Why Singapore Should Be On Your Bucket List
travel and tours, is often thought of as overly modern and lacking in the qualities that make Asia so exotic and beguiling. While this small and quite independent country no longer has lions (from which its name derives), or ancient ruins and monuments, and only became an independent state in 1965, there are many reasons — including political, historical and social — to visit and spend several days here.
That leads me to the next reason to visit. It is amazing to see how well this country seems to tick. Housing is available to most everyone, it seems, and public housing is a big deal here. You do not see beggars or homelessness in the city.
In fact, one of the most difficult decisions one faces in Singapore may be where to eat — and there appear to be no wrong answers.
The Peranakan cuisine is an amalgam of Chinese and Malay and other influences.
The hundreds of hawker stands are well known here, and it’s easy to arrange a night time supper tour to visit a few choice ones.
(I did avoid some of the more exotic, to me at least, that advertised pig stomach soup and frog porridge, however). Without a doubt, I enjoyed some of the best Chinese, Indian, and Muslim food here, as well as some great cups of kopi (coffee). Worth noting: one of the hawker stands recently was awarded a Michelin star! Pictured below was one stop on a late night supper tour for delicious bean curd pudding and freshly made soy milk.
Architecture is another key interest for travelers, and here the city shines, too. Both the contemporary architecture, and the use of greenery offers much eye candy, whether the fascinating and iconic Marina Bay Sands complex (pictured at the top of this post), the exquisite Gardens by the Bay, the Science Museum and convention center, and much more.
Likewise the blocks of older colonial buildings, with their colorful shutters, seem unique to the city’s ethnic neighborhoods and lends a special flavor to the city. Then there’s the amazing Gardens by the Bay, but I’ll probably have to save that for its own post.
Most Americans are probably less familiar with WWII history and how Japan took over Singapore as it bombed Pearl Harbor, and then later surrendered the region. Likewise of interest is how Singapore, which became part of Malaysia, later negotiated its independence.
For history buffs, it’s a fascinating story to delve into. A walking tour of brothels or visit to a public housing area to see how locals live are just some of the options available.
I wanted to pick up a local cookbook as a gift, and ended up at Kuniyoki, which has over 100,000 titles on display in the store! Mind boggling!
I stopped on a lark at a tailor shop, and the tailor was so engaging (and convincing), I ended up buying a couple of custom-tailored shirts for about the same price as a good machine-made shirt costs in the States, and had them delivered to my hotel a couple of days later. (My only regret now was to buy so few!)
Singapore’s new branding is: Passion Made Possible.
It is a very apt tag line, and while one can suggest such a branding is true of many destinations, it is especially true here. It is meant not only to resonate with visitors, but also with locals, encouraging both to explore their passions in this small gem of a destination.