After all the trekking, we were really looking forward to the benefits of some civilization, and Singapore didn’t disappoint. Singapore is civilization on steroids. This wealthy city-state slash tax-haven is clean, orderly, and safe. Continuing our string of luxury digs when the opportunity is available, Jesse used his points to book us the super nice Ritz Carlton. The Ritz has invested about $4 mil on fine art, some of it museum quality, including this beautiful Chihuly in their tea room named after the artist. Like Chihuly’s work, Singapore is colorful, inoffensive, and only rich people can afford it. It was in this beautiful lounge that Jesse had a gin and tonic costing 48 Singapore dollars (35 US dollars). The Singapore Sling was only $25 USD.
We started off our visit on the Singapore Flyer, the world’s largest observation wheel at 541 feet. Take that London Eye. We got a nice view of the city island in some moody light. The soccer field in the middle of harbor is a good idea, right Boston?After the views, Jen got all the trekking calluses on her feet cleaned up by some fish, her first “fish massage”.Very ticklingLater that day, we took a walk over to the Marina Bay Sands complex.And watched the Garden Rhapsody, a synchronized light show in the supertree grove. This version was specially produced in celebration of Singapore’s 50th anniversary, which we missed by about a week. The Marina Bay Sands houses a massive casino. There is only one other casino in Singapore, but these two take in more gambling dollars than all of Las Vegas’s casinos combined. The Asian casino player is a serious force and Singapore is a top destination. The principal benefactor of all this gambling is Sheldon Adelson, the Massachusetts developer behind the Sands Casino. He personally rakes in about $1-2 million dollars per hour… The Republican presidential nominees are lining up.
After “walking” through the casino and “walking” through an endless high-end shopping mall we wandered through downtown in search of the real Singapore – the grittier, more interesting underbelly – eventually finding ourselves at Lau Pa Sat, a hawker’s market – well lit, clean, surrounded by skyscrapers.We headed straight for the satay section of the food market. There is satay – grilled meat on skewers served with peanut sauce – on countless American menus. However, here it is completely different and so much better. Acting on a tip from a knowledgeable local, “the best satay is halal”, Jesse quizzed the various satay vendors on their halal credentials with a beer in his hand.We may be biased, but we think we got the best one. The meat was tender, slightly charred, and flavorful. The peanut sauce was only slightly sweet with no trace of peanut butter in the flavor or texture.We had thirty sticks, accompanied by cold Tiger beer and fresh sugarcane juice with lemon. This is Jen’s vote for the best meal of the trip.The next day we visited the Gardens by the Bay, or “the future of nature”, according to Jesse – a well-kept, antiseptic, climate-controlled greenhouse repository for all the rare species that will probably go extinct if we keep up our current pace of environmental destruction. First we went to the Flower Dome, which housed an incredible plant collection, organized into gardens based on geographic origin. There were succulents…Baobab trees…and so many flowers.Fields of orchids.We stopped to smell the rose grapes. Then we headed to the Cloud Forest.Ironically, outside of the enclosed Cloud Forest were the supertrees – massive steel structures shaped like trees. Actually, the supertrees are responsible for cooling the rain water collected by the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, as well as housing plants on their trunks, venting hot air, and providing shade.At night we went to the Merlion (mermaid + lion) park and caught the Symphony of Lights show at Marina Bay Sands across the water. Groovy.There are five Merlion statues around Singapore, but this is the original one.We could’ve stayed a lot longer in Singapore than two days and explored more, especially since we were pretty fond of our huge room with the amazing view at the Ritz… and the delicious food.But we had plans for another mountain in Indonesia if we decided our tired legs could handle it… next, on roundtheworldinsixtydays!