I started the day in the colorful Bugis district, Singapore’s former red-light district turned modern shrine to retail consumerism. Following massive urban redevelopment in 1985, Bugis traded its infamous transvestite prostitute inhabitated residences for hundreds of commercial shops, restaurants and sanitized family-appropriate entertainment options. There are high end retail complexes as well as makeshift bazaar stalls, selling everything from flowers to household cleaning items.
And of course, there are plenty of food options! My friend told me I had to try this local dessert, which was essentially a block of ice cream wrapped with a piece of multi-colored bread.
Other than the shopping, there are several temples as well as one mosque scattered around Bugis. One attraction in particular draws crowds of people: the statue of Hotei the “Laughing Buddha” located outside the Sin Chew Chinese Cultural Products Supermart. Many people flock this statue to rub his big belly for good luck.
After Bugis Street, I headed to Marina Bay to catch a ride on the Singapore Flyer, which is currently the largest Ferris wheel in the world. The Singapore Flyer stands 42 stories tall with a total height of 165m (541ft). It is 30m (98ft) taller than the London Eye and 5m (16ft) taller than the Star of Nanchang in China. The Singapore Flyer officially opened to the public in 2008, and will continue to hold the record for the world’s tallest Ferris Wheel until the completion of the Beijing Great Wheel (208m / 682ft) in 2010. Structure height competitions are never-ending and thus will remain a source of amusement to me for a very long time.
The Singapore Flyer operates daily from 8:30-10:00pm and it takes 30 minutes to complete a full “flight” rotation. The panoramic views are quite lovely from up here, and it was nice to ride the Flyer after I had already explored much of the city and could recognize many of the sights. The southern part of Malaysia is also visible from the top.
Located around the base of the Flyer is the Marina Bay Street Circuit, which is the venue for the Singapore Grand Prix. At the time I visited, the Formula One track also served as the venue for the inaugural Beerfest Asia.
This first annual festival took place from 29 April to 3 May 2009, and featured over 100 beers from 25 breweries all across the globe. A 2,100 sq ft marquee housed the festivities German beer cellar style. There was a large stage for performances, plenty of picnic table seating area for beer lovers, and numerous beer stalls bordering the edge of the tent. The VIP area in the middle was very spacious and we set up some tables for a beirut/beer pong tournament. Of course my friends all went VIP — Asia is way more status crazy than Manhattan. Some other VIPs were even more fratastic and brought their beer funnels to the event.
Regular 1-day admission SGD$10-30; VIP passes SGD$70-90
Outside the main marquee were smaller tents serving a variety of local foods, as well as pizza and tacos. Cash was not accepted, so we had to purchase “beer chips” which could be redeemed for beer and food. Also at the event was a unique massage area, where you could get a full back massage by an Asian dude wearing all white clothing, bunny ears, and white wings.
There were live performances all throughout the day, including Singapore rock bands, German choirs, and spinning DJs. Vertical Horizon was the headline act on the last day of the Beerfest Asia 2009, but the main performer from the night I attended was Hell’s Belles, an all-ladies AC/DC tribute act. We all had a great time at the Beerfest drinking beers, eating food, and rocking out on inflatable plastic guitars.