I decided to take it a little easier on my first full day in Singapore, leaving most of my sightseeing for the walking tour I was planning to do the next day.

Because I was staying right at the heart of Little India, I figured the most natural start of my day was to look around that particular neighborhood. Little India is very different from the rest of Singapore, pulsing with a different, vibrant energy. It really does feel like a slice of India within Singapore, even as it (generally) conforms to Singapore’s penchant for cleanliness. The shophouses in the area have been restored and repainted with bright colors, making them even more eye-catching.

Speaking of eye-catching, bright colors, the house of Tan Tieng Nah (apparently, the owner of a confectionery business, according to the information plaque outside the place) caught my eye as I was walking around Little India. It was painted even more colorfully than the shophouses beside it.

Also eye-catching was the Hindu temple along Serangoon Road in Little India, the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. The intricate detailing at the top of the temple was beautiful. It looked like it took a lot of time and care to sculpt and paint the figures.

This being a Sunday, the temple was full of worshippers, so the place was full of life. It was daunting just thinking about entering the temple with all those people there, so I merely admired the building from the outside.

Later, following a recommendation from a friend who had already been to Singapore, I made my way towards Raffles Hotel and stepped inside the nearby Mint Museum of Toys. Inside was a collection of toys, primarily from a bygone era when toys were mostly made of tin. There were lots of tin toys in their collection, including spaceships and cars.

The toys were classified and arranged by theme and by era, occupying several floors which had to be visited from the top going down. Collections included space, Batman, James Bond, and The Beatles.

The freakiest collection, oddly enough, was the Disney collection, only because it included some of the scariest, freakiest Mickey Mouse toys around.

The toys also provided snapshots of various periods in time, such as when political correctness has yet to be introduced and blatant racism was the norm.

It was an impressive collection of toys, and I was blown away to how much care was taken to put it all together. I was also amazed to see captions on the toys indicating either its rarity or its monetary value; until then, I never truly realized how valuable something as simple as a toy car can be. Perhaps the philosophy behind the Mint Museum of Toys could be best expressed in a bumper sticker on display at the museum: WHOEVER HAS THE MOST TOYS WHEN HE DIES WINS.

At the entrance (or exit, as the case may be), they sold several tin toys. It was very tempting to go ahead and purchase one, but as I still had several days of travel remaining, not to mention not enough room in my luggage (unless I crushed the toy itself), I decided to forgo it. I’ll leave the toy collection to the professionals.

That evening, I took advantage of an offer my hostel had, and went to the Night Safari. (I bought a ticket through the hostel at a discounted price which included the shuttle bus to and from the Night Safari, admission to the place itself, and the tram ride through the Night Safari.) It had been labeled a must-see attraction, so I set aside some time (and tried to shake away my exhaustion and sleepiness) and took the long trip there.

I was greeted by an exhibition of fire dancers and fire eaters/breathers. It was a fun show filled with impressive stunts and tricks.

During the show, they even pulled a member of the audience to participate. The performers were taunting and teasing the volunteer onstage, but he was quite game and joined in the fun. (He even took his shirt off to match the performers.)

I took the tram to go around the Night Safari. Taking the tram there is highly recommended. Not only do you have a guide telling you all about the different animals they have in there, but they also helpfully point out where exactly the animal is as you drive beside it. Considering everything is dark, it’s not that easy to spot the animals sometimes, so having someone point them out to you is great.

The Night Safari is definitely a recommended attraction. The selection of animals is wide, and the place itself is great. The concept of the animals being able to roam around freely (for the most part) means that the whole zoo is made in such a way that it resembles the jungle. Lots of greenery (albeit covered in darkness) that makes up for the concrete jungle that is the city itself.

I headed back to my hostel on the shuttle bus, and rested early to prepare myself for a guided walking tour of Singapore the next day.