Thursday, July 18, 2013

Singapore... according to Ken

After 144 years of British ruling, Singapore merged with Malaysia in 1963.  The relations between the State of Singapore and the federal government of Malaysia quickly became unstable as the conflicts over how these two separate governments should unite as one nation.  After many failed attempts with trying to work together, in August of 1965, the Prime Minister of Malaysia felt there was no other option than to expel Singapore from Malaysia.  By December of 1965, Singapore became the only country in the history of the modern world to gain independence against it's own will.  I can't fathom the fear and uncertainty Singaporeans must have felt during the mid to late 1960's as Britain walked away after 144 years, followed by Malaysia running away after only two years.  However, after having spent a few days with them, I can tell you they are proud people, as they should be.  Singapore is an amazing country and an amazing city.  

Having booked my flight out of Hong Kong at the butt crack of dawn last Thursday, (without any Starbucks due to ridiculous HK store hours... !) felt like a huge mistake on my part.  However, shortly after landing (in a first class seat, thanks to a free upgrade!!), I knew squeezing every minute possible out of Singapore was the right decision.  Despite many negative reviews from my friends,  I have to say... I LOVE SINGAPORE!  For a city filled with conservative laws and more regulations than anyone could ever remember, I found the city to be relaxed while still maintaining a tasteful sense of flamboyancy. 

I often forgot I was in Asia.  Everything is in English!  Love it!  I didn't see chinese characters on anything, not even traffic signs.  One day at a little neighborhood cafe, I soon realized I had been listening to an actual radio station with English speaking DJ's and America's Top 20!  As I enjoyed my coffee, I also overheard English conversations.  While on the MRT... more English.  I even had a conversation with taxi driver!  One evening while ordering a drink, I heard the bartender speak in English to one of his coworkers!  They even had American glazed cake donuts at Starbucks people!!!  (which BTW many locations were open 24 hours a day... just saying... ).  I was waited on by western people, which you would never see in Hong Kong.  It was refreshing to see and experience cultural diversity at every moment, everywhere.  All of these little moments caught me off guard, which is exactly why weekend get-a-ways are so crucial.  I felt at home in Singapore.  Even though I hadn't visited before, it felt familiar and... easy to be with.  Being only 3.5 hours away from Hong Kong, I will definitely return!

Singapore embraces the world with it's diversified ethnicity, food, culture, architecture, music... all while representing a strong pride toward their own country's history.  Even though I visited Singapore one month before their national birthday of 48 years, I still got to experience a full blown rehearsal of the event complete with fireworks, marching bands and an air show! 

Imagine lounging by the pool listening to Emeli Sande and all of a sudden THIS passes by followed by several fighter planes zipping between the high-rise buildings.  I couldn't help but think... Are we at war??  Are the boarders closed and I'm going to have to extend my stay??  "Excuse me... can I have another Singapore Sling?

Welcome to Singapore!

Originally the General Post Office of Singapore, is now The Fullerton Hotel

The changing of the guards at the official residence of the President of Singapore
(which BTW has not been the actual "official" home since 1959.  I think a name change is in order)

Little India

My dream home someday!

Taking it easy one afternoon at the pool at Park Royal Hotel

Another reason to love Singapore... 24 hour Wendy's!

And another........ (I had Country Fried Chicken four times in 5 days ... !)

Al fresco dinner at Over Easy on the Bay


Orchard Road (similar to Michigan Avenue in Chicago)

On the streets of Singapore you can have a REAL ice cream sandwich!
(BTW- those are not my hands or my dirty fingernail)

One day while going down an escalator I noticed these black on white letters
 out of the corner of my eye...  

My heart started racing as I rushed down and back up again...

Turning the corner...

And seeing...


The city is so green!


Botanical Gardens, dating back to the 1830's

Dinner in this little house in the middle of the Botanical Gardens at
 Au Jardin by the Les Amis group, was truly a treat.
Having drinks in the parlor at Au Jardin before dinner


Duxton Hill is probably my favorite area of the city.  Not only is it the hot spot for fine food served casually, it's also simply a beautiful place to spend an evening out.  I will say, if you're into bars and a crazy nightlife, Singapore isn't your town.  But if you're into outdoor living, beaches, parks, great food, taking quiet walks along beautifully tree lined streets with amazing architecture, then you will love Singapore... as I do.

I couldn't have painted this street better myself... everything was Gray, Black and White!  

Eating al fresco at Latteria on Duxton Hill.



The Raffles Hotel... I was loving the ALL White!

Absolute perfection!


Tanjong Beach Club in Sentosa

Sentosa Yacht Club

And just when I thought it couldn't get any better...  TEXAS Chicken Y'all!