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DSCN3129Sweet: Singapore is doing something right…it started with our arrival at Changi Airport, where amenities include movie theaters, a butterfly garden, spa, giant slide, rooftop swimming pool and world class shopping. Everything is clean, orderly, and tastefully designed.

Sour: Leaving from the airport was a breeze; there’s no need for an expensive cab ride. We simply hopped onto the MRT commuter train for $1.70, the same way that most Singaporeans do (owning a car can cost around $150,000 USD)!

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cityscapes20 (3)Sweet: I was completely mind blown over the number of developing building projects. Singapore’s architecture has contributed to increased tourism, and its cutting edge skyline has become world-renowned. Tucked in the shadows of the new sky scrapers are Colonial era, Art Deco, and mid-70’s modern style neighborhoods.

Sour: Singapore is a shopping mecca, a foodie paradise, and a global melting pot. Activities are all best enjoyed indoors, if you’re headed outside go early or late in the day due to the hot humid climate!

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Sweet: Gardens by the Bay is set behind Marina Bay Sands, its 250 acres includes two air conditioned conservatories, a Supertrees Grove, eco-lakes, and a children’s garden. We even had dinner in a SuperTree!

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IMG_7511Sour: There are way better places to eat than the Supertree, however, a trip to its rooftop bar is worth a visit for a great view of Marina Bay Sands.

Sweet: For part of our trip we stayed at Marina Bay Sands, and enjoyed the roof top swimming pool!

DSCN3145Sour: Unfortunately, there were forest fires in South Sumatra, which was literally choking out Singapore. Even though we tried to spend most of our time indoors, we suffered sore throats, congestion, and headaches.

Sweet: We made sure to drink plenty of tea, and spend a little extra time in our wonderful room, where we had an awesome city view!

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IMG_6966Sour: I wanted to experience life as a local, to remember what living here 20 years ago was like. Now Singapore was almost unrecognizable to me.

Sweet: First we had to get some tourist things out of the way, like visiting the Buddha Tooth Relic Museum, going Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling, and stopping by the famous Clark Quay.

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IMG_7413IMG_7414Sweet:  Chinatown, Little India, and Arab Street are all great neighborhoods to grab a cold drink and try something new. The culture here felt diverse and rich, and the fact that everything is in English makes visiting here so easy.

Sour: Singapore’s residents are very regulated. Eating and drinking are not allowed on the metro, gum is not sold, graffiti and littering are strictly forbidden, and drug smuggling is punishable by DEATH. While the rules might seem extreme, there is an order about the country that I can really appreciate.

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Sweet: I could sense certain freedoms, as often times churches, temples, and mosques were in close proximity to another. We met locals who acknowledged that the government does in a way treat them like children, but the safety, excellent schools, and public housing are very beneficial. In southeast Asia, this is a bubble that offers a good quality of life.

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IMG_7129IMG_7123Sweet: Singapore is known for its hawker centers. Here you can find local food, much like that of a street vendor, in an outdoor food court setting. The favorite dishes of the country can be found here. Some of these are chicken rice, roti prata, chili or black pepper crab, fish head curry, char kway teow, laksa, and satay.

IMG_7404Sour: Most of the neighborhoods, and residential buildings have their own hawker center. Newton Center is Singapore’s most popular hawker center, and the place where most locals bring their visitors. We ventured out to Golden Mile Hawker Center, a local place off the beaten path where time has stood still, and if you want the best Hainan Chicken, you happily wait 15 minutes. For something good and central, I would suggest a visit to Lau Pa Sat, a cleaner and more welcoming hawker center.

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IMG_7011Sour: Singapore’s climate is EXTREMELY hot and humid, so I didn’t mind strolling through the many connected shopping malls on Orchard Road.

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Sweet: Malls like Ion and Orchard Central have MRT access, and so many dining options!

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Sour: There’s a large selection of mall food courts. Local favorites can be found here in an atmosphere nicer than a Hawker Center. We enjoyed breakfast at Toast Box (located in a Food Republic) for kopi (coffee), kaya toast, peanut butter toast, and extra soft boiled eggs.

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Sweet: We visited the Singapore Botanical Gardens to see the best Orchid garden in Singapore.

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Sour: The humidity makes for a sticky and uncomfortable outing, so I recommend heading to the gardens early in the morning for a little better experience.

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Sweet: Tai Chi groups gather in this peaceful setting, students picnic, and  special events are held, such as Symphonies in the Park.

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P1080476Sweet: We had purchased tickets in advance to Ultra Singapore. This was a fun event because the young people there were very friendly and outgoing.

Sour: On the other hand, this would have been a huge disappointment for anyone used to going to music festivals in the US, and it was simply held in an open convention space, making it feel like a glorified high school dance.

Sweet: Afterwards we were able to explore the surrounding area, and take a peak into the Sands Casino, which felt like I was stepping into a Vegas mega-casino!

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IMG_7218Sweet: I wanted to check out my first beach in Asia so we took the metro to Vivo City. From here you can walk, take the Sentosa Express, or the Singapore Cable Car to get to Sentosa; a small island full of attractions like the Sentosa Merlion, golfing, zip lining, and Universal Studios Singapore. We relaxed at the beach, dotted with day clubs, cafes and quirky signs.

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Sour: Sentosa’s beach is very man-made, and by looking in the distance, your view will be filled with freight ships. Since there are so many attractions, Sentosa is a great place for families to stay.

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chinesegarden0Sour: We wanted to see as much of Singapore as possible in 5 short days, so we headed to the Chinese & Japanese Gardens in the Jurong East side of town. I was even coerced into climbing up seven floors to catch a view.

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jurong2Sweet: It started to rain, so we hailed a taxi to Jurong Bird Park. This was a fun park. We saw so many beautiful birds like parrots, flamingos and penguins. We saw a huge waterfall and caught a bird show.

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Sour: I think that the Jurong Bird Park is a great place to take kids, and half of a day was all the time that we needed here.

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DSCN2970DSCN2977Sweet: Other places that we visited were Har Paw Villa, where you walk through scenes of Chinese folklore and mythology.

Sour: Har Paw Villa is close to Sentosa, so it was easy for us to stop by at, however, I wouldn’t make it a priority!

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P1080579Sweet: We saw a lot of Singapore, and were able to see many happening celebrations, Singapore’s 50th Anniversary as a free country, the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, and the Indian holiday Deepavali.

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Sour: We still have more of Singapore to see and experience, so I have a feeling that we will be back again for more delicious food, sightseeing, and (hopefully) air conditioning. If Singapore was not so hot and humid, we might have just ended up staying there for good!

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