The Lion City
Updated: Feb 23, 2020
After three months of travel, it was nice to spend time at home with family and friends for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Given that I expected to be away on my next round of travel for six months [or more], it was just fine that I didn’t stick to my original plan of being back in the air by mid-December. It also gave me time to catch up on life’s necessities, and to prepare the same for the time I’ll be away next; you know fun stuff like preparing tax paperwork.
My big dilemma was where to begin my Asia Pacific journey. My original thought was to start in New Zealand, then head to Australia as it’s summer in both places, but when I did more research, I was convinced to wait to off-season. So I set my head on staring out on Cambodia, but I just could not find a reasonably priced flight.
Then I thought well, let me just book a flight to Singapore, I can use Singapore as a base for my Asia travels and figure where to start from there. Well, I come across flights that layover in Sri Lanka enroute to Singapore. Sri Lanka is on my top list of countries to visit, so why don’t I just book that route first. Ahhh, the prices keep increasing; I’m just not satisfied yet.
DECISIONS, DESCISIONS, DECISIONS !
It’s funny how things work. I finally decided to leave the decision on flights until after the New Year and what a great decision that was. I found good flights to Singapore, I’ll figure out the next stop once I arrive and suss things out.
Like any trip, there are always some last minute things to sort out, right? The last few days before my departure I was getting down to the business of leaving.. Along with the usual stuff to do, I decided to order a slightly smaller luggage which weighed only about three pounds. Not sure I can get any smaller for six months of travel, in different climates, but I’ll have to make it work if I want to fly with just carry on. This luggage arrived about three days prior to departure.
I ordered a Kindle, my first ever, and a couple of pieces of clothing I thought would be very useful; these arrived two days before departure. I need to spend time setting the kindle up, and figure the rest out later.
I ordered a new camera which arrived the night prior to my departure. I’ll definitely figure this out later.
I just had to get a hair cut the day before departure.
I had to squeeze in meeting up with a few friends leading up to the day of departure.
Now, it’s the morning of departure day.
First stop, the post office to get a package sent overseas, all goes well.
Blip…I try logging onto a bank account which requires a physical key code, recently added digital key code. Oh sh#@, it’s decides now of all days not to work. I really need to access my account to ensure some tax paperwork is prepared and filed. I phoned the bank, sure we can send a new key pad to your physical address; that will not do me any good unless they can deliver it today, fat chance! You can only imagine how this conversation went.
I planned to color my hair this morning and had been carrying the box of color for a couple of weeks now in my car. Today, somehow, it cannot be found. So color or no color? Color it is, I make a run to Whole Foods which carry the type I use.
As I leave Whole Foods, I came to a stop light and I see the car behind me is about to hit me, there was nowhere for me to move without hitting another car in front. Just great, thanks!
We get out, check cars, there appeared to be no damage to mine, a bit to hers. I know physically when you are hit, it may take a little time for you to realize the pain or injury, etc., but I decided to take a risk and let it all go; took the drivers license just in case and we both head off.
I arrive back home, color in hair, and attempt to finish my packing. Oh shoot!, I cannot find my Wi-Fi hotspot device and I can desperately use it on this trip. I know I had it the day before because I took it from it’s usual spot and placed it in my purse thinking I would use it that day. It’s not there, it’s not in the car that I can see, in case it fell out. Just great! Of course they can send me a new one, just not before I depart today!
What else?! I spent my last hour and a half on the phone with bank to see if we could get the ‘digital’ key pad to work. It just wasn’t happening! I finally had to end the call to depart to the airport, the rep said she would call me next week while I was in Singapore, did that happen, NOT!
Oh, well, it’s a bumpy pre-departure which I'd take any day over turbulence in the air!
Singapore, I’ve arrived!
…two days later, I arrived in Singapore with non-eventful flights. Wheww, for a moment I had to question if those last minute hiccups were going to be a ‘not so good’ sign.
As I’m about to step off the plane, I think to myself, ‘should I go back and check my seat’ as I know once you’re off they will not let you back on. It’s just a random thought right? I make it to my Airbnb and get settled in. I’m very happy with my choice, although my room is literally a ‘closet’ or as someone else explained a converted pantry room; the location is perfect.
OK, I’m here, let me get to work. PANIC, I left my laptop on the plane! Not such a random thought after all. Amazingly I was able to get through to the airline and they already had the laptop in lost and found; I could go to the airport to pick it up today. Hooray, hooray, UBER couldn’t pick me up fast enough!
Now that I’m calm again, I took time over the week to visit friends, plan my next destination and play tourist which I’ve never done in all my previous visits to Singapore.
If you are interested in Singapore’s history, I read a couple books a few years ago that I found quite interesting. The first is That’s How It Goes: Autobiography of a Singapore Eurasian by F.A.C Jock Oehlers. It provides an insight of pre-, during and post-World War II Singapore.
The second, isn’t directly specific to Singapore, however it provides a different insight to Thomas Stanford Raffles, known as the ‘Father of Singapore’, prior to his involvement with Singapore. It’s called Raffles and the British Invasion of Java by Tim Hannigan.
If you’ve never been to Asia, Singapore is an easy introduction to the region. The temperature is the generally same year round and the working language is English [four official languages are English, Chinese, Malay, Tamil].
Singapore, to me, is a wonderful melting pot of so many cultures and delicious varieties of food. If you like to shop, you can do so and never see day light should you wish.
Did you know, Singapore:
Is the second smallest country in Asia and the 20th smallest in the world. So do you know the smallest?
Is approximately 268 sq. miles [~693 sq km]. It’s approximately 31 miles east/west and by 17 mile north/south [~50km/~27km]. Slightly more than 3.5 times the size of Washington D.C., USA.
Has a population of approximately 5.75 million? About 1/3rd of these are non-residents.
Became an independent republic in 1965.
Singapore or Singapura means ‘Lion City’ in Malay, but lions have never lived on Singapore. Click here to learn why.
Is also called the ‘Little Red Dot’. This is because it is depicted as a red dot on many maps. The term was first used by a former Indonesian President in a derogatory manner but has been adopted by Singaporeans with a sense of pride given the country’s small size but tremendous success.
Is classified as a rainforest.
Is both the city and country name.
Has increased its land size by 22% since the 1960’s and is planned to double its original size by 2030.
Contains more species of trees than the entire North American continent. Source
Chewing gum used to be illegal. Now, you can chew but can be fined for spitting out your chewing gum in a public place.
Drinking and driving could cost you 10 years in prison and up to 30,000 S$ [~21,000 US$].
The death penalty is imposed for illegal drugs.
Singapore Botanical Gardens: The Botanical Gardens were stunning.
2017 Chinese New Year
I arrived a couple of weeks before the Chinese New Year, so Chinatown was absolutely mad! I was lucky to catch the annual Lion Dance competitions, here's one video for a taste of the competition and talent.
My favorite was the collection at the Asian Civilisations Museum.
There is no doubt Singapore is a great city to visit and what I enjoyed most was time spent with friends.
Earlier I mentioned that ‘it’s funny how things work’ and the decision to hold off on my flights until after the New Year was a great decision. Throwing out all of my thoughts of where to go first in Asia, while in Singapore I applied and received my visa to Myanmar very quickly.
SO…..stayed tune for my next stop in Myanmar!
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