August 2006


The famous Merlion that is the national symbol of Singapore.  You might think Singapore is a vertical metropolis like Hong Kong, but these skyscapers are the only ones!  It's not such a big city actually.  And because of airport restrictions, they aren't even very tall.

As I've mentioned before I love to use when I travel.  This time around I didn't choose to stay with anyone, but I did meet many of the Couchsurfing community in Singapore.  I was there at the same time as a Japanese girl who organized Singapore's first Couchsurfing party.  So this is us at the famous Raffles Hotel after some expensive drinks.  I never got to meet many of them, but I became friends with a few and one guy in particular turned out to be a really cool NPO president, so I met up with him a couple more times.

Around Singapore

I stayed in the Arab Quarter both times I was in Singapore, and this street was were I stayed the first time.  In the early morning I could hear the chants and songs of Muslims doing their prayers.

Singapore's most famous tourist sight is the world-renowned Singapore Zoo.  This is their night zoo, and is a pretty great idea.  It's only open at night, and you can see all the nocturnal animals in their natural habitat.  Overall it was a letdown because of my high expectations of animal rights, but the idea is still a great one.

Inside the Night Safari there were lots of animal and non-animal performances.

I went to the Singapore Zoo itself on my second trip.  It was huge, and a little better than the Night Safari, but I have to say that aside from some cool un-caged animals (kangaroos hopping among pedestrians is cool!) it was all stuff I'd seen before in slightly smaller zoos.  I guess I'm not the person to ask about zoos.  I'm not a fan of the idea.

Said kangaroo.

Though not a "vertical city" in the way we think, Singapore is a vertical country.  There is simply no room for the millions of inhabitants, so high rise housing complexes are the norm.  They can be kind of nice (like the one Jackie Chan lives in), but are usually really depressing like the ghettos of Boston or NYC.

The famous Raffles Hotel has a long story, but basically it was the pride of the East for a long time, but then fell into disrepair and then the government bought it or something, and it's made a huge comeback.  It's pretty nice, but kind of in and old, shuttered-window, sub-standard Asia, colonial era sort of way.  It's probably just what the doctor ordered if you want to feel what it was like for the real colonials 150 years ago.

The Faneuil Hall of Singapore is a riverside strip called Clarke Quay.  It has been developed into quite the Disnified nightlife scene.  But, hey, if I were a tourist in Boston, I'd think Faneuil Hall was cool too, so I enjoyed the buzz of Clarke Quay.

Across from Clarke Quay is Riverside Quay.  Not an equal, but it's more or less along the same lines as Clarke Quay and together (along with Robertson Quay up the river) they offer a lot of eateries and nightlife options.