Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore, Serious Luxury and an Awesome View

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After living in Singapore (not at Marina Bay Sands!) for nearly one year, frequently gazing up at the majestically modern building shaped like a ship that is easily the most striking feature of the Singapore skyline, I finally got a chance to experience one of the most luxurious hotels in this metropolis, Marina Bay Sands hotel. Marina Bay Sands by night

A guest was visiting me and my husband in Singapore and I recommended her to spend one night of her trip at Marina Bay Sands. She was given a free upgrade to a suite, which was massive, with a large sitting room, meeting space, kitchen area (though no cooking facilities), two bathrooms (well, actually one bathroom and one powder room, ahem), a suitably plush bedroom, and a large balcony. The suite was not on the more expensive city-view side, but looked out over Gardens By The Bay, also a pleasant view. There was also a surprise in the suite; apparently each suite has something a bit special, its own room. My guest’s suite had its own karaoke room!

Chilling out watching one of the large flatscreen TVs, lounging on the massive soft sofa, drinking coffee made from the espresso machine, it would have been easy to spend a long time in the suite. We tried the room service, ordering dinner, and it was exquisite. But, Marina Bay Sands is certainly not all about the rooms. From outside, staring up at the top of the MBS building as I frequently did, you can see some palms trees, but not much else. In fact there is a long swimming pool running most of the way along the top, with plentiful sun-loungers, and quite simply the most spectacularly breathtaking view in Singapore. With my guest’s single booking we got swimming pool vouchers for me and my husband as well.

The view was stunning; I could have spent weeks just admiring it. And swimming while gazing at it was wonderful. But the water was freezing cold! I guess that’s the effect of being so high up in Singapore’s typically cloudy weather. Despite the low temperatures and strong winds, it was totally amazing. Known as the Skypark, as well as the long pool there are several hot jacuzzis, a chocolate bar which I didn’t try, a viewing area, and free drinking water. Towels were of course provided, and we, like many other guests, simply wore the hotel-provided dressing gowns over our swimming costumes to travel upwards in the lift. The atmosphere was of decadent relaxation, and I felt I was seeing how “the other half” live. Although it was back to reality after just one day, always a stickler for a good view, I’m pleased I had the opportunity to indulge in Singapore’s best. Pool and view

Komtar, Penang: Stunning Views from the Tallest Building in Georgetown, Malaysia

5.00 avg. rating (98% score) - 1 vote

Komtar is the tallest building in Georgetown, by far, and going up it to enjoy the breathtaking views was my favourite Penang activity.

It rained throughout our entire trip to Penang, and after three days of nonstop trudging around looking at Georgetown, the botanic gardens, temples and museums all while clutching our umbrellas and returning to our hotel with soaking wet shoes, it was time for an indoor activity. Of course, it was our last day when the sun finally came out.

Komtar Tower For only RM 5 each we took the lift up to the 60th floor. Stepping into the viewing area, the vista spread out before us of Penang with its white tower blocks, colonial era roofs and forested hills behind was stunning.

View from KomtarWe could see out to sea and across to mainland Malaysia, and by having a closer look we were able to spot the intricately detailed roofs of temples. Having soaked up the view from the main room, we asked if we could go round to see the other side, and we were able to look out from most of the round building, getting a 360-degree impression of the island.

View 2If you visit Penang, go up the Komtar building. It’s not obviously advertised and we hadn’t read about it in our guidebook, but it offers one of the best city views I’ve seen in Southeast Asia.

Not suitable for vertigo sufferers!

Not suitable for vertigo sufferers!

 

Spot Fort Cornwallis in the distance.

Spot Fort Cornwallis in the distance.

View 3

Batutumonga, Tana Toraja: On Top of the World

5.00 avg. rating (98% score) - 1 vote

Our sturdy rental motorbike puttered its way up the steep, twisting road, carrying us up and down the steps created by broken asphalt. We were heading for Batutumonga, north of Rantepao, and not quite at the top of a mountain. We passed Torajan villages with traditional pointed roofed houses, graves in large rocks and acres of paddy fields. As we climbed further, the view became more and more spectacular.

Journey to BatutumongaBatutumonga by Bike

Batutumonga had been recommended to me by a friend as a great day out, and although the journey was tiring, it was worth it. Our rented motorbike turned out to be stronger than it looked, carrying us up steep, bumpy roads, and we were relieved we had chosen this older semi-automatic model rather than the new shiny automatic bikes that would not cope driving up these roads with two passengers.

Petrol is available at many small shops on the way up and even right at the top, which is just as well because driving in first gear up the slopes used a lot of gas. We passed many scenic points on the way up, sometimes stopping to take a photo and give our backsides a rest from the motorbike saddle.

View from BatutumongaBreathtaking Vista of Tana Toraja

At the top we were awestruck by the distance that is visible, covering pretty much the whole Toraja valley, with the town of Rantepao spread out beneath us. Paddy fields were dotted with villages and hamlets, the reddish pointed roofs of the traditional Torajan houses poking out between the trees.

The air was fresh and the breeze brisk, and there was a conveniently positioned restaurant where we had a well-deserved lunch of buffalo meat called kerbau pamarassan. We soaked up the amazing view, spotting more and more details as we sat at our table overlooking the valley.

Buffalo meat dishBack Down into the Toraja Valley

There are places to stay at Batutumonga, but we were just there for a short visit. So, after lunch and a break, we hopped back on our bike to start the journey down.

The way up had taken around two hours, with stops, but the journey down took only half this time, and we were thankful the motorcycle brakes were in good condition.

If you visit Tana Toraja, it is worth going up to Batutumonga; it’s nice to get out into the countryside for a day and the view from the top is simply breathtaking.