When I was writing about Singapore in a pre-trip post, I had said that my goals while visiting the city were as follows:
- eat a lot
- experience a hawker market
- check out the night safari at the zoo
- maybe spend a day in Malaysia for more delicious food, and
- don't break any laws.
I think my current state of non-incarceration suffices to demonstrate that the last goal was (to my and the authorities' knowledge) met. It wasn't difficult to avoid breaking laws in Singapore, despite the jokes and no chewing gum (a real law). The government does love rules, but as a tourist, many of them didn't affect my behaviour. The rules did curb my alcohol consumption a wee bit, because alcohol taxes are incredibly high, but I could hardly claim that I suffered or enjoyed the trip less for that.
|Drew purchases yummy victuals|
at a hawker market
Happily, my other goals for Singapore were quite easy to meet. The first goal of eating a lot was satisfied by pursuing the second goal, to check out some hawker markets. Hawker markets are covered outdoor areas lined with rows of small food stalls and picnic-table-style seating. Instead of having street food vendors willy nilly around the city, Singapore decided to put them all together in a few organized places. I think that there's a lot of competition to get a stall, and so the quality of the food sold - though extremely cheap! - is very good. Drew and I checked out a few hawker markets and ate tons of food from different places - Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. I was rarely hungry because we were always eating.
|We also went to the famous Raffles|
Hotel, and tried the Singapore Sling,
invented here and still very good!
The night safari at the Singapore Zoo is absolutely worth doing. It's touristy, yes, but it seems to me that many touristy things are popular because they're great. The Singapore Zoo is apparently one of the best in the world in terms of animal environment and care-taking, and their night safari gives visitors the chance to see a lot of animals that would normally be lazing about in the day up, eating, and running around. One of my favourites was the Fisher Cat, and we watched her pacing along the bank of a river that ran through her enclosure, carefully watching the water for fish. Part of the night safari can be explored on foot, but another part, with the larger animals, can only be seen by going on a guided tour. The tour was informative, of course, telling visitors about the animals, but was also really focused on conservation, and telling visitors about animals that were threatened or endangered because of careless human activity. The guide was very firm in telling us that Rhino horn has no medicinal value, for example, and that some of the animals we were seeing in the zoo were extinct in the wild from over-hunting and habitat loss. I really appreciated that message from this safari, which could otherwise have been a kind of empty voyerism. So check it out, get a bit sad, and then go look at the Slow Loris and be cheered! He's so cute, and so slow!!
|Drew beside some|
towering wax palms
|It's Jane Goodall if she |
was a flower!
I'm really happy that we decided to stop in Singapore. In deciding to go, it clearly helped that we had friends there who we wanted to see, but it was a really fun and interesting city, and there is lots that we didn't have time to do. Many people met the news that we would visit Singapore with derision - of all the places in Asia to visit, all the cool places, why go to Singapore! It's so sterile, they would tell us. Having been there, I have to disagree. Singapore is an incredibly unique place, unlike any other I've been to, with distinct architecture, history, and cultural influences. I'd have liked to visit the municipal planning museum (does sound boring, but Zac highly recommended it and he knows what's up) to get a greater sense of all the thought and organization that has gone into Singapore, making it the phenomenon that it is. I think it's terribly underrated as a place to visit, and I really think it's worth checking out when one is in that part of the world.
Drew and I would like to extend a huge thank you to Zac and Anna, our friends who live in Singapore, for their hospitality and for showing us such a great time! They really knew all the great spots to check out, including micro-breweries, bespoke cocktail bars, awesome food, and of course, the best way to see the Super Trees. Thanks, you two! You're excellent tour guides!