In just 200 years the small island of Singapore, perched at the very end of the Malaysian peninsula, has turned into a high-tech city country with a multitude of humongous high-rises housing 5 million people. Singapore is going to be celebrating their 200th year anniversary, from 1819 to 2019, in two years.
The country of Singapore is 269 square miles. Rhode Island, the smallest state in the US, is 4 times larger with just a fifth of the population. The people in Singapore are a mix of 74% Chinese, 13% Malay, 9% Indian, and the rest are foreigners. They speak many languages Malay, Mandarin Chinese, English, and Tamil but they often speak ‘Singlish,’ a combination of Malay, Chinese, and English. Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore in 1819 when it was just a fishing village and turned it into what it is today. The favored Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, served from 1960 to 1990 after Singapore declared independence in 1963. Religions are freely practiced in Singapore and Mahayana Buddhism is the most practiced, but they also practice Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism. During my stay in Singapore my favorite spots were the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the adjacent Gardens By the Bay. We also visited Little India and looked in a lot of shopping malls.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel is impossible to miss. It has three 55-story hotel towers, and all three are connected by a roof terrace that looks like an enormous surfboard. The hotel has 2,561 rooms. Just across the street the Marina Bay Sands Mall has two movie theaters, an ice skating rink, and two crystal Pavilions. At the very top of the hotel they have an awesome infinity pool, one of the nicest swimming pools I’ve ever seen and certainly the highest.
We ate ‘linner’ (late lunch/early dinner) on top of the surfboard at the ‘Skypark’ restaurant, but only guests can swim in the pool. But the best part about going to the hotel is The Gardens by the Bay, a nature park, located just across the street.
The gardens are so big they’re divided into three sections: Bay South, Bay East, and Bay Central. It reminded me of Disneyland. The gardens were planted with over 250,000 rare plants, and of course the 16-story, man-made ‘supertrees’ that collect rainwater and solar power especially built for observation are impressive. Bryce and I walked on the skywalk, which is suspended between two ‘supertrees’ and has a great view of the garden and the hotel. At night they say they have a great light show.
Singapore has tons of high fashion specialty malls. Orchard Road is a great shopping center like Rodeo Drive in LA or Union Square in SF. We only had a little time in Orchard Road, so we visited the ION Mall. The ION Mall had the most expensive things I’ve ever seen. My favorite things in the mall were the Golden Phantom speakers, best speakers in the world. It’s too bad we couldn’t see all the malls but we had a great time visiting the best ones.
At the entrance to Little India are two specially made great elephants decorated with colorful plastic flowers like a Rose Parade float. Little India is a great place to find cheap food and cheap clothing. I bought my favorite shirt here. They have many Hindu Temples in Little India. ‘Sri Veeramakliamman’ is the most colorful that we saw and well crafted in Little India. We spent a lot of time in Little India. We happened to be there during Deepavali, the Hindu festival of lights celebrating good over evil. The streets and stores were festively decorated with hundreds of worshipers milling around in traditional Indian dress making their way to the temples to worship.
I had the best time in Singapore: hotel room, Wi-Fi, and hot showers are all things you forget are really cool until you have them again. It’s really interesting how often electric scooters are used in Singapore and they even have scooter tours which I would have loved to try.
So, over all, with so many cool places to see and things to do, I’m pretty sure I’m going to go back to Singapore in the future. Thirty-six hours just wasn’t enough time to spend in this interesting and complex city.
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