Singapore

Continuing east, halfway home.

“You can’t get any further away before you start coming back”

Truman, The Truman Show

Singapore is 9533 miles away from Pittsburgh, the farthest I’ll be in the northern hemisphere. Now I’m continuing east, making my way home (with a huge southern hemisphere detour which is actually farther away). Also, I’ve now been traveling longer than the time I have remaining, so halfway.

Singapore is 88 miles north of the equator. The high each day is around 90 degrees with around 80-90% humidity and I had to put my rain jacket back in my day pack. The humidity made the heat oppressive.

It’s a very new and well designed city. There are very few old buildings like you’d see in Pittsburgh, New York, or London, so it seems they didn’t have to plan around them. Because everything is so new much of it can feel like Disney which can be a mix of good and bad.

Friday I had more biryani and went to see the Cloud Forest, Supertree Grove, The Gardens by the Bay, and a sky walk. Together they make a huge park by the marina. After a slow start due to the overnight flight, I spent all day there.

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Saturday I went downtown and had Vietnamese fried rice, then I took the monorail over to Sentosa island to go to the beach. After some extensive research, I learned that Sentosa is the southernmost point of continental Asia.

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I had some chicken curry, maybe from India, and went to see a merlion statue. It’s a statue with the head of a lion but the body of a fish. Like a mermaid lion. I didn’t expect the merlion to be so huge. I also stumbled upon Universal Studios. It started raining but stopped in time for a light show called The Wings of Time.

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Afterward I took the monorail back and found a huge food court that had restaurants from different countries in the region. I impulse ate chili shrimp hibachi. Thankfully they taught us how to use chopsticks in second grade (yay upper township).

Sunday was music day for me apparently. I had Chili chicken for lunch in Little India, which was way more expensive than Big India but just as tasty.

I went to the Esplanade, a concert and theatre venue, to see the Marsiling Chinese Orchestra. It turns out Marsiling is in Singapore. They had a bunch of instruments I didn’t recognize so I looked them up. They played mostly popular music and were very good. I wasn’t familiar with anything they played until their encore of Despesito.

After the concert I went to investigate a nearby merlion fountain, then found what appeared to be cultural dancing. Later I went to see a piano and French horn performance, also excellent.

I also found a high end music store. I could buy a new clarinet for the low low price of $4,400 USD. Flutes for only $3,200.

Monday I went to the southern ridge and went on a canopy walk through the jungle. There were monkey warning signs posted but I didn’t see any monkeys. I stopped for some Char sui and shrimp dumplings on hor fun. I had to Google most of that before I ordered it, it’s Hong Kong barbeque pork with shrimp dumplings on noodles. I may have also had some Coldstone ice cream.

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I went back to the supertree grove to see a light show that turned out to be Christmas themed. Afterward I went up to the sky bar on top of the Marina Sands hotel and had Korean chicken wings and a Mai Tai. The view of the city was incredible.

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Tuesday I had some more biryani and took a Battlebox tour. A Battlebox is a World War II bunker that was used by the allies to organize the defense of Singapore. It’s also where the meeting to surrender Singapore to the Japanese took place in 1942. Singapore wasn’t liberated until Japan surrendered at the end of the war.

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I went to see the Fountain of Wealth, which I read is the largest fountain in the world. I’m still partial to the fountain at the point. For dinner I had a wok of black pepper chicken and rice.

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Wednesday I went to the food hawkers again and had some more biryani since I’m kind of on a biryani kick. Food hawkers are places where many people are selling street food. spent the day reading near the marina. I had shrimp fried rice for lunch, then took the subway to Chinatown and had pork dumplings for dinner. More chopsticks were used, but the dumplings were fairly straight forward.

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Thursday I went to the Singapore Zoo. They had some white rhinos, a white tiger, some giraffes, zebra, lions and pumas. It started thunderstorming though so I missed the kangaroos, and polar bears.

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Later I went on a night safari, where they showed us the Indian rhino, the hippo, Indian and Malaysian deer, hyenas, a white lion, Asian elephants, some pigs and flamingos, among other things. Many of the animals were free range with nothing between us and the tram. Thoughts included, “I think that lion can probably make that jump”, and, “that rhino can definitely make that jump”. They also had wolves and a black bear but we couldn’t see them. No one was eaten.

On the way back I stopped for an unplanned snack, which ended up being deep fried crab balls called tako yaki. They were covered in barbeque sauce and delicious.

Friday I had some free time and had some char seui for lunch. I saw that I was projecting to come in under budget up to this point so I went to the casino, for science. The science didn’t go well, so now I’m back on budget. For second lunch I found some chicken and scallop BBQ with pepper rice and home made lemon iced tea. It was served in a sizzling plate like a fijita. It had rice in the middle covered in red and black pepper, corn, barbeque sauce, and onions.

I went back to the Esplanade for a concert of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. They played Beethoven’s Triple concerto in C. It had soloists for the violin, cello, and piano, but the piano soloist was also the conductor. He would switch between playing and conducting. He was Andrew Litton, a guest conductor from the U.S. with a crazy resume. Instead of a paper score he was using a tablet, which apparently went wrong because he said, “serves me right for using new technology on a piece from 1803… That was a very scary first movement.” We couldn’t tell though so he covered well. The soloists were all impressive. They also played Aaron Copeland’s Symphony No. 3.

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Singapore has so much food. If you just set out to do something you’ll stumble upon a food court with foods from all over Asia. They’re everywhere and I haven’t had a bad meal from any of them. You can also find food hawkers throughout the city.

I met a great couple from England, Namoi and Wilfrid, who were stopping in Singapore briefly before returning to Thailand. Also girls from Germany and Ahmed, an eye doctor from Egypt.

Next I’m heading north to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a few days before continuing north to Thailand.

Here are more pictures from Singapore.

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