What I knew about Singapore was that its hot, its crime free and expensive which doesn't sound very exciting or interesting - and it is all of those - but what stood out for me was the calm and efficiency of its citizens, the peace and beauty of its green spaces and the respect with which people of all races treat one another. One of the most remarkable aspects of Singapore is the truly diverse nature of her population. Established by Thomas Stamford Raffles as a trading post on 29 January 1819, the small sea town of Singapore soon attracted many migrants and merchants and they brought with them their own cultures, languages, customs and festivals. Though intermarriage and integration, Singapore is now a multi-faceted society with a vibrant and diverse cultural heritage, with major ethnic groups being the Chinese, Malays, Indians, Peranakans and Eurasians. Singapore is also home to many expats from countries all around the globe and the shopping malls clearly reflect that.
I could wax lyrical about how well its run, how clean and safe it is and how affluent people there are - no visible poverty, no beggars, car guards or people sleeping in shop doorways or parks and i am pretty sure no one has urinated at the side of the road for many decades!
However I will stick to my highlights.
1. Of course it was spending time with these special people. Katherine has grown so much in 8 months but I felt that she remembered me and we were instant friends.
2. The evening light and music show at Gardens by the Bay. We arrived early evening and enjoyed the views from the walkways between the man made Jurassic flowers over the bay and city and into the gardens with the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel which dominates the skyline and boasts a vision swimming pool from the roof. As dusk fell these futuristic flower towers light up and change colour to music - Like fairyland.
3. Singapore Botanical Gardens. Imagine a tropical paradise where orchids grow profusely from trees and hang at eye level in a myriad of colour - well that's what was waiting for me at the Orchid Garden in the Botanical Gardens. I usually make a point of spending a day in floral splendour when on holiday - I spent the best part of a day in a corner of this botanical garden and my camera was very happy!
5 Fireworks! It was Chinese New Year whilst I was there so red lanterns were strung in buildings and stores and we had just arrived in from somewhere and enjoying a Singapore Sling when the unmistakable whizz of a rocket went up and we were treated to a firework extravaganza to mark the last day of the celebrations and to see the year of the goat in with a BANG! Sean and Nadine live on the 12th floor so we really did have a birds eye view.
I also enjoyed the Bird Park, a City tour enjoyed with an ice cream sandwich - on rainbow bread! The numerous 'hawkers' food markets where the locals eat. An amazing Dim Sum feast at an Orchards hot spot! It is hot and I mean hot - its on the equator and temperatures are in the 30s every day and it doesn't get any cooler at night so I languished in the pool at every opportunity.
There wasn't much to not like but I found the shopping malls and busy streets of Orchards district, where many ex pats live and where the tourists head for shopping, too crowded and commercial. I also had the wonderful opportunity to go to Thailand and that is what I will be blogging about next time.