on the outside, there are plants sprouting from the walls on the inside!

But we can’t check in yet, so you’ll just have to follow us around for the day, until we can give you more ‘goss’ on the hotel later.

We arrived in Singapore early this morning – just after 6am to be exact – and jumped into a taxi straight away to partake of one of our favourite things to do on our trips – a visit to SO Spa (previously Spa Botanica). Normally we would leave a stopover in Singapore for a relaxing wind-down at the end of a big trip, but because we had already booked Singapore in when Scenic cancelled on us for the second time, we had to start with it at the beginning. And you know what, when we looked at it – we thought, well at least we’ll have the opportunity to relax beforehand so that we are nice and chilled for our trip BEFORE we start this time – all the better to make the most of the things we love doing best on the little red dot.

SO (haha) here we are, back amongst the peacocks and the mud pools, ready to partake in some amazing massage treatments to kick off our amazing holiday.

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Mum chose the Instant Glow Green Tea Facial, I decided on the Gotu Kola and Walnut Body Scrub and we both went in for a Shoulder and Scalp Massage (check out my greasy hair afterwards down below!).  I am very close to sleep during the appointment, but I promise there was no snoring.

Afterwards, we sit in the small balcony room sipping a cup of ginger tea before changing into our bathers and heading for the gardens outside where you can head to the mud bath or take a dip in the float pool. What’s so good about lathering your skin up with a thick layer of goopy brown mud and letting it bake onto your skin before rinsing it all off? Well people have been aware of the healing powers of mud for thousands of years. Mud has anti-inflammatory properties so soaking in it can relieve muscle aches and pains. The minerals in the mud can also have a soothing effect on your skin. One you can feel straight away – your skin kind of tingles and feels fresh and alive. That’s the best way I can explain it, other than to say, just come here and try it for yourself!

At the float pool, the water splashes onto you from the rock face waterfall above, frangipani trees surrounding you.  Floating around in this pool is certainly not a dull way to spend the day, and any cares or worries we may have had just 12 hours ago are certainly not making an appearance here.

Then, inside for a bit of whirlpool action before washing our hair under the shower, drying our bathers in the spinner and moving on. Because you know, well, you can’t stay here all day.

Relaxed to the max, we jump about the island bus and head for Siloso beach to continue with the chilled out vibe, with a spot of lunch and the imbibing of cocktails.  It is peaceful sitting here, but looking out to sea we can see a raincloud swiftly moving across the waters – I think the Singapore afternoon shower is on its way.  We make our way back to our hotel just as the heavens open.

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Coastes Beach Bar, Sentosa

We finally make it back to our hotel, eager to explore every inch of this incredible place, hoping that it matches all of our long held expectations.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

I can’t wait to check out that infinity pool later!

The chilling keeps rolling well into the evening as we make our way to Clarke Quay for some music and dinner. Mum LOVES Clarke Quay. I think it’s touristy and overpriced and would usually prefer to dine elsewhere. That said, I’ve had some great evenings here, and No. 1 – it’s close to our hotel, No. 2 – this trip is about compromise for this solo traveller.

We make the rounds of the restaurants checking out each of their menu displays to see what takes our fancy before settling on Warehouse, where there’s a great little band playing.  One duck pizza and a cocktail later, it’s time to head back to the hotel and get some proper rest (but not before getting Mum to try the black sesame icecream over at Azabu’s!)

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Clarke Quay

Let Me Eat Cake!

A good night’s rest and we awaken to Saturday or – Sentosa Day!

Sentosa is home to one of the best day spa’s I’ve ever visited.  Formerly Spa Botanica, it has recently been taken over and renamed So Spa.  The spa is surrounded by tropical foliage and roaming peacocks and one of the best things about it is the mud pool.  There’s nothing quite like lathering yourself up in thick, rich mud, baking yourself in the sun and then rinsing it all off to reveal your tingling new skin.  Nobody is quite sure why mud is so good for your skin, but some believe it’s to do with the anti-inflammatory properties of the mud and it’s good enough that some dermatologists recommend it to their patients as a complementary therapy.

There’s not much more to say about the heaven that is this day spa, but it’s just as well we have relaxed up today because we are heading out for dinner tonight at Kudeta.  Perched atop Marina Bay Sands with incredible views of the city by day and by night (but especially by night), this awesome restaurant presents you with a menu designed to share with friends, accompanied by gorgeous cocktails.  The food as always is amazing and it’s great to try some food that doesn’t normally appear on the menu at home.  But especially great is dessert.  I’m halfway through my first one when the waiter belatedly brings out the birthday cake that the girls had pre-organised.  But hey, who am I to turn away dessert.

Day of the Peacock

Despite neither of us being big ‘sleeper inners’, both Erin and I managed to sleep in quite well, before deciding to hit the gym.  The gym is situated in the new part of the hotel, and is really, really well equipped with, pretty much everything!  Not to mention that aside from the hotel lobby, this is the only other place in the hotel I can get free wifi!

After an hour, its time to head off to breakfast.  Early this morning, my sister Leigh and her husband Mike, arrived in Singapore also.  They are on enroute to Vietnam, however I managed to convince them to give Singapore a try.  So we meet up at The Plain, nearby to their hotel in Tanjong Pagar, at a little café I’ve been reading about.  Garnering quite a reputation for serving up Melbourne-style coffee, The Plain is a laid back little café, with the most friendly, helpful awesome staff I’ve ever encountered.  And while the menu is not extensive, and a lot of what we tried to order wasn’t available, the coffee was indeed awesome and ambiance more than made up for it.  Definitely a good start to the day.

Leigh and Mike are understandably tired, having arrived in the dark, but they are obviously eager to explore this city, so all fed and coffee-d up, we grab a cab and take them to Singapore’s beachside playground – Sentosa Island.

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About ten minutes later, if that, we arrive underneath the giant Merlion statue and get ready to start the day.  Leigh and Mike head off to the new Aquarium, but Erin and I have a less active day in mind, choosing instead to retreat to the sanctuary of Spa Botanica.

If you love a bit of spa action and have some time to spare and some extra cash, you really must come to Spa Botanica.  My treatment today was a Lemongrass and Kaffir Lime scrub and I can’t even begin to tell you how good it smelt.  Erin and I marvel at how zingy and clean and fresh our skin feels, as though layers of stress and pollution have been lifted in just minutes.  It’s always money well spent.  Once you’ve finished your treatment, you can spend some time relaxing in the garden, swimming in the pool or lathering yourself up in the mud bath.  And then, it’s time for lunch.  Spa Botanica has that covered too, with it’s alfresco dining area, The Garden, where you can make your own bowl or bucket – yes bucket – of salad.  I went with a bowl of baby spinach, wild mushrooms, red onion, cashews, pumpkin and feta with a little olive oil and it was amazing!

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There are fresh juices and all sorts of goodies on the menu, and if you really can’t resist, of course there is wine.  The food is absolutely divine and we now feel as good on the inside, managing to avoid the wine, as we do on the outside.  All I could think was missing from this day, was the beautiful peacocks that usually roam the grounds, but as we were leaving, one came strutting up the stairs and proudly stood posing for me while I took a million snaps!

Heading back to the hotel, we decided a spot of shopping would be a good idea, but first I wanted to cross the road, and check out a building I’ve been wanting to see for years – Chijmes.  Chijmes was historically a Catholic convent known as the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus and it is just stunning.  Now, it houses a host of restaurants, bars and an all night club, called Insomnia.

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Chijmes was a refreshing oasis in the middle of Singapore.  Such a beautiful setting.  So beautiful we decide this would be the best place to spend the evening.  And as if Chijmes wasn’t gorgeous enough by day, it was simply stunning lit up at night.  Be warned though – this is definitely not the cheapest place on the island to eat and its likely your glass of wine will cost as much as your meal.  But I guess that’s the price of such a perfect setting.

 

Singapore and the Merlions Magical Cocktail Trail – Day Eleven

Its our last day in Singapore today and once again it’s an insanely humid day, but at least it’s not raining – this morning. It feels like we’ve been in Singapore for so long, and I guess that’s because it is the longest stint we have done here. I am ready to go home though, I’m missing Lili and my own bed, and I’ve spent more than enough money!

The last thing to do on our list is to visit Fort Siloso, which is right next door to the hotel. Fort Siloso was built in the 1890’s as part of a ring of British fortresses guarding Singapore harbour, Fort Siloso being the sole surviving coastal fort. Over 100 years old, it has been restored to its former glory and now proudly sees service as an authenitic period setting for World War II history. It also houses Asia’s largest collection of World War II memorabilia.

The tour starts off with a bus ride to the top of the hill where we were given a little overview of the fort and what to see first.  The proposed route didn’t make sense to us at first, but with the humidity of the day, it ended up being a good route to follow because it meant most of the outside viewing was done upfront.  There were replica cannons and guns and life size vignettes capturing the sights and sounds of the era.  There were underground tunnels to explore and multimedia displays to tell the story.  It was so humid though, it was such a relief to head indoors to the displays where the rooms were air conditioned.  I can only imagine what life would have been like here for the troups manning the fort back in the day, it would have been unbearable.

It was an extremely interesting and well created display and well worth the minimal S$8 fee to get in.  I hadn’t realised that Singapore had played such an important part in the war until a trip to Singapore a few years ago, where I visited Changi Chapel and Prison and then read some books on the subject, so I have wanted to visit the fort since then and it was great to put the whole story together.  Fort Siloso is definitely a must see attraction if you are interested in history or perhaps have relatives that were involved in World War II.  Another interesting part of this history is located at Memories at the Old Ford Factory in Upper Bukit Timah Road, where Lieutenant General Arthur Percival surrendered to the Japanese upon the Fall of Singapore in 1942.  It would have been good to visit also, but that will have to wait until a future visit.

Absolutely soaked in sweat, it’s time to head back to the hotel to freshen up and pack for our departure this afternoon.  After a room service lunch (the first room service Mum has ever had I learnt!), a last cocktail at the Bubble Bar, and with our suitcases filled to the brim, it’s back to reality…until August when I’m back in Singapore for five nights on an all girls trip.

Cocktail of the Day:  Mango and Basil

Singapore and the Merlions Magical Cocktail Train – Day Ten

We sat by the pool for several hours today enjoying the lovely water and I managed to relax for a while before I finished my book and got bored.  The weather had also started to get really, really humid.  Singapore gets 95% humidity, with temperatures between 22 and 38 degrees celsius, and the humidity has really set in over the last couple of days.  So there was no way we were going to walk anywhere.  We caught the beach tram down to the beach bars, but even with very little walking, it was so humid, that our clothes felt drenched with sweat by the time we took a seat at Coastes beach bar for lunch.  Coastes had a special Melon Fantasy cocktail for S$12, which really hit the spot and I could have sat there all afternoon washing the heat away with these.

Tonight we are booked on the Red Lantern Trolley Tour, so we head over to Suntec City early to make sure we don’t miss the bus.  We start the tour with a trip out to Marine Parade in the heartland district.  Each of these typical suburban towns, which is home to the typical Singaporean, is set up with everything its residents need.  There are tennis courts, some have pools and there are communal areas for get togethers.  There are shops selling everything from brooms to school books, mobile phone covers to pet supplies and all sorts of hawker markets.  It was something I’d wanted to do for a while now, so I was really happy to have seen one of these areas and wouldn’t mid doing another similar tour, perhaps with another tour company to get a different overview.
Next stop was a drive through Katong, but the guide didn’t really point the area out to us, which was disappointing.  I think Tour East also does a tour through here, so I’ll have to put that on the list for another time.  Anyway, next stop was at Geylang, which is the red light district.  It’s a very tame red light district, with streets lined with all these little tiny roadside hotels, where the “good times” are had.  There were lots of girls lining the streets around the area too.  We weren’t supposed to take photos, but the guide didn’t mention that before I got in a few bad photos.  The bus dropped us off at Clarke Quay, where we headed back to Tomo for dinner.  I was really looking forward to this tour, and it had the prospect of being awesome, but it really only scratched the surface of what I thought we would see, and the guide didn’t really tell us as much about what we were seeing as she could have been, so I thought it was a little overpriced.
We managed to score S$2 Singapore Slings at the Quay cause Wednesday night is Ladies Night, so we gulped down a couple of these before dinner.
Despite the number of really tasty looking restaurants around the Quay, we headed back to Tomo, mainly cause the heat doesn’t make you feel like eating anything huge and filling, and Tomo’s light Japanese menu and riverside location are just perfect for a hot, humid evening.  After Haagen Daaz for dessert, it was back home to Sentosa to sleep off the heat of the day.
Cocktail of the Day:  Sakuratini

Singapore and the Merlions Magical Cocktail Trail – Day Nine

This morning is our special appointment with Underwater World, where we bought Mum a Swim with the Dolphins for her birthday this year.  There were 6 people attending the program and they were split into two groups, with a trainer and pink dolphin each, and got the opportunity to teach the dolphins all sorts of tricks.  The dolphins start out grey, and get pinker as they get older.  It was a great morning and I think Mum thoroughly enjoyed it.
It rained most of this afternoon, and it was hard to decide what to do for the remainder of the day, so when all else fails, you gotta go shopping.  We caught the MRT to the city and went shopping along Orchard Road again, but there wasn’t really anything that caught our interest.  We booked a trolley tour for tomorrow night, and headed back to Sentosa.
On arrival at the hotel, the peacocks were out in force, but once again I didn’t have my camera ready, and by the time I got it together most of them had disappeared and I practically had to chase this one round the front of the hotel for a photo – the other tourists must have thought I was insane!

Dinner tonight was at Barnacles Restaurant at our hotel.  It sits behind the pool area of the hotel overlooking the South China Sea.  Dinner is nice, but the humidity is really getting to me and its really tiring.

Singapore and the Merlions Magical Cocktail Trail – Day Eight

Our first half of today is spent at Spa Botanica, at Sentosa Resort & Spa. We managed to take advantage of the April promotion, which consisted of a welcome foot massage, followed by a body scrub and massage, along with use of the spa gardens.  The foot massage and scrub felt great, don’t think I’ve ever been so scrubbed and clean in my life, but the massage just hurt all over!  I had tight spots I didn’t even know existed – I have a feeling I’m going to be very, very sore tomorrow.

After lathering up with mud and lounging in the pool, we follow the peacocks to lunch at The Garden, which is the spa’s own restaurant.  Here you can even design your own salad for lunch, which is what I did, and it was gorgeous.  There’s also an array of healthy juices and cocktails.  We meandered back to the hotel for our first swim in the hotel pool.  Despite being full of children, the water was warm and relaxing, and the cocktails at Siloso Beach Bar were lovely.

This afternoon we finally get lucky with the monkeys – a whole troupe of them gathers in the trees outside our room, and spying something of interest on one of the other floors above us, they make the leap to the balcony’s to explore further.  Hope the people didn’t leave their apartment doors open!

For a view of the world from Sentosa, we ascended the esclators to the Tiger Sky Tower.  The tower is 110 metres tall and affords a 360 degree view of Sentosa, the city skyline and the Straits of Singapore.  Thought it was a bit pricey for what you get – it would have been better if they included a voucher for the cocktail with the ticket or something.
Afterwards, we caught the monorail to Resorts World and didn’t get far before we spied Candylicious!  After buying up, the next stop was dinner and, clichéd as it is, it was hard to go past the Hard Rock Café.  As always the meals are great and the music is awesome.  And I got a photo of Tommy Lee’s pants from the Girls, Girls, Girls era.
Cocktail of the Day:  Blue Devil.

Singapore and the Merlions Magical Cocktail Trail – Day Seven

I’ve been meaning to visit the Chinatown Heritage Centre for a couple of years now, as I’ve heard that it’s really worthwhile from everyone who’s visited there.  And it was.  Located within three restored shophouses, the centre houses interactive displays and lots of props, photos and displays.  It was definitely worth the wait.  We did a quick spot of shopping along Pagoda Street, snapping up bargain purses and scarves!

After a last minute beer in Ah Hoi’s, we check out of the Traders Hotel, our transfer takes us to the Shangri La Rasa Sentosa on Sentosa Island for the next four nights.  And aren’t we lucky, we scored a Mercedes Benz transfer, which made us feel rather special rocking up to the resort.  The Shangri La Rasa Sentosa is just lovely.  Our room is facing into the hillside, which is where the action is – with the monkeys.  But there’s no monkeys in sight today.  The hotel has been renovated since our last visit though, which is great, because although it was a great hotel then, it was aging a bit, so it’s good to see the result of the facelift.

The hotel shuttle dropped us at Harbourfront for a spot of shopping at Vivocity and though we didn’t buy anything, we did get express pedicures and manicures at Nails at the Lacquer Room.  I’ve been here a few times before, and they do great value treatments – SGD$12 for an express manicure and SGD$17 for an express pedicure.  Just what the doctor ordered.

Tonight we booked dinner at Suburbia, and were surprised that we had the whole restaurant to ourselves!    I ordered roast duck and Mum had fish and both dishes were lovely.  Somehow they found out it was my birthday (obviously shouldn’t have left Mum at the table while I went to the bathroom), and not only did they bring out a free birthday tiramisu for me, but they gave us a discount on the bill!

Cocktail of the Day:  Bananarama.