We’ve been to the President’s house! Whoop!

The Istana (Malay for “palace”) is open to the public just a few days throughout the year, so we decided to check it out on the Sunday before National Day.

The front gates, normally guarded by a handful of armed soldiers, turn into a security checkpoint where you have your bags x-rayed and walk through a metal detector. Past security, the paved path leads up the hill to the Istana.

A great view awaits — one of the best in Singapore since the Istana sits at the top of a hill on 100 acres of prime real estate. Oh, how I wish I could ride my bike here! There’s even a nine-hole golf course on the grounds.

The grounds are perfectly manicured, with some fantastic trees providing shade and beauty all around.

For two additional dollars each (in addition to the $2 entry fee) we toured the ground floor of the Istana. Unfortunately, you can’t take photos — if you did you would surely be tackled by the dozens of guards throughout. But I can tell you the ground floor is a grand design of several state rooms where dignitaries and Heads of State are greeted and introduced. Floors are marble, walls are bright white and the central staircase is impressive and carpeted in bright red. A room at the north side holds the many, many beautiful gifts given to the president by other countries — ornate boxes, glassware, model ships, figurines, tea sets and a brandy set from the U.S. Thanks for the tour, Mr. President!

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