Crazy rich Asian city-state

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.

Good. Lord.

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…)

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I sat down on a cement step and watched this amazing light show, complete with music, and I just could not believe how beautiful it was…and it happens every night in Singapore.
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I just happened to turn around and see this red bridge and thought it looked just gorgeous against the gold and silver skyline.
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I caught this view on the same walk. My goodness, Singapore. You are just stunning!
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Here’s another view of that pretty red bridge.
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The Merlion Statute guards Marina Bay. It’s a mythical creature, half lion and half fish, based on the legend that Singapore was founded by Indonesian Prince Sri Tri Buana, who came ashore around 1365, saw a lion and took it as a sign of prosperity and good luck. So, he established a settlement there.
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At the top of that gorgeous building is an infinity pool. My mom and I had a little cocktail up there and watched the sun set over the bay.
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Can you imagine swimming in an infinity pool on the 57th floor of a building? It looked pretty cool.
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I like this picture of Chinatown because you can see the variety of architecture — from colonial to cutting edge.
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We were parched so we stopped from some “stretch tea”, which was perfect. I highly recommend.
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Each gardener in the National Orchid Garden is responsible for a small section of land. Inspectors check their work every day. It seemed like a lot of pressure but it sure yielded gorgeous results.
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In another type of garden, the Gardens by the Bay, these are the “super trees”, built to attract solar energy by day. To get perspective look closely at the people walking on the yellow bridges.
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Singapore is a shopper’s paradise, from the upscale stores in the malls and on Orchard Road to these stands in Little India. The silk looked beautiful, but I’m not handy enough to turn it into anything so I passed.
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This coffee shop serves drinks with your image painted on the foam. Crazy, right?
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The city is very devout, mostly Buddhist but with a significant Muslim, Hindu and Christian presence as well. This stand is selling flowers to use as temple offerings.
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My mom and I really enjoyed the National Orchid Gardens.
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I took about a thousand pictures there, but I’m being very disciplined and only posting this one…
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…and this one, so you can see the riot of colors.
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I know panoramic photos aren’t practical — they’re difficult to enjoy in their full splendor and expensive to print and frame — but I couldn’t resist this one. It’s an unedited, cellphone shot because Singapore is that beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

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