Art with a Twist

As we leave Singapore, we thought we would share a picture of this rather bizarre statue we found behind the Ion Mall on Orchard Road. You’ve got to hand it to an artist who isn’t afraid to emphasize so much crotch 😉

Singapore: What a Dollar Can Buy You

It’s almost needless to say, but one dollar doesn’t buy you much in Southeast Asia’s most expensive country. The transition coming from neighboring Malaysia happens fast and is a shock to the penny-pinching system. Bigger and glitzier malls, cleaner streets, fancier clothes, and – most notable to us – much higher prices. As Tony mentioned in Singapore for Budgeteers, the city is for those with bucks to burn. Often, the same products and brands offered in Malaysia are more than twice as expensive here in Singapore. Ouch, that hurts.

Clearly, in order to enjoy the city, we had to put our budget on the backburner for a while. But Singapore is not completely a lost cause. There are still some items and services that can be had for 1.25 Singapore dollars or around a buck:

  • 1.5 liters of drinking water
  • 1 yam cake
  • 3.2 km in an air-con city bus
  • 3 apples
  • 1 can of coke
  • 2 stops by metro
  • 1 Mentos
  • 1 Chinese egg tart
  • 0.5 hours of parking in Chinatown
  • 1 barbequed chicken wing

Sadly, this might just be the complete list of 1-dollar-items in all of Singapore…

Oh well, it may not be the ultimate budget destination, but neither is Paris, Tokyo, London, Rome, or a host of other sensational cities. Just remember to pack a couple of extra credit cards. 🙂

On a completely “separate note”, keen observers might notice Singapore doesn’t have $1 bills, so why are there $1 notes in the photo above? Those are Brunei dollars which are accepted legal tender in Singapore as well. Unfortunately, shops run by many of Singapore’s guest workers are often unaware of that fact, which can make using the notes rather difficult in places such as Little India and Chinatown.

Singapore’s Fabulous Food

Are you in the Halloween mood for pancreatic tissue, liver cells and stomach lining in a hearty broth? If the answer is yes, you will feel right at home in Singapore where locals seem to dig exotic pig organ soup. But not to worry. Even culinary wimps who don’t want to venture too far into unknown kitchen territory can skip the tricks and find a treat that can soothe their Western palates.

From Asian-style barbequed chicken wings and fiery sambal stingrays to Indian masala dosas and German sauerkraut and sausages, there’s nothing you cannot find in Singapore. Food is everywhere. While some dishes here are similar to those we found in Penang and Kuala Lumpur, others are distinctly different. It is obvious that Singapore’s chefs are quite experimental, many using unusual ingredients and spices to create fantastic fusion cuisine.

Savory pumpkin cakes with black-eye pea and sticky rice is one of the unique local dishes we came across on our first day in the city. Topped with sweet soy sauce and chili, the delicious combination of seemingly unrelated items Continue…

Excuse Me, That’s not a Door

Thomas claims he was trying to get into the new Abercrombie & Fitch on Orchard Road. Hmmmmm! He explains that it had something to do with a mistranslation of the German word “Hosenladen”!?!?!

But seriously, this rather risqué three-story ad highlights just how far we’ve come from neighboring Malaysia where, while reading National Geographic magazine, we discovered morality censors had hand-neutered Michael Angelo’s David with a black marker. What a difference a little border makes!

Singapore for Budgeteers

For those with money, Singapore feels like an unending list of awesome things to do. Stroll along the Marina Bay Sands’ unbelievable SkyPark balanced across the tops of three adjacent skyscrapers. Take in the exhibition of Salvador Dali’s works at the ArtScience Museum. Or better yet, Van Gogh’s. Try the G-MAX Reverse Bungee or the GX-5 Xtreme swing at Clark Quay. Spot nocturnal animals in the Night Safari Park. Or, if you have an extra hour on your hands, learn to pilot a commercial airliner at the very unique Flight Experience. For those with bucks to burn, Singapore is the ultimate playground. But what about us budgeteers?

Well, Singapore is definitely worth a couple of splurges for long-term travelers. But those on a budget will find the city offers many free or inexpensive activities which are just as great as those with a hefty entry fee. Here’s a list to get you started Continue…

Exploring Singapore’s Waterfront

We’ve been walking Singapore for days and, without a doubt, our favorite area is the city’s phenomenal, fully revamped waterfront. When I first visited 20 years ago, there was very little in the way of tourist attractions along the water. But after two solid decades of work, the new waterfront steals the show. Check it out for yourself in our mini-gallery above.

The Singapore Zoo

One of Singapore’s main attractions, which has little to do with shopping, is its world-famous zoo. A far cry from many of the depressing animal parks around the world, the Singapore Zoo, renowned for its design, is a welcome change of scenery. It certainly didn’t take much to lure us wildlife freaks away from the cement jungle for a day at the celebrated park.

What immediately sets the zoo apart is a distinct lack of cages. Free-ranging animals and creative enclosure design immediately make it clear that this is no ordinary zoo. Just as we walked into the zoo-scape, a handful of cotton-top tamarins with white, fluffy Mohawks caught our attention. We moved closer to a lone tree as the little animals scampered down a limb to within Continue…

Frappuccinos for the Gods

Singapore is all about glitz and glam. Brand names at big prices are worshiped by a population of stylistas who wear their paychecks on their sleeves – literally. This little island city-state can hold its own with Tokyo, New York, Paris, L.A., London and Dubai if not trump these style capitals. Speaking of “trump”, is that the Donald sitting over there in that little coffee house?

Apparently, deities need their coffee as well.

But don’t expect any cheap house blends on those Chinese temple altars. It appears that someone has been trying to get in good with the gods by offering up some Frappuccino. Hmmm, I wonder if this is some new form of Asian product placement.

Chinatown and Little India

Singapore with its super-modern city center is the ultimate consumer paradise. But if monochromatic designer malls made of steel and glass are not your scene, you can always venture into the colorful ethnic neighborhoods of Chinatown and Little India.

Only a few metro stops from fashionable Orchard Road lies Chinatown, the historical center for Straits-Chinese settlers. Red paper lanterns strung across the roads mark the beginning of the area. Here, futuristic high-rises give way to British colonial architecture, and pastelly yellows, blues and pinks replace the Continue…

Singapore

We’ve decided to take a short break from the developing world and take in modern, spotless, stunning Singapore.

The last time I was in Singapore was exactly 20 years ago and, to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the country at the time. In 1991, I felt Singapore’s autocratic leadership left the city feeling like a coldly functional dystopia defined by clinical sterility and bizarre signs stating things like, “It is prohibited to urinate out the window.” OK.

But Singapore a la 2011 is a whole new city – and I like it!!! Although prohibitions and fines are still around, they have seriously cut down on the annoying little signs. And some prohibitions such as Continue…