I've left Singapore with a year full of memories of my favorite places. I thought I'd share some of the highlights with you!
I love the Tanjong Pagar area because it's such a stunning visual of the mix of the old and the new. There are low-rise, colorful shophouses, framed in the back by giant modern housing estates. Most of the shophouses have now been renovated and exist as hipster cafes, restaurants, and bars, but they still retain some of their historic charm.
Chinatown is also a unique neighborhood in Singapore. It's a bit strange to think of the existence of a "Chinatown" in a Chinese-majority country, but I suppose it does have its historic groundings as well. Now though, it's not so much residential as commercial and tourist-centered. There are lots of shops and restaurants, and some pretty affordable hostels as well for backpackers. The area gets pretty festive around some of the Chinese holidays like Mid-Autumn Festival.
Of course, the central business district and Marina Bay area will always be one of my favorite spots. I love cities, and these brilliantly lit up skyscrapers and the still water with their wavering reflections has a certain romantic charm for me. There is a sense of possibility, and the awe of the human potential. In Singapore, the beauty is magnified by the fact that at night the area is almost peaceful in its emptiness and security. You will find it difficult to locate a safer downtown area anywhere in the world. At night, there is such a pleasant solicitude found in walking around the empty avenues.
Two prominent features of the Singaporean landscape are interesting architecture and shopping malls. The Star Vista, located at Buona Vista MRT, showcases both of these quite proudly. It's an upscale mall, quite close to where I used to live, so I frequented it quite often. At the top of the mall is a massive concert hall and venue for a massive Christian church to hold services. I've stared at this below scene many times as I've waited for the bus to take me home.
And then there's Sentosa Beach, with the pale yellow sands and warm shallow water, probably what a lot of people imagine when you tell them that Singapore is an island in Southeast Asia. Sentosa is just a little stretch of the coastline at the southern tip of the island, but it's a fun place to go if you have a free weekend and want to relax. However, be careful - the sun can be relentlessly hot and there isn't too much shade on the beach.
These are just some of the distinctive places that I will miss about Singapore! There aren't many other places in the world that manage to combine all these unique areas into one city, and where you can hop from beach to financial district in twenty minutes. Sometimes the vibe surrounding these places can feel a bit manufactured, but I do admire the way the island has been designed to maximize the tiny amount of land that Singapore has to work with. It's a true wonder in many ways!