When I exit Changi Airport and head for the city, I dive into warm, humid air. This is when I realize I am in Singapore. Looking out the window of my taxi, I watch familiar landmarks flash by and, once again, admire how tidy it is here.
This city surprises me and reveals a different side each time I visit.
Singapore means, “Lion City,” and you can see this graceful symbol everywhere. There is a famous statue of Merlion, a mythical half-lion half-fish creature, that proudly meets crowds of tourists in Merlion Park on Marina Bay. There are also pairs of Chinese Guardian lions that represent yin and yang and protect the entrances to Buddhist temples or other important places. The lion represents strength and excellence — it is a symbol that suits the city well.
Singapore is all contrasts and diversity — a blend of Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures. Where temples and mosques are peaceful neighbors, colorful streets full of colonial buildings are just around the corner from a business district with dignified skyscrapers, and lush green oases are perfectly embedded into futuristic architecture.
No matter what kind of traveler you are, there is something for you in Singapore. You can hike both in the city and in the outlying areas or enjoy spectacular views from an infinity pool, explore street markets or shop at luxury stores, go museum hopping or have a drink at a trendy rooftop bar. The food is amazing — fancy restaurants with exquisite delicacies will please your taste buds as much as a hole in the wall with street food that only locals frequent.
Singapore is also convenient. As a rather small city-state, everything is within reach, especially with its developed train system. Pedestrian paths are often covered to protect people from rain and, more importantly, from the sun, which can be very harsh. To top it off, Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world. The laws are very strict and CCTV cameras are everywhere. Even at midnight, I feel comfortable walking through the city alone.
Singapore is recognized as the greenest city in Asia. There are gardens and parks everywhere and environmental awareness is taken very seriously. Fish and turtles live in the small ponds and lakes, lizards relax in the sun, and orchids bloom in vertical hanging gardens. I ran barefoot across the Chinese Garden in the pouring rain, watched a magnificent sunset from the Henderson Waves bridge, relaxed in the Gardens by the Bay under surreal Supertree structures covered with plants, while watching their impressive light show.
I miss the atmosphere of Singapore as soon as I leave..
I hope to go back soon. Back to the Lion City.