Singapore: Start of Solo Trip
As I lay here in my tiny room in Chinatown, it finally hit me this is the start of my solo trip. No more pesky bug following me around and limiting my potential in life. I meant mosquitoes in Bali and not what your inconsiderate mind was thinking….
Singapore, the most expensive city in the world to live in. It also attracts a ton of rich tourists with its endless shopping stores and high end restaurants. But it doesn’t have to be expensive to visit. Learn to eat where locals eat and shop outside of the main areas of orchard street and downtown core.
I didn’t get as much pictures as I usually take. The city had really bad haze mixed with temperatures above 30 degrees which meant I was sweating as soon as I stepped out of my hotel. Locals said the humidity wasn’t normal and I just came at a bad time. The key is to go into random buildings for a blast of AC and cool down.
Short history lesson. Singapore is made up of immigrants from every direction possible. Walking down the street, you’d see locals of Indonesian, Chinese, Malay, Thai, Indian, and Arab descent (I’m sure I’m missing some). Back in the day when all these people came the government had to find a way to keep things civil from culture clashes so they let each group have their own area. To this day, areas like Chinatown, Little India, Arab street still exist.
Each area has its own charm and heritage centres. I stayed in Chinatown so had the chance to really explore the area. It’s mostly made up of hawker centres (will explain more later for food), night market style stalls, and a few heritage type buildings.
Little India felt heavily geared towards tourists and shopping. It may have been the few streets I was on as I didn’t explore as much I usually do. The high humidity and heat mixed with the endless Indian stores put me in no mood to keep going. But the one stop you HAVE to make is to Mustafa. This thing is like Nordstrom married Walmart and then spiced things up by inviting Bestbuy to come over. 6 floors and it’s open 24 hours.
Orchard Road is filled with high end shops and specialy stores. All the top end name brands exist here and them asian tourists flock to them like it’s free. I rarely buy things when I travel since my bag is just enough to fit what I brought fpr my trip. “The only thing I buy are unforgettable memories” – Alan circa 2016
90% of my meals were at open food courts better known as “hawker centres”. They’re found in some other countries as well such as Malaysia and Hong Kong. These places offer a quick, cheap, and authentic meal that will set you back anywhere from $3-10. The simplicity of the dishes is what makes these stands popular. They do one thing and they do it well. There’s no fancy cooking methods or over the top sauces to mask the ingredients in the dish. For example, I had a beef noodle soup where the beef, noodles, and broth were all cooked to perfection. Some of these stands are part of the Michelin Guide of Singapore and one shop has been awarded the first ever Hawker Stand Michelin Star.
For choosing which stall to eat at, it comes back to common sense. A cab driver gave me the advice of “go where the lineups are”. It sounds stupid but it’s absolutely true. Hawker stands are not made for tourists, these are locals grabbing their lunch or dinner so simply follow the crowd.
I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss dodgeball. I know, it’s only been a month since I last played but being part of the SDL exec chat and hearing the upcoming plans made me want to play. I decided to search up if Singapore had a dodgeball community and crazy enough they did! Their following isn’t nearly as big as what we have in the Greater Vancouver Area. The members train for international tournaments and run drop-ins 3-4 times a week. I was fortunate enough to make their Sunday games which was played with rubber balls instead of their usual fabric. Majority of the players were the coaches and the youth team that represents Singapore for tourneys.
On the surface everything was different: the rubber balls were impossible to grip, different rules (you can multi-kill and catch another player’s live ball that still counts as a “catch”), outdoor courts, and the humidity + heat. But when it comes down to it, the game was just as fun as what we play back home. The players and coaches were welcoming and even invited me out to dinner with them after. It’s great to see how a dodgeball community on the other side of the world can bring people together just like SDL does for us.
Marina Bay Area
Having previously worked as a 3D Environment Artist, I’m naturally drawn towards cityscapes and architecture. Singapore, especially the Marina area, features plenty of ultra modern buildings and attractions. This was my first time shooting skylines and some long exposure night shots. I had a ton of fun trying out things on the camera and think I came back with some good shots.
After work hours, there’s a ton of people biking and running the area just like the Seawall around Vancouver downtown. It was a cool sight to see how people in other big cities stay fit and have a similar lifestyle.
Came to this spot at around 6:45am to get some sunrise shots. It was super cloudy and about to rain but the sun broke through and made for some dramatic skies.
The question I get asked the most is, isn’t traveling by yourself lonely? Imagine this: eating when you want, waking up at anytime, following no one else’s schedule, no boss to ask where you’re at, seeing and doing what you want. Now multiply that with experiencing a whole new country. It’s empowering. You really have no choice but to step out of your comfort zone and approach or be approached by people that normally wouldn’t happen when in a group. And it also means opportunities to meet strangers and have the most random nights.
Time to ride the bus to Kuala Lumpur, stay tuned!