Singapore, the golden peninsula

Hello Everybody,

So, Singapore…

I have been thinking about it for some time now… every trip I make, I think, next one is Singapore.

golden lotus
The Lotus Pond outside the Science Museum.

I have heard a lot of things about Singapore:  how clean it is , the canings, strictness of laws and its multiculturalism. It was known as Chersonesus Aurea in ancient times, the golden peninsula. I also watched ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ a few months ago, (another formulaic movie that further validated my reasons for not watching movies anymore) but JetStar finally had a flight I could not say no to, so I packed my little bag and off I went.

skyline before twilight
The skyline, after sunset, before darkness falls.

How can I put this?

I was not impressed with Singapore. I wished that I could have been, but I found myself regretting that I had booked four days there.  There were two wonderful experiences, but overall, it was disappointing.

selling balloons
Selling balloons on the boardwalk…

Now,  maybe I am becoming more of an introvert than I had thought. Recently I did the short version of the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory (you can find it at  https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test) and it said that my introversion was 100%. I thought, well, that’s a little drastic. But then I was reflecting back on a conversation with a  dear friend of mine and we were discussing Buddhism. He said, you’re basically living the life of a Buddhist monk. I thought, he may be right.

But I love plunging into the night markets and busy crowds in Asian cities because it feels different than Western cities. I usually enjoy the energy.  Singapore, however, felt empty and vacuous to me….all the commercialism and materialism of the West under a sleek, maybe slick Asian veneer.

singapore at night
Singapore at night

Let me say, I am an avid fan of the selfie, I have been doing them for longer than most people since I travel alone.  But in this densely populated city/state of  5.4 million people, there is not enough real estate for all the selfie-sticks and overt narcissism that I encountered there. People actually pushing and bumping into each other to take what seemed like hundreds of photos of themselves.

better one of mall
Marina Bay Sands mall and shopping.

I wandered into the mall located under the iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel  that contained all  the ubiquitous designer stores that I could have found in Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo or Seoul. I felt like I was in the land of the Dr. Seuss’s Sneetches (look this up if you never read it). And I couldn’t find a way out…I kept walking around and around until I finally found an exit.

And one more thing, I am so accustomed to the sweet gentleness of the Japanese  I forget that all Asian countries don’t necessarily possess their politeness. The manners here were not the best, people did not open or hold doors for women or get up on the train for the elderly as I regularly experience in Japan. I had the feeling that all the strict laws were  in place because they needed to be there to ensure people behave accordingly. Just a feeling, but one that stayed with me throughout.

sun going down on singapore
Sunset at the Harbor

Traveling around  and throughout was not difficult at all. The transportation system was amazingly well organized and inexpensive. The purchase of a card at the airport, I got mine when I changed over my money, was $12 Singaporean dollars  and came with $5 on it. It was easy to recharge and travel was very inexpensive. I  put $20 on it and left with $7 remaining. I was on the bus or MRT (train) several times each day.  But if you go, plan on doing a lot of walking as there is about a 10 minute walk from just about every place you might want to visit. I walked on average 15 km a day.

contrasting singapore
Throughout the city, sounds of construction could be heard everywhere.
white belly eagle
A white belly eagle soared over the downtown skyscrapers….their homes are rapidly disappearing as more and more buildings intrude on the forest.

I will be making a few different picture pages based on the diversity of the place. There are vastly different cultures all jumbled up in this city/state at the bottom of the Malay Peninsula. There is an array of religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism and even a small sect of Zoroastrians. The languages, architecture, foods and attractions are also varied. Hawker food stands, reflected the culture of the particular section of town.

I visited Chinatown, Little India, Bugis Street, the Harbor Front, Gardens by the Bay, two national parks and explored the area my hotel was in, MacPherson Street. The airport itself has also become a tourist destination with the opening of Jewel, which boasts the world’s largest indoor waterfall and several paid attractions.

trees without lights
Gardens by the Bay … before the light show

So I will leave off here and put up a few photo pages. If you do get to Singapore, do not miss the Gardens by the Bay  electronic tree display. It is free and two shows a night. Also, the National Park of the Central Catchment Nature Preserve.

Singapore has left me feeling that I may need to re-think the idea of Hanoi….it may be time for a temple-stay…