It’s time to revisit my earlier first impressions of Singapore. I mentioned its reputation as a “boringly sterile” land of laws. I left that quote unattributed, but it came from the Lonely Planet book I think. A single jet-lagged stroll down Orchard Street served as the basis for my first impression of Singapore as a land of malls. It is a shopper’s nirvana for sure, but I’m discovering more and more all the time.
This is a big holiday weekend in Singapore. Yesterday was the Hindu holiday, Deepavali (the “festival of lights”), and I wandered through Little India last evening to sample the scene. I was really sorry I left my camera behind, because Serangoon Road was dazzlingly lit, and the temple was full of happy celebrants.
While inside, I “talked” to a woman and her adorable little granddaughter for a little while. I put “talked” in quotes because she didn’t speak any English. Eventually, she called someone over to translate for her, and she and I exchanged contact information. She was really pushing for me to visit her in Madras early next year.
Tomorrow is the muslim holiday, Hari Raya, which I’m told is much more fun. In particular, the Malay community transforms the Geylang Serai area into basically a big party. I won’t forget my camera tomorrow.
I should say now that I think Singapore is a food paradise. This city might not offer the sheer wealth of options one can find in New York or even San Francisco, but then I’m not paying NYC or SF prices here either. I’m continually thrilled by what I can eat for my money. Last night, for example, I spent easily the best sixty cents of my life. I bought a thai coconut from a street vendor, who poked a straw into it for me. I drank the milk as slowly as I could – savoring every sip. Then I handed the coconut back to the vendor, who cracked it in half and scooped the flesh out for me. Total paradise.
The other thing I want to say about Singapore is that it’s a city of smiles. The customer service is incredible, and I’ve found everyone I’ve interacted with to be really warm and open.
So much for first impressions.