On the day we arrived, I ran around Singapore like a crazy person. Sweaty, sleep-deprived and giddy, I wended my way through crowds of tourists, snapping photos and startling strangers with my unabashed glee.
I thought Singapore was the most beautiful city in the world.
And then they turned the lights on.
Singapore by night is a fairyland of sweeping color, delicious smells and happy chatter in a multitude of languages.
You can buy street food from Michelin-rated Hawker stands, sit on the marina to eat it and watch a nightly light show that will take your breath away. I felt perfectly safe as I wandered alone through immaculate streets on which the biggest threat is getting poked in the eye by an errant (though omnipresent) tourist’s selfie-stick.
With no natural resources of its own, Singapore acts as an elegant cistern for Southeastern Asia, collecting fruits from Thailand, flowers from Malaysia and vegetables from China.
What it lacks in produce it makes up for in less tangible resources like ingenuity, discipline and discretion. With its triple A rated economy, Singapore has cleverly established itself as a thriving international financial hub and global player in the areas of banking, insurance, investment banking and treasury services.
It’s skyline wraps around Marina Bay like a colorful cummerbund. A floating Crystal Pavilion, the city’s pocket scarf, if you will, holds the second largest Louis Vuitton store in the world.
The National Orchid Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been a research-based botanical garden since 1859 and boasts orchids from all over the world. In a completely different garden experience, the $5.5 billion Gardens by the Bay, 18 “super trees” collect solar power by day and provide dazzling light shows by night.
There are no mosquitos in Singapore. They are not allowed. Our guide told us plant inspectors make unannounced visits to home gardens to check for standing water and/or mosquito eggs.
“If they find them, they take your plants away and give you a big fine,” she said.
We toured China Town, Little India and Malay Village; saw Orchard Row where you can find 40 shopping malls in less than two miles, tasted “Teh Tarik”, a delicious stretched tea, ate fresh coconut ice cream in coconut shells, and admired the thoughtful and amazingly varied Singapore architecture.
The frenetic pace at which we viewed Singapore seemed about right for that city and, as always, I took a few photos. (I really had trouble narrowing them down so I apologize in advance…)