Last month I visited fascinating Singapore for the first time and saw my first (and definitely not my last) Formula 1 race. It had been nearly 9 months since my last “first time in a new city” experience and I loved the excitement that comes with scouring maps, learning new subway stops, figuring out conversion rates and finding new favorite foods, drinks and attractions. My delay writing about this fantastic new destination was less about lack of inspiration, but rather too much of it. I had so many ideas and experiences floating around in my head that I was having a hard time committing anything to paper or blog post. I ended up catching my signature illness: analysis paralysis. Way too much thinking and not enough doing. I am not quite sure there’s any remedy for this disease other than to just start doing. I finally sat myself down and began going through hundreds and hundreds of photos to kick start my writing process. It definitely helped and so I decided to start retelling my Singapore Story with some of my favorite images from that week long trip.
Singapore, in a way reminded me of a number of different places I have visited before, but surprisingly it still managed to stand out as a very unique city/country. The Dubai of Asia with weather like Thailand, architecture like Hong Kong and a feeling of safety in a big city similar to Tokyo. While I’ve not yet been to India, the Little India section of Singapore had me checking my passport to make sure I hadn’t accidentally ended up in Mumbai.
I arrived in Singapore in the middle of the night when everything was quiet and dark. It is always interesting getting the first impression of a city when its asleep. Its like walking in on a sleeping stranger in a dimly lit room. You can get an idea of what they will look like when fully awake, but shadows and bedcovers and a face slack with sleep can alter the image you’ll see in the daylight. Taking a shuttle van from the airport, I had a hard time reading what the city would be like. I could catch glimpses of high rises next to two story more traditional buildings, street cleaning vehicles rumbled along the streets getting things clean for the next day and our odd motorcyclist zipping by on their way from and to who knows where.
But after a deep, but slightly disorienting sleep, I woke up to a neighborhood crowded with people, cars, restaurants that opened on to the street and colorful fabric shops. I wandered out of the hotel onto a busy street and directly across from me was a modern mall with unfamiliar store names but very familiar products. If I walked to the right I quickly found myself among more traditional buildings with brightly painted wooden upper stories and small shops or restaurants below. If I turned around and walked behind the hotel, I was at Mustafa Center, a 24 shopping “experience” which is best described as WalMart on crack. (If you can’t find it in the hundreds of aisles of Mustafa Center, it just doesn’t exist.) Finally, if I make two right turns out of the hotel and you find yourself in the Little India I mentioned earlier. So many different experiences within just a few blocks of my hotel…imagine what I’d see in the rest of the city. And the rest of the city was an easy metro or taxi ride away. The subway was one of the cleanest and most prompt I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Even with the major crowds of terminally lost tourists in town for the F1 races, things never really seemed to back up or get too crowded.
Singapore’s reputation for cleanliness and order was not overstated. Though always politely done, you were regularly reminded via posted signs of what you cannot do in Singapore. But rather than feeling restrictive, those rules often led to positive experiences for residents and visitors alike. For one, I was extremely appreciative of the fact that although Singapore was one of the hottest and most humid cities I’ve been in, it was also one of the cleanest. Despite all the street food and plentiful vegetation, I only saw one nasty roach while I was there and thankfully, it was no longer among the living.
So please scroll through the pictures below to get a little taste of the Singapore I experienced. Enjoy!