We arrived in Singapore early in the morning, before 5 a.m. We knew that if we had stayed at our CouchSurfer’s place for “a couple of hours” to have some rest, we would have missed the whole day in this amazing city…or country. That’s why we took a quick shower and set out to explore the island at 6 am starting with a nice Indian breakfast.
Singapore is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and the nicest place you can find in SEA. It’s posh and luxurious like NY, clean like Geneva, safe like any small uninhabited island and ultra-modern and super high-tech like Tokyo or Hong Kong! We found Singaporeans always friendly, helpful and smiling. If we spoke Chinese we would honestly consider moving over there for good.
According to a legend, a Sumatran prince visiting one neighbouring island saw an animal he believed to be a lion and decided to found a city on the spot. He called it “Singapura”, or Lion City.
The city itself is not the same to everyone. Business visitors will most probably pass through the CBD (Central Business District) and describe Singapore as a modern metropolis of gleaming steel and glass skyscrapers.
Other travellers, after doing some shopping around Orchard Rd (Singaporean shopping district similar to those of the world fashion capitals) might describe the city as a fashion victims’ paradise. Dozens of huge shopping malls, world class designer boutiques and brand stores, the most expensive cars on displays, futuristic artifacts and musicians playing in the street… No one visits Orchard road for sights, but even those for whom shopping is boring to tears should visit this temple to consumerism and see what the Singaporean economy has achieved in less than half a century since the British forces withdrew in the early 70s.
History buffs would make their way to the historic Colonial district, where the early settlers worked and lived and which became the seat of the British colonial government later on. This is the area in which valuable historic buildings, monuments, museums and galleries are located. They have all been restored of course and now in order to see the sights you follow the historic trail that leads you through a lush rainforest and even a history buff might forget about the historic landmarks getting lost in this green paradise, just like we did 🙂
Backpackers and those keen on exploring ethnic neighbourhoods are more likely to stick to the cheaper districts of Little India, a curry-and-cumin scented city of colourful markets, sari-clad women and men making flower beads
or Kampong Glam (elegant name of Muslim Quarter) with its impressive mosques, narrow streets, Muslim-run cafes, men smoking sheesha at the doorsteps of their tiny shops selling colourful cloths. Here’s the biggest mosque in Singapore!
But in our humble opinion you shouldn’t limit yourself to exploring just this or that particular neighbourhood depending on what you’re interested in. Diversity is what Singapore is all about despite it being small, so only by seeing at least a little bit of everything you’ll realize that this city is a lot more than just a sum of its parts.
It was not until it got really dark that we realized we had been walking around Singapore from literally 6 a.m till late at night, were dead tired and could hardly speak. Suddenly we understood that we hadn’t taken neither a taxi nor public transportation, nor had we stopped somewhere for a long time… we were just walking! All in all, according to our calculations we could have walked at least 33 km that day! The thing is that we were so impressed and overexcited that we didn’t even realize how exhausted we were and how the time went by.
We went home, tired but happy not even suspecting what a nice Japanese-style dinner our CouchSurfing fellows wanted to share with us.
There were 2 couples from Argentina and Lithuania (both had been traveling for 8 months by that time), our host Kuni who is originally from Japan, but have traveled all over the world (Belarus is one of a few exceptions), his girlfriend and us!
So no wonder that even though it was already very late we were still chatting as all of us had so many stories to tell… but we had to somehow burn the calories after that nice dinner and as we were staying in a skyscraper almost in the very city centre – it would have been silly not to climb up to its rooftop to take some nice pictures from the height of the bird’s eye!