Early Sunday morning we returned to Korea after a fantastic two-week vacation in southeast Asia. We had such a wonderful time with equal parts rest, relaxation, and excitement. All of our actual travel went really smoothly as well without delays or complications. If you travel much, you probably know that that almost never happens so it was a true blessing.
From Krabi we took a short 2-hour flight straight to Singapore. We went to Singapore in part to visit some friends who are living there. (Actually, it’s the family that I used to work for back in North Carolina – the same family we visited when they were living in Shanghai last year).
We fell in love with Singapore. Everything in Singapore is so nice and clean and beautiful. It is a city built right in the middle of a jungle so there are lush gardens, trees, and flowers all around the skyscrapers and busy streets. Since it’s a tropical climate, it is green and warm all year round, something we are desperately missing in Korea.
English is the common language in Singapore which made it incredibly easy for us to get around. We found that people here were friendly and very polite. In Korea (and China in our experience) there is more of an “everyman-for-himself” mentality which comes out in the way everyone pushes their way to the front instead of waiting in line for things as well as the lack of personal space. In Singapore, while public transportation could be very crowded, people took care not to actually be touching those around them – and if they did, they immediately apologized. They said, “Excuse me” when they needed to pass instead of just pushing people out of the way. These little things really stood out to us and made us feel that if we ever moved to Asia again, Singapore would be at the top of our list of comfortable places to be.
Besides a truly enormous number of shopping malls, Singapore has a lot of other interesting things to do and see. Since the weather is so nice, many sights and activities are geared towards being outdoors.We went to the Botanic Gardens and had lunch at the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel – an iconic building overlooking the harbor.
We also went to Gardens by the Bay, super cool man-made gardens that are an interesting mix of plants and flowers and futuristic architectural elements. I think it would look really cool at night when it’s all lit up, but we unfortunately weren’t there for that.
One night we went to Singapore’s Night Zoo – a special zoo that’s only open at night to allow better viewing of the many nocturnal animals at the zoo. Everything is dark except for some perfectly placed spotlights to help you see the path and to illuminate the animals. It was a unique and fun experience, though not great for taking pictures.
One of the things we loved most about Singapore was how truly international it feels. Singapore’s population is about 5.5 million people with nearly 25% being foreign-born or expats. Walking around Singapore felt like walking around New York City – a true melting pot of races, cultures, and religions. The only downside to Singapore is that everything is VERY EXPENSIVE so it was a good thing we were only there for a few days.
On Friday night we took a sleeper train across the border into Malaysia. We thought the sleeper train experience might be fun and it was a very cheap way to travel. While it wasn’t great for getting a lot of rest, it was still a fun experience.
We spent the day on Friday seeing a few things in Kuala Lumpur before heading out to the airport where we flew overnight back to Korea. Our general impression of Kuala Lumpur was very positive. Malaysia is a Muslim country which was evident in lots of ways – women wearing head coverings of course, but also things like signs in the subway saying “No Smoking,” “No Littering,” and “No Indecent Behavior” with a picture of a man and woman kissing. While we were only there a short time, the people in Kuala Lumpur were probably the friendliest we met on our travels – even strangers smiled at us if they made eye contact and everyone we interacted with was very polite, helpful, and welcoming. It would have been great to have more time there, but we were thankful that we at least got to spend the day.
Today was my first day back at work and next week’s post will start the real challenge – finding adventures in my everyday life. It’s easy to feel adventurous while traveling, but it’s much harder when you are back to the rhythms of ordinary life.
By the way, here are some of my favorite adventures from the posts you’ve shared over the past few weeks. Check them out!
Heather’s salsa dancing
Angela’s trip to Milan
Pradnya goes parasailing
Jenn takes a pizza-making field trip with 4-year-olds
Brenda decides to join a small-group (just loved how honest this one was – I can relate so well to that feeling that everyone else has it all together).
[If you are new to my fifty-two weeks of adventure project, you can read my introduction post and Brenda (the original creator)’s blog for background. You can participate in this link-up by writing your own post about your adventure and mentioning/linking to this post. Then simply use the button at the bottom of this post to add your link to the collection. Be sure to check out the other links for inspiration from your fellow adventurers! As always, you can add a link here even if you didn’t participate last week or aren’t planning to do all 52-posts. This is a no-pressure zone.]