I’m on a flight from Singapore to Doha as I type. We’ve been hanging out with Liz and visiting the city/country for a bit over a week. It’s about 3am local time and we have about seven hours to go. Kiran is asleep on my lap. Priya is several rows in front of us with Kinaya, hopefully sleeping.
|Kinaya enjoying a cooking show at 30,000 ft.|
I admit that I knew little of Singapore before coming. I had fully intended on doing some research and learning about the history, as I normally do before I travel. In this case, the flurry of work and parenting was too much for me and by the time I saw the words “Welcome to Singapore”, I knew not much more than the average limited-travel-to-Asia layperson. I knew that it was colonized by the Brits. I knew that there was a brief romance with Malaysia before stepping out on their own as a city/nation. I had had a quick look at a map to see where it was in relation to the rest of South Asia but that was about it. Oh, and Liz had told us it was clean, expensive, orderly and had lots of things to do and wonderful things to eat.
|the boat tour of Singapore|
So we hit the ground running. Liz is changing jobs so the timing worked well. She was able to take us around and show us all these cool things. We began by doing a little boat trip around the harbor. The country is an island and apparently has the largest port in the world. It was good for us to cruise around and get a general idea of what it is about.
|Bird's eye view of the city from the Flyer|
The country is big on land reclamation. I looked on the web and the exact area of land reclaimed from the sea but it’s a lot. One figure was about 70 square kilometers. This is impressive and important to a tiny country. It’s costly too. Some of the earth was dredged up from the sea and some came from wiping out some small hills. They don’t have a lot of options. The other thing is that reclamation is limited. Current technology allows you to reclaim land no deeper than 15 meters so it’s not as if you could just keep on expanding your land mass. Another challenge is that in a tight little neighborhood of countries, there can be concerns of infringement on other territorial waters. And finally, reclaimed land is particularly vulnerable to the rising sea level. In any case, I find it impressive and they seem to have done some well thought through things with the new land.
|rainforest tree bridge|
Over the eight or so days that we were there, we went cycling; we visited a Disneyland-ish island called Sentosa; we went up in the Flyer (like the Eye of London but, much to the pride of Singaporeans, is apparently slightly bigger); we swam in the beautiful pool at Liz’s apartment complex; we ate tons of fantastic food; we enjoyed the air conditioning of shopping malls; we had reflexology done to our feet; Priya had little fish eat calluses on her feet; we went up and down escalators (to Kiran’s delight); we tromped through a rainforest during some decent rain; we toured the city by day and by night; we visited an amazing aquarium; we hosted a barbeque; we even fit in some furniture shopping towards the end and, in addition to stuff that Liz bought for her move to Nepal, I bought a teak chair (that folds and was checked in with our bags, hopefully going to arrive in one piece).
With our travel woes in the beginning (which you’ll notice I refrained from mentioning this time – as bad as it was), we wondered at moments if the long trip was worth it. In the end, there is no question that it was. Liz was a wonderful host and it was good to hang out with her. It’s always good to see people in their own element, see where they hang out, meet their friends, etc. Looking forward to Nepal.