Monday, April 13, 2009

(Visitors) Trying Singapore

We love having visitors - though it happens all too infrequently - so we were thrilled when my parents finally announced that they’d racked up enough frequent-flyer miles to make their first trip to this side of the world in March. Nine utterly packed days (and one sick day) ensued. Some highlights:

  • the first glimpse of our little guest-house in Bali along the river gorge - and the air-conditioned, intricately carved rooms at $50 per night

  • the surreal kecak chanting during an evening Ramayana dance, followed by an other-worldly trance dance through burning coals (bonus: the realization that, yes, you are on the other side of the world)

  • the bird’s-eye views, from breezy East Coast Park and the Singapore harbor, of the huge container ships and the complex operations of one of the busiest ports in the world

  • the memorable first moment my dad gingerly stuck his feet into the tank of very hungry (and very ticklish) fish at the fish spa

  • the best description of durian’s flavor, courtesy of my mom: “like a cross between peaches...and sardines”

  • the experience of haggling in the hot, crowded markets of Chinatown - and discovering the cooling powers of lime juice

  • the massive flying squirrel (“wing” span probably at least four feet) that swooped gracefully right in front of us at the Night Safari

  • the expressions of utter bafflement at the sheer variety in the carnival-like stalls of the hawker centers

  • the expressions of utter contentment after a wonderful meal at our favorite Thai place (and our favorite Peranakan place, and our favorite Eurasian place, and...)

For us, having visitors also highlighted how we’ve grown to love our little island home, with its greenery and cleanliness and variety and spectacular weather (now that we’ve acclimated to the heat and humidity). We’re proud that we can now drive on the left side of the road and maneuver a large-ish car backward into the tiniest parking spaces. We’re happy that we’ve learned to navigate a complicated world city and find the hidden treasures in its varied cultural enclaves. It seems normal to us now to live in a city that is very Western in some ways and, in other ways, anything but. And while our visitors do get to experience a quick taste of all that Singapore has to offer, we feel lucky to have stayed here long enough to actually find our niche in this place on the other side of the world.


Mom said...

We absolutely cherish our trip to Singapore and Bali, and could have mentioned about 4 volumes of additional highlights!

Each and every experience was worthy of the long flight to get there - even the short-lived bout of dehydration! We feel quite the world travelers now and can't imagine living where there is no Peranakan food!

The trip was truly an adventure that must (and will) be repeated! But would it be quite so grand without hosts and guides like you? ; )


Carleen said...

Hi Jenn!

I wanted to reach out to you because we here at are putting together a special section on Singapore, and I came across your blog. If you haven't heard of Glimpse, we're a nonprofit web publication that shares stories by Americans abroad and those that have spent time abroad.

We're launching a new initiative that highlights specific destinations -- particularly less-traveled ones. Singapore is first on our list, and we were hoping you would get involved.

We're looking for short tips and anecdotes that help illustrate what makes Singapore a unique and appealing destination. What's the best meal you've had there? Any advice for other Americans planning a move to Singapore?

Please take a moment and visit the following page and drop a tip or share a story:

Can't wait to read what you have to share!

Cheryl said...

Great write-up Jenn! I love your enthusiasm for "our little island home" and I feel the same way - we are so lucky to live here and explore the fun nooks & crannies of this world class city.

kidzpassport said...

Love your highlights! We will definitely have to try the durian eating as a family. Might as well pong the house out in one big go!