More advantages of flying Business Class: You get off the plane first, go through immigration before the lines get long, get to the luggage carousel as the first bags come off - they are yours, of course. Then you have to wait for your ride to the hotel, because they can't believe you are already here. We could get used to this!
Singapore is an island is a country is a city. Like Hong Kong it started as a fishing village and gained prominence as a shipping transfer point under British rule. It used to seeem like a second banana, but now that Hong Kong is battling with China as it is reassumed into the country, Singapore thrives in its independence. It also has a majority Chinese population, but has significant Indian and Malay populations since it is just south of the Malay peninsula. Under the lengthy rule of benevolent dictator Lee Kwan Lee, these populations were melded together to form an exciting and cosmopolitan metropolis.
Because its land area is so confined, land reclamation has given the place a bit more elbow room. Although we have been here a number of times, we hardly recognize anything. Urban renewal is ever ongoing. Our hotel is near the Singapore River, which used to be a dilapidated area with decrepit warehouses and wharves. It has all been knocked down and rebuilt, a sanitized version of what used to be. It is easy to walk to restaurants and stores Chinatown from our hotel. The hotel has loaned us a cell phone, which is a real treat. We feel braver about wandering around with e-maps readily available with its apps.
Singapore is just 90 miles north of the equator and has been hot and humid no matter when we have been here. Everything is air conditioned. In 1979 that made us spend much too much time in the shopping malls. It's no wonder we came home broke.
We took a tour in the evening in the theory that it would make us stay up late enough. Otherwise we would go to bed at 7am, get up at 3pm and never make the time zone switch. The tour started at Marine Bay Gardens, a reclaimed bit of real estate that is tough to explain. The area has two huge botanical conservatories housing plants with different environmental needs. Each one would take at least an hour to go through. To acclimatize these domes, "trees" were built that would collect rainwater, funnel hot air out of the domes, and collect solar energy. These "trees" could have been real eye sores, but they were surrounded with jungly plant life and festooned with lights. At the designated moment they put on a colorful light show, accompanied by very familiar music. We wondered if the patent rights had been paid to Disney, the Ray Charles, estate, etc.
Then we went to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel Resort, a huge three part monstrosity topped off with a garden and viewing area that is as large as a cruise ship. From here we had 360º views of the beautiful city below and reconfirmed that we couldn't recognize a thing. Hotel guests have a special swimming area with the largest infinity pool in the world. You hear that a lot when you are a tourist. We saw pictures and it looks like you swim off the edge of the pool 59 floors above the city.
There was a sound and light show in the bay below. It was so unimpressive I didn't take a photo, but the bay itself was amazing. It used to be a natural bay full of seawater. The Singporeans strive to be as independent and self reliant as they can; no mean feat with no land mass or natural resources. They have a contract where they buy fresh water from Malaysia until 2060, but would like to be self reliant by then. So they pumped out all the salt water and are using the natural cachement as a giant reservoir and hope that this water will be enough when the time comes. The last stop on the tour was on bum boats. These used to ply the Singapore River bringing goods from the big ships docked outside the harbor to the warehouses inside the bay. Since everything is done by container these days, the warehouses are trendy restaurants and the bum boats tour the tourists.