The City of Lions! Or so the name means in Hindi / Sanskrit. The only lions we saw in this uber-urban city state is a statue of it’s mascot – the half-lion and half-fish merlion.
The flight time from SF to Singapore is a whopping 17 hours. That’s five movies and a nap. The kids weren’t happy but everyone survived. We boarded the flight in San Francisco on Monday morning and got off the bloody airplane at Singapore on Wednesday night ( which includes the day we “lost” traveling west over the Date Line).
Singapore is a tiny place, coming in at about 190th by size in a ranking of all the countries in the world – a list that has about 200 members on a good day. It has about 4 million residents and another 1.5 million non residents who work here. It is smaller than the Austin metro area and has more than five times the number of people. It has a higher GDP per capita than the US and one of the highest human development indices in the the world – which is a measure of health, education, security, lifespan, and other factors that measure the “first-worldness” of a country. Singapore is clean and safe. With millions of people congregating in places I never once saw a police officer or an emergency vehicle while we were here.
The kids loved Singapore. In fact Evan has declared it as one if his favorite places. Vivian wandered the designer stores at the mall at the base of the building with the ship on top (from Crazy Rich Asians, also simply called Marina Bay Sands) and marveled at two thousand dollar cases for carrying AirPods. The mall is beyond posh. There’s a Louis Vuitton Island mansion in the bay (really). And a food court that shames other food courts. The botanical garden is great and the orchid garden within is out of the world. The traditional nasi lemak breakfast served at the park cafe is a decadent way to start a Sunday morning.
Our hosts and dear friends had been invited to a party at a new Bollywood dance club called Gabbar (a Bollywood reference that even I got!) at Clark Quay and I tagged along. It was weirdly fun though I spent a good part of the evening at the club next door called Cuba Libre with a great Latin band where I left more at home. At some point, while tossing back a cocktail of expensive whiskey, gin and tonics, overpriced mojitos, and cold Asahi Super Dry’s, I realized what it is. Singapore feels like Disney World and Vegas smooshed together. Everything is made up. And there’s a lurking feeling that this mediated reality is supported by a huge underbelly of non transparent forces.
I hate Disney and Vegas (I tried to type “intensely dislike”). But I grudgingly admit that I like Singapore. We visited Singapore with the kids eight years ago and they enjoyed it even more this time. Will we be back? Surely. Unless their internet truth police make me take down this post and ban me from returning.