Singapore is one of those really interesting places that, if you didn’t have a job that sent you there, or a friend to go and visit, you would never have made the trek. In that way, I think that Iowa and Singapore are alike.
When I first found out I was going to Singapore I was picturing naked light bulbs hanging from the ceilings and mosquito nets as the only protection from the buggy tropical air. Thankfully, I saw none of that on my trip. Though my hotel room would get nice and cool from the air conditioning, it did always have a bit of moisture in the air. My blankets at night felt extra heavy from the humidity soaked air, but it was clean, cool and comfortable, and I was happy.
One of the biggest advantages to Singapore is that most people speak English, and if they don’t speak it, the signs are in English. Though I do have to admit making a poor choice on the MRT (Subway) that caused me to go in a circle around SIngapore and waste an hour of my precious day off, things were pretty simple for an Iowa girl like me to get used to. Everything was clean, and even when I went running before the sun came up, I didn’t ever feel unsafe.
Being as close to the equator as Singapore is, it gets light at 7:30 AM and dark at 7:30 PM, all year around. I could have used some more sunlight, but it was also nice to enjoy the pool, or sit on the hotel roof and have a beer after the hot sun had gone down for the night.
The biggest chance for adventure that i had during my 2 weeks was really in the food. With the limited daylight and the constraints of public transportation, I didn’t get to see very much of the island itself, but I did get to try lots of different cuisine. I had Malaysian food, Indonesian food, Indian and Chinese. I really didn’t try many things that I didn’t like, but then I avoided all foods that had faces, aside from the chickens and ducks, whose faces may have peered at me from the counter, but did not appear on my plate. I had lots of curry, rice and noodles.
As a nod to my midwestern heritage though, probably my favorite food that I had in Singapore was the Cha siu bao. Basically, BBQ pork in a sweet bun.
One of the most valuable parts of the trip for me was just to see another perspective. Living in Iowa and having lived my whole life here, it is easy to forget that there is a whole world filled with people who are different than me, have different outlooks, different perspectives and opinions from what I am exposed to here, not just in the Midwest, but in the whole USA.
It amazes me how something that is such a focus in everyday life in Singapore and other parts of the world is brushed aside as here-say and myth in the US. Climate change and conservation were everywhere, and whenever the subject came up with our Asian hosts, the fact that America turns a blind eye to the phenomenon was exposed as a point of annoyance. It was really eye opening to me how wasteful we are, and how much we take for granted.
Since I have been home I have had a couple of reoccuring thoughts…first of all, how is it that I can send myself into a panic that relegates me to my bed over something as mundane as a trip to Des Moines, and yet I can manage to fly to the other side of the world and spend a week and a half with people I barely know and handle it just fine? I am one crazy chick.
Secondly…I have caught the bug, and I am not referring to the raging case of the stomach flu that I came down with the week after I returned home. I am talking about the travel bug. It was so amazing to take that trip, and I would love to go back, or go somewhere totally new for that matter…I can actually handle it! And the world is full of so many amazing and unique places. I want to visit them all!