Our Asian Adventure
We left Barbados on a Friday morning and flew to Miami, and then San Francisco, and finally Singapore, with a one hour stop in Hong Kong. All totaled, the trip took about 36 hours. We flew Singapore Airlines, and the service was absolutely outstanding. We had personal video screens, so we could watch whichever movies we wanted, and we could also play video games (Mark was getting pretty good at golf by the time we landed). The seats were fairly comfortable, and there was enough room that we were able to sleep quite a bit on the 15 hour leg from San Francisco to Hong Kong.
The population of Singapore is a mixture of Chinese, Malays, and Indians. The Chinese religion is a mixture of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism, while the Malays are primarily Muslim, and the Indians are Hindus. The cultures and religions seem to blend harmoniously, with national recognition of holidays. The food reflects each distinct culture as well, and was absolutely awesome. There are a lot of gardens throughout the entire city. We thought this was one of the most wonderful aspects of Singapore because everything looks wonderfully green. You forget that you are in a city with 2.5 million people packed into an island of 225 square miles (25 miles at the longest, and 14 miles at the widest points).
Chinatown - Much as its name implies, this is an area of predominantly Chinese people. In our opinion, this is one of the more interesting areas to explore. The shops, particularly the medicinal halls, sold goods that we weren't even able to identify - mostly dried plants, fish and sometimes animal horns and hooves. Chinatown also contains the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore (a bit strange, since it is the Indian population that is primarily Hindu). The temple "idols" were almost carnival like in their appearance. They were very fanciful characters, which were painted in very bright colors. There is also an old Chinese temple in Chinatown, the Temple of Heavenly Happiness, but unfortunately it was closed for restoration, and we couldn't see much of it from the outside.
Little India - Serangoon Road is the center of the bustling area of Singapore known as Little India. The entire road is lined with gold merchants, Indian grocers, and restaurants serving curry. The smell of Indian spices mingles with the aroma of incense as you walk through the predominantly open-air markets - it can leave you feeling a little "heady".
Orchard Road - Incredible street filled with mall after mall, but with incredible price tags to match! Also, a great place to stop at a sidewalk cafe for coffee, and people watch.
Arab Street - Known for its selection of fabric, some of which were truly magnificent. Arab Street is also home to the Sultan Mosque, the island's principal place of prayer for the Muslim community.
Singapore Zoo - We opted for the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo. It was very unusual to have the opportunity to see the nocturnal animals. The lighting is very subtle, just enough for viewing. We saw lots of neat animals, both native to Southeast Asia, and other parts of the world.
Botanic Gardens - An 80 acre area of meticulously maintained gardens. I would have loved to bring an orchid back (the Gardens had about 600,000 on display), but agricultural restrictions prevent it.
Boat Quay - A series of outdoor restaurants along the Singapore River. Another great place to sit and watch the world go by.
Satay - Malaysian kebobs, either chicken or beef, served with peanut sauce for dipping.
Spring Rolls - Similar to Chinese egg rolls, but smaller.
Samosas - Indian vegetable pastries, with potatoes, corn and peas mixed in a curry sauce.
Seafood - Of every variety (including eel), but most prevalent were prawns and crab.
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