A Woman's World in Morocco
Megan K. Stack
L.A. Times Expeditions invites you to explore the rich cultural and natural diversity of Singapore and Malaysia on this 10-day tour. Affectionately known as the Little Red Dot, the island nation of Singapore is a veritable melting pot for Chinese, Malay, Indian and Arab populations. Travel with the Times’ Southeast Asia correspondent, David Pierson, to explore the temples, marketplaces and restaurants that are important to these different groups. Learn about Singapore’s quest to be the “greenest city in the world” through thoughtful urban design, conservation and a robust public transit system. Taste your way through a network of hawker stands featuring the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal. View the city’s brilliant skyline from an aerial walkway and from a wooden bumboat; view its metamorphosis firsthand with visits to an idyllic island and private tours of the urban metropolis. Your journey continues in Malaysia, where you will again enjoy time on the water with a scenic river cruise and moonlit sampan ride. You will observe Malaysia’s colonial past and cultural diversity, with visits to a Portuguese settlement, Hindu temples, mosques and churches. You will experience the coexistence of old and new, man-made and natural: a sunset waterfront dinner in a peaceful fishing village, a lavish feast atop the Kuala Lumpur Tower and walks through dense jungle and a network of caves.
Feb 22-Mar 2, 2020
Singapore and Malaysia
Enjoy views of the Singapore skyline during an evening tour on a chartered wooden bumboat in the Singapore Harbor, on a chartered yacht to nearby islands and atop aerial walkways in the Gardens by the Bay.
Learn from your dinner hosts at a local seafood restaurant in a Portuguese settlement how the Portuguese arrived and put down roots in Malaysia.
Enjoy a traditional dinner in a tiny fishing village and take a sunset cruise on a sampan on the Selangor River, home to one of the largest firefly colonies in the world.
Arrive at Changi International Airport and transfer to your hotel for check-in. Gather this evening for a spectacular Welcome to the Lion City reception and dinner at the top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel. Marvel at the magic of “Spectra, a Light and Water Show,” which illuminates the bay. Wrap up your first evening in Singapore with a private bumboat ride along the Singapore River, offering views of the city’s brilliant skyline from another perspective. (D)
Start the day with a driving tour with a local guide revealing the history of the tiny island nation, referred to affectionately as the Little Red Dot, and learn from your journalist-host how the nation’s enigmatic founder turned a backwater into a financial giant. Travel past the historic Raffles Landing Site, the Asian Civilisations Museum, the Arts House and Victoria Concert Hall before stopping at Merlion Park to admire the country’s mascot standing watch over the mouth of the Singapore River. Take a private coach to Mount Faber for a spectacular view of the harbor and Sentosa Island, then tour the National Orchid Garden, which houses more than 60,000 plants and orchids — Singapore’s national flower. Enjoy lunch on your own along Orchard Road, the heartbeat of Singapore’s lavish retail scene, or return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure. In the evening, enjoy a taste of Singapore on a walking tour through its bustling Chinatown and the hawker stands that have received international acclaim. Walk past buildings that used to house opium dens and learn about Singapore’s dark past; step into an effigy shop where the living pay homage to the dead by burning money, paper houses and cars and iPads! Enjoy a traditional bakkwa jerky and wend your way through one of the city’s largest hawker centers, a high-end take on street-side dining as featured in “Crazy Rich Asians.” Enjoy the most economical Michelin-rated meal in the world and learn about efforts to preserve Singapore’s cultural food heritage firsthand from the celebrated entrepreneur KF Seetoh, heralded as Singapore’s “guru of grub” and former consultant to the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. (B, snacks on the hawker tour)
The Little Red Dot is a remarkable melting pot of different traditions and cultures. Today you will explore its three major ethnic enclaves. Start your tour with a local guide in Chinatown, where traditional medicine shops and goldsmiths share streets with modern hotels and lavish restaurants. Visit the breathtaking Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, a scarlet monolith built in traditional Chinese style, before continuing to Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. Continue to Kampong Glam, the Malay ethnic neighborhood featuring the Sultan Mosque with its golden dome and shops selling exquisite fabrics, handmade perfumes and traditional clothing. Complete your cultural journey with lunch in Little India, a vibrant and colorful neighborhood. Later, tour the Gardens by the Bay, including two indoor conservatories built on nearly 250 acres of reclaimed land with changing seasonal floral displays. Admire the world’s tallest indoor waterfall in the gardens’ cloud forest before marveling at the Supertree Grove, where large structures provide shade to guests in the day and are illuminated by night with a brilliant display of lights and sounds. Walk along the suspended walkway (nearly 75 feet above the ground) between the iconic Supertrees for panoramic views of the gardens and skyline. (B, L)
Hop onto a chartered yacht for a leisurely cruise to the Southern islands and admire the Singapore skyline from a different angle. Stop at Sisters’ Island, which is noted for its marine diversity and is a dedicated site for marine conservation. The island houses Singapore’s first turtle hatchery, where turtle eggs are incubated, hatched and returned to sea. Disembark at Kusu Island and take a short hike to visit a Chinese temple and Malay shrines. Conclude your tour of the waterfront with a scenic ride on the gondola from Mount Faber to the resort island of Sentosa across the harbor. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure to explore Singapore on your own. (B, L)
As a tiny island nation, Singapore confronts unique challenges for sustainability and survival. The government has tackled these issues with a philosophy that has been described as “think ahead, think again and think across” in an effort to become the “greenest city in the world.” Your host will provide insight into how Singapore is maximizing its most precious resource — space — by building underground and importing more than 90% of its food. Much of the developed area is constructed on reclaimed land, which is lined with trees and flowering shrubs. A full 80% of Singaporeans live in government-built apartments, and the island boasts one of the most successful public housing programs in the world. With your host and local guide, visit the Singapore City Gallery, which documents the nation’s physical transformation and urban planning journey. The gallery features a large architectural model that provides a bird’s-eye view of the city center with a light and sound show. Continue to the Marina Barrage and the Sustainable Singapore Gallery to learn about the country’s efforts to combat and adapt to climate change and its unique “toilet-to-tap” initiatives to convert sewage into potable water. Visit one of the island’s underground Mass Rapid Transit stations, another example of its resourceful use of limited land. In the evening a rickshaw rider will take you to the splendid Raffles Hotel, the oldest in Singapore and an icon of the country’s colonial past. Toast your journey with a Singapore Sling, the nation’s namesake cocktail that originated in this very bar, and learn about the history of the hotel and the drink before continuing to dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
Step back in time with a ride on a wooden bumboat to Singapore’s rustic Pulau Ubin island, which offers a glimpse of what Singapore was like in the 1960s. Explore the scenery and architecture of the tranquil island and visit a traditional Malay village. Stroll along the boardwalks to observe anemones and fiddler crabs, which abound in this wetland habitat. Enjoy a seafood lunch at the island’s center before returning to the bustling mainland. In the evening, take a private behind-the-scenes tour of the world’s largest public collection of Singaporean and Southeast Asian art at the National Gallery. Celebrate Singapore’s local flavors with adinner, combining Chinese, Malay and other influences, at the National Kitchen by Violet Oon — heralded as the “grande dame of Singaporean cooking” — and step out onto a private balcony for a final view of Singapore’s nighttime skyline. (B, L, D)
This morning you will depart Singapore and drive to the Malaysian state of Malacca, known as the Historic State and one of the most culturally and historically significant destinations in the country. On arrival, take a walking tour of the city, with visits to the oldest functioning Christian church in Malaysia, the gateway of Porta De Santiago and the ruins of St. Paul’s Church and its surrounding 17th-century tombstones. Continue to Malacca’s picturesque administrative center before stopping at Christ Church and Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, which holds religious significance for adherents of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. In the afternoon you will enjoy a traditionallunch and a river cruise before arriving at your hotel. Over a seafood dinner with your local hosts, learn how the Portuguese arrived and settled in Malacca during the spice trading era. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, board a private coach to Malaysia’s most populous urban center, the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. During your brief driving tour, you will see why Kuala Lumpur is the cultural, financial and economic center of Malaysia, view the parliament building and the royal palace and learn about the nation’s unusual governance system. Later you will have time to continue to explore on your own. This evening the group will drive through open countryside and past a striking Hindu temple to the town of Kuala Selangor. Take a short walk to the top of the Melawati Hill lighthouse to admire the area’s rustic beauty, view primates and learn about the town’s history. Enjoy a traditional riverside dinner at sunset while watching local fishermen cast nets from wooden boats. Continue your moonlit journey in the beguiling Graveyard Village, where residents have built their homes among the tombstones. Then board a sampan for a moonlit ride along the Selangor River, home to one of the largest firefly colonies in the world. (B, D)
Today we will explore the remarkable dichotomy of Kuala Lumpur’s bustling urban areas and its forests. Start the day with a city tour to learn how Kuala Lumpur recovered from a great fire in the 1800s. Learn about its colonial origins, with stops at the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, constructed in 1894 and now home to the high courts of Malaysia; the Masjid Jamek, the oldest mosque in the city; and the Central Market. Visit the unique Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple, which bears a likeness to the human body. And marvel at the futuristic designs of the city’s modern high-rises, including the Petronas Towers, once considered the tallest buildings in the world. Enjoy an extravagant farewell lunch of Malay and international cuisine more than 900 feet above the ground in the revolving Atmosphere 360 restaurant at KL Tower. After lunch, you will retreat from Kuala Lumpur’s urban core to tour the Batu Caves, a network of caverns that houses one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India. Conclude your journey with a private closing cocktail at Tamarind Springs, renowned for its natural beauty, before returning to the hotel for a final dinner on your own. (B, L)
Depart this morning for a return flight to the United States from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. (B)