Virgil Was Actually a Singaporean Tourguide


Acting on the advice of my uncle, Paul and I left Kuala Lumpur a day early and decided to visit island city-state of Singapore.  Only 45 minutes from KL to Singapore, this was easily my shortest international flight.  Arriving at Changi International Airport…wow.  A joke in the region is that Skytrax, the company that rates airlines and airports, does the search for the world’s second-best airport, because Changi is always number one.  Free WiFi, free Xbox stations throughout, a free giant outdoor pool on the top of Terminal 3, and one of the world’s largest slides…all in the airport.

Singapore, an country located on a small island at the end of the Malay Peninsula (and in fact used to be part of Malaysia before it became independent in 1965), is ranked among the world’s best countries in many metrics.  Beyond Changi International being arguably the nicest and one of the busiest airports in the world, Singapore has the 4th highest GDP per capita in the world, one of the highest standards of living (Singapore was #11, the US was #13), and one of the busiest ports in the world.

Known as a futuristic world city, the island nation certainly lived up to its hype.  The subway is quiet and exceptionally fast.  Signs are in 4 languages.  An automated voice speaks most commands at intersections and other points of interest.  Downtown Singapore is a massive cluster of supertall skyscrapers.  It’s very surreal – it’s almost as if I was in Dubai, as many of these huge structures seem to be built merely for someone’s unique perception of aesthetics.  This gives Singapore a modern feel unlike anywhere in the world.

Along with this, Singapore is immaculate.  There is not a piece of trash on the ground and the subway is perfectly clean.  Really.  I was surprised when I saw a few leaves on the sidewalk.  While a robust democracy, Singapore is very intent on its laws.  Remember a few decades ago when that silly American guy got caned in Singapore?  Yeah, they don’t mess around.  They post signs around the city/nation that gently remind you of the laws’ strictness, such as “Value Life, Act Responsibly.”  Hmm.

Paul and I had a great time in Singapore.  The country is known as a culinary hotspot – we ate all kinds of Chinese food dishes (Singapore is a Chinese city) and neat Indian deserts and drinks.  We needed those drinks, too.  Singapore might have been the hottest I have ever been.  It’s summer, it’s winter, it’s January, it’s July…in Singapore, it doesn’t make a difference – it’s hot and so incredibly humid.

Oh well, off to Bali!

Changi International Airport, the coolest airport I have been to (Istanbul's Atutürk International comes close, as does Madrid's Barajas International)

Singapore Airlines offers the world's longest flight: nonstop from Singapore to Newark.

Getting off of the subway in super-modern Singapore

Semi-authoritarian and slightly scary...These were all over the city.

Amazing subway - A lit sign, spoken instructions in 4 languages, but very small for big people like me!

The outside of the subway station. We got off at Orchard Road, the main commercial avenue of the city/country.

Walking down Orchard Road at 7 AM. I'm surprised there were a few leaves on the ground. Really.

Since we got to Singapore so early, we wanted to check out the Botanical Gardens, one of the best in the world.

Yup, tourist

The Gardens were expansive and beautiful, all perfectly manicured and maintained.

People doing some sort of yoga

Hello, sign.

More public exercise!

More great paths in this giant Botanical Garden

The palm valley in the Gardens

Crazy trees that look like they belong outside a witch's hut

A little piece of South Carolina in Singapore

Walking out of the Botanical Gardens along Orchard Road to the downtown core and the river

Like KL, Singapore is full of giant glass and steel malls. They themselves are architectural and culinary attraction.

"Wait for Green Man"

I felt this way throughout my time in Singapore: I have no idea what this building is, but it sure looks neat.

Ah, hello sign.

The National Museum of Singapore is an old British building converted to a more prosaic function.

St. James' Cathedral, the largest church in the country

Me in front of the Singaporean Parliament. Since the country is a city, the Parliament here acts as sort of an expanded city hall with obviously defensive and diplomatic functions. The skyline is in the background.

Walking down from Parliament towards the river

Me in front of downtown Singapore. Paul and I took a river boat tour seen on the left side.

Another

Riverside path

On the rive boat learning about Singapore's humble past and its rise to global prominence

Another shot of downtown from the river showing the immensity of the skyscrapers

"Old" Singapore is a new trendy area with lots of quaint shops and restaurants

More bars in more places

More neat little shops on the riverfront

The Singapore Opera House

The Singapore Flyer, the second-largest Ferris wheel in the world

The big fountain is the national symbol of Singapore, the Merlion.

Umm...what? A boat on top of 3 huge skyscrapers? This felt as if I was in Dubai.

Merlion, you crazy.

Docking the boat

Me on the second part of our boat ride

I ❤ Singapore - all over the city/country

Singapore's "Chinatown" was very odd, because the entire city is Chinese. This area was just a little more Chinese than the rest of the entire city.

Apparently President Clinton got his suits tailored at this small shop in Singapore? Hmm.

Great, great, great Chinese food, certainly the highlight of any visit to Singapore

You aren't allowed to bring durians on the subway!

Old meets new, traditional meets modern, and in a sense, East meets West

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