Reflections on Singapore

I traveled to Singapore for work in mid-to-late March. Here are my thoughts about my experience there.

Everyone is understandable! There are four official languages and thankfully English is one of them. Initially I was concerned about language barriers that would limit my mobility or food options, but it was no issue at all. At worst I’d have to step closer to a person so I could hear them better. This of course had nothing to do with their accent at all.

Moving about the city is easy and efficient. There’s widespread indoor access at the subterranean level and above the street (usually on the second story in order to cross streets). I made trips to work largely by walking through air-conditioned malls which were open seemingly 24/7. Longer trips were made with super-cheap taxis or the DC Metro-like MRT system.

The reputation for cleanliness throughout the country is absolutely true. There’s very little refuse strewn about the city despite trash cans being difficult to come by. In America trash is ubiquitous, both on the ground and in the vessels for housing it. There was none of that in SIN. Adding to the perceived cleanliness factor was the complete lack of insects. Despite being one month away from their hottest season I didn’t see any bugs at all! Maybe it was just the time of year.

Retail is omnipresent and exceedingly high end. You can find almost anything you’d need in one of the three malls attached to most hotels downtown: Marina Bay Sands, Suntec, Millenia Walk. Being a watch aficionado I appreciated the access to all sorts of brands that I otherwise wouldn’t see: A. Lange & Sohne, Hublot, Tudor, Frederique Constant, Sinn - all brands way out of my price range.

Being near the equator, it is always hot, but I didn’t expect it to be so humid as well. My morning runs had me drenched and exhausted in no time. Thankfully we had three pieces of laundry from the hotel included due to the length of our stay. That was a life saver - those wet clothes refused to dry in the humidity. Daily travel wasn’t really a weather/humidity concern due to all the indoor access available, but when we wanted to venture outside of the mall system we have to plan accordingly: golf clothing was key.

Running was a concern of mine that was quickly put to rest. There’s a full path that winds its way around the perimeter of the marina. It’s away from traffic, picturesque, and well lit at all hours. It was gorgeous out there around 7AM when the sun started to come up. I made sure to time the end of my runs to that time frame so as to avoid the burning sun. That often meant hitting the pavement around 5:30 or 6 depending on the distance (plan to run slower than usual on account of the temperature/humidity).

Food is plentiful and rather cheap in the streets and food courts, although nicer restaurants can ratchet up the prices to the extreme ($19 for a pilsner? no thanks). For restaurants we enjoyed the incredible buffet at the [Shangri La Resort] shangri la on Orchard Road, Italian food at Nostra Cucina within the Marina Bay Sands mall complex, and (of course) Edge within the Pan Pacific hotel where we were staying. We also had a great time on Satay Street where there was a cornucopia of food for little money. I asked one of my co-workers for “meat on a stick” and he certainly delivered.

The tourist attractions are amazing, and have unbelievable views. We went to the bar at the top of Marina Bay Sands Hotel (where the famous ship is) after dark and got an incredible view of the skyline. Similar is Altitude bar, which is actually cheaper and has a better view. We went there with the team from work and enjoyed a few drinks and snack food.

The Gardens by the Bay offer some unique sights day and night, and its flower garden/cloud walk atriums are can’t-miss locations. There’s all manner of plant life and Japanese-inspired design around, making for some good photography. Plus, it’s air conditioned all throughout, which makes walking around that much more comfortable. Nearby is the Singapore Flyer, which is a huge Ferris wheel with (you guessed it) nice views of the skyline. I didn’t go on that one, but it looked nice just the same.

All in all I had a great time in Singapore. Aside from the jet lag on either end it was largely a success. I can’t say that I want to jump on 24 hours worth of flights anytime soon, but if I were to do so I’d prefer a destination like Singapore.