We arrived in Singapore via plane from Cherating, Malaysia. Not too bad a flight as it was relatively a short one, thankfully. Katie has already done a bang up job of describing what Cherating was like so I will refrain from any story-telling about that place as it has already been adequately done. The only thing I will add to our time in Malaysia is that I am so glad that we decided to take a week excursion to the Malaysian coast before heading to Singapore. It proved to be very fruitful as we had so much fun just frolicking in the sun and we finally, finally got to see our turtles laying eggs on some of the most gorgeous, prestine serene beaches I have ever seen. So neat to watch nature happen right in front of you. Such an epic journey these wonderful creatures have to undergo all in the name of extending the life of the species. I could never fully describe to you what it felt like to watch these giant turtles painstakingly build their nests and then make the epic long paddling on the sand back to the sea. We were so lucky to witness that happen. :)
Back to Singapore. As luck would have it, I have a colleague and very good friend who actually lives and works in Singapore that I had met while at a conference in Mexico city. This means that we had a place to stay if we wanted for most of our time spent there and would not have to bounce around looking for a decent backpackers place to set up camp at. This was a very welcome change to our usual accomodations. My buddy, being of sound mind and soul, lived right smack in the middle of the concrete jungle of Singapore in a penthouse suite nonetheless on one of the most choice high rises in the Robertson's Quay area. It was brilliantly situated! The perfect getaway for the weary traveler. So posh! Thanks Stefan! Muy agradecido. Un abrazo, my amigo. :)
Upon arrival we were whisked by taxi to the area we would be staying at. After picking up Stefan we went directly to the apartment for some R&R and just to unwind a bit. After staying only a couple of hours there we decided to take a stroll down the river walk which happen to be right at the base of Stefan's apartment. So we walked a few miles down the river just soaking in the shops and sights and got familiar with our surroundings. We soon found out that Singapore is a very cosmopolitan city and one of the cleanest ones in the world as well. I think the only other place that I have been that could rival the cleanliness would be Switzerland.
Singapore is also renouned for its very strict drug laws and drug trafficking laws. It carries a mandatory death penalty for anyone(including and especially foreigners)carrying illegal drugs into or out of the country. It is even an offense to have any drug metabolites in your system when you enter the country. And get this, customs will occasionally spot random urine tests at the airport, seriously! They just don't mess around here. What is the moral of this story: don't go to Singapore if you occasionally smoke refer! Not strict enough for you? How bout this: Bringing in chewing gum into the country is illegal, not kidding!
Getting around is mostly done by the Mass Railway Transit(MRT) or more commomly known to us as the subway. Singapore has one of the most advanced subway systems in the world. These guys are technological juggernauts in every aspect of their lives. The trains are emaculate and space age in nature. The people who inhabit this place are all very well dressed. Singaporeans are very well paid and they know what the word "style" means when it comes to spending their money. So this is what our first outing in Singapore revealed. It is a very uber cool kind of place.
After exploring the city a bit we decided to get some dinner with Stefan. So he took us to a very popular restaurant row. We got a chance to eat some good food and catch up with eachother as it had been atleast 5 or 6 years since I had last seen him in Mexico City. We had a lot of fun just drinking wine and telling eachother our stories and catching up on long over due shop talk. Unfortunately, our time together would be shortlived as Stefan would be flying out the next day on a business trip for the remainder of our stay. I was a bit dismayed as I wanted to spend more time with him because I hadn't seen him for so long but I guess beggers can't be choosers. On a happy note though, he very graciously offered his posh apartment to us if we wanted to stay there. How could I refuse? So we said our goodbyes the next morning and off he went. That meant that we had another 2 or 3 days left in Singapore to spend as we wished in a big fat apartment. What more could you ask for? So for the next few days we thoroughly endulged ourselves and ate good food and drank good wine while touring the city and absorbing as much of the culture as we could. There were some very cool areas that we visited while we were there: Little India, The Quay's(pronounced key's as we would soon be denounced for not knowing that and blamed it on the premise that we were American? Hmmm?),Chinatown, the island of Sentosa(a national heritage site). I'll let Katie talk about these places in more depth as she will do a better job than me.
Highlights of Singapore for me: 1)Being able to spend time catching up with a very good friend after way to much time apart, 2)Seeing the city from our penthouse perch at night with all the city lights about you. splendid. looked like a christmas tree and 3) having an authentic, original Singapore Sling at the original Raffles Hotel. Cost: USD27; Memories: priceless!