Between Bali and Thailand we scheduled a 2 night stop-over in Singapore, located off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Singapore is one of the very few cities which are also a country, The Vatican and Monaco being the others. It was amazing to see how this tiny country has been able to maintain its strong financial and commercial centers with a global economic competitiveness. A definite change of pace from Bali or what was to come in Thailand and Nepal. With only 2 and half days to explore, we had to step-up our travel pace to see all the notable sites. Fortunately, taxi’s were reasonable and the city fairly compact. There is plenty to do just walking around and taking in the amazing architecture and cityscapes.
Of the ‘happening’ neighborhoods in Singapore we opted for the most economic option and found a cool hostel in Little India. Our hostel was non-traditional with cubical sleeping compartments. Picture modern pod-style sleeping, like what you’ve seen on Travel Channel in Tokyo’s airport, but more roomy. A surprisingly comfortable alternative to your average hostel bunk beds. As an added bonus, they served traditional Indian-style breakfast each morning. We loved it.
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Architectural highlights of the city were the Gardens by the Bay tree sculptures, the floating soccer field in Marina Bay, the epic casino/hotel structure, and the many spectacular malls (a work of art in themselves). Cultural highlights were the large Chinatown district (the most impressive I’ve seen), super cheap Indian cuisine outside our doorstep in Little India, and the amazing cleanliness of this immaculate and proud country. They keep this city so clean, in fact, that chewing gum has been banned from being bought or sold and there is a $500 fine for spitting gum on the streets. Say what?! As a chronic gum chewer myself, I found this a bit irritating. After a Google search on the subject I learned that on occasion gum can be bought from a doctor, but must be prescribed. If I had health insurance I may have tried… Just kidding(!!), but seriously. I guess when you are a country this small it’s easier to enforce whatever laws you see fitting. If I were them I’d ban smoking instead.
On our last night we caught the ‘Wonder Full Light and Water Show Spectacular’ in the marina. There were mixed reviews online, saying that it was nothing compared to the Bellagio’s in Las Vegas, so we came with low expectations. Perhaps this made the show even more exceptional in my opinion. What set it apart was the mix of light and color, fire and video projectors shooting onto large water-made screens. With Singapore’s city skyline as backdrop, it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. This place has accomplished the ‘awe factor’ on so many levels. Another city that will quickly capture your heart.