Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Boat Quay, the Singapore River, Singapore

Near the mouth of the Singapore River, Boat Quay used to be the epicentre of the city's port. Today the terraced shophouses on the riverbank now function as restaurants and bars, serving tourists and workers in the nearby business district.

View from the Ocean Financial Centre, Singapore

The big glass windows on the top floor of a new 43-floor skyscraper afford sweeping views over the reclaimed land around Singapore's Marina Bay. The Ocean Financial Centre even looks down on the gigantic Marina Bay Sands resort with its enormous SkyPark, with swimming pools, gardens, and jogging paths, perched on top of the hotel's three towers. 

Monday, 24 September 2018

Fort Canning Park, Singapore

A surprisingly hilly and varied green space in the heart of Singapore, Fort Canning Park evokes the city-state's history as a strategic bastion of the British empire. Although there isn't a great deal of the mid-nineteenth century fort left to see, there are some evocative remnants, including a battered gateway, that will have you reaching for your guide book. If you came empty-handed, the walkways are dotted with signs outlining the story of Singapore.  The fort witnessed the British surrender of the city to the Japanese in February 1942. The park's extraordinary gnarled and charismatic trees are another good reason to visit. It's just a shame that Fort Canning's hilltop reservoir is obscured by security fencing and an eponymous luxury hotel now occupies the former administration building of British Far East Command HQ.

Yotel Singapore, Orchard Rd

A tall, skinny and sleek skyscraper in the heart of Singapore, the Yotel is a good value place to kip in the Orchard Road district. If the room is ready, Yotel will let you check-in in the morning - very handy if you have come in on an over-night flight from Europe. On the higher levels, there are fine views (pictured above and below) over the city-state from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the en-suite bathrooms, which have soothing rain showers. Known as cabins, the standard rooms are compact, but high-tech and cunningly-designed to make good use of the space - the safe is hidden in the draw, while the double bed can be folded upwards to create more space. There is free bottled water, an iron and iron board, the WiFi is quick and the quiet air-con works well, but there is no room service and the in-house restaurant is a tad pricey. 7/10

Marina Bay, Singapore

A triumph of structural engineering and space age architecture, Marina Bay is largely built on land reclaimed from the Straits of Singapore. Although there are skyscrapers aplenty and the mammoth Marina Bay Sands resort, there is ample space in which to stroll around the waterfront restaurants and admire the futuristic and spotless cityscape.

The Civic District, Singapore

In the Civic District, a clutch of elegant period buildings huddle together in the shadow of Singapore's skyscrapers. The most striking of the group is the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, dating from 1862 and topped by a 54-metre high clock tower. This cluster of culture is surrounded by green space, including a cricket pitch, making it the ideal spot to wander away from the hustle and bustle of the shopping districts.

Old and New, Orchard Road, Singapore

In the heart of the city, Singapore's Orchard Road thoroughfare combines cutting-edge architecture and design with a handful of period pieces.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Cycling Happy Valley, Old Coulsdon, Surrey

Riding from the south up Ditches Lane, you climb out of a patch of woodland into the uplifting open space that is Farthing Downs in the Happy Valley Park. From here, the short ride down to Coulsdon is both fast, except for the odd cattle grid, and picturesque. Far in the distance, you can just make out the clutch of skyscrapers in the City of London.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Avani Riverside Bangkok Hotel, Charoennakorn Road, Thonburi, Bangkok

The view of the Chao Phraya river from the bar and swimming pool on the top floor of the Avani Riverside Hotel in Bangkok