Singapore: The Lion City beckons

By: Andy Field
| Published 09/30/2014


THE WOODLANDS, Texas - Singapore is a mystical island nation. At the mention of the island, many visualize an immensely clean South-East Asian country due to hearing about the stringent laws there; notably, the notorious ban on selling chewing gum or the hefty fine on spitting and littering. Others may picture Singapore as it was depicted in the very ahistorical Pirates of the Caribbean triquel; an island with a past as a lawless 18th century pirate haven. Though the latter is entirely untrue (Singapore was only founded and named in the 19th century), you will discover Singapore to be a land of contrasts nonetheless, and a delightful destination to suit all tastes. Consider Singapore in your future overseas vacation plans.

As you take a taxi cab to your hotel from Changi Airport, you will be greeted by the breathtaking skyline behind Marina Bay and come to terms with why you are in - as the tourism board puts it - “Uniquely Singapore.” As you coast along the ECP highway, look left, and you will the Singapore Flyer- the world’s second largest Ferris wheel; look right, and you will see the Marina Bay Sands resort- three gargantuan, electric razor-shaped structures topped by a swimming pool; look below, a stage/soccer field floating on water, and spiky Esplanade theatre venues modelled after a pair of the locally beloved durian fruit.

However, if grandiose concrete buildings fail to fascinate you, Singapore is also an island of natural beauty with its vast nature reserves of balmy tropical rainforest. Hike or ride mountain bikes at the Bukit Timah nature reserve amongst exotic flora, expansive reservoirs, chirping tropical insects, and crawling macaques. Singapore also contains a cornucopia of nature gardens and parks from the elegant orchids of the Singapore Botanic Gardens to the lush rainforest trails of Fort Canning Park; where you will encounter a 9 pound artillery cannon, a majestic 19th century fort gate, bunkers, and other vestiges of what used to be the headquarters of an island Britain once called its “impregnable fortress”. Tucked within in the jungles of the Central Catchment Reserve is also the internationally respected Singapore Zoo--Steve Irwin was one of the zoo’s many ardent admirers, and called it a “sister” park to his Australia Zoo. It is no wonder Singapore has earned its nickname the “Garden City” with the island’s harmony of conservation, and vibrant urban entertainment.

As you travel from jungle to the colorful Southeast Asia style shop houses of old Singapore, you will discover an island rich in culture due to a melting-pot population of mostly Chinese, Malay, and Indian ethnic groups. Traipse through the streets of Chinatown, Malay Village, and Little India; the markets and shop houses of each enclave offering a fantastic shopping experience for clothes, and antiques of each culture; as well as an opportunity to try out traditional desserts and dishes.

On the topic of fine dining, the fusion of Chinese, Malay, and Indian dining has resulted in Singapore having a tasty cuisine. Take a trip to one of the various food courts (A.K.A Hawker Stalls) lining the streets and within the shopping malls of Singapore; there you can try out infamous Singaporean dishes including Chili Crab, Laksa, and Hainanese Chicken Rice at very cheap prices.

As the daylight fades out, Singapore begins to shows off its effervescent nightlife scene. Take a trip down to one of the bars or nightclubs scattered around the Singapore River at Clarke Quay, the beaches of Sentosa, or head down to the Crystal Pavilion in front of the Marina Bay Sands resort-- a nightclub within a floating glass structure, and containing a spectacular panoramic view of Singapore’s skyscrapers.

When it becomes time to return to Texas, you will leave a tropical paradise awaiting your return. An island constantly expanding with new surprises and attractions, every visit to Singapore will be a different adventure from the next.

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