06 February 2012

Reflecting on the First Year in Singapore

Twelve months ago, we were in Melbourne settling the sale of our house, selling all our furniture, shipping or storing our belongings and preparing for a grand adventure abroad.

We arrived in Singapore to an apartment consisting of a mattress that was our bed, lounge suite and dining table for a few weeks and a TV on the floor.  But nothing was more breathtaking than our view across the Strait of Malacca onto Indonesia's Island of Batam.  Located on the 22nd floor with floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall windows, we indulge in the evenings on the brightly lit ships (our very own floating city) and during the day on the downstairs facilities and its numerous pools.

This past year has been a whirlwind of activities and new friendships.  Between us we have travelled to England, Italy, Australia, Bali and Austria.  We have always loved to travel abroad and experience new places. Being in Singapore makes the rest of the world so much more accessible (less flight time along with cheaper tickets).  We have gotten to know Emirates Airlines quite well.  Trini is a pro on planes and loves the whole process of take-off, landing, child meals, watching Disney movies and thankfully sleeping when tired.

Where my Italian trip was laid back, consisting mostly of sitting outside on a swing with good company and indulging in red wine, my Australian trip was an altogether different experience.  A jam-packed diary consisted of celebrating Trini's 3rd birthday, attend a first birthday, help my brother christen little Sophia, too much shopping, drove 1500km in 4 weeks trying to see everyone and flew to Sydney for some colouring marathons with my friend's two daughters. 

For a small country, Singapore has a diverse collection of museums.  Architecturally speaking they are anything from colonial to iconic and modern such as the ArtScience Museum. Impressive travelling exhibits means that we are being cultured (making up for the last 4 decades) and the Singaporeans certainly know how to put on a display.  Here's our roundup:
  • Genghis Khan - greatest Mongolian warrior;
  • Shipwrecked Treasure - 1000 year old Arab dhow discovered containing 60,000 intact artifacts;
  • Vacheron Constantin - the oldest Swiss watchmaker;
  • Titanic - a few months shy of 100 years since its tragic sinking;
  • Dreams & Reality - 140 Impressionist artworks from the Musee d'Orsay, France;
  • Dinosaurs Live - 50+ life size animatronic reproductions;
  • Maritime Week - depicting life and work in Singapore's port, one of the busiest in the world;
  • Salvador Dali - a unique and eccentric 20th century artist.  You may know him his melting clock sculptures;
  • Beauty in Black - a collection of black dresses from the 1950s-2000 and colour black's history and place in today's society;
  • History Gallery - depicting Singapore's settlement by Sir Stamford Raffles and its rise as a first world country;
  • Philatelic Museum - illustrating Singapore's history, culture and heritage through stamps;
  • Toy Museum - displaying a privately held collection of 50,000 vintage toys.
When not enlightened by history we either find ourselves at the brilliant Singapore Zoo or the Jurong Bird Park.  We have visited both parks a combined 12 times in eight months and Trini is already making noises about going again.  The zoo is a highly recommended visit for anyone coming to Singapore.

Alternatively, we hit the shops. With Singapore's heat and humidity we find ourselves indoors most of the time and poolside early evenings.  Of the 200+ shopping malls throughout this country we have managed to explore about 10% of the total.  Most of the 10% are on Orchard Rd which I like to describe as wall-to-wall shopping complexes, each approximately 7-9 levels, ranging from budget to high-end retail.

Throughout the year we entertained my brother twice, my sister twice and two friends once each (hence the many many visits to the wildlife reserves).

We have feasted on local food, indulged in lots of ice cream and lunched at Marina Bay Sands way too many times (it's a boat like structure atop three towers with an infinity pool and observation deck).  The observation deck gives the viewer a wonderful vista across the city, the port and the Strait of Malacca.

Walked 17km on the East Coast Park with my brother and got caught in a very heavy tropical downpour.  We looked like drowned cats, soaked all the way through to the skin.

Along the way Trini went from being held in the pool, to floaties, to no floaties, to treading, to now jumping off a diving board 1.5m above the water level and swimming under water.  She has progressed so quickly in the pool, I think she's ready for an instructor.

John has taken up tennis with the neighbours and I have taken up writing as a way to journal our experiences and share them with our friends and family back home.

The next twelve months are expected to be just as active with a skiing trip in Oz to turn Trini into a mini ski nut like her daddy.  There's a potential travel journey back to my country of birth.  Have not returned since I left 31 years ago, so this could be interesting.  Thankfully my brother, who regularly returns to Romania, will be accompanying me.

Later in the year the Singapore Zoo is opening up its new reserve called the River Safari, designed to showcase the most significant rivers in the world and their wildlife such as: the beaver in the Mississippi River, the giant otter in the Amazon or the rainbow fish in the Murray. Cruising these rivers will certainly be lots of fun for Trini and even more so the giant pandas on the Yangtze River.

In a few weeks Singapore is hosting it's bi-annual Airshow which I missed every single time it was on in Melbourne.  I look forward to some crazy aerobatics, displays of the latest airplanes and tonnes of photos (am a bit of a plane nutcase).

Given the impressive display of the Vacheron Constantin exhibition mid-last year, I now have a wider appreciation for horology and its history, so the current exhibition on Cartier's history is certainly of interest.

Most of all, I hope to continue developing my writing and perhaps one day find something more professional I can do with it.  In the meantime, I'll keep blogging.  Thank you to all my readers who have come back again and again and especially for the feedback.  It keeps me encouraged to keep going.  Lookout for the forthcoming blogs on our recent Austrian holiday.