Singapore boggles the mind! It’s such a blend of old and new, Asian and Western. Venerable Chinese “shophouses” stand in the shadows of gleaming skyscrapers. One minute you feel like you’re in China or India, the next you’re transported to New York or Sydney.
All wrapped up in a small, tidy package, this entire nation is only about the size of New York City, but it packs a wallop! Because land is in short supply, and Singapore’s population is entirely urban, the only way to build is UP. If you’re a fan of modern, attractive high rises, Singapore is the place to be.
A very interesting fact about Singapore is that present birthrates are very low. Consequently, it is unable to replace its aging population. In other words, if nothing changes … Singapore will eventually disappear! For this reason, the government has a policy that encourages immigration. This policy, combined with Singapore’s history as an immigrant-friendly trading port, has produced a lovely gumbo of cultures.
Singapore has a very cosmopolitan feel, but if you wander into Chinatown, Little India or Arab Street, you’re immediately transported to another country.
Tamil Hindu and Chinese Buddhist Temples as well as Mosques and Christian Churches stand in the same neighborhoods, sometimes next door to each other.
We’ve been to Singapore before and loved it. So when we had a chance to do a two-day stopover on our way to Bali, we jumped at it! Our goal was to make the most of our limited time and try some new experiences.
We visited Chinatown and Little India. Serangoon Road slices through the middle of Little India, and in addition to a number of beautiful Hindu Temples, there are small shops lining both sides of the street selling an amazing array of stuff – from clothes and sweets to tires and copper pipe. We stopped in at the Indian equivalent of a vegetarian McDonald’s. It met our usual standard – the food was excellent, and we were the only foreigners in the place.
Today was something completely different. In our research we’d read about the Marina Bay Sands Resort, which is the latest high-profile addition to Singapore’s awesome harbor skyline.
The word “resort” sells it way short. We’re talking 2,500 five-star hotel rooms in three beautiful, ultramodern towers, a casino, a huge shopping mall, 60 bars and restaurants, cinemas, museums, skating rink, and the list goes on and on. Plus you can get a great view of the giant Ferris wheel – the Singapore Flyer.
We planned on lunch at the Food Court because we’d read it was incredible – you can get just about any cuisine you could possible want. Thanks to Singapore’s rich and complex cultural mix, the variety of food is amazing. But no trip would be complete without sampling some *Singapore Noodles. We watched the chef as he made the fresh noodles, kneading and folding the dough, then stretching and snapping the long strand repeatedly. When he gave it a final SMACK, it miraculously separated into delicate strands. Absolutely awesome … as was the food.
Tomorrow we’re off to Bali, one of our all-time favorite places on earth.
Terri and James