The transition from India to Singapore was one of the strangest in my life. Just three days after I left India, I was in Singapore, which was (in my mind) India’s stark opposite. I disembarked the ship around 9 AM with Skipper and Devin with no plans whatsoever. We were greeted by the most beautiful port we have been to so far. Basically all of the other ports we have docked in so far have been gross industrial areas in which we were not allowed to walk. However, the port in Singapore looked like a classy airport terminal. It was all indoor, air-conditioned, and even had moving walkways. The immigration process was quick and professional and soon we jumped in a taxi and asked where to go. The taxi driver was more like a travel guide and he rattled off multiple places he recommended we visit in our one day visit. First, he told us to head to Little China. We thought this was a bit silly since we would be in China in a few weeks, but as it was his recommendation, we obliged.
The taxi pulled up right next to a staggeringly big pagoda. I soon figured out that this was the Buddha Tooth Temple, I had read about it in a guide book. The temple claimed to have in its possession one of Buddha’s teeth (though the guide book also mentions that upon dentist analysis of the tooth, evidence proves unlikely). The temple was absolutely massive and in the center was an enormous gold statue of Buddha surrounded by Singaporeans conducting a prayer service. The pagoda stretched up about 7 levels, all filled with ancient Buddhist artifacts. If you ever find yourself in Singapore, this is the first place you need to go. After we had seen the temple, we decided to wander around Little China. The shops looked pretty much like what I expect China will be like. Street food, ducks hanging in the windows, vendors selling everything from chopsticks to porcelain statues to intricately painted fans. The only odd thing I noticed was how clean everything was. For those who don’t know, Singapore has some of the strictest laws in the world. For example, it is illegal (and punishable) to jay walk, spit out gum in the street, put out your cigarette in the street, or to forget to flush a toilet. Because of this, the entire country is gleaming. I could have eaten a meal off of the ground in Little China.
Next, we decided to go to Little India because, since we had just been there, we thought it would be interesting to see how authentic it was. It was extremely authentic, and I actually kept getting confused about which country we were in. Many times I caught myself thinking I was still in India. But, like I sad, it was way cleaner than real India. Like 100% cleaner. Also, it was really nice because in India we had to be really careful about what food we could eat since we absolutely could not drink the water. But, in Singapore all the food is totally safe to eat so we got to eat more authentic Indian food and juices without stressing about getting sick. After Little India, we decided we wanted to go to Resort World, which is the shopping center where Universal Studios and the famous Sandosa Casino are located. As we drove through the city, we got to see how much progress the city is making. Everywhere I looked, I saw high-rises and skyscrapers being constructed. The already existing architecture was bizarre and modern, like no city I have seen before. Green areas co-existed with the towering buildings and huge trees and well-maintained flower gardens flourished in the middle of the city. Everything and everyone seemed in sync. There was a natural flow that was so foreign after the insane bustle that characterized India.
Resort World was a massive open air indoor structure with tons of restaurants, shops, bakeries, and theaters. It was extremely modern and totally pristine. We ate lunch in a high class ramen noodle restaurant that was decorated like an Alice in Wonderland tea party (delicious). Then, we explored outside where the entrance to Universal Studios was. The outdoor pavilion was made of flat shining sand stone and a huge fiber glass tent that floated over the massive courtyard. It was full of well-behaved children playing quietly in the three or four crystalline fountains. The water looked so clean, I was really tempted to drink some. Families ate dinner outside, the sun glinted through the trees in little beams, and enticing music wafted from Universal Studios. The whole setting was serene and peaceful and just a tad manufactured. We spent the evening in Resort World before heading back to the ship. I think my time in Resort World kind of characterized Singapore for me. It was in some ways, perfect. But, a world without dirt is kind of a weird world.