Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong are among the places I could easilyn migrate to. I have been to 2 out those 3 places so far and Singapore is my favorite until now.
This past week I explored "the lion city", one of the most beautiful and impressive places I have ever been to.
Singapore is tiny. Is a city-state with 5 million inhabitants of which 45% are expats. The republic turned 52 years old a few months back. Before that, it had a brief period in which it was one country with Malaysia and during WWII suffered from the japanese invasion.
Today, Singapore is a futuristic place. From the moment you land in Changi airport, until you visit Marina Bay or its gorgeous Arts and Science Museum, the city never ceases to amaze you.
Some piece of advice if you plan to visit:
- Get a SIM card at the airport. You only need to show your passport to get one.
- As soon as you go out and if you choose to use MRT (public transport) get your EZ-link card to move free using buses or trains.
- I spent around $30 SD per day. One meal moves from $5 SD to $15 SD.
- Carry an umbrella everywhere. Whether is for the rain or the sun. I spent a good amount of time here and I went absolutely everywhere with my umbrella.
- Zam Zam: Right in front of one of the largest mosques I saw here. A halal restaurant with a murtabak to die for. What a delicious thing this was. Like a flat pizza with mutton or chicken.
- J-Story: This was my spot near home. Unlimited soup and ramen plus large meals at a reasonable price. I think I tried most of the things on the menu.
- Mellower Coffee: I loved this place. The atmosphere, products and vibe. Their specialty coffee is out of this world.
- Kurasu Coffee: A new japanese coffee shop in Singapore. A friend recommended it and we went there. I´m dead honest, I still have problems differentiating coffees, but their matcha latte was mind blowing.
- Rocky Masters Coffee: Next to the National Library. Comfortable and perfect to stop by before or after reading. On the weak side, after 17.00 they don't have a lot of things to eat (I went twice)
- Nunsaram Coffee: I came here just for a matcha latte; it was -as usual- pretty good.
- Osaka Ohsho: Must be one of the largest japanese outlets here; the kid they use on their ads was everywhere on Singapore. You order on an iPad and then just wait for a hot meal. Perfect japanese courtesy.
- National Museum Singapore: I spent 5 hours here. Its completely immersive. The museum is divided into several halls, the main one describes the history of the country . The other halls have temporary exhibitions, this time I could visit Glass Rotunda: Story of the Forest and Singapore, Very Old Tree
- Arts and Science Museum: the building reminded me of the Baha'i center in Delhi, which resembles a lottus flower. Once you enter, you can visit a truly unique place. The facilities are absolutely fantastic.
- MINT toys Museum: A hidden gem. I don't fancy toys per se, but the whole building has a nice atmosphere and some curious collectible items.
- Merlion Park: A must, this is where the big lion fountain is. The most famous postcard in Singapore.
- Boat Quay: a historical quay in Singapore which is situated upstream from the mouth of the Singapore River on its southern bank.
- Clarke Quay: An historical riverside quay in Singapore, located within the Singapore River Planning Area. Very touristic and expensive.
- Fountain of Wealth: go at night. Its meant to dazzle tourists with lights and water fountains, but when I went, it was very discrete. Anyways, its in a very touristic area so you will eventually be there a couple of times by night time
- Singapore Flyover: the same as the London eye (and Dubai is building its own version).
- Gardens by the bay: I felt in Avatar here (the movie). It is mind blowing. I came twice and I could not believe it. Simply amazing. The man-made trees are simply beautiful.
- Marina Bay Sands Casino: You need your passport to be allowed inside. No dress code required. The casino is pretty insane. I loved the "all seeing eye" on the roof. Soft drinks and coffee are free.
- Botanical Garden: Just come here to spend a quiet afternoon and visit the orchid garden in which you can see one-of-a-kind specimens.
- Singapore Zoo: My favourite. I came to the night safari and it was incredible. This is not your average zoo; animals roam free and you move in a long buggie that slowly takes you through this huge park
- National Library: Then again, it might not be your cup of tea, but since I love reading I came here three times to chill and read in a quiet environment. The library has many activities happening at the same time. Great place to recharge energies.
- Changi Museum: Impressive place, it has so much emotional elements to it. During the japanese invasion the POW´s (prisoners of war) relied on faith and build chapels like the one you can see here to cope with the invasion. A small museum, tiny compared to the other ones I have mentioned, but quite important to understand the history of the county.
- Singapore Expo: Do not go there in case you don't check what's going on before. In my case, I just saw it on the outside. Is a huge parking lot. I repeat, double check before going.
I did not visit the following places but they seem to be a must when you come here: Universal Studios, Madame Tussaud Museum and underwater world all of them in the island of Sentosa. You can go by MRT + bus.
Areas / neighborhoods
- Little India: How could I not stop by? Little India is an important heritage stopover in Singapore.
- Chinatown: If you feel like “going to China”, Chinatown is only a few MRT stop´s away from Little India. I loooved the vibe here. The smells, people and overall craziness are great.
- Haji Lin street: This is a street with a lot of hip and trendy stores. Is perfect if you have money and want to buy corky things.
- Pulau Bin: A tiny island in between Singapore and Malaysia. I came on a thursday and I felt pretty much like the only person in the area. It was dead empty and calm. If you feel like it, rent a bike and cycle around.
Singapore feels quite unique. I had a hard time thinking how this island has come such a long way after suffering so much abuse. From being under the British and Dutch empires to surviving the Japanese massacre and finally, after a failed attempt to merge with Malaysia, Singapore has been through it all. The resilience the country and is people has, is impressive but I think everything comes down to one word: vision.
When the "father of the country" (its first PM), Mr Lee Kuan Yew, decided to leave Malaysia and start from scratch, he wanted one key element that his counterpart wanted to protect: Malaysia wanted a country for Malays. A country in which he could preserve and protect the identity and roots by leaving other races outside. That was a red flag. That was the “no”.
Singapore was going to be built with a different foundation. It was going to be an open society. An inclusive country.
I came to Singapore a few days before its 53rd birthday. The slogan everywhere was “OneNationTogether”. Singapore feels different because they let you in. Because the vision was and is, of a place that is inclusive and thrives on different people and cultures. Just like Dubai, NYC or London. Singapore might be tiny but is huge and visionary.
As soon as I land in Chile I see queues of immigrants. For the first time we have so many black travelers coming here looking for a better life. And we don´t know what to do. I could hear other chilean whispering trash against the newcomers. "What are they doing here?”, “They came to destroy our country”, “They will bring their drugs and sexual transmitted deseases”. On the other queue, people just look out of place and anxious.
We are such a long way from a unifying vision. Chile grew isolated and naturally protected by the Andes, the Pacific ocean, the Antarctica and the Atacama Desert. For the first time we have a big influx of immigrants and we are dead scared.
This is a big moment for us which shall go down in history as a pivotal moment: are we going to be la Malaysia or are we choosing the Singapore way?