Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Singapore Trip: The Sights

As you may have seen, Tim and I headed to Singapore for Christmas weekend, along with Erin and Ben.  Singapore is great... a sharp contrast to Jakarta in many ways (clean and efficient public transportation, potable water and street food you don't have to worry about, wide sidewalks, relatively little traffic, lots of rules willingly followed by most inhabitants).  A little bit like Epcot in its modernity and cleanliness (says Ben... I've never been to Epcot, but Singapore was so pristine that it I can see how it can be compared to an international theme park).  Singapore is also a crazy melting pot of cultures (various Chinese ethnicities, Malaysia, India, British), which adds to the Epcot-ness of the place.
Nothing says vertigo like swinging in a giant gazebo 31 stories high. 
View of the busy port of Singapore.
 Tim and Ben's friend, Nimesh, was generous enough to let us crash at his centrally-located apartment since he was away for the holidays. Nimesh's place was great... sweet outside lounge area on the 31st floor with great city views (above), hot tubs (see Tim's "Most Interesting Man in the World" photo here), and these bizarre hanging gazebos (also above). 

We were able to walk to Chinatown, which is full of historic shophouses (the inspiration behind the eponymous Shophouse restaurant [aka Asian Chipotle], DC folks) and an interesting Chinatown heritage museum that recreates the setting in which migrants who settled in Singapore used to live and work.  
Colorful carvings.
 We also stepped into Singapore's oldest Hindu temple, the Sri Mariamman Temple, which has the most amazing and colorful statues and carvings throughout.

We also took a quick jaunt down Orchard Road, which is shopping mall central, but also has massive Christmas light displays running throughout.  

Finally, we wandered around Clarke and Boat Quays along the Singapore River... grabbed a drink here and there, checked out some giant tanks of crabs and lobster.

 On Christmas Eve, we headed to Arab Street to listen to jazz, smoke a Christmas hookah, eat some virtual hazelnuts by the non-existant fire (long story), and take some goofy photos, all while sitting next to a family who brought their baby.  To a hookah bar.  A word of warning: next time you get a hookah, do not let them convince you that "double apple" tobacco is the way to go.  The extra apple just ruins it.

On our last day, before eating chilli crab, we wandered around the Marina Bay area to check out some of the crazy architecture... double helix bridges, museums shaped like giant mitts, boats on casinos, durian-shaped structures.

 Finally, in a post-chilli crab stupor, we walked around East Coast Park a bit and then stumbled upon the Ski360 cable skiing park.  Cable skiing is essentially water skiing/wake boarding where you're dragged around by an automated, raised cord rather than a motorboat.  Ben and Tim decided they would give it a try, with differing levels of success.

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