I love working for a company that is rapidly expanding around the globe. In the depths of winter in the U.S., I traveled to Singapore for a planning workshop. It was a whirlwind week! Supporting two opposite time zones leaves little time for site-seeing. But I still managed to snap a few photos!
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It's a long trek to Singapore, especially following a two hour delay before initial departure and then another 2 hour delay at the Tokyo connection (total 18 hours +1 day). I met the pre-arranged driver at 3:30 in the morning at the Singapore airport and checked into the St. Regis at 4:30 a.m. I slept again a week later on my return flight, absolutely exhausted!
Marina Bay Skyline
Singapore's apt Sanskrit name was prescient -- "simha" (lion) "pura" (city). "Singapura" the lion city, roared into modern times, becoming one of the Asian Tigers during the 1960's and '70s. This little city-state measures just 31 miles east to west and 26 miles north to south, but is an amalgamation of cultures, including Malay, Chinese, English, Arab, and Indian. When it was colonized by England in 1819, Singapore's population was 1,000 mostly-Malay people. By 1869, the population had swelled to 100,000 as Singapore's free trading port attracted Arab, Chinese and Indian merchants and immigrants from China and India flocked to Malay rubber plantations and tin mines. I offer this little history lesson for context. In less than 200 years, this swampy island has transformed into a global economic powerhouse and cultural melting pot. It is pioneering mindful, sustainable development practices and its skyline is visible proof that growth and prosperity can be achieved without sacrificing the environment.
East Meets West
Singapore is an interesting mix of "oriental" (in the broad sense of the word) and "modern". Walking down the street or through one of the many vast, multi-story malls, your food options are limited only by your taste bud's desire (do I want Chinese? Indian? French fois gras? How about a burger?). Singapore has it all, everywhere. Even the signs are in four different languages! There are a couple of foods that you must try, though. Laksa is a a Malaysian noodle soup made with either a creamy coconut/curry broth (curry mee laksa) or a spicy/sour fish broth (penang or asam laksa). The other food that Singapore people are very proud of is the chili crab.
Super Trees: Gardens by the Bay
I saw these spectacular beauties on my last night in Singapore, when I didn't have my real camera and the battery on my cell phone was at 18%. Here are better photos and a complete CNN write-up about the Supertrees. It's an "other worldly" experience to walk under the canopy of this man-made, solar-powered eco-garden. I felt like I was glimpsing the future of our planet. The trees generate electricity to power the surrounding business district, collect and use rainwater, preserve and shelter rare tropical plant species, clean and cool the air, act as ventilation ducts for the conservatories nearby, and awe visitors from around the world. Talk about multi-functional!!
This little urban forest is comprised of 18 trees ranging in size from 60 to 150 feet in height. Orchids, ferns, and vines climb the steel framework. The largest of the trees has an elevator that takes visitors to a cafe/bar with a fantastic panoramic view of the Marina Bay area and provides access to a walkway connecting the trees. We arrived very late at night, so the walkway was closed -- and I also missed the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome bio-domes nearby this park. Put a big red "To Do" on my life's bucket-list. There is a reason Singapore is the world's #1 place to do business and ranks among the top 25 "happiest" countries, according to the 2015 World Happiness Report. Singapore is pushing the envelope of innovation, urban planning, environmentalism, and eco-tourism. Visiting this dynamic country stimulates ideas and makes you want to do something new and incredible.
If you love these amateur photos, I encourage you to check out this beautiful video celebrating Singapore's 50th anniversary of independence in 2015: https://youtu.be/amHTq9_GW0I