Singapore

  • Singapore, Singapore, Singapore.  Let’s begin explaining who or what is Singapore, as I am still trying to understand it myself after going for a few days.  First of all, it is a city-state. What does that mean? It is a country roughly the size of city. Apparently half the size of Los Angeles. Here is its flag and a map of where in the world it lies.

    singapore flagMap Singapore

    Singapore is a new country as it didn’t gain full Independence until 1965, and it has a history of being under British, Japanese, and Malay(sian) rule. Here are some facts and statistics about Singapore (courtesy of Wikipedia) that I believe will give you a bird’s eye view, and then I will tell you about my experience and perception of the country:

  • Singapore is one of the world’s major commercial hubs, the fourth-largest financial centre and one of the top two busiest container ports in the world for at least the past ten years.
    • Singapore places highly in international rankings with regard to standard of living, education, healthcare, and economic competitiveness.
    • Singapore has one of the highest per capita incomes and one of the longest overall life expectancies in the world.
    • About 5.5 million people live in Singapore (as of end-June 2014), 3.4 million of whom are citizens and the remaining 2.1 million are foreign nationals (consisting of 0.5 million permanent residents and 1.6 million non-permanent residents). According to the country’s most recent census (in 2010), nearly 23% of Singaporean residents (i.e. citizens and permanent residents) were foreign born (which means about 10% of Singapore citizens were foreign-born naturalised citizens); if non-residents were counted, nearly 43% of the total population were foreign born. As an immigrant country with numerous links to the global economy, Singapore is one of the most globalised countries in the world.
    • Singapore is ethnically diverse. Ethnic Chinese Singaporeans predominate with about 74.1% of the resident population, followed by significant minorities of Malays (13.4%), Indians (9.2%), and Eurasians. There are four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. English is the common language of the country. Singapore promotes multiculturalism through a range of policies.

Singapore has a reputation for being a place that is modern, strict with a lot of rules ( chewing gum is forbidden:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewing_gum_ban_in_Singapore ) and the legal system has a custom of caning (punishment of beating someone for an offence with a bamboo cane!),  and even more scary: It is famous for being Expensive!  All of these things actually made me not really want to go in my initial plans, but it also has a reputation for being one of the best culinary destinations due to amazing food from all over the world. Since I found myself near and curious as always, I went.

As for my experience, I arrived Singapore and was going to meet my friend Tabea from Germany (who I had met in Indonesia) at the airport as her flight was getting in around the same time. In an amazing coincidence a wonderful couple of Stephen from Jamaica and Susanna from Italy,( whom I had also met in Indonesia) had told me they were also arriving in Singapore the same day, but I had no idea they’d be at the airport at the same time as I was.

Thanks to the marvels of free Wifi at the amazing Singapore airport, we realized this and were all able to coordinate and meet up (best part being that Stephen and Susanna ,met up with Tabea before I did, without them knowing each other before. I was able to guide them to meet with points of reference, descriptions, what they were wearing, etc) and soon I was re-united with 3 friends in a beautiful way and we all took the subway into the city to find a place to stay.

I was only in Singapore for 4 days, as it is an expensive city and even more so compared to South East Asia (and when you’re traveling on a budget as you’re trying to travel as long as you can).  Also, when I travel I like to experience the feel and culture of a country though its capital, but beyond that I much rather prefer to go to beautiful nature. Maybe it is because I grew up in New York City and have lived in big cities, but nothing excites me more than being in beautiful nature.

02-IMG_1277
Stephen and Susanna and Tabea and yours truly enjoying our first meal in Singapore, a delicious feast in Little India, the neighborhood where we stayed. It was the most expensive meal I have had on my trip and I couldn’t believe I was paying $20 USD for a meal, but it was
delicious and nice to feel fancy for a night with good friends.

04-IMG_1282
 
It had been years since I had Indian food, and the Indian food I had in Singapore was the best I have ever had.

05-IMG_1285

08-IMG_1295
For breakfast the next morning I opted for these two dishes
that were not too shabby.

 09-IMG_1297
  My lunch of chicken curry noodles in red.

33-IMG_1338
We then went to Gardens by the Bay, a beautiful and rather large park with amazing nature as well as some impressive greenhouses, outside photo exhibits, and these impressive “Super Trees” that are a mix of artificial and natural 25-50 meter trees that come alive at night for a light and music show we saw that was pretty cool.

26-IMG_1329

24-IMG_1327

34-IMG_1340
This Cheesecake was special as when I first saw it at a restaurant in Gardens at the Bay and saw the price I thought “no way I am paying that for that cheesecake!” But after leaving and about an hour passing exploring the park with most of it being of me thinking of that cheesecake I went back and got it, and we enjoyed the first cheesecake I have had in a very long time 🙂

40-IMG_1363
This impressive structure that I just knew was the name, and that apparently has an infinity pool on the top, I just read is:
Marina Bay Sands, an Integrated Resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. Developed by Las Vegas Sands, it is billed as the world’s most expensive standalone casino property at $8 billion, including cost of the prime land.

36-IMG_1350
 
The light show with the Marina Sands in the back.

42-IMG_1376
 I liked this image showing the mix of the Hindi,  Muslim and
Western clothing all at the same market. This is a good representation
of the feel of the city where part of its charm is its diversity and blend of so many different ethnicities and cultures.

 43-IMG_1378
 
Some scissor-cut chicken and pork at a popular Chinese restaurant that always had people waiting on line for their food, so of course we had to go see what it was about. Delicious.

44-IMG_1379
Chinese noodles from the mini-Hawker center below where we stayed with pork, chicken and shrimp.

46-IMG_1382

45-IMG_1380
 I was like a man possessed at times as I was in Singapore to eat and would eat meal after meal without needing to be hungry to eat. This is one of two savory Indian crepes I had, right AFTER lunch!

59-IMG_1438
 This picture shows the outstanding metro and transport system of 
Singapore that adds to its great quality of life, and this picture also shows how Singapore is such a mix of different backgrounds among its mostly foreign-born residents.

 57-IMG_1429
 
One afternoon both Tabea and Stephen were not feeling well,
(my guess is from watching me eat so much), and Susanna and I went to explore the Botanical Gardens that might be the most beautiful park I have ever seen in my life. 

48-IMG_1388
Here is a sign that is very representative of Singapore as it is famous for its many rules that are in place to try to keep in place order and high quality of life.

56-IMG_1427

55-IMG_1423

54-IMG_1414

50-IMG_1393
 The first black swan I have ever seen. And it does kind of look like 
Natalie Portman in that movie. Sorry, I know, that was terrible.

53-IMG_1408
Huge lizard just hanging out by the pond, that was one of the many beautiful creatures that live in and are visible as you walk around the Botanical Gardens.

67-IMG_1461
 Our last dinner in Singapore where Huey was incredibly generous and treated us all to this delicious dinner by the water. Thanks Huey, you are too kind!

64-IMG_1458
 Absolutely beautiful views by the water in downtown
Singapore.

68-IMG_1462
Some tasty noodles, veggies and spicy chicken.

69-IMG_1464
 Really good dumpling.

70-IMG_1466
 
It was Susanna’s birthday in about 2 days so she was not suspecting when Stephen and their friend Huey brought out a surprise b-day cake that was delicious.

71-IMG_1467
 I was absolutely stuffed, but still ate this piece.

76-IMG_1487  74-IMG_148575-IMG_1486
A few famous statues of a Singapore monument wearing my sunglasses. The monument is symbolic of Singapore as the monument is of an Indian man, a Chinese man, and a British man all standing in conversation .

72-IMG_1472
I was surprised and delighted to see my fellow country man, Fernando Botero’s sculpture by the water. Just me and another fat bird.

80-IMG_1506
 Just when you thought you had seen it all, a new species. A Merlion…half-mermaid, half lion. In the background is the iconic one under repair and here a smaller replica that doesn’t spit out water. Here’s an explanation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merlion

85-IMG_1517
My last of MANY meals in Singapore.  It was a display of gluttony and culinary hedonism. I was like a mix of competitive eaters Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut all rolled into a ball of magnificent Colombian eating prowess. It was a stark contrast from a few days earlier where I fasted one day for Ramadan. In Singapore it wasn’t a matter of eating when I was hungry, but eating when I could eat more.

Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to like Singapore.  I just thought I was going to enjoy the food. But, it was a beautiful, well-designed and well-kept modern city with an amazing array of people from distincit cultures from near and far living and working harmoniously in this island city-state.  From Chinatown to Little India to Malay neighborhoods, these and the many other  nationalities that call Singapore their home give it its essence. This mix of cultures along with their smells, sights, and flavors of this city will leave a fond memory.
Verdict: If you like nice cities, parks, or good international food you should definitely visit Singapore.

2 thoughts on “Singapore

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: