After spending the first few days of February in Vietnam, we flew to Singapore, where we spent the rest of the month. I was so happy to unpack and have a place to call home for a little while.
I knew Singapore would be lovely. Everyone talks about that. But it’s not the beauty or cleanliness that intrigued me the most. Rather, it was the mix of cultures. I loved walking down the street and seeing all shades of skin color and hearing all kinds of languages being spoken. I loved the large variety of Asian foods available (especially the Indian! Oh how I missed it!).
I loved a lot of things about Singapore, but I didn’t fall in love with it. Not at first, at least.
Singapore is truly beautiful, but it’s also kind of a boring country to be staying in for a month from a tourist’s standpoint. There’s not a whole ton to do, and the people watching isn’t interesting enough (unlike Hanoi, where people watching is the thing to do). The national hobby seems to be shopping. You can barely walk two blocks without bumping into a mall. It’s fun to mall-hop for a while, but that gets old fast.
Without a whole lot to do, we took this time to be more productive with work. Our rental was perfect for that as it had a lot of natural light and a large reclaimed wood table which served as our workspace. But it also came with cable and a large flat-screen, so in reality, I spent most of my time curled up on the couch and getting addicted to reality shows (why have I only now discovered American Idol and Millionaire Matchmaker?!).
I gotta admit, I needed that after months of movement and bare-minimum rentals.
In between, we explored the little island nation. We were experiencing a bit of sticker shock in Singapore, so we mainly stuck to the things that didn’t cost anything to see (though I did manage to convince D that we must go to the Night Safari).
Most of the time though, we stayed closed to the house. We stayed in the Katong neighborhood, an older area of Singapore. We paid $1,500 this month to rent the spare bedroom of a family with a toddler (airbnb here). But our experience wasn’t exactly what I imagined.
For the first two weeks, we saw neither hide nor hair of our hosts, though the house seemed to be well lived in. It turned out that they recently moved away (to Bali!), and only the husband lived in the house a few nights a week for work. For the most part when he was there, we passed each other like ships in the night, slipping in and out of our rooms just as the other passed. So it wasn’t the local family experience I thought we’d get, but I’m not really complaining either. Because now we basically paid a very reasonable price to have an entire big house to ourselves. Score!
Not having anyone else around also meant that we used the kitchen a lot! It’s been months since we’ve had a rental with a real kitchen. And now with an extremely well stocked one, we decided to cook more and get ourselves on a diet. I know, what a country to be on a diet in! But I’ve been feeling increasingly unhealthy and with a kitchen, we actually had a chance to get healthy again. We’ve been on this diet (or lifestyle change, I should say) for almost a full month and I’ll be ready to do a full report soon!
But of course we couldn’t travel to a new country and not eat its food. Not to worry, we still indulged plenty of local food!
We really enjoyed our rental to the fullest. BUT – and this is a huge but – we also seemed to share it with cockroaches. And if you’ve been reading my blog, you know I have a severe fear of them. After so many months of traveling in Southeast Asia, this was the first time we’ve seen them inside our house. In Singapore no less, the cleanest Asian country! I know it has to do with our apartment being on the first floor and in an old building, but it did not excuse these uninvited guests!
It got to the point where I dreaded having to use the bathroom (since they seemed to come through the drain in there). The worst was when I was doing my business and saw a big one crawling around just 2 feet away. I yelped, literally pinched off the pee mid-stream, and ran out. So not cool!
(Check out this guide to surviving cockroaches in Southeast Asia. I would add “walk around with a can of roach spray at all times “.)
Nevertheless, it’s always a little bit sad to have to pack up the bags again and say goodbye. As the leaving date drew closer, I kept on finding more and more things to love (beef rendang, for one) and I knew I wasn’t as quite done with this country as I had thought.
Last night, as I stood at the kitchen sink, cleaning up dishes and getting a little sentimental that we were leaving in the morning, D suddenly got quiet and said slowly, “Don’t move.”
I stood frozen in place for a couple of seconds, then ran to where he stood by the dining table. I turned around and saw a gigantic cockroach crawling on the drying towel, right next to where I was standing. I screamed and ran for the Raid.
That was the last straw. If I wasn’t before, I was done with this country now. Thank god we were leaving.
Singapore, we will be back. I’m sure of it. But next time, we’re staying in a modern high rise.
What’s going on in March
We just arrived on Boracay this evening! We arrived just as the sun was setting.
Needless to say, I’m so excited to be spending the next four weeks on this island that’s often hailed as one of the world’s most beautiful! If you’ve been to Boracay, any recommendations is appreciated! I imagine we’ll mostly be hanging out on the beach, but I’m interested to know if there are any fun day trips.
How was your February? What are your plans for March?
Linking up with Pack Me To for Sunday Traveler.