A Travellerspoint blog

Don't Believe the Hype

...sometimes it's WAY better...

Merry Christmas from Singapore!
For several reasons, it was almost easy to forget it's even that time of year! One, it's a tropical climate; two, Singapore is full of Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim people, who don't celebrate Christmas; and three, with the exception of the posh Orchard Road, there have been few, if any, decorations. But honestly, I can't think of a better place to be.

Due to the absence of pictures, and the terrible Richard Marx-era music playing in the Internet cafe (every time!), I will give a brief rundown of the very best and worst of Singapore (so far!):

- Beauty: Singapore is full of both natural and architectural beauty. They have managed to maintain a harmonious relationship between man and nature. There are trees and flowers EVERYWHERE, (the trees are huge, so you know that they have been around for a long time), the air is fresh and clean, and the buildings are almost always surprising in their uniqueness, simplicity, and character. You will see what I mean once I post pictures.

- People: Like so many other countries, Singapore is full of a wide variety of people. There are people from India (and surrounding countries such as Nepal and Pakistan), Malaysia, China, and everywhere in between. It is literally impossible to guess where someone is from. Unlike most countries, however, Singaporeans maintain a calm philosophy of "live and let live." People are kind and helpful to each other; one only need to take the subway or walk down the street to witness this. It is an amazing and nearly emotional experience to be surrounded by this.

- Food: OH! MY! GOD! The FOOD! As you all know, I am a foodie and that is one thing I was told to look out for in Singapore. You can get pretty much anything: from Indian to Chinese to pizza to Malay...and it is all DELICIOUS. Aside from the variety, there is also a range of prices. You can spend anywhere from $3SGD up to $50SGD on a meal, but no matter. It is all good, which is for sure the mark of a great culinary city.

- The Sights: There is never a dull moment in Singapore. I have been here for 4 days and have been on the go, doing things the whole time. There is a wicked Science Museum with an amazing Omnimax theater that plays documentary-type movies. I saw one about Mummies, and am going back tomorrow for the award-nominated "Hurricane on the Bayou" because it is just THAT COOL. If you feel like relaxing and enjoying nature, there are a plethora of parks here. For Christmas Eve, I rented a bike and scooted around Bishan Park for only $9SGD. There are different areas of town, all different; Little India, Chinatown, Orchard Road, etc., that just beg to be explored. One not even need visit a temple or other attraction. Just walking down the street is entertainment enough. However, the temples are very beautiful and each one is different.

And the BEST thing, which deserves an entire paragraph devoted to itself, is the Singapore Zoo, billed as one of the world's best. At the daunting-at-first price of $30SGD ($45, combined with the Night Safari), one would think that such an attraction would be over-hyped. I had heard from everyone that this was a sight not to be missed, and the skeptical person that I am, went in with a bit of a cynical edge.

But the 5 hours that I spent there today were hours spent in awe. The animals, of course, are amazing. My favorites were the white tigers, the pygmy hippos, the polar bear feeding, the tree kangaroo that licked my arm, the orangutans that are free to roam the trees, the elephants at work and play show, pretty much all of the monkeys (especially the Proboscis Monkeys and Chimpanzees), and the otters. But it wasn't just the animals that were impressive. The Singapore Zoo is set over 28 hectares of land and is a beautiful place to be, animals or no. You can even walk up to some of the animals; as they say, they use moats where possible instead of bars. These animals don't look depressed, don't pace, don't look like they are in prison. There are trees and plants everywhere, and the animals' areas are pristinely maintained.

I really can't say enough about the zoo...it was amazing to see these wonderful animals in the closest thing to their natural habitats. And don't worry, I have almost an entire 1GB memory card full of pictures to show.

I'm about halfway through my time here, and I'm enjoying every minute. Singapore is every bit as amazing as I had heard, if not more so. So...sometimes you shouldn't believe the hype and maybe you'll get more than you thought.

Posted by lrbergen 05:40 Archived in Singapore

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