FROM BEING THE QUIET business park when the sun was still up, Clarke Quay begins to put on some make up, changes her mood as the sun goes down, while the Singapore River turns busy for another night of playing host to thousands of visitors.
People of different nationalities strolling around the area are beginning to settle themselves in restaurants, bars, and watering holes strategically located by the riverside.
The kids with their parents who lined up for the 1.5-dollar ice cream near the bridge have started to disappear, giving way to the adults, mostly Koreans and Hong Kong Chinese who wanted a taste of our version of dirty ice cream.
Clarke Quay is used to being busy. This side of this city state has always been the busiest part of Singapore even back in the days, history would tell.
Singapore River, like almost all rivers all over the world, is also the center of trade since modern Singapore was founded in 1819.
Situated upstream from the mouth of the Singapore River, Clarke Quay is a historical riverside quay where business happens. It got its name from Sir Andrew Clarke, Singapore’s second Governor, and Governor of the Straits Settlements from 1873 to 1875. This city state was a British colony.
How to go to Clarke Quay?
From any point in the city, you can reach the place through any kind of transportation but in case you take the MRT, alight at Clarke Quay MRT Station and you’re here. Don’t go into shopping yet as you alight the train through ‘The Central’ shopping center. Oh, you decide for yourself!
We made sure to spend a few hours at Clarke Quay every day, the past five days before finally taking a night rest in our place, Fragrance Hotel – Riverside, located at the Hong Kong Street here, just facing the river. It is just a 5-minute walk to the central area. So if you’re planning to explore Singapore, and you may wanna stay near where the action takes place, we recommend you stay at Fragrance. Read our full review of the hotel here.
What to do in Clarke Quay?
Modernization might have transformed Clarke Quay into a place that main commodity is providing tourists a unique nightlife experience, the touch of its old charm remains. While walking around the area, one would never fail to notice its unique, vibrant colors.
Moored Chinese junks (tongkangs) that have been refurbished into floating pubs and restaurants are all over the place.
Also, though it isn’t enough to entice the island guys in me (Kim is Metro guy), experiencing how it is to sail in the river through river cruises and river taxis, is a must-try activity for those who are from highly-urbanized areas.
If you are into an adventure, try the G-MAX reverse bungee by the entrance. Upon hearing the screams of those who tried it, the cowards in us didn’t even bother. No, thanks!
Nevertheless, be sure to give in to the call of your tummy. Various cuisines being offered in the restaurants here will give you a dining experience to remember. Though you have a lot of choices, be sure to try local delicacies. We would kill for their chili crabs here. Swear!
Getting into the night
Together with Filipino friends who work here, we grabbed cans of Heineken and San Miguel Pale Pilsen from 7-Eleven store in the vicinity before finally experiencing Singapore’s nightlife. We sat by the bridge, exchanged jokes, ideas, and observed the crowd.
Over a bottle of beer or vodka, foreign workers talk about their work, how they came to love this country which new policy limits the number of foreign workers to only 10 percent of the total workforce. So to provide locals employment as in the recent past, foreign workers almost dominated its workforce.
It is common for tourists like us to not help ourselves but compare this progressive city from other cities in Southeast Asia, much more to compare it from their country of origin. In most cases I guess, Singapore wins.
Like the nights before, tonight is yet another night of loud laughs, of singing and dancing, and exchanging tales about life — with the river as the witness.
Indeed, a day is not enough to fully capture the beauty of Clarke Quay, much more to really taste it. To come here more often is necessary. Good thing we decided to spend our last six days in Singapore in this side of the city.
Clarke Quay is that submissive lone daughter, vibrant, full of energy, tasked to entertain the visitors for their few days of stay in Singapore to be memorable. Her major role is to provide visitors a lasting experience, at least in the field she is known for – awesome bars, nightclubs, great selections of food, and entertainment. Tonight, she really did a great job.
Before she takes off her make up, and says goodnight to the river that never sleeps, let us be the first to call it a day. We’ll definitely bring our experiences in our dreams, and share our own tales about her when we go back home. And yes, we’re coming back to know her more.
Photos by TravelMore.ph, bestinsg.com, and ClarkeQuay.sg.