We traveled Jetstar to Singapore's superlative Changi airport, while there are number of carriers on Perth-Singapore link, Jetstar suited us this time due to prices and flight timings for the short stay.
Arriving in the morning with our party of five adults already hungry for Singapore's incredible food, we stayed within the Singapore airport terminal for South Indian specialties masala dosa, idlee sambhar and chai before getting in the cab to reach our apartments.
Our stay for the four nights was Le Grove Serviced Apartments on Orange Grove Road, the extension of and 15 minutes walk to Singapore's famous Orchard Road. We did find it to be a little bit out of the action and would usually prefer to stay closer to an MRT stop for easier transport, however the apartments had a number of plus points in that they were large, had a lovely swimming pool and convenient shuttle bus to Orchard Road. The apartments would certainly be great for young families, attested to the fact that we saw a number of babies splashing about in the pool.
For our first afternoon we hit Orchard road - hungry again. Our early lunch was at an outpost of the famous Taiwanese dumpling restaurant Din Tai Fung. Justifiably popular, the dumplings were superb, as were the other items on the menu. A simple cucumber appetizer was our favourite dish.
A stroll around Orchard road is hardly leisurely - its hot, busy and tiring out and about in this retail heaven - but the atmosphere was lively due to the Formula 1 being in town, and there were a number of pop up shops for merchandise and a number or car displays. Alas if you think you have come to Orchard road for a bargain, you are mistaken and the F1 merch was no exception.
The evening was our first taste of Formula 1 as the F1 aficionados headed for the Friday night practice session and the less interested amongst us lingered around Raffles Place and the City Link mall for hassle free shopping.
None of us had previously been to a F1 race but all agreed that Singapore race was a great introduction. Being a road race, the city circuit is spectacular and makes for a particularly interesting race, and as the only race held in the night, it has a great party atmosphere. Despite the queue to get into the race circuit, it was very well organized and it took the boys just 5 minutes to get in and feel the first roars of the F1s, which Alok claims is a wonderful sweet hum. It seems they entered the wrong gate so had to walk a fair distance to reach to their stand but it felt a cakewalk as they had to pass 4-5 theme bars, stopping off at "Graffiti Bar" and "Bikini Bar" for a rest. Feeling refreshed they finally took there seats and were amazed by the noise and speed of the F1 cars doing their practice runs. Every car passing was hugely cheered by the spectators and the party had begun in the background. Stages were set for various artists giving fabulous performances throughout the weekend.
We headed to Clarke Quay for dinner - settling on Thai by the river. Restaurants are expensive by Singapore standards here, but with its fantastic atmosphere, packed restaurants and bars - it's definitely worth a visit to this lively area.
The next morning we headed out for first breakfast of the day - our local breakfast at Killiney Kopitiam - noodles, coffee, curry puffs and kaya toast - thick cut toast with pats of butter and coconut jam.
At that point our group had people to see and shopping to do, so we went our separate ways. For us, second breakfast was calling at Jones the Grocer, an expat fave where we met with an expat friend, and did a little more shopping.
We regrouped in Little India for the first of three great meals in this fabulous part of Singapore. For anyone craving a fix of amazing, inexpensive food - this is the place to head. Our lunch was at a restaurant that serves only Biriani - vegetarian or non-vegetarian spicy rice - and it sure was spicy. The shopping in the area around Little India and Bugis is also worth exploring, we picked up some fruit that we don't find in Australia, as well as some funky handbags, before heading back to the apartment.
Party time. We all got ourselves frocked up for our big splash out of the trip - a visit to the highest rooftop bar in the world and its restaurant at 1-Altitude, before the Qualifying Race. Some were left wondering why they had bought F1 tickets when they took in the view from 1-Altitude - the track, as well as most of the city can be viewed (champagne glass in hand) from the bar. That was as close as some of us got (and wanted to get) to the race but for others it was time for Qualifying, which was enjoyed from a different spot - close to Marina Bay.
One of our highlight meals of the trip was again back in Little India for breakfast. This time - South Indian at Ananda Bhavan. For those of us that crave decent South Indian food, which can be hard to come by in Perth, this was heaven and some restraint was required not to order everything on the menu. We tried different varieties of dosa - crispy pancakes made with a rice and lentil batter, plain or stuffed with potatoes and other fillings and served with tomato and coconut chutneys. Idlee and vada - dumplings made with the same batter were also first class. But my favourite on the menu and a first try for me was the Appam - almost like a crumpet on top with a crispy base, to be torn and dipped in sweet coconut milk and sugar - I still dream about it.
For the rest of the day we headed to Sentosa Island. With value passes in hand, we took the monorail from megamall VivoCity across to this tiny speck devoted to wholesome family fun. While Universal Studios is one of the main draws of Sentosa, our little group tried some of the other attractions including segway-ing and the Skyline luge. There were enough attractions to keep a family - particularly with under-13s - entertained for a day or so.
We took the cable car back across to the mainland and rested up for our final evening.
The big final F1 race turned out to be rather a predictable affair with Sebastian Vettel taking out the race. Far more exciting was the adventures of our non-F1 travellers...an evening wander through the horticulture-of-the-future at Gardens by the Bay and then across the footbridge to nearby Marina Bay Sands complex - the landmark hotel-casino-shopping complex that looks like it has a surfboard on top. There are a bunch of restaurants at Marina Bay Sands by celebrity chefs - we tried Mario Batali's Pizzeria Mozza restaurant, and although pricey, it ranks as the best pizza of my life.
On our final morning - shopping was the focus. While Singapore is not the spot to shop for bargains, especially not on Orchard Road, I like to stock up on brands that we don't get in Perth (yet! I remain hopeful!) - Gap, Uniqlo, Muji, Zara - not the most out there stuff in the world, but they are the staples I come back to.
And of course, we couldn't leave without lunch in Little India again - this time specialties from another region of India - Andra Pradesh, with great thalis at Sankranti.