Singapore is a country in full swing, with eccentric architecture, big business and food stalls open until the wee hours of the night. This city and country of the same name has risen from the depths since becoming occupied by the Japanese then the British and later Malaysia before their independence in 1965 to becoming one of the richest countries in the world. When you walk around the downtown area, you can’t help but notice the amount of foreigners that are here walking from meeting to meeting or stopping for lunch and they’re not on vacation, there here for business. Big business and good government decisions have helped this country become a place known for prosperity. We learned from our taxi driver that 95% of the citizens in Singapore own their own home, yes that’s right 95%! He said “Do you see any beggars”? No, in fact we didn’t, but we saw many people going about their day at the little shops they owned or having food or drinks with friends in the tight-knit community of Chinatown where we were located for three nights.
We toured around Chinatown a bit and visited the Maxwell Food Hawkers Center where Jason found some roast duck with bok choy over noodles and Simone succumbed to banana fritters as the Chinese are not exactly vegetarians. The food hawkers market is a foodies dream with so many choices of delicious fare. This particular food market was a stop for Anthony Bourdain on his show “No Reservations” as we saw newspaper clippings with his picture in the windows at a few of the hawkers stands.
The next stop would be the Gardens by The Bay where we met up with the family from “Taking The Big Break”, another blogging family from Portland, OR traveling to the far reaches of the earth in search of life experiences. We had been in touch with Nathan, Kathrin and their two boys Lorenzo and Elio by following each others travels and realized we would be in Singapore at the same time, so we met up at the gardens and enjoyed spending the day together asking travel questions and finding out more about one another and each others experiences. It was a nice break, and kind of weird to be talking to other Americans since we have not seen very many on our trip. Their boys are great and are really learning a lot as they get schooled by the world. What lucky kids!
Next up was the highly talked about light show at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino on the waters edge. We walked down to the waterfront and watched the fifteen minute long spectacle of laser beams and lights as they moved across the water and into the sky. They also have a fountain show on the side of the hotel, but we opted to watch the light show and skip the fountain show, but if you want to see both, there are two shows per night that give you the chance to see both. As we walked backed to the hotel, we admired the city lights and impressive architecture that Singapore had to offer. To really appreciate the style of this city, you should see it at night, it’s quite impressive.
Our last stop would be to the Singapore Zoo which we had heard was a must see and one of the best zoos in the world, and even competed with the San Diego Zoo. Well, we might be biased, but we didn’t feel it was all that great, it was just ok. The coolest part was the orangutans and other monkeys swinging freely in the trees above in their “open enclosure” throughout an area of the park. It was great to see animals native to this part of the world and see some new animals we had yet to learn about. Later that night we went to the night safari park next door for one of the more interesting zoo experiences. Opening just before dark, the night safari gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy nocturnal animals moving about that would normally just be asleep during the daytime hours of a normal zoo. Our favorite animal at this park was definitely the Fisher Cat, a small cat, about the size of a medium dog that stalks the waters edge in search of his sushi and is absolutely beautiful. The downfall was that there were a million other tourists in the park and since we didn’t feel like dealing with the lines we passed on the tram ride through the park. If we had to do it all over again, we’d skip the zoo and go for the Night Safari Park just because it’s different. The park is open until midnight, so maybe go later in the evening to avoid the crowds.
All in all, we enjoyed our time here and with all of the different ethnicities and action going on, Singapore reminded us a little of San Francisco and was a good place to stop off on our way up through Southeast Asia.