Tuesday, February 8, 2011


We arrived in Singapore late in the afternoon on Tuesday. It was quite a contrast compared to Bangkok. Where Bangkok is still in the process of growing up, Singapore is a fully mature, 1st world city in every sense of the word. It's cosmopolitan (the population is split evenly between ethnic Brits, Maylasians, Indians, Chinese and the almost 50% of foreigners who live there), clean (littering, chewing gum and spitting in public are all illegal) and safe (they had signs saying "low crime doesn't mean no crime". Their crime rate is so low they have to remind people that it even exists!). It was the reverse of most travel destinations. It looked like a great place to live but only ok to visit. I say ok to visit because it is definitely light on tourist attractions (unless you like shopping). It was perfect for a 3-5 day trip.


It was certainly our easiest destination. We hopped on the MRT (metro) at the airport and took it straight to our hostel that was right in the middle of Chinatown. And right before Chinese New Year, Chinatown is the place to be! The streets were colorfully decorated and bursting with temporary stores and fantastic food. We actually got lucky and met another teacher from Korea named Jonathan. He is Chinese-American, speaks Mandarin, is laid back and great company. We spent our first evening exploring the street vendor foodstalls of the area. We were working under the assumption that the places with the longest lines were probably the best. This was a good assumption.

The next day, since there aren't any must-see tourist attractions per-se, we simply decided to explore. This led to the discovery of restaurants with great names (one example below) and a much better understanding of the city. It's a city that's all business. It's clean (nearly sterile), new and shiny. To me it felt like stepping into the future. Some of the laws are downright draconian but it seems to be a price the residents willingly pay. In short, I was impressed.


stockbroker lunches

The Merlion, the symbol of Singapore

Notice anything odd in this picture of Jason and I?

Of course these pictures beg the obvious question ....

That evening we headed to Orchard Road to see Singapore's famous shopping malls. They went on for 3 metro stops. As a poor teacher and more importantly a guy, I was enthralled for 3 full minutes before I was ready to find food. We ultimately decided on dinner, followed by drinks at a nice bar and then headed back before the MRT closed for the evening.

Jon looking thoughtful, Jason looking drunk and me smiling

After careful study, we decided to spend the next day exploring the zoo. The Singapore Zoo is reputed to be the best zoo in the world and for good reason. Because it is. It's amazing how close you can get to the animals there. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Close huh?

No bars or glass cages

The Elephant Show was quite entertaining

Since I've always been a kid at heart, I decided feeding the elephants would be fun

After a long and delightful day at the zoo, Jon took off for the airport and Jason and I headed for the train station. A reunion the following day in Kuala Lumpur awaited.

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