Opportunist- a person who exploits circumstances to gain immediate advantage rather than being guided by consistent principles or plans
My mother might consider my travel habits somewhat opportunistic. Have I made spur of the moment decisions based on the outcome of me ending up on a jet flying over an ocean? Absolutely. We do not share the same travel gene (nor do I get this trait from my father) I credit my wanderlust nature to my Grandmother Roberta. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” There is a basic underlying need in me to experience, see new things, pack a suitcase, have a reservation in my Hilton account, basically I yearn to move.
I am a firm believer in if a door becomes open along your path, you always walk through. In early February, a door was presented to me. And as it continued to open, fate was also dealing me a new hand of cards to play. I knew just one thing to be true in the time of uncertainty, I needed to run through the door. For no other reason, then for travel’s sake.
This journey actual began in the fall of 2018. Last September, I took my Saturday stroll down the hill to visit the local library. There I discovered the book Crazy Rich Asians. Little did I realize six months after reading this novel, I would be on United 29 out of San Francisco headed across the Pacific to the lush land of Singapore. Not much of a geography buff, nor a historian of Asian cultures, this trip was almost as big of shock to me as to my immediate tribe. But on March 7, (my Grandmother’s birthday) I boarded a plane to a new land and a fabulous adventure.
Abundance. Agriculture. Architecture. Allure.
An avid reader of travel posts and articles I have toyed with the notion on how best to share my visit. Filtering through the photos I took over my five-day tour, it was clear to me that I captured moments that revealed my passions. From pictures of fresh fruit in China Town, to stunning displays of orchids in the airport, from the amazing architectural canvas of the city to the perfect bite, my focus was truly on the attractions that were unique to me and my eye.
My tip when traveling internationally to a strange land, make the journey there as pain free as possible. To using miles to upgrade to hiring a driver to meet you upon arrival, there is no need to stress out before you even set foot in your hotel lobby. I struck the jackpot with my driver Adrian. Not only did he speak perfect English (he was born and raised in Singapore and informed me English is common as the British had an influence on settling the country) but he had an answer for every one of my 237 questions on our drive to the hotel. We instantly became connected on What’sAp and he shared ideas for my visit.
The first thing I noticed was the vegetation. Singapore is lush. From a living wall by the parking structure at the airport to the amazing Rain trees that lined the road into the city, the landscape was pristine. There is no tropical over growth, no bare spots, no dead leaves, each and every plant appears perfectly groomed. I sat and watched a man care for the orchids in the hotel lobby one afternoon. He carefully trimmed and cared for each plant like one would a new born infant. To say I was green with envy of the flora and fauna, would be an understatement. I did manage to walk the Gardens by the Bay, visit the Sunflower roof-top garden at the airport but I never made it to the Singapore Botanic Gardens or the National Orchid Garden. I guess I need to return someday?
The hardscape of the city ran a close second to the beauty of the green space. The skyline at night is lovely, but the view is just as stunning during the day. It has an inviting nature that makes you want to go stroll among the buildings. But unlike amazing metropolises in the US, the street level is refined and approachable. Upon close inspection, one could spot gardens growing among skyscrapers or on top buildings. If a Paris fashion house could design a metropolitan brand, it would be the spotless, unspoiled, perfectly manicured concrete jungle of Singapore.
Many things reminded me of my time in Australia. The vast number of people from around the world was parallel to my “down under “encounters. One evening, we dined outside of the city limits and the cultural differences became obvious. More from other guests at the restaurant, than the local visitors. However, the majority of the people I met were kind and helpful. I am a big fan of exceptional customer service, but the level of care that was offered from the hotel staff, Adrian or anyone of the many service industry members met, could be better explain as an art of hospitality. From remembering an order from the morning before to answering one of the countless questions I posed, the people were gracious and welcoming.
The funky vibe of the food scene mirrored travels across Australia. From taking an old church and turning it into a hip row of eateries, to creating decor out of everyday objects, my five senses were inspired by every meal. Although I had limited opportunities with street food or hawker fare, I did experience local dishes and a tremendous amount of seafood. Shrimp seemed to appear at the table during every meal, I also got to enjoy dumplings. The black peppered crab was good, but very messy. Singapore, seemed to have a soft spot for Gin. From the Gin and Tonic tasting at the lobby lounge to enjoying an original Singapore Sling, I can’t say I didn’t fall in love just a little myself.
But by far my favorite outing was the morning we spent in China Town. The first key to the success of the adventure, was hiring Adrian. He not only provided car service, but was the perfect tour guide. He didn’t even think twice when I went bananas over the Pig Décor for the Chinese New Year. I managed to capture a few photos, but I so wanted to take one of the larger than life pigs home.
Color, inspiration, and wonder would best describe my visit that morning. If I was ever the atypical tourist, it was walking the streets of China Town, with Kayla’s camera around my neck, snapping photos circa 1970 Uncle Howard. I was in awe. And Adrian, knew all the inside scoops. From the best BBQ pork stand (BBQ pork is like a super moist piece of jerky in a variety of flavors) to discovering my signature Christmas ornament keepsake, he even found me durian fruit. Have I mentioned driving in circles to get pictures of the pigs? I could have spent hours strolling up and down the streets, except for the humidity.
What I didn’t like about Singapore? That is an easy one word answer, humidity. To say it was humid, doesn’t do the weather justice. Each day I would muster up enough energy for a morning of taking in the scenery before the pool was beckoning me to submerge myself. The temperature never tipped over the lows 80’s, but the wall of stagnate heat was waiting every time one left an air-conditioned location. Probably why the land is so lush and green.
Keeping true to my goals of 2019, one down two to go, I visited a new place and turned the journey into a blog post. To be honest, I marvel at the past 30 days and the stamp I added to my passport. Singapore was more than a destination to travel. I began the experience with zero expectations, and walked away with countless lessons about myself. As I tackle this next hurdle in my life, there was an abundant of energy gained by this trip. I am not the same girl who walked through the door in February. Watch out world, because I am on the move and with each step I am picking up the pace on a bounty of good health.