Sunday, October 19, 2008

Back from Singapore

My intentions were to blog frequently about our travels to Singapore. Alas, time was better spent elsewhere. Needless to say, we had a terrific time in the "land of the Lion" (Singa = lion - poura = city). In case you've wondered, Singapore makes a great starting point to seeing Asia. Here are a few traveling notes...

First, Singapore is not China. It's one of only a few truly independent City-States in the world on a small island 80 miles north of the equator and below Malaysia. Because of this, it's warm (75 - 90 F) and humid (+80% humidity) year round.

Brief History:
Former Dutch and then British Spice trading colony, the Malaysian Federation was granted independence in 1963. Singapore broke away from the Malaysian Federation in 1965 and has been an independent since.

With little natural resources to speak of, this country relies on the sweat and blood of its people to crank out a vibrant and extremely modern country. Singaporeans are known for electronics, shipping, logistics and financial services. With little corruption and a lots of money in savings, Singapore has been among the least affected Asian countries during economic downturns.

The island is about 40 x 30 miles - roughly the size Omaha to Lincoln's border. There are 4.5 million inhabitants who mostly live in apartments (flats)
People Groups
As a major trading route, Singapore is one of the crossroads of Asia with a lot of diversity. Majority are ethnically Chinese, followed by Malay, Tamil and Caucasians. Honkeys like me are locally nicknamed the "Ang Mo", which is Mandarin for "red hair".

Despite their ethnic majority, I found it interesting that even Singapore has it's own China town.
It also has its own India Town where everyone shops at a local electronics store called Mustafa.

Mustafa is the NFM of Singapore
The language of business in S'pore is English. Everything - street signs, restaurant menus, media, etc is either written or spoken English. Like I said, it's extremely easy for the Ang Mo to travel there.

Public system is excellent. European "green" buses and a modern/mature subway system are make getting around the island simple and affordable.
Taxis are everywhere and also relatively cheap
As mentioned in a previous post, the local foods are best found in hawker center and Coffee shops. To a midwest American Ang Mo, some of the foods freaked me. Frog Porridge has replace my Pig Organ soup as my favorite. And yes, you can go vegetarian at these places too.

I found a replacement for my fixation on Starbucks. It's a local coffee from Indonesia that is extremely strong and is served hot, cold, with condensed milk, ginger or even mixed with Indian Tea. Fantastic.
I'll likely post in a separate follow up on this one.

That's about it for now. Jet lag calls for a nap


  1. Welcome home and take your time getting reacquainted with this side of the universe at this time in the past(?)

  2. "Honkey?" Wow, that's a blast from the past. I haven't seen "Sanford and Son" in years. :)

    Singapore looks like a great place to visit. Welcome back.

  3. Greetings, future boy. Tell me, who's the president of the united states in 1986?

  4. Bryan ... I think it's 'Tell me, who's the president of the united states in 1985"' ... am I right? Are we talking Twin Pines Mall?

    While I'm at it, I think Hannibal Lector would have been equally creepy had he said 'I had his liver with some frog porridge and a nice cup of gingered Indian tea ...' ...instead of... 'I had his liver with some fava beans and a nice glass of chianti...'.

    Right. Good to have you back, Mr. Steel Cut. Can't wait to hear about the cycling bit.

  5. Brady's been a honkey since he could't learn to do the Rerun Dance from What's Happening. The only thing coordinate brady can do is this

    Great travelogue and history/facts about the City of the Lions.It's great to have such an opportunity to travel to learn about new cultures. Maybe we CAN learn things from others....

    Welcome back

  6. The combination of missing Singapore, jet lag, returning to work, cold weather and time traveling has sent my motivation into a recession. So thanks for the welcome home.

    One more thing in regards to time traveling: the women of Russia resemble as if they just left the set from remaking Madonna's Like A Virgin video. Now I'm no Michael Ball, but I can usually tell when a fashion is out of date by a decade or two. Next time I go back to the future, I'll make sure to scatter a few copies of Vogue in the Moscow airport.

    Anyway, this place is where it's at. I mean, where else could I expect to see references to Marty "Calvin Klein" McFly crossed with Sanford and Son, Hannibal Lector, Rerun, Michael Ball and Madonna?

  7. brendan -- yeah, it's 1985. Despite the fact that all of the dates in the movies have fives -- 1955, 1885, 2015 -- I usually say 1986. I don't know why.