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Hello Singapore!

February 2, 2010

As an SMOE teacher, I’m not exactly forced to choose certain vacation dates but maybe I’m strongly encouraged to pick dates convenient for the staff. So, I somehow ended up with a long weekend last weekend with Friday and Monday off. On pretty much a whim I decided to skip Seoul for that time and see some friends in Singapore. Cause, why not? Plus, Singapore is a full 60 degrees warmer than Seoul.

I think up to this point in my life, I just considered any heat where I couldn’t stay outside longer than an hour to be “oppressive heat”. I suppose it’s just been hyperbole til now. Upon exiting the airplane, the humidity assaulted me and I was instantly warmed. Leaving the airport (this is around 6:30 AM or so) I was breaking into a sweat and shedding all the layers of clothes. By the time I made it to Sentosa, the small island off of Singapore, I felt as if the sun were taking a personal vendetta against me, angrily concentrating its rays on me. Luckily, the area was visually engaging enough to keep me distracted.

I hesitate to use the word beautiful to describe Singapore…fascinating or engaging work much better. Singapore is clean and efficient, modern buildings cover most available land and stretch into the sky scape. Below ground lie an intricate network of malls that connect to the subway, hotels, other malls, various restaurants and department stores…a network which I think serves to keep pedestrians out of the blistering heat. I found it was nearly impossible to walk anywhere without having to go through or pass by at least two malls. On the other hand, the bits of greenery spared from the expansion of malls, public transport and amusement parks are wonderful and odd and complex. It wasn’t until I visited the Botanical Gardens and the Jurong Bird Sanctuary, that I realized that I was in a tropical climate a few degrees  north of the equator.

I feel like I'm in a sci-fi flick, Aeon Flux maybe

When it comes to the people, Singaporeans are spectacularly diverse and beautiful – it’s actually the first time I’ve seen so many people the same color as myself. I heard every language mostly due to the huge influx of tourists but most locals I spoke to spoke Malay, Chinese, and English fluently. The melange of the three (which often includes Hindi) is a unique, colorful brand of English called Singlish. The one time I was mistaken for a native by a Singaporean, I tried to interpret what I can only assume was…some kind of question. I swear the words were English but they couldn’t all have been because I had no idea what was going on. Anyway, everyone was friendly and I was called Macy Gray a few times.

I uploaded the photos to the flickr account but here are a choice few.

The Singapore mascot/animal - The Merlion. That's right, a mermaid lion.

Chrysanthemum tea drink might be a new favorite.

In case you didn’t know, Singapore is known for having some pretty odd laws and signs to advertise such laws with heavy fines as consequences.

Ok, ok...no problem...wait no durians?

Durians: they look like overweight sea urchins on the outside and soft organs on the inside, smells like a nutty cheese and tastes like over ripe banana. I don't get the hype.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Dad permalink
    February 5, 2010 4:55 pm

    I am so happy for you Kristin! I deeply miss you!

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