Sleepless in Singapore

Downtown Singapore by night.

Downtown Singapore by night.

The Singapore Flyer, the world's largest Ferris wheel.

The Singapore Flyer, the world’s largest Ferris wheel.

It has been a week since I packed my bags in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and hopped on a flight to Singapore. Yes, Singapore!

Half the world away from Canada.

I’ve finally just started to recover from the jet lag. I never imagined a lack of sleep could be so excruciatingly painful. It was a 21 hour flight! Halifax. Chicago. Hong Kong. Drum roll…..Singapore! 15 hours just from Chicago to Hong Kong. That was the longest day of my life. But it was worth it, despite the insomnia that has plagued me since arriving here. I didn’t sleep for the first few days after arriving.

I’m in Singapore for work, interning at a magazine called Asian Geographic, but also plan to do as much exploring as possible. I’m a long way from home but I’m loving every minute. Sometimes you just need to let go and let the world absorb you.

Singapore is beautiful. The city of a country is very urbanized, modern and has one of the most architecturally dazzling downtown cores in the world.

An iconic landmark on Singapore's skyline. Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. One of the city's architectural gems, the building serves as a hotel, with an adjoining casino, entertainment venue & conference center.

An iconic landmark on Singapore’s skyline. Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. One of the city’s architectural gems, the building serves as a hotel, with an adjoining casino, entertainment venue & conference center.

And as foreign as the country seems, and as far away as it is from Canada, it’s easy to navigate here. Due to the early British influence in the country — Singapore only achieved independence in — 1963 — English is widely spoken, so that’s definitely helpful. However, as a city and country combined into one, Singapore is relatively small — roughly 700 square kilometers. It boasts a population of approximately 5.3 million people.

One thing that initially caught my attention here is the abundance of smells. And there are so many! From incense, to durian fruit (Singapore’s national fruit — beautiful to look at but harsh on the nostrils) to the vast array of cultural cuisines offered.

Food is EVERYWHERE. And it’s as diverse as it is wide spread. Indian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Korean — you name it, Singapore has it. I haven’t had a bad meal since I’ve been here, although some of my friends back home might not be as adventurous. Expect more posts about the food here.

Check out this mesmerizing video below of Singapore by Vimeo user |zweizwei |motion timelapse. This video is incredible and made me fall in love with Singapore before arriving. Some day I aspire to be able to shoot such amazing footage. It even features the funky track Young Blood by The Naked And Famous.

Some quick Singapore observations:

-You call the taxi drivers ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’ out of a token of respect so they don’t rip you off.

-Vehicles drive on the left side of the road here.

-Singaporeans speak ‘Singlish,’ a funny mishmash of English mixed with a Singaporean accent. It’s a very musical dialect. People often say ‘la’ at the end of sentences instead of the stereotypical ‘eh’ in Canada.

-People often eat in hawkers centers, which are large, open-spaced food courts with dozens and dozens of food vendors eager to sell you their local cuisine. You can usually score a full meal for $5 CDN.

Singapore doesn't fool around with their drug laws, a fact the government likes to remind visitors about, as indicated by the immigration cards you must fill out upon entering the country.

Singapore doesn’t fool around with their drug laws, a fact the government likes to remind visitors about, as indicated by the immigration cards you must fill out upon entering the country.

-There’s a lot of money in Singapore. From Ferrari’s to Lamborghini’s — which are everywhere — to the architecture, lavish hotels and skyscraper business developments of central Singapore, the country has definitely shaped itself as a economic powerhouse of Asia. This makes everything expensive, except for the food.

-Don’t litter in Singapore. It will cost you between $200-$300 CDN. This makes Singapore’s streets very clean. The sale of chewing gum has also been made illegal for this reason.

-There’s virtually zero crime in Singapore because the government is very tough on criminals. Drug laws here are extremely harsh. Possession and consumption of marijuana, for example, is punishable by long prison terms and in some cases, hanging. Yes, hanging.

-Despite strict drug laws, you can drink in the streets and in taxi cabs. Winning!

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