Quest Day is a great name for the only planned break from 5-10 mile hikes around Singapore. Tom’s only objective for us was to explore parts of Singapore that the class syllabus didn’t cover, on the condition that we travel alone. I may have cheated a little bit by getting some help from a few locals- my boyfriend’s family friends. There was a bit of miscommunication in the beginning, so they thought I had just arrived in Singapore. Thus, my Quest Day sort of turned into Tourist Day Part 2, emulating the vibes from our first day in the country.
To begin, we drove downtown to the DNA bridge and walked through Marina Bay Sands to reach Gardens by the Bay. Because I missed the opportunity on my first day, going to the Flower and Cloud Domes was a real treat. There were wooden sculptures everywhere, my favorite being the dragon perched at the highest level of the Flower Dome.
The Flower Dome gave visitors a tour of plants from all over the world with special adaptations to their harsh environment. Elephant’s Foot plants were a favorite in my group along with the cactus and succulent collections. Honestly, the succulents looked like bite-sized candy, and I had to stop my urge to pop them in my mouth.
The dome also welcomed the year of the rabbit by installing a lot of rabbit statues and decor- and I mean a lot. Here are a few of my favorites:
There was a change in scenery at the Cloud Dome as it educated people on the importance of cloud forests. We were welcomed with cool air and a giant waterfall on top of a literal mountain of plants. I was amazed by all the different trees, ferns, and flowers on display. After walking around the base of the mountain, we were guided to an elevator that took us to the top bridge. It was fun being able to look down and get a good look at the whole exhibit.
We took a break from walking and headed over to the East Coast Jumbo Restaurant. Singapore is known for its chili crab, black pepper crab, and lobster dishes, so we were quick to order them. I’ve never had real crab or lobster before, so I needed help cracking open the claws to get to the juicy meat. It was so worth the effort; my favorite was the black pepper crab. I’ve been informed that while this was my first time eating these dishes, it was probably the best crab and lobster I would ever eat in my life, which was bittersweet to think about.
After lunch, we drove to Choa Chu Kang, a residential town in the northwest area of Singapore. My boyfriend spent the first two years of his life in one of the HDB flats. There, I learned about how the Singaporean government only allows a family to own one apartment at a time. This ensures that there is enough space for more people to have homes in such a small city-state. There was a basketball court, an exercise area, a children’s play area, a daycare, and an MRT station nearby.
One of the challenges I faced during the day was learning to communicate through a language barrier. The people I met throughout the day could either only speak Mandarin or weren’t fluent in English. I relied on pointing and facial expressions to understand others/ be understood. It was a nice reminder that Singapore has the facilities to host so many people from different backgrounds. Someone like me who can only speak English is able to get around the country just as well as the people I met who can only speak Mandarin. It was fun to visit a couple of the main attractions of the island as well as eat delicious seafood and learn a little more about what it’s like to live here. I can’t wait to return one day and revisit these sites.