I got really sick. More sick than I’ve been in years. Except also not. I can’t even explain what it was, I suppose it was the flu, but it was a lot of half symptoms that came together to make a few days of living hell.
Unfortunately this illness timed with a city that I was so excited to see, Singapore, and my sister’s last couple of days with me. I tried my best to power through and absorb the city but really I was just distracted the whole time. I would like to say that I liked Singapore, big clean city that it is, but my impression is somewhat lacking. I told Kara that I didn’t have a feel for the city and she said it was because I spent half my time there trying to not throw up. Good point.
So I’ll try to give my impression of Singapore as best I can, but it’s only really half formed, like my Dengue Fever (for the record I didn’t actually have Dengue Fever, I just felt like it during the headache bodyache chills phase; everything seems scarier when you’re in the part of the world where you could actually get a disease like that).
Singapore is a big city and, as everyone says, it is impressively clean. It also has a range of architecture that I didn’t even know how to process. We started in Chinatown, surrounded by colorful low rise buildings that had been meticulously restored. At street level it was all shops selling cheap trinkets at discounted rates; the more you bought the less it cost. We made it to the Buddha Tooth Relic, which may or may not hold one of Buddha’s teeth.
Across from Chinatown is the Singapore City Gallery, which has a huge model of and poster explaining the Master Plan of Singapore. There was also a small exhibit of design award winners. It was fascinating to see this all on public display. Of course my mind alternated between the content of the plan and the layout of the presentation; over 7 months since I’ve worked and I can still think like my old position required.
We had lunch across the street at one of the large hawker centers. Kara had a Singaporean soup, laksa, and I had the Anthony Bourdain-made-famous chicken rice. Literally slices of chicken on a bed of rice. So simple, yet so tasty. The chicken was moist, the subtle sauce had good flavor, and the meal was exactly what a sick person like me needed.
We wandered up to check out Clarke Quay, a colorful group of buildings lining the river that had an interesting glass canopy protecting the pedestrian street in between the restaurants, before going to the Raffles Hotel, a classic Singapore building whose Long Bar invented the Singapore Sling (which now costs upwards of $30). We stumbled upon a photojournalism exhibition. Singapore was treating us to art exhibits that appealed to both of our professional lives.
After a quick run to the Myanmar embassy to pick up my passport (I’d dropped it off early that morning for a visa, I can now go to Myanmar) we explored Orchard Road. Expensive shop after expensive shop line the street and the subway is in a huge underground mall that takes 15 minutes of window shopping just to cross one street. It’s really the city of shops on an impressive scale.
We made it out to Kampong Glam and Little India for some final neighborhood exploring. Haji Lane was a fantastic little collection of shops and there was a festival of sorts in Little India that could have been interesting, but I’d reached my limit. I was too weak to keep going after such an active day.
The next day we focused our attention on Marina Bay. I really wanted to see the Gardens by the Bay and Kara the Marina Bay Sands. After a slow moving morning we finally made it out there. The Gardens by the Bay is a beautiful area and amazing that it’s so close to the business district. The collection of trees is lovely to wander through and the skyway between the huge man-made tree structures gave an interesting perspective of the area.
Unfortunately the Marina Bay Sands really is restricted to hotel patrons. We could have accessed an observation deck for over $20, but without access to the infinity pool and bar what was the point. Disappointed, we made our way back home.
We had the amazing fortune to know family friends in Singapore who treated us to an excellent dinner that night. They were gracious hosts, and without them our time in Singapore would have been very different. I am so thankful that we know such amazing people around the world. Hans, Hedda and Henrik, thank you so much. Your hospitality was incredible and you made our experience in Singapore very special.
We spent our last day with our hosts at a lovely pool before driving Kara to the airport. I had one more night and was treated to a delicious sushi dinner. Sushi how I missed you! The next morning it was my turn to go, on a 5 hour bus to Kuala Lumpur.
I left Singapore still feeling weak but nonetheless happy with the visit, thanks in large part to our hosts. The city itself is just that, a city, but from what I could tell it had a lot to offer. We did miss out on the nightlife, the expensive nightlife, but I’m ok with that. In the end I just needed rest and to enjoy the last few moments with my sister. Maybe I’ll go back to Singapore one day, give it another go. I think it’s worth another shot.