Singapore is impressive in that it's a clean, safe, modern city. Everything works clockwork. Subways come on time, every 3 minutes, and they are the most modern and cleanest subway trains I've ever been on. The streets are clean. People are polite and friendly. It is safe to walk everywhere at night. Cabs are honest and reliable. Food is clean and safe to eat. The futuristic architecture is breathtaking. Yet, there's something missing... Singapore feels like a fake city. It feels too planned, too "architected". It must be an urban-planner's dream city to work in. But to me, it lacks feeling. It lacks signs of history. It has no patina. I can only imagine the great history of such an important trading hub, yet all the signs have been erased and replaced with concrete, glass and steel constructions. I strangely found myself wishing to see a piece of litter on the street, or an old building with chipped paint or graffiti on the walls.
Above: subway station at the Changi Singapore airport.
A city like Singapore has expensive accommodation and the cheapest we could find was this hostel at around 25 USD/person/night. Each box was comfortable in itself, if you didn't mind being in mixed dorm with 20 other people. This was by far the most modern and thoughtfully designed hostel we've stayed in so far.
One night we decided to check in the Fullerton hotel, thinking it might have a pool we could sneak into. It didn't have a pool, but instead the entire lobby was full of delicious food, for the Chinese New Year holiday party of some big company (I believe it was Exxon Mobil.) So we started trying out the delicious cakes, chocolates and tarts. Above, you can see some nice strawberries that you can dip into a 4 tier chocolate fountain. Gotta love those decadent corporate parties!
An original Horizon Kompakt camera! I have one of these; this one was sold for an outrageous price.
Buddhist temple roof decoration. Pardon my statement, but I found the statues to be extremely cheesy. To me, they looked more like Disneyland or cartoon characters, rather than religious figures.
Every night at 8pm they have a water/fire/music and light show. Lasers roaming the sky, water fountains and fire jutting out of the bay, dramatic classical music on the background. A little too cheesy for me, but nonetheless fun to watch. Replace the classical music with some techno beats, get high and it's almost like Burning Man.
On Wednesday night we went up to the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands building. Normally you have to pay $20 to get to the view deck, but we lucked out: it was Ladies' Night, so not only that we got in for free, but we also got free drinks.
Above: coral grown on a ceramic vase recovered from the 9th century Tang shipwreck, at the Asian Civilizations Museum. This is a world-class museum, with an excellent permanent collection that walks you through all the different cultures and religious found in Asia. I highly recommend a visit to this museum to anyone that stops in Singapore. The shipwreck exhibit was by far my favorite part of their collection.
The ship was most likely going from Southern China to Bagdad, the capital of the Abbasid Empire, via Java. Based on a date inscribed on one of the ceramic pieces, it is assumed the ship sank a few years after 826. It ran into reefs north of Java, probably because it was going a different route trying to avoid pirates.
9th century ceramics recovered from a shipwreck. The ship passed near Singapore, which stood along the main trade route between the two great powers of 9th century Asia - Tang China and the Abbasid Empire which controlled vast areas of the Middle East. The Tang shipwreck is the earliest evidence of mass trade between East and West. By this time, China was producing great quantities of high-quality ceramics for export. The story of the ship and its cargo outlines the early history of the close connections between religions, peoples, and cultures.
|Sarong pattern at the Peranakan museum.|
For centuries, the riches of Southeast Asia have brought foreign traders to the region. While many returned to their homelands, some remained behind, marrying local women. The Malay term ‘peranakan’ which means ‘locally born’ also refers to other communities that developed in Southeast Asia like the Chitty Melaka and Jawi Peranakans. The Peranakan Chinese are descendants of Chinese traders who settled in Malacca and around the coastal areas of Java and Sumatra, as early as the 14th century. In the 19th century, the Peranakan Chinese, drawn by commerce, migrated to the bustling ports of Penang and Singapore. The Chitty Melaka, or Peranakan Indians, descended from unions between South Indian Hindu merchants and local women, from the time of the Malacca Sultanate in the 15th century. Linguistically, the Peranakan Indians speak a type of vernacular Malay which incorporates some Tamil words. The Jawi Peranakans (or Jawi Pekan) are descendants of intermarriage between South Indian-Muslim traders and women of the local community. The Jawi Peranakans clustered around urban centres, particularly in the trading port of Penang.
The funnest part at the Peranakan Museum was that you could try on different clothes and sarongs that local women used to wear back in the day.
cytosine, guanine, adenine and thymine, the four bases of DNA.
The Helix Bridge is fabricated from approximately 650 tonnes of Duplex Stainless Steel and 1,000 tonnes of carbon steel used in the temporary structure and also helping the bridge to get the helix shape.
One night we went to the rooftop bar and pool of the Fullerton hotel. That pool was pretty pimpin'