….but we are all fabulous.
Although we have both been working whilst in Singapore, we have also been fortunate to have some down time to explore. Singapore is not that big, however there is plenty to see and we have barely even managed to graze the surface – I haven’t even managed to visit one of the wonderful and plentiful temples!
Day 1 – Orientation and a Merlion
I usually like to start to a visit to a new place with an orienting bus tour although I admit they can be variable in quality – New York was terrific while Vancouver was a bit patchy. The Singapore version was ok, but sadly the commentary was either very inadequate or the tape on our bus wasn’t working, so we didn’t learn much, but it did afford me a glimpse of some of the districts we could explore such as Little India, Chinatown and the river.
At the end of the bus tour, we got off by the water and walked to the Merlion (half fish, half lion), taking pictures of the Boat Hotel and views of the skyscrapers across the water along the way.
Day 2 – Art and a Singapore Sling
After some lazy downtime in the apartment and exploring the 2 pools at the halls of residence we are staying at, we headed into the city to the Singapore Art Museum. To be honest this was a bit of a disappointment. Our DK guidebook states that “this museum has the world’s largest permanent collection of 20th-century Southeast Asian art held by a public institution”. Hmmm, well, there was a temporary exhibition with about 20 works/installations which were interesting enough (I did love the painting below)
Kumari Nahappan, Transcripts: Reading Beyond, 2015
There were also 2 rooms with another 20 or so exhibits from the permanent collection (including this ingenious use of open and closed shampoo bottle tops)
Jason Wee – Self-Portrait (No More Tears Mr. Lee), 2009. Detail from artwork.
But I had hoped to see a more extensive collection and perhaps this is the gap that will be filled in November by the opening of the National Gallery Singapore. Sadly we won’t be here to see that but the website (http://www.nationalartgallery.sg/about-the-gallery/) suggests it will be everything I had hoped that SAM would be.
We then walked to Raffles Hotel for the obligatory and rather touristy but fun drink in the Long Bar. This is where the Singapore Sling was invented and for a rather hefty S$31 you can enjoy this tasty although sadly premixed cocktail accompanied by free ground nuts in their shells which you chuck onto the floor (one of the only places that littering is even allowed let alone encouraged).
Singapore Sling and beer in Raffles Long Bar
Days 3 and 4 – Work and hazy days
These are work days. It is lovely however to take a break from work, step outside and enjoy the warmth, although not the haze which we have been informed is rather higher than normal at present thanks to the forest fires burning in nearby Indonesia. The air quality is measured in PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) and 101-200 PSI is considered Unhealthy. For most of the time we have been here, the readings have been in the Unhealthy range, especially in the west where the University accommodation is. It has briefly entered the Very Unhealthy range and even the Hazardous range for one hour on Tuesday night. As it increases, residents are advised to reduce physical activity and to stay indoors. It certainly explains the face masks you see.
The interesting thing to me about this was that I had never previously been aware of the PSI yet here it is measured and published more frequently than our weather forecast, with stats for what levels have been earlier in the day as well as the 3 hour and 24 hour forecasts. Although perhaps if I lived in London I would be more aware of air quality issues – when I started reading about air quality I came across this article: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/15/nearly-9500-people-die-each-year-in-london-because-of-air-pollution-study in which it reports that ~9500 people die from air London each year…
Anyway, I post this at the end of day 3 – after a relaxing swim in the pool and a take away, I would happily stay in Singapore for a few more days. There’s heaps to see and it’s a very easy country to spend time in. I am working tomorrow and we have a restaurant recommendation to check out in the evening. We then just have a few more hours to explore on Friday – we’re planning to stay local and visit the nearby Chinese and Japanese Gardens.