“So we’ve spent ten days here already?” This was a question from one of the members of the Adansi Travels team that toured Asia this year on the last day of the trip – a typical description of “time flies when you are having fun”.
The days had run faster than we expected but every bit of the experience was worth our while. It was real fun! Ten solid days of adventure in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Imagine the joy that greeted my heart when my Programmes Manager, Edem Knight-Tay earlier told me I would be going on the Asia Cruise and Land Vibe tour with Adansi Travels. My excitement was not merely because I was travelling to go have fun. As a journalist who works in the arts, tourism and culture space, it was an opportunity for me to meet new people, experience arts from other part of the world and to explore tourism destinations in the respective Asian countries. It was also an opportunity to get content to share with Joy FM listeners and readers of myjoyonline.com.
The trip started from 21st August to 31st August, 2023. The three countries we visited have their peculiar cultures. They gave us different vibes and experiences.
Our tour started in Singapore
The journey that started on 21st August, 2023 took us to Singapore after almost 20 hours.
Singapore is a very beautiful country of about 5.4 million people. Known as the ‘Lion City’, it is the 7th richest country in the world, although it lacks natural resources.
In fact, we were told they buy crude oil from Nigeria and other countries, refine and sell it back to them. They also buy sea water from Malaysia, desalinate it, package it and sell it back to Malaysia. To them, “everything is possible.”
Singapore is a fine city. The Changi International Airport, with its ultramodern architecture and serenity evokes a welcoming ambiance – one that would attract people to keep visiting the country. The airport, methinks, is the eye of the country. It speaks volumes about the country! Spic and span.
The reception by Golden Gate Travels (the partner tour company to Adansi Travels) and the tour guide, Catherine Kryst, was awesome.
Our first visit was at the Merlion Park, one of the iconic landmarks located at One Fullerton in Singapore. The Merlion has a lion’s head and the body of a fish with water sprouting from its mouth.
History has it that the fish-like body symbolises Singapore’s origin as a fishing village and the lion head represents the meaning of the the country’s original name (Singapura) which means ‘lion city.’
At the Merlion Park, we had a good time, taking pictures and familiarising ourselves with the place.
Then we went to the Buddhist Temple. For a country that has about 10 different religions, it was not out of place to have a pint of their religious tourism. For about 20 minutes, we looked on as they went about their worship in the temple.
In Singapore, we also got to learn about some of their strict rules and laws.
Singapore is nicknamed the ‘Fine City’ – fine for its beautiful and clean environment; and fine because any of the following acts (and more) comes with a fine or penalty.
NB: [$ = Singaporean dollar]
(1) Chewing gum – $ 1,000
(2) Littering – $300
(3) Smoking indoors – $1,000
(4) Eating in public transport – $500
(5) Jaywalking ( Crossing the road recklessly from anywhere in the street and not from zebra crossings or overhead bridges)- $500
(6) Urinating in public places – $1,000
(7) Walking naked in your house – $2,000
(8) Making noise after 10pm – $2,000
(9) Connecting to someone else’s WIFI – up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to 3 years.
(10) Singing of songs with explicit lyric – fine or imprisonment of up to three months
On board the Genting Dream Cruise ship
On 23rd August, 2023, right after our tour at the Merlion Park, we left for Malaysia – not by flight but by sea. We got on board Resort World Cruise’s Genting Dream ship.
We were on the cruise for two nights; from Singapore to Malaysia and back to Singapore.
This ship which takes over 3,000 people, has a length of 335.33 metres (1,100 ft 2 in), a width of 39.7 metres (130 ft 3 in), a size of 150,695 GT, and a top speed of over 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph).
The Genting Dream with 18 decks, also has spas, gym, pool, hotel rooms, restaurants, clubs, among others.
We did not spend days at Malaysia unlike we did in the two other countries. We spent just a few hours when the ship arrived in Malaysia from Singapore. But we had the opportunity to see some of the iconic tourist sites in the country.
We visited the Kuala Lumpur tower. This is the 6th tallest tower in the world that stands at 421 meters high.
Our next stop was the Pentronas Twin Towers which is the tallest double structure in the world. It’s a pair of 88-storey supertall skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, standing at 451.9 metres (1,483 feet).
At their Independence Park, the team took time to take some pictures.
The tourist guide told us a lot about their country. He spoke about the fact that rubber had been their major source of income and that the first rubber plant that was brought to Malaysia was from Ghana.
The Guide, Sandra (note, he is a man) also told us about how the transport ministry has outsourced the road toll system to a private company, noting that it is one avenue that generates a lot of money for their economy.
We visited Bali, Indonesia
When the ship brought us back to Singapore, we left straight to Bali, Indonesia by flight. That took us about two hours.
Bali was quite different. The environment is unlike Singapore which has largely modern architecture. I saw a few Ghanaian-like structures and activities, with food vendors selling by the road side.
I saw streaks of the Ghanaian hospitality in them; our hosts were extremely nice to us. They made sure we were comfortable at all times as they offered any help we needed. They were always at our beck and call.
We were taken to the DMR Dive and Water Sports, in Bali. This was where some of the team members took part in various water sporting activities.
The following day, we went to the Bali Swing and also to the Volkswagen Safari, where members were chauffeured in vintage Volkswagen cars.
We spent three nights in Bali, Singapore.
Back in Singapore
Singapore was more or less our major host. It was where we spent the biggest part of our time in Asia.
When we got back, we went to the Sentosa Island. Here, we were transported in cable cars to the Island and also had the opportunity to visit Madame Tussauds, a wax museum that has images of historical figures from Singapore and other parts of the world. There were icons from politics, religion, to arts.
Also at the premises was the SkyHelix , which took us up in the sky for about 70 meters.
The next day, we were at Gardens by the Bay, where we saw an artificially created waterfall among other scenic places.
Learnings from the tour
Ghana’s tourism sector has received a massive boost in recent times and I believe with the passage of time, things will even get better.
But if there are two things I would suggest the Ghana Tourism Authority learns from the Singapore Tourist Board, it would be their “ingenuity” and “intentionality.”
I have learnt about how deliberate Singapore is about their tourism. They don’t have natural resources, so they create whatever they don’t have. That is why they have a waterfall in one of their domes at the Gardens by the Bay and one at Jewel at the Changi Airport.
I have no doubt that if they had the number of natural resources Ghana has been blessed with, they would have made more gains from them than we are making at present.
I also noticed that every tourist site we visited in Singapore and Malaysia had malls and eateries. To me, this is strategic marketing. You don’t just come to see the place; you also buy something – food or an item and help grow their economy. Our tour guide, Catherine would encourage the team members to buy something.
To say Singaporeans are disciplined is an understatement. The cleanliness of the country is one that cannot be taken from granted. You can’t even eat when you are on a bus! You can’t just cross the road anyhow. And they make sure they enforce these rules. In extreme cases, one can go to jail for breaking a rule.
In Bali, the road network to tourist sites in the outskirts of the town were in good shape. One thing we have complained about in Ghana is the poor roads leading to a lot of our tourist sites. i
I am happy to note that the number of Ghanaians touring Ghana has increased, meaning that people are gradually appreciating domestic tourism. But we can do more. While we call on foreigners to visit Ghana, we need to encourage more Ghanaians to also patronise Ghana’s tourism. At least before one travels out of Ghana to see places, it will be prudent for them to visit at least one tourist site in Ghana.
Joy FM deserves plaudits for constantly making room for tourism in its programming and making sure it has a representation on tours such as Adansi Travels’.
For those who keep asking me about what I brought from the trip, I trust this report recompenses for the disappointment.
See more photos from the trip below:
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