Singapore - Mihai Simionicã

Singapore beyond preconceptions


Concrete jungle. Artificial. New builds. Rich... I've heard it all.

Some people told me there’s no point in spending more than a day in Singapore because there’s not much to see and the city has no history whatsoever; only new developments, skyscrapers and expensive things. I took the chance anyway and spent a couple of days in sunny Singapore while on a trip through SE Asia (more stories coming soon). It was amazing to see how diverse this small city-state’s population is and how this influences all areas of life, from food, religion to architecture.

It was also much more green than I would have expected given all that skyscraper talk.


The people

Singapore’s population is mainly of Chinese, Malay and Indian heritage and their traditions mix together to form a city where on a street you will find a Buddhist temple, close by a Hindu one and in the middle of Gardens by the Bay Christmas songs and decorations. On a short walk around the city you can buy a durian smoothie, a funnel cake or Chinese salted fish. You can eat food in an outside hawker market for a few dollars (breakfast for two was 5$) or in a Michelin star restaurant for much more. There are also a lot of options in the middle where you can sit in an air-conditioned cafe when it’s very hot and enjoy a very good coffee for a decent price. Somehow, they all work together and you’re never left without options to pick from.


Green spaces

I think many people don’t know that the government of Singapore actually calls it a ‘’city in a garden". They are dedicated to building green infrastructure and by all means, you can see it at every step! Buildings across the city have luxurious green spaces around them (including roof gardens) and some are almost covered in vegetation. Apart from this, two main sights in Singapore which cover a lot of space also revolve around nature are the Gardens by the Bay and the Botanical Gardens.


Heritage

Although it is seen as a modern day city, Singapore is far from being just that. The city has a long history and it does a great job at embracing its roots through renovation projects and art installations. While most of this heritage is Chinese, ranging from schools to temples and shophouses, its colonial history is also being preserved and can be admired around the city centre. I actually find it to be a good example of how architecture can be merged with the old and how modern development can be done with respect for those who came before us.


Skyscrapers and Marina Bay 

Of course, Singapore wouldn’t be what it is today without its imposing collection of skyscrapers, which honestly do not cover as much of it as I initially thought. There is a taste for luxury, that much is obvious, as the city hosts some of the richest people on earth.

All in all, my experience in Singapore was very much not what I had been told it would be. I found a country that is diverse, affordable (with some research) and amazingly green.

If you’ve been to Singapore, I’d love to hear about your experience and if you haven’t, let me know if you’ve heard the same things I did before going there.



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