Singapore - Multicultural, Metropolitan and Clean

Trip Start Oct 13, 2004
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15
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Trip End Jun 21, 2005


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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Sinagapore - Chasing the Dragon, No wait Chasing the Rooster (Chinese New Year)
February 17 - 20, 2005

Singapore was a short stop of only 3 nights, but certainly enough time to get a feel for this small country/island/city combo. First impressions seem that they put together the parameters for an 'ideal' city & this is the model...super clean, friendly without being 'in your face', strong economics, great shopping, solid infrastructure, lots of green space, strong multiculturalism, great food etc. It's quite bizarre really - it's almost too perfect to be real. We laughed as we passed an empty lot - even it was perfectly groomed. The airport is considered the #1 in the world - it's like walking thru a high end mall - designer stores, movies playing, free internet, restaurants. No hardship in having a layover here!

The kids were a bit shocked when we were discussing the 'country rules' prior to landing - our entry visa form indicated prohibited imports included weapons, illegal drugs and gum. I think they thought we had finally lost our minds taking them to such a severe police state where littering and possession of gum were serious offences!

Mark had decided to take advantage of the Microsoft affiliation once again to fulfill his desire to stay at one of the preeminent hotels in the world - Raffles. The comparative rate was great, but still a shocker after what we've been paying in Bali - "Frugal Freda" here was having a bit of a bird, but I'm learning to let go. Let's just say 3 nites at Raffles was more than we would have paid for 3 weeks in Ubud but I must admit it was luxurious. We compensated by doing our laundry in the tub - oh aren't we so thrifty (definitely didn't see a lot of other laundry hanging from the Raffles balconies! :)) As you can see, some days we're lousy at budget travel and other days we do great. We were so thrilled to see our daily spend rate drop so dramatically in Bali, I guess we just had to celebrate.

It was right in the middle of the Chinese New Year's celebration and we loved checking out all the decorated stores and streets in Chinatown. We were lucky enough to be there during the biggest parade in Asia the Chingay...it was really great. Every float had an entertainment component to it, dancers, music etc...very well done and we had a blast with the kids. Prior to the actual parade they had a bunch of street entertainment. Most of it was groups from local schools. These kids did everything from Percussion to Dance to Cheerleading (Complete with Acrobatics), it was amazing. The Arts programs in Singapore Schools get thumbs-up from us based on what we saw.

Mark here ... I think the thing that struck me the most about Singapore was the multicultural theme of the city which was highlighted in the various float themes. It is so awesome to see so many different cultural and religious groups living together in peace and harmony. They make it look so easy it makes you wonder why the rest of the world can't pull it off better. Maybe it's because they focus on what they have in common rather than their differences. Maybe they've figured out they are collectively better off if they strive to get along. I don't really know why but if they could bottle it I think the rest of us might be lining up to take a long refreshing drink from that bottle.

All in all, a relaxing, luxurious few days. Off to Thailand - I'm not sure how crazy Bangkok will look after this utopian city...stay tuned.

Collective Highlights:

1. The parade

2. The Raffles bed & bathroom reminded us of ours back home - sooooo comfy and great.

3. The civilized traffic - I hadn't realized how numbed out I'd become to the horrendous driving in Bali until I grabbed the children's hands at every intersection and braced myself to run for it. How nice to actually have some rights as a pedestrian.

4. Coming upon our first McDonald's in a while, Tyler looked up and said "I'd rather have sushi than McD's" YES!!! Oh how I hate fast food!!! The children's palates are ever-expanding on our journey - TyGuy has even ceased carrying the trusty ketchup with him at all times.

5. Starbucks right next door - LOL (Mark's addition, of course!)

6. The city, as nice a city as I have ever scene, clean, safe, not polluted and not super congested yet cosmopolitan all the way. Everything you'd ever want from a city is never far away.

Lowlights:

1. Going for a Singapore Sling where they were invented in the Long Bar at Raffles and paying $60 for 2 drinks and 2 Shirley Temples. UGH - I hate feeling ripped off! :(

2. Missing my $5 massages - Raffles started @ >$100. Becoming very spoiled!

Kid's Said:
Highlights:

Tyler - The dancers and floats in the parade, swimming at the hotel
Kayla - The parade, The fountains, Our hotel, Chinatown, swimming with my new friend Andreas
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