My presentation was done, the meeting was over and I had one afternoon to spend in Singapore. It's not much time, but then again, it's not a large island. I asked around at the hotel and was told that the best way to see a lot in a little time was to take the Hop On/Hop Off bus around the island.
I walked about a mile to Orchard Road, the main shopping district to the nearest stop and decided to poke around a bit first before boarding. If you are a shopper - a high-end shopper - Singapore is for you. Gucci, Prada, Chanel - every designer you can think of is here. The sidewalks are filled with fashionably dressed people carrying bags, so people are buying things. It's really quite overwhelming with such a high concentration of stores and it seems like every neighborhood is known for its mall or galleria, rather than an historic aspect.
It took a few wrong turns before I finally found the bus stop - the signage was terrible - but once on in air-conditioned comfort, I was able to get a feel for the place. If you are an architect of modern buildings, Singapore is your playground. There is construction everywhere of angular glass towers and sleek stone office buildings. Every once in a while, we would pass by a small neighborhood of older homes, but it seems like most have made way for more contemporary buildings. The only area that appeared to still have the flavor of "old Singapore" was past the botanical gardens along Embassy Row.
I got off the bus at the La Pa Sat market, known for food stalls and satay sellers. It's an old Victorian iron building, now filled with rows and rows of vendors with everything from kimchi to pig organs. I settled for a lunch of noodles with greens, mushrooms and fish dumplings. Back on the bus, we drove through many more shopping districts before coming to the west end of island that is home to the botanical garden. It had started to rain, so I just took a short walk before hopping back on. It's rained heavily each afternoon, but it doesn't seem to break the heat.
A short trip back to Orchard Road brought me back to my starting place. I tried to wait out the rain in a few shops, but it wasn't letting up and eventually I decided to make my way back to the hotel. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, as I am extremely appreciative of this trip, but Singapore is not high on my list of favorite cities. It's too modern and commercial for my taste and reminds me of Miami, without the benefit of drag queens.