Singapore in 24…

Well, interestingly enough I visited Singapore many times over the years, sometimes as a stop over and other times for meetings during my management consulting days but in all those visits I never carried a camera with me.  Yes, it was prior to discovering my love of photography and so clearly a place that I needed to revisit, this time with my camera.

It was an easy decision, by adding a 24-hour layover in Singapore between Tokyo and Bali I could rediscover this fine city with my camera and see I remembered it the way I always had.

Singapore, the island country is like no other in the entire world!

Singapore is a contradiction in many ways and, is at the crossroad of the modern world.  On the surface many people may think that just a leading financial and trading capital, and yes, you’d be right, but scratch the surface just a little and you’ll also see that it’s an ethnically and culturally diverse place as you’ll find anywhere on earth.

A veritable melting pot of people all living in harmony.

Small, by any standards this country is a global powerhouse in the grand scheme of things often attracting the brightest and best from around the world, which makes it different in that the majority of people who it attracts are young and this coupled with the fact that it has a large European expat community adds an interesting twist to the vibrancy of this asian city which sits on the equator.

Of course, they do have strict laws on drugs, pornography and litter of all things but this close-knit society perched near on the equator is at the epicenter of the global economy and I wanted discover what else it had to offer.

So, with all this beckoning you can see why it was such an easy choice for me to stop by for a sleepover. 🙂

Arriving at 9:00 pm from Tokyo, I stepped out of Changi international airport into a warm tropical night, just like most nights of the year it was a balmy 28C and the sticky humidity made my t-shirt cling to my back as stepped into the taxi rank.

One of the best things about Singapore is that almost everyone speaks English, which after being in Japan for a week was a welcome change, especially with giving directions to my hotel.

I had decided to stay in boutique hotel called the Sultan in the Muslim quarter of the old city, situated on the eastern edge of the downtown core, and only a 20-minute drive from the airport, but as we neared the city I realized that something else was going on.

I had arrived into the city the night of the Formula One Grand Prix, and so as we neared the city the traffic was slowed by roads being closed and diverted.  Fun times!

After settling into my room, I grabbed my camera and headed out, with not a moment to spare I needed to get exploring as soon as possible.

The Sultan was surrounded by a jumble of streets jammed packed with bars and restaurants and brimming with people out and about enjoying a later dinner or drinks…, which I realized was just another night in Singapore, just the ways it’s been for well over 100 years.

After an early breakfast I was out and about, with a few places on my list to see and experience.  First up was the Merlion, which, as the symbol of Singapore is a magnet for tourists.  🙂   Conveniently located on Marina Bay it was close to where Sir Stamford Raffles came ashore and formalized the colony of Singapore for the British way back 1819!

Getting there proved a little trickier as many of the roads were still blocked off for the previous night’s race, but with some patience and a great offline map I was able to successfully navigate the 3.5km from the hotel.

Even by 8:30 am it was swelteringly hot with rivulets of sweat running down my arms and legs as I walked, it’s definitely a place where you need either an umbrella or to walk on the shady side of the street at all times.  Just sayin…

Next on my list was the Marina Bay Sands hotel which was situated across the bay, with its distinctive architecture it’s impossible to miss.  This massive hotel has three towers all linked by what resembles a curved ship on the rooftop.

Fortunately for me it was not busy, and the views were sensational. This definitely has the best views of Singapore.

Singapore is also known for its large and vibrant Chinese community, and so up next was the Chinatown street markets, but well before I discovered the market what grabbed my attention was the street food vendors and the delicious smells of food.  More well known for its night market it is a great way to while away some time and explore the nooks and crannies of this very old marketplace.

My time in Singapore was far too short, but a memorable experience as always.  I’d forgotten how intensely hot it can get here, but then again its been a while since I’ve lived in the tropics (30 years now), but it took me just a couple of hours to feel right at home.

Some might say its a low rise Hong Kong, and depending on what you’re looking for maybe they’d be right but I categorize Singapore differently.  To me, it feels more like Fantasyland at Disney where everything is modern and larger than life.  A great example is the Super-forest adjacent to the Marina Bay Sands hotel…just take a look toward Keppel Harbour from level 57 – you can’t miss it.

This city continues to reinvent and transform itself…a bit like me!   So as you can imagine it holds a special place in my heart.  🙂

Check it out!