Speeding Through Singapore
No equivocation here.
At a little under two degrees off the equator, Singapore is the furthest south I’ve ever managed to visit on this planet. And this city has definitely managed to persuade me to line up more destinations in the southern hemisphere for future journeys!
I’m not in the unique city-state of Singapore for long, so my goal is to see as much as possible in the little time I have. Anyone who knows me will tell you that shopping is not really my thing, but if it’s yours? This is the place to be.
About 1/5th of Jewel’s indoor waterfall
Singaporeans not only know how to shop, they know how to entice YOU to shop. I watched ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ on the flight over, which should’ve given me a heads-up, but I’m not sure anything can prepare for what this city has in store. Case in point: the first thing you see upon arrival at the Changi International Airport is the world’s largest Jewel.
This is, of course, the enormous shopping complex that is literally attached by walkway to the airport. Jewel is home to the world’s largest indoor waterfall, a rainforest garden that runs to five stories, and more shopping than anyone could ever dream of.
Met this guy with his mate in the streets of Chinatown.
Once you can tear yourself out of the glittering Jewel, the city itself is delightfully diverse; an amazing mix of cultures that each bring their own flavours to the table. Singapore is a mingling of people of Chinese, Malay, Indian, Peranakan and many other descents. Speaking purely selfishly, this makes finding a mammoth variety of good food both adventuresome and fun.
The Singapore Metro is a marvel, very easy to navigate and inexpensive to use. I had to head down to Chinatown to pick up my metro-pass, and it was an experience. Walking through a Singaporean Chinese market at lunch time is an assault on the senses of the best kind. Chinatown is a riot of colour and scent and sound, but with its own unique flavour, very different than that of Hong Kong.
The colours of Little India.
Further north, I walked through the brilliant colours of Little India in the midst of an epic Singaporean downpour. As a Vancouver girl, I’m pretty comfortable in the rain, but let me tell you, Singapore knows how to put the tropics into its precipitation. Luckily the streets in this section of the city are all equipped with substantial overhangs. Still, when the rain is falling so hard it bounces above one’s head, an umbrella isn’t really given the chance to do its job. Luckily, I found a laundrette in Little India, too, run by a lovely man who gave me a bottle of water as a reward for walking so far.
I spent a day at the National Museum, where I learned much about the colonial history of Singapore, and the privations this tiny place experienced during WWII. As I left, I came across the second bride of this journey; this one posed on the elegant steps near the front. I wonder if I will meet any more?
Back on the streets, I have to say that Singapore shows the most variety I’ve ever seen when it comes to vending machines. Along with every possible foodstuff, there are machines that sell vitamins, health care products, and books. Machines will freshly squeeze you a glass of orange juice or scoop you an ice cream cone. I saw several machines that collected [and presumably, later returned] laundry, but I have to admit my favourite was this one, billing itself as the first Norwegian Salmon ATM. I mean, really, where does one go from here?
Fish for sale!
It’s been an action-packed few days in the Lion City, wandering the streets, eating the food, visiting the mosques and temples and gardens filled with super-sized glowing trees and dragonflies, but my research is calling and it’s time for me to move on.
Have you been to Singapore? What is your favourite place in this larger-than-life metropolis? What have I missed?
And can you guess where I’m heading next? Stay tuned.