Whenever I come to Singapore, I notice the many parks and gardens. The boulevard from the airport to the busy business centre is well kept and attractive. Years ago, the government brought in a rule to have residents and visitors refrain from littering. This has helped to make Singapore one of the most popular hub cities in Asia, if not the world. The place always looks tidy and, you feel safe.
I had never really experienced the parks of the centre of Singapore until my wife decided to book our accommodation at the “Hotel Fort Canning” for three nights en route to Penang. This award winning boutique hotel has just 86 stylised rooms and suites. Ours is just a ‘basic’ room, but is well supplied with modern fixtures and fittings. Controlling the blinds and light from the TV remote, I enjoy a comfortable sleep to awaken to the idea of a hot bath. The bathroom is on what was the balcony in a previous version. Not many bathrooms have such great views to be enjoyed but, from the large tub-bath overlooking the surrounding parks and gardens, this one has that uniqueness.
The hotel was once used as a base for the British during World War II. For many years, it was known as the “The Forbidden Hill” as military reigned supreme. But today, the wise developers have turned the “hill” into a parkland. Walkways extend throughout the parkland of well established tropical vegetation. Atop the hill, is a water reservoir, which is used in the metro water system. One section of the garden is dedicated to ASEAN sculpture, with some interesting forms indeed; another section contains a large variety of spices. There is also a 9-pound gun, a battle box, a time ball and a lighthouse – all remnants from war days. There is an archeological dig exposition, and many rotundas where picnics can be enjoyed, away from the bustling streets of Orchard Road and the like. All these items and exhibits make the morning walk from the hotel that much more interesting. You can even try out the fitness station.
Within the parklands are some older style buildings. I was interested to see included in the marriage registry building, a Registry of Muslim Marriages. We noticed a Muslim couple having their photos taken and they were dressed in black. (I wonder what the black means if white stands for purity in a western wedding? Mmm.) In the ‘lowlands’ area is the Galleries Utama and Viridian Art House.
I’m glad Lyn chose this magnificent location to stay these few nights. We look out towards other hotels and ask “why would you stay in a matchbox full of tight rooms spilling out onto the busy pavements of Singapore?” I think whenever we return to Singapore, we will be back to the relaxed estate lifestyle of Fort Canning Park.