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Singapore bicycle tour: A delicious cycle

Time for a break on the Singapore twilight cycling tour. Photo: Tony Loo East Coast Park Singapore cycling.
Nanjing Night Net

Clarke Quay Singapore twilight cycling tour.

Clarke QuaySingapore twilight cycling tour.

Chinatown.

“And this,” says Tony Loo, as we round a corner and pedal onto Singapore’s Marina Promenade, “is why we love the evening cycling tours. It’s nice and cool and the views are beautiful.” “Nice and cool” and “beautiful” are not words visitors often use when describing Singapore, a sprawling megalopolis anchored in the steamy tropics.

But Tony, a proud Singaporean and co-founder of Biking Singapore (whose rides are designed to offer a different perspective of the city-state), is spot on. The heat, so sweltering an hour or two ago, has been sapped, ever so slightly, by a sea breeze, and the views, set against an inky sky, are mesmerising.

Cycling along the waterfront, dodging walkers, joggers and groups participating in synchronised stretching and yoga sessions, my eyes dart from the lit-up skyscrapers of the CBD to the space-age architectural beacons that have sprouted here in recent years. The lotus flower-shaped ArtScienceMuseum and the Marina Bay Sands resort, whose rooftop, straddling its three towers, resembles a giant’s surfboard, are especially attention-grabbing.

As luck – or Tony’s good planning – would have it, we’re just in time to watch Wonder Full, the light and water spectacle that illuminates the marina every evening (wowing onlookers at 8pm and 9.30pm). Something Tony has no control over is the weather, and as we’re about to set off towards the glitzy “supertrees” of the Gardens by the Bay attraction, and the Marina Barrage dam – an engineering marvel that separates Marina Bay, a freshwater reservoir, from the open sea – we’re caught in a biblical downpour. Our ponchos are no match for it, and it’s a reminder that, however much Singapore evolves, its rainforest-like climate is unlikely to change.

Seeing my sodden state, Tony asks if I’d like to cut the tour short, but I’m fine. Cycling through the rain is a blast; a real adrenalin buzz, particularly on a scenic waterfront promenade out of bounds to vehicular traffic. And besides, not everywhere in Singapore is a cyclists’ nirvana. Although the Park Connector Network links 300 kilometres of trails around the island, including on the California-esque East Coast Park, there are few Amsterdam-like bike paths in the built-up centre. The first part of our tour saw us jostling with peak-hour traffic as we pedalled from our starting point, Clarke Quay (whose British colonial-era spice and rice warehouses have been transformed into bars, eateries and malls).

Tony did his best to make himself heard above the revving car engines, though, unfurling enlightening anecdotes about Singapore past and present. The population has more than tripled in the last 50 years (it’s now 5.5 million) and land is at an increasing premium, so much so that the historic, 200-hectare Bukit Brown cemetery is being dug up to build new highways, homes and shopping centres. In fact, across Singapore, an island smaller than Cape Cod, more than 100,000 graves have been exhumed for redevelopment projects. “Singapore is so packed that the dead have to give up their space for the living,” says Tony, who explains that this limited space is one of the reasons why we’re riding foldable Vert bikes.

“Most people here live in small apartments, with very little storage space, so these bikes are perfect. You can also carry them onto the Metro or put them in the boot of your car.” At various points of the tour, we park up and go walkies.

Chinatown is the atmospheric highlight. Perhaps more than any other district, it’s emblematic of Singapore’s melting-pot culture; its aromatic lanes are home to Chinese markets, restaurants, shophouses and Buddhist temples; hipster cafes, speakeasies and boutiques, as well as the Muslim Indian Jamae mosque and Sri Mariamman Temple, where we took off our shoes, delved inside and witnessed a spine-tingling, drum-and-bell-fuelled Hindu ceremony. As the city’s lights and neon crackle to life, the scent of food increasingly flavours the air. We cycled towards Lau Pau Sat, one of the city’s countless hawker centres.

Each evening, Boon Tat Street, which flanks this evocative Victorian landmark, is closed to through traffic. Plastic tables and chairs are set up.

Waitresses entice punters with ice-cool bottles of Tiger Beer. And vendors barbecue skewers of chicken, mutton, pork, beef and prawns, to be dipped in satay sauce. “We call this Satay Street,” said Tony. “And one of the stalls (stall 8) runs a satay challenge. You eat as many sticks as you can in 20 minutes – and if you beat the record, your meal is free.” My interest was piqued – until Tony revealed the record: 150! You certainly work up an appetite on this 12-kilometre, three-and-a-half-hour cycling tour, but probably not that much. TRIP NOTESMORE INFORMATION

yoursingapore南京夜网GETTING THERE

Singapore Airlines, Qantas and Emirates are among the airlines that fly from Melbourne and Sydney to Singapore. BIKING THERE

Biking Singapore offers a range of cycling tours (day and night). plus bike rentals. The evening tour is priced from SGD95 ($94); bikingsingapore南京夜网

Steve McKenna was a guest of Singapore tourism

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

 

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