Singapore 2011

I ended up in Singapore with a bit of luck and a lot of perseverance. After I came back from the USA, I spent a few more weeks at University to complete my second year. And I decided that I wouldn’t come back for the third … yet. Instead, I would go on a gap year.

I found an internship in France and spent 11 months doing the job. From a professional point of view, it was great. My colleagues were fantastic, the work interesting and I got to learn a lot. But I kept reading about my fellow students who decided to go to Poland, Australia or Argentina. I couldn’t stop thinking about going somewhere exotic as well. And as I had 3 months free before going back to University to complete my degree, I picked a destination that I had heard a lot about but didn’t really know what it was like: Singapore! It had become the capital of Asia, home of the biggest firm’s headquarters, but seemed to have kept its cultural roots despite the rapid development. In fact, several cultures were present due to the important chinese, malaysian and indian communities living there.

The start wasn’t exaclty as I was expecting. I had taken an other intersnhip to secure some revenue. A couple of hours after I landed from my 20 hour journey, my boss took me to the office… to work. What!? And then I had to find my way back home using the MRT (Singaporean tube), even though I had no idea where I was nor where I was going. That was a shi* day!

I then made the work secondary and was looking forward to discover Singapore and southeast Asia. To that end, the first thing I did was to buy a Digital SLR camera to capture the great moments and landscapes I was expecting to see in the region. Here are the first few shots I took of the city.

 

The view from my first flat

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My swimming pool

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The condominium I as living in (right) from the bottom

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A chinese style commercial center on Orchard Road, the “Singaporean Champs Elysées”

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My next exploration took me to Little India. Coming out of the MRT station I was surprised by another storm with heavy rains. But as usual, I didn’t last very long. And it didn’t take very long either for the inhabitants of the indian quarter to come out of their shelter. The picture below was taken only 5 minutes after the end of the storm and already people are invading the streets.

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I found many street food stalls with flowersand spices…

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…fruit and vegetables.

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The people there, and 99% are men, just hang out in the quarter without evident purpose. They sit on the pavement, on the grass, chat with friends. I realised then and asked myself the question: how often do I go outside without any reason and just for the pleasure of being outside? Probably not often. And look at the weather, it definitely isn’t to enjoy the sun!

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Chinatown is the other typical quarter with strong cultural influence. It also seems slightly superficial and the effervescence mainly for tourists. But it is still an very enjoyable place to wander, negotiate the price of some chinese handicraft, grab a bite of local cuisine or simply have a beer.

Below is the view of Pagoda St., the main and busiest street.

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It is booming with life, energy and joy.

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Mosque St., parellel to Pagoda St. is a lot more quiet and peaceful.

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While in Chinatown, you get to forget the fast living pace of Singapore, its dementia and its endless pursuit of development. You even forget its skycrapers, though always present in the background.

The ultimate example of this creativity for luxury is the integrated resort Marina Bay Sands. The complex made of 3 towers and a boat-like top opened in 2010 and is the world’s most expensive casino property. Everything in and around the building rhymes with outstanding.

During the day, it already is impressive and feels like a different world. When you enter the dors, you actually are in a Venice-like commercial center.

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The fountain, called Rain Oculus, gives its spectacle to people outside and inside the commercial center.

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And from above, it is actually designed to create a vortex of water in special occasions, hence the non-centered hole.

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At night, it deploys its majesty. Each year, on the 9th of August, it dresses up with the Singaporean flag for the independence day celebration, obtained in 1965.

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From its top, the 360° view is fantastic, especially over the business district across the marina.

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Some people can enjoy this view from the “infinity pool” and its water flowing right over the edge.

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Singapore is an attractive mix of ancestral asian cultures and modern fast living society. The contrast is well observed by the diversity of spirit in each borough. You can be walking in a street with small chinese style houses, cross the next road and be looking up to a 100-storey glass windowed skyscraper. I loved this composition making Singapore such a vibrant city with a unique identity.

But Singapore is not the only attraction of the area. It is in the center of south east Asia, which makes it very convenient to travel to many other places to explore such as Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia. I invite you to continue the story in these countries with more pictures and adventures.