Singapore

20 Dec

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You can tell a lot about a city from its airport. JFK accurately reflects the diversity and chaos that is NYC.  The airport in Mandalay, barely developed and in the middle of nowhere, was a good indicator of the state of the rest of the country. Same same the airport in Hanoi. Singapore was no exception to this rule; I have never seen a cleaner, more organized and high-tech airport, from the touch screens inviting you to rate your immigration experience via emoticon, to the shockingly efficient taxi queue. Singapore itself ranks, hands down, as the cleanest city I have ever been in (and the most expensive, but that’s another story). Multiple friends described the city as “Asia lite” and I find that I wholeheartedly agree with this IMG_2773assessment. It has some of the flavor of Asia: tasty food choices, Asian populations, multiple mosques/temples, but none of the pungent disorder I associate with my experiences here. The streets are immaculate (turns out heavy fines/caning are effective deterrents to littering and gum chewing). I saw not a single sign of poverty or disarray. Even the vegetation is manicured and orderly.

Our good friends Karli and Wade, along with their two adorable munchkins, started at RIS the same year as us, but now teach at Singapore American School. We celebrated the Thai King’s 87th birthday by leaving Thailand and having a three-day Singapore adventure with our fabulous hosts/tour guides. Unlike many of our travel destinations, I did almost no planning in preparation for Singapore. Our only priorities were to eat chili crab, Singapore’s most popular culinary dish, and hang out with our friends. Karli however, went to town and planned a great weekend. We…

  • Ate at multiple hawker stands, Singapore’s outdoor food markets. Tasty nibbles we tried included Malaysian-style roti john with minced lamb, egg, and onions, and chicken satay with generous helpings of peanut sauce.
  • Had happy hour with Wade at Raffles Hotel, home of the original IMG_2775Singapore Sling beverage. For the reasonable price of $29 Singaporean dollars (around $22.15 USD), you can sample the Singapore Sling and enjoy complimentary peanuts, chucking the empty shells on the floor. Obviously, it had to be done, despite the price. Our verdict? Tasty but overly sweet. History lesson: Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of said hotel, established Singapore as a British trading port in 1819. Singapore was under British control for the next 150 years or so, not including a brief stint of Japanese occupation during WWII. In 1963 they became part of the Malaysian Federation; however, the merger didn’t go over so well with the general population. Singapore gained independence in 1965 and since then has become one of the world’s wealthiest nations.
  • Went to the races! The Singapore Turf Club is close to the condo where Karli and Wade live. We took a taxi there only to discover that Wade in his snazzy seer sucker suit was the only one of us dressed appropriately for the VIP section. After a quick trip home to get classy, we spent the evening placing losing bets on the horse races and enjoying Tiger Beer, Singapore’s national brew. Turns out choosing the horse with the best name and the nicest tail doesn’t always lead to big winnings…
  • Visited the Gardens by the Bay, an extremely groomed and sprawling park by the waterfront. They had shiny Christmas displays, and an aerial walkway that afforded an amazing view of the city while simultaneously scaring me silly.
  • Stuffed ourselves on chili crab, black pepper crab, and golden buns. So good!!
  • Enjoyed a classy chocolate and cheese buffet with wine pairings at the hi-so bar on top of the Marina Bay Sands. The hotel consists of three towers connected by a boat-like structure that stretches across the top, sixty floors up. Marina Bay SandsThe views are fabulous! I had a nerdy moment of excitement upon seeing the building; years ago, long before I ever thought I’d come to Asia, I had watched an architecture show on the Discovery Channel about the construction of the Marina Bay Sands, and there I was, right on top of it!
  • Watched Amelia perform pirouettes as a dancing snowflake in SAS’s performance of The Nutcracker. Amelia danced delightfully while sporting bright pink lipstick, and the show included hip hop mice in a dance battle. Enough said.

Yes, half our fun consisted of good food shared with friends, and yes, we had a great time. Thanks Karli and Wade, we’ll be back! 🙂

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