Singapore was somewhere we had imagined just as a quick stop over city without any idea of what to expect. There's something special about Singapore, it could be the magical skyline, the diversity of culture or the promotion of the arts. There is a definite pull to stay and explore for longer, whether it's to ride a bike along the Singapore river, explore the ArtScience museum or watch the lights show at Gardens by the Bay (which we did twice!). One of the highlights was definitely Singapore Zoo, the 'open' concept was fantastic, which is where they are within reserves and you can look at the animals at eye level without an ugly metal cage in betweeen you and you can get pretty close to the animals to take photos. You could walk under the orangutans swinging on trees and watch the white Tigers patrol their territory.
The promotion of arts in Singapore was evidently widespread. We stayed in the middle of the arts scene, great bars with live music, colourful street art and even skateboard competitions. There was so much going on in the city we were spoilt for choice which made it impossible to get bored. They had a light festival where they projected lights onto the national gallery and you could play games with other passers by. The ArtScience museum was simply incredible, the combination of education and visual interaction was enlightening and the exhibitions were fantastic. We tried a virtual reality tour where you could learn about environmental issues in the rainforest and this was made more powerful after coming from Sumatra and seeing the real threats to the orangutans. They had many wonderful quotes on the walls from well known and famous people about the application of both art and science my favourite was,
"Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses - especially learn to see. Realise that everything connects to everything else." Leonardo Da Vinci
This was an incredibly powerful message to me about learning to see, and to open my eyes and notice what is going on around me. This is so important in today's society where we are glued to our screens and sometimes fail to notice what is happening in the here and now and without realising our senses can be numbed. Go outside and look at things differently, exercise your senses and find what inspires you. I have found that many times on this trip, I have put my phone away and even when I've had no internet I've been forced to look around me and notice all the beauty around me and as Louis Armstrong said I noticed 'what a wonderful world' I live in.
One of our favourite things to get around Singapore was by bike, you could scan them on your phone and at the time we were there it was completely free (added bonus!) and a great pace to see the city. It was fantastic just riding our bikes along the Singapore river and was a wonderful way to relax and admire the incredible skyline of the city and ride underneath massive concrete structures covered in vines. Along the river we spotted wild otters playing with each other. They were featured in David Attenborough's documentary and are known as local celebs cruising along the river in Marina Bay and are not camera shy!
The diversity of culture in the city was evident in the food, architecture and people. Singapore is largely made of three ethnicities, Indian, Malay and Chinese. There is also an influence of western culture and the city has been named a place where "East meets West". It was wonderful to see so many different traditions and cultures all living alongside each other harmoniously.