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The Country of Style and Diversity, Singapore

June is coming up and soon we will finally meet the end of the semester. There are still some exams for several subjects, but we are looking forward to having a vacation to free ourselves from horrible assignments and tests. As you welcome your summer vacation, what are you, the readers going to do? Just have a rest? A trip? Study? There will be many things that you have planned. If you want to travel freely not to go with a package tour, please carefully read my article which describes a record of my travel in Singapore, a symbol of cleanliness. During last winter vacation, I went to Singapore with my mother without assistance from a travel agency. I had had some experiences to go abroad in the past, but I was a little bit nervous because it was first time to have for me to travel freely. I was not sure if I could talk with foreigners well, find the right ways, and have the right reservations for hotels and restaurants. Anyway, I was thrilled just to think I would soon travel aboard while I was preparing for travel.

Day 1-2 2/24~25

Arriving in Incheon International Airport, I finally realized, “I will go abroad.” At the same time, my heart fluttered. Distracting my mind by shopping at some duty free shops, the time of my departure was coming up. After about six and a half hours, we arrived at Singapore Changi Airport at 1am, in Singapore’s time. (Singapore’s standard time is an hour behind Korea’s) As soon as we arrived, I made a big mistake with my hotel reservation. As it turned out, the hotel I reserved was a transit hotel which people stay at when they transfer to another airport. I felt bad that I had wasted my money, but I soothed myself by rationalizing that I could make a mistake because it was my first time to book my own hotel. As the first train to go to another hotel I booked was at 5:30, we had to wait for 4 hours at the airport, so we ate kaya toast, which is popular snack in Singapore and which other tourists had recommended, as an early breakfast. I eagerly looked forward to eating it, but the coffee was too sugary, and the toast was also not good. However, that was just my taste, so you may like it. After breakfast, we moved to my hotel and caught up on some sleep. For my first visit on my Singapore tour, we decided to sightsee some representative places of Singapore. First, we went to Marina Bay Sands, which is a famous place of Singapore. We took Singapore’s flyer to see the whole view of Marina Bay. Looking at the view, we could see the merlion fountains spurting up water very high and Marina Bay Sands hotel, which is a model landmark. Everything was exotic. I felt that here, Singapore was very clean and well arranged. Moreover, I could realize once again I was in an overseas country just by seeing some signs in the road written in English, not Korean. Next, we moved to Chinatown. Singapore is multicultural society in which Chinese, Indians, and Arabs live. Above all, Chinese are the most represented, I felt. The streets were decorated with red Chinese wish lanterns, and many buildings were painted in diverse colors. Hurrying our steps, we arrived at the next place to visit, Bugis, which is a center of shopping. There were department stores and many markets just like in a traditional marketplace in Korea. In the market, we tasted kaya balls, fruit juice, and mangos at cheap prices. Moving along the streets of Singapore, we went to Arab Street. Sultan Mosque was at the center of Arab Street. I had heard of Seoul Central Mosque in Itaewon, but I had never seen it. Sultan Mosque was bigger than I had thought before, and that mosque seemed very significant for people in Singapore. I wanted to enter to see the inside of mosque, but it was not allowed because of my short dress. After seeing the mosque, we decided to go and experience the mosque in Korea when I went back to Seoul. Once our legs were tired, we went to a restaurant to eat martabak. Martabak is a dish that has meat and vegetables with some sauces on dough. My mother, who is very fussy about food, said it was good. It tasted like dumplings. After spending meaningful times on my first day in Singapore, we finished the day drinking Tiger Beer, Singapore’s typical beer.

Day 3 2/26

The second day in Singapore started. Breakfast was the special menu of McDonalds’. It was my first store in a foreign country. I was surprised because there are a lot of different menu items compared to in Korea. After the meal, we went to Little India where the famous shopping mall, Mustafa is located. Walking along the street in Little India, I felt, “I am really in real India.” It was great to experience India indirectly. We wandered for a while to find Mustafa, and luckily I could find it since many Korean tourists went there. In a shopping mall, I bought Singapore’s must-buy items such as Himalaya creams, lip balms, tiger balms and Darlie toothpastes on impulse. After making a lot of purchases, we moved to another hotel in Chinatown. I was very tired of shopping for a long time, but I took my foot off the bed to see the sight of Chinatown’s street I didn’t see in first day and went to Clark Quay, which is along Singapore river and is also famous for night view, like Hongdae in Korea. I ate delicious chili crab for dinner in the famous Jumbo Seafood restaurant. Mom and I both said this chili crab is the best meal in Singapore ever. As we ate, we looked around at the beautiful night view. I greatly admired the shining riverside. It was awesome and ecstatic and moving to see. I recommend you to see this.

Day 4 2/27

This day, we spent time in Sentosa island, in which people can experience a lot of activities, such as the luge and megazip. Universal Studios is also there. Waking up early, we set off for Sentosa by using the monorail. I shouted to express my delight when I arrived Universal Studios, which I was the most excited about. It was a historical day that one of my wish list items was checked off. We took some photos in front of a huge globe, the symbol of Universal. When we entered, there was a whole other world. It was separated into the different areas related to the styles of New York, Jurassic Park, science fiction, Egypt, and fairy tales. I felt so great that I thought it was heaven because photos were great everywhere. There were a large number of people, so I could took only four rides, but it was satisfying to view the beautiful landscape. I had a marvelous time in Universal Studios, but my mom didn’t like it that much because she didn’t want to take a ride. Therefore, If you are going to have a trip with your mom and dad who don’t want to go to an amusement park, you’d better to check this point. To look around the other parts of in Sentosa island, we went out Universal Studio and firstly took a luge, one of the exciting activities. It was so entertaining and thrilling and I regretted that I had bought a ticket only for just one time. It was like playing the game ‘Kart Rider’ for real and also was easy to control the speed. ONCE WAS NOT ENOUGH! I recommend the luge without reservation. After taking the luge, we moved to Siloso Beach. Once again, we could see a wonderful nightscape of a beach with palm trees. It gave me fresh feeling, because we can’t see this view in Korea which is also different to Clark Quay. Enjoying the view, we could enjoy the night with a Singapore Sling, a cocktail.

Day 5 2/28

Finally, the day we stayed in Marina Bay Sands came. The very reason I chose Singapore to go on a trip is that hotel. Especially, the infinity pool, which is the hotel’s swimming pool is attractive. However, it is more expensive (about 2-3 times) than other hotels to stay at for just for one day. As we checked in, I felt I was a fool for worrying about the price. The check-in time at the hotel is 3 o’clock, so we stepped out to Marina Bay to walk and look around Merlion Park and Raffles Place, a center of finance. When I saw Marina Bay Sands hotel at Merlion Park, it was like a dream with a fantastic landscape. Though we were planning to go on a night safari, which is a zoo that is the only one at night in the world, we gave up going there to enjoy the hotel more. The infinity pool was fantastic as I heard that it is the signal of that hotel. It may sound like exaggerated, but it’s true. The reason why the infinity pool is famous is that it looks like there is no end to the pool. But in reality, there are strong boards behind the pool that make the pool safer. When we became hungry, we ate French fries while lying on a sunbed. I felt I was in paradise. We liked it so much, so I went to the pool for three times in morning, during the day and at night. I think each feeling is different, so if you have free time to spare, enjoy it three times like I did. Especially, seeing the night view of the financial district when swimming in the nighttime was eye-pleasing. Also, the inside of the hotel and the service were very satisfying. My 4th day in Singapore was only to enjoy Marina Bay Sands. It’s worth it to do so. I recommend strongly spending two days to look around hotel.

Day 6 3/1

The last day in Singapore, after all, was coming up. I was sad, but I firmly decided to enjoy my journey to the end. As I said above, we were in the infinity pool again, and after check-out, we went around Gardens by the Bay. Gardens by the Bay is like a botanical garden, which has lots of kinds of plants in various ways like shapes of animals. In addition, there are super-trees, statues shaped like trees, which are shining. We couldn’t see those at night because of our other plans, but many people say that the super-tree show is great. Therefore, if you have a plan to go Gardens by the Bay, it is better to go at night. Waiting for opening of Satay Street, mom and I went shopping at Charles & Keith and ate lunch at Moza Pizza, which has its pizza in the Michelin guide. The staff is so kind, and we had a conversation about Korea. Looking back on my trip, all the people in Singapore were so friendly and kind to tourists. Anyway, the taste of the pizza was also nice. To eat Singapore’s other classic food, we went to Satay Street. The satay was great and it was amazing to eat satay in the middle of the financial distinct. I felt that I had adapted to Singapore, looking at myself enjoying that atmosphere like the natives. As I felt that, simultaneously the time to go back to my home, Korea was coming. Departing from Singapore left much to be desired, but the memories of Singapore gave me the fresh mind to start a new semester. Just like that, my journey ended.

Looking back on my trip, it was a very fast six days. When I first started writing this article, I felt regretful that the first and second days of the trip weren’t very excitingl. However, as I wrote this article, they are all very valuable memories because I probably won’t have a chance to go to Singapore again. When I first thought about Singapore, I usually brought some images of cleanliness and strict punishment to mind. Therefore, I was just afraid of those images, but don’t be worried! Surprisingly, people are so conscientious that they don’t litter trash anyway and don’t eat while walking on the street. The city is clean and arranged well compared with Korea. Moreover, I could experience various cultures when I went to Little India, Chinatown and Arab Street, and realized that Singapore is truly multicultural. My favorite memories are of Merlion Park and Marina Bay Sands. If I could go to Singapore again, those would be my first place to visit. In addition, the means of transportation, such as the MRT, are good, so it was really convenient to move around. It was great country and the people are kind. I hope you can go to Singapore once!

Choi Yugyeong  pretty0467@naver.com

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