Last Wednesday, we landed in Singapore at 6 a.m. and “orientation” was scheduled at 10 a.m. with lifelong Singaporean Samantha from Santa Fe Corporate Relocation Services. During the tour, I felt exhilarated and terrified like one of the kids on the psychedelic boat ride in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Eric on the other hand already knew the neighborhoods and streets because he had studied a map of Singapore for the last three months. We were on the same ride but from such different perspectives.
Samantha rattled off a list of must-knows, pointing out landmarks, sharing local tips and spouting off fines ($500 for jaywalking; $150 for not wearing seat belts; $300 for littering). It was a six-hour brain dump and at the end I needed a nap.
When I awoke three hours later, I didn’t know whose hard bed and flat pillow I was lying on and why the AC was cranked so high. Eric nudged me to get up so I’d be able to sleep later that night. I rubbed my eyes and realized that I wasn’t on vacation anymore. This was the start of my life in Singapore.
Eric enjoyed the extra legroom on our business class Singapore Airlines flight. The chair converted into a bed which was a nice bonus on the 18-hour trip. (Note the John C. Reilly look-alike across the aisle.)
We landed! We lost a day of our lives by traveling to the future (or better known as time zones).
Our tour guide brought us to a wet market, which are like American farmer’s markets. Singaporeans shop at the open-air stalls and can supposedly get better quality and prices than at the grocery store.
Meat and fish stalls at the wet market
Escalator directions for the standing impaired
Singapore is one of the busiest ports. Ships are in view from the East Coast beach.
Singapore likes to give directions on where to stand and which way to walk.
On our first day in Singapore, I smelled incense as I walked on the sidewalk. Chinese Singaporeans set up little shrines with fruit, incense and other offerings to honor the dead as part of the Hungry Ghost Festival.
Chinese Singaporeans observe the Hungry Ghost Festival, which happens each August, by burning offerings to the dead and honoring ancestors.
Maxwell Food Center is located near Chinatown. The open-air building does not have air conditioning and diners should bring their own napkins.
Our first night, we wanted to try an Anthony Bourdain-approved hawker stall called Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at the Maxwell Food Center. The stall was closed by the time we got there but there were plenty of other options.
We walked to a Chinatown street market on our first night in Singapore.
Outside the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Singapore Chinatown
Inside Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Singapore Chinatown