First of all, let me say the spiders in Singapore are big. Really big. I spotted this one along the path at the Botanical Gardens. I suggested Don put his hand behind it as a size reference — he declined. The spider’s body was nearly 2 inches.
The flowers are really big, too. These gorgeous orchids are from the Botanical Garden.
The architecture in Singapore is stunning and innovative, especially the integration of plants and buildings in the form of green roofs, vertical greenery and gardens in the sky. Urban vegetation like green roofs and walls improves air quality and reduces heat. Plus it looks lovely. I was impressed by how environmentally conscious Singaporeans are.
Gardens by the Bay
The “Supertrees” (above) in Gardens by the Bay are massive man-made mechanical forests that generate solar power! The trees collect rainwater and act as air venting ducts for the two conservatories. To generate electricity, 11 of the supertrees have solar photovoltaic systems to convert sunlight into energy for lighting and water technology within the conservatories. The wire forms of the trees will eventually fill in with plant life to be all green.
Gardens by the Bay is a 250-acre landscaping project. The conservatories are the largest climate-controlled greenhouses in the world. The Flower Dome (a cool-dry conservatory) and Cloud Forest (cool-moist conservatory) use passive and active sustainable technologies to create the perfect micro climate for exotic plants from all over the world. They are jaw-droppingly beautiful.
The Mass Transit System is super fast and will take you just about anywhere. Singapore has a nifty idiot-proof transport phone app to help you get around — you simply type in your location and where you want to go. The search result gives you four options: bus, train, taxi, or car, and the costs.
One problem: the only way to cross certain main streets in downtown Singapore is to go beneath them. You can’t walk straight through, however; instead, you enter a two-floor-deep maze of stores and restaurants. As tourists, we had little sense of direction, even though the signs are in English. One evening, after walking all day, we spent a frustrating half-hour just trying to get across the street, only to come up on the same side! Don eventually figured it out.We felt like gophers. I’d still be wandering around down there if not for him:
We visited the historic Chinatown district on a scorching hot afternoon. We cooled off inside the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, built to house the tooth relic of the historical Buddha. Women with bare shoulders had to cover up with one of the provided scarves before entering.
The fashionable Singaporeans love to shop, and Prada, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Coach and other high-end handbag stores are on every corner and in every mall. In some restaurants, you were given a folding basket to set your purse in, which was covered with a napkin… apparently so no one else could covet it.
Dine in the Dark
Speaking of restaurants, the cuisine is exciting with lots of fresh seafood and sashumi. Our favorite was Nox Dine in the Dark. We especially liked the wild rocket salad with hazelnuts and truffle pecorino, the crispy calamari with Moroccan spice and drizzled with yuzu and lime dipping sauce, pan-roasted Wagyu beef strip-loin with stir fried haricots vert fine bean and bearnaise sauce, and the chocolate fondant with caramel popcorn ice cream! Unfortunately, I have no photographs! We had to put our phones in a locker. No lights allowed.
Littering carries a steep fine, so the city is immaculate. People are also exceptionally polite. I read that an Uber driver got into a verbal altercation with the head of transportation in public. Both men were arrested and fined. So you better behave civilly in Singapore.
The city is beautiful at night:
The trip was worth the embarrassing passport fiasco a few months ago and the excruciatingly long flight (12 to 15 hours to Japan and another 7 to Singapore). Don and I can’t wait to return.
If I can fly first class.
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the award-wining author of In the Context of Love:
2017 Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2016 Readers’ Favorite Finalist
2016 USA Book News Best Book Finalist
Great Midwest Book Fest Honorable Mention.
Angelica Schirrick had always suspected there was something deeply disturbing about her family, but the truth was more than she bargained for.
“…at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River,and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters