I’m still working on editing the pictures from my fancy camera and preparing more detailed blog posts about my time in Cambodia, but I did want to give Singapore it’s time in the spotlight like I did for the others. Here are some of my thoughts and observations from my brief time there a couple weeks ago. I realize that one week in a place doesn’t make you an expert. Since I spent most of my time with my cousin and her family, I didn’t really get to know the native Singaporean culture. Nonetheless, here are some thoughts and highlights from my time there:
- I had to work a little harder to come up with fun stories or interesting observations from my time in Singapore because, well, I felt pretty comfortable there since it’s pretty western. It’s a very modern city/country/island and reminded me a lot of London or Sydney since there’s so much British influence.
- I definitely experienced a bit of culture shock when I flew from Phnom Penh to Singapore and saw this recycling display in the airport. There is recycling in Cambodia, but their methods of collection are pretty different.
- Another form of culture shock came when I saw the prices of things. We paid $2 for an unlimited amount of time for the fish massage in Cambodia.
- It was really fun to hang out with my cousin (ok, technically she’s my second cousin, but we grew up in the same town, so she feels like a first cousin) and her family on the other side of the world. It was great to reminisce about growing up in New Wilmington, PA and the quirks and fun of having lived in such a small town.
- Singapore is two hours behind Sydney, so we were able to Skype with my sister’s family while I was there… a mini family reunion via Skype. I loved it. 🙂
- The Night Safari next to the Singapore Zoo was really fun and unique. I got to see wolves howling in unison. It was pretty funny to see raccoons on display as a novelty (since I just had to go outside on trash night to see a raccoon in person when I was little!).
- Singapore is very orderly, clean, and organized.
- They take this order and cleanliness so seriously that they have signs like this in the subway station:
- (Durian is a fruit that is quite smelly… I tried it once and remember it tasting a bit like what I imagine dirty feet might taste like)
- I learned a new word: alight. Instead of saying “get off” or “exit” at a stop, they say “alight.”
- My cousin had an app on her phone to request a taxi. The taxi was pretty much waiting for us at the curb when we got off the elevator from four floors up.
- They have signs in the buses and subways that tell people to be polite and give up seats for elderly and pregnant passengers.
- I was on one bus where the bus driver stopped the bus to ask people to move and get up for an elderly passenger.
- Singaporeans are very hard-working people. The morning I went to catch the bus to Malaysia, I looked a bit like a backpacker. It felt like the song “One of These Things is Not Like the Other” from Sesame Street as I stood there surrounded by a bus full of businessmen and businesswomen dressed up for work.
- I rode on the Singapore Flyer (their version of the London Eye) on a rainy day and enjoyed seeing the very unique Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino (three towers with a “ship” on top) from a different angle.
- Also, I discovered that if you take enough poor attempts at long arm photos of yourself in a place, people will offer to take your photo for you. 🙂
- When I saw the sunshine the next morning, I hopped on the bus to go down to check out the view from the top of that building and experience the “ship.”
Stay tuned for some more posts of what I’ve been up to lately and many posts of pictures of my adventures from the fancy camera!
Wanted to check in quickly before my summer travel adventures comes to an end. This week I had a quick excursion to Malacca (spelled Melaka in Malay), Malaysia to explore a new place for a couple days. It’s a town on the Strait of Melaka a few hours bus ride northwest of Singapore. To all you motherly protective types out there: Yes, I was careful and yes, I’m back in Singapore with my cousin and her family safe and sound now. I still have lots to see in Singapore, so I’ll hold off posting on that for now (save this one comment: Yes, I agree with what I posted previously, Singapore really is the antithesis of Cambodia).
So, since I’m now obviously an expert on all things related to Malaysia after the 30 hours I spent in the country ;), let me share some thoughts from my time there:
- The trip between Singapore and Malacca is almost all palm tree plantations with mountains in the distance… really beautiful.
- After my time in Cambodia and Malaysia, I have a renewed appreciation for encountering a western style toilet with toilet paper supplied (it’s possible to find them in both places, but not always probable)
- Knowing absolutely zero words in Malay, I had fun trying to figure out some cognates of English words from the language when I read their signs (a nice change from not being able to read any Khmer letters/signs in Cambodia). See if you can figure any of these out: motosikal, polis, komuniti, sekyen, taksi, bas ekspres
- I sat in the first seat on the way there and noticed that the bus driver waved to every single coach bus that was driving the other way on the highway… and there were many. I don’t think the driver on the way back was quite so diligent in his friendliness.
- A lady gave me directions to find a restaurant on the second floor of the mall. I searched and finally asked someone only to be reminded that when they say second floor, that means third floor in America. 🙂
- There are such a wide variety of cultures represented in Malacca (Malay, Chinese, Indian, etc.), that I have no doubt that I was accidentally offending one or more at a time at various points in my journey. I think I read somewhere that you’re supposed to only eat with your right hand… well, that’s kind of a struggle for left-handed me. Consider this my apology to anyone I offended while I was there. 🙂
- Blue eyes are quite the novelty there. While I was taking a picture of the fountain in the town square, I had two strangers ask to have their photos taken with me… sweaty, grungy, overheated me and my blue eyes. Some people in Vietnam are really going to enjoy those vacation photos for years to come. 🙂
- The malls and rest areas where I was have prayer rooms designated for Muslim men and women.
- I met a lovely woman and her daughter from Brunei on the bus ride back and we had a great conversation where I learned all about Brunei (a country on the island of Borneo) and I told them a bit about my life as well as the Amish culture around where I grew up. It was a really fun way to spend the bus ride.
- I was a bit startled when the woman introduced herself and assured me that she wasn’t a terrorist even though she wore a head covering. It made me sad to think that she assumes most Americans think that way.
- She offered me some cherries. When I declined, she taught me that in Brunei when you decline food, you have to touch the food as you decline it. Interesting custom! I wonder what things we Americans do that they would find a bit weird…
- I tried a food in Malacca called Cendol… it involves coconut milk, syrup, iced shavings, green noodley things, and red beans. It was actually quite refreshing after a hot morning of sight-seeing, though I could have done without the red beans.
- The river going through Malacca made for a really lovely place to walk and have breakfast. I look forward to sharing pics of it when I go through them all.
- There are these rickshaw type bikes for people to ride in called trishaws.. they’re covered in gaudy decorations and each one has a blaring sound system. Sometimes a whole hoard of them will go down the street at once with lots of different music blasting… photos and videos do not do them justice though I’ll try to share what I can when I get back. 🙂
Thanks for reading. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!!