Singapore is the 7th country I am setting foot in. Now, that’s nothing compared to what my follow Ubudians had been up to (remembering Amber counting her countries list somewhere in 30s) but hey, its a start! 🙂 After arriving from the lush green land of Bali, Singapore initially seemed like a concrete jungle. The skyscrapers, cemented roads, metros, buses, shopping malls all reminded me of the west. On my first day here, I decided to meet Julie (aha, another Hubudian who was on her visa run here) for the night safari at Singapore zoo. Having traveled a lot in NYC subways, the transport system was easy for me to figure out and I could travel on my own the very first day. The biggest disturbing thing was when I saw super brand conscious public breaking their necks over their smartphones everywhere in the metro and buses. Glittery handbags, watches, iPhones with kitty covers and colored hairs. I was already missing the warmth of Balinese people.
But that’s being a bit harsh. As I explored more (courtesy of my generous cousin hosts), I could see government’s efforts at maintaining greenery in abundance. Be it the gardens by the bay, botanical gardens, east coast parks or even the expressways, palm and yellow rain trees with manually planted bird’s nest ferns will offer a green feast to your eyes. Apart from an impressively maintained infrastructure, what I love about Singapore is how secure it is. One my first night, I was coming alone with no phone at 1 a.m. and I did not have to think twice about it after the reassurance given by my family and friends staying here. Coming from India, that is one thing enough on its own to convince me to spend more time in Singapore. I wish vegetarian food was more accessible though and of course, that things were a little less expensive (expenses are almost at par with US, I would say) 🙂
With my travels, I had been feeling as if I was growing more conscious and mature (ha!). And I was not ready to go back to India as I intended originally on 14 Aug. So, I ended up canceling my ticket and planning to go back, once again, to Bali before crossing the seas over to India. This extension also gave me a chance to spend Rakshabandhan with Ashutosh and Megha and have fun with my awesome buddy Geetika. The best parts have been when I got to bicycling on East Coast Park for 10-16 km. My sedentary lifestyle was shaken another time when I got a taste of swimming pool. Something about these physical excursions has given me a new goal – ‘to learn swimming’. Let’s see if I can overcome my fear of water for real. It only helped that Joseph Schooling, the new Olympic champ and hero of Singapore, has triggered a wave of swimming enthusiasts in Singapore. The building pool had been busier than ever 😛
Talking of Rio Olympics, watching Sindhu win and other fighting performances by Indian girls was only a reinforcement of what I have always believed in – the genius and heroism are never a matter of gender or skin color. I feel inspired every time an unlikely champion raises her head. History knows no favorites.
Other places I loved include the awesome street shopping experience of Bugis Street Mall and the Marina Bay area. I also got to spend a lot of time on my Kindle thanks to Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. As I bumped into reading about his work around Non Violent Communication, I have found a transformation in the way I have looked at communication and expressions, particularly anger. I am still in the process of adopting it at a more practical level but it has already been an eye opener to me. More on it later because I am still in discovery phase but it looks promising.
This is my last weekend in Singapore and thanks to my well wishers here, the time has been productive and fun, both. It had been on my travel wish list for sometime and I’m glad to check it off. I can see how people like working and living here. If you are doing a job at the end of the day, it is a nice place with uber urban culture, interesting food and security. Plus, the location is a big advantage for Indians and it does give good access to traveling the cute countries around on a budget – Malaysia (a bus ride away), Bali, Vietnam, Cambodia etc.