MARINA BAY: COSMO OR CRINGE WORTHY?
With many cities in the world boasting a few top tourist spots that leave you feeling less than impressed, a country’s top ten things to see don’t always measure up to your expectations. With Marina Bay being in nearly every Top 10 Singapore to do list, it was a must for us to go and investigate. Boasting a marina, arts and theater complex, promenade, hawker food market, arts and science museum and of course the over bearing Marina Bay Sands hotel towering over you, there is a lot to take in, but is it too much or merely just enough?
Alighting at Esplanade MRT, we begun our adventure with a rather amusing yet frustrating maze-like journey through the underground. We broke up our lack of navigation when we stumbled into a giant hall with youth practicing in-line skating and break dancing, remembering how lost and hungry we were we headed through the Arts Center trying to find Makansutra, the infamous hawker market. Take note, it’s easiest to head through the shopping mall which eventually brings you to promenade, littered with bars and restaurants.
When we found our way to Makansutra, it was a bit push and shove to get through the masses before we ordered some delicious street food. We were surprised there weren’t more stalls but the options we had were good, quick and cheap. Somewhat like an outdoor beer garden, the atmosphere was perfect for consuming a few brews in the sticky climate.
Feeling full, we decided to walk to the Marina Bay Shopping complex and Casino, a pleasant fifteen minute walk or a good twenty minute stroll, if like us you couldn’t bear to cross without taking in the amazing views. It is a mere man made miracle the height, strength and size that Marina Bay Sands is. Every aspect is thoughtfully designed and it takes in the best of Eastern and Western architecture, from the double helix (DNA) bridge, to the outlook platforms that give views that make you weak at the knees or perhaps the sheer size and commanding presence of the museum’s stature. It really showcases everything Singapore can bring to the table with a Cosmopolitan sophistication.
Once you’ve completed the trek over the helix bridge, we were met by the emptiest yet strangely calming entrance hall’s to a mall we have experienced. It felt like we had reached a recital hall or museum foyer, everything shiny and immaculately designed. When you’re housing every fashion house and big name under the sun, it’s important to showcase them in beautiful surroundings. Chanel, Prada, Versace, Dior, Chloe, Celine, the list continues, there was nothing cheesy about Marina, it's all class. We proceeded to the Casino (foreigners bring your passport to be allowed in) for a bit of free, or not so depending how you gamble, entertainment. Marina Casino is no Crown Casino or Las Vegas, it is classy but only one big room. If you have a high tolerance level to smokers you will do just fine, but if you’re not into second hand smoke re think your visit, although the novelty of being allowed to smoke in the Casino, despite how clean Singapore is, was amusing. If you’re a budget traveler then enjoy the free soft drink and tea and coffee bar near the Cashiers. We didn’t stay long but enjoyed coming out on top.
Being a real melting pot for arts, cultural and entertainment it’s safe to say we found Marina Bay completely cosmopolitan, nothing short of impressive and interesting. Perhaps not everything will be your cup of tea, but it’s safe to say you will find something to enjoy.