Good bye Singapore…or till we meet again?

7 05 2010

Probably every single person has said this when an important experience in their life comes to an end but it has to be said…it is so hard to believe that four months is already over :(. I am already putting a disclaimer out there that this post will be full of nostalgia so if you don’t like that kind of stuff, I recommend you skip this blog post and wait till my India posts. I still remember when I decided that I wanted to go on exchange. My intention was purely to gain some new experience (as vague as that sounds) and do some travelling. I hadn’t given much other thought to all the other amazing things that came along with exchange. As November and December 2009 drew nearer and my exchange was about to become reality, I remember I half-feared and half-hoped that this four month adventure that I was about to embark on would change me in some way, shape or form. But change doesn’t even begin to describe how different I feel after these past four months.

I remember when my British Airways flight announced that we would be landing in Singapore in about 20 minutes and the temperature was approximately 28 degree Celsius. I was excited about the weather but I nearly had my heart jumping out of my chest and my mind asking me over and over again “what have you done! Get on the next flight back to Toronto ASAP!” After some deep breaths and some mental reassurance, I said to myself that there is no backing out now and this is my moment. As I went through immigration, picked up my luggage and got into a cab to the airport I remember looking out the window and my mind telling me “wow you are so lucky! This place is so cool and so efficient!” The highways are covered in palm trees, flowers and everything looked orderly and beautiful. I remember getting to my campus and my mind being infiltrated with excitement and fear. I was wondering who my room mate was and whether we would get along. Little did I know that I had nothing to worry about. My room mate Christina and I immediately got along and I knew right away that we would be great friends.

My first couple of days in Singapore were exactly how one would describe the “honeymoon phase”. Everything seemed new and exciting and each day would begin at 8AM and end late in the night. It was kind of like first year frosh all over again where everyone is meeting new people and people are forming their group of friends. As time went by, my love story with Singapore only grew. After visiting so many countries I always felt comforted to be able to come back to Singapore where there was a steady flow of hot water, tap water was drinkable and everyone could speak English. Singapore was the perfect combination of South East Asian culture mixed with Western influence.

As time went by my weeks began to become a little bit more regular. Weekdays were class, Wednesday nights were Ladies Night at the clubs and weekends were saved for travelling. I couldn’t have asked for a better lifestyle. A lot of people have also been asking me what my favourite country has been. But this question is nearly impossible to be answer since each country has its own unique culture, landscape and people. Picking a favourite country is like asking someone to pick their favourite child…impossible because each is so different and special.
However if you asked me my top five experiences, I can definitely tell you those. These are not ranked in any special order so please do not think of them as ranked in order of preference. Here they are…

a) Elephant trekking in Krabi, Thailand
b) Snorkelling for the first time on Phi Phi with all the different fish and coral
c) Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom in Cambodia
d) Being out on the South China Sea in El Nido, Philippines
e) The Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam

I don’t think I need to explain why I’ve ranked these as my top five experiences because I think my blog posts on each country speak for themselves as to why each of these moments were so special. Nevertheless, I cannot even begin to explain how much Singapore and South East Asia has changed my outlook on travelling, adventure and life (as cliché as that sounds). After these four months, I know I can rough it anywhere, sleep almost anywhere and eat almost anything. So now here is my final thank you to Singapore for giving me the opportunity to visit over 7 different countries, more than 15 different cities and meet some of the most incredible people I have ever met in my life…so thank you…

Pulau Ubin, Singapore

28 03 2010

Back in January I visited Pulau Ubin which is quickly becoming a tourist attraction for those who come to Singapore in hopes of finding a peaceful, quite and natural environment away from all the shopping malls and hawker centres (and believe me, there are a lot of malls!).

In any case, Pulau Ubin is a small “kampong” (village) island off the north east coast of Singapore where people usually come to spend the day bike riding and exploring the island. It is probably one of the only rural areas left in Singapore with approximately 100 villagers still living on the island who produce their own crops and live off fish farming. However, there have already been many discussions to transform this beautiful natural island into an area for public housing connected to the Singapore mainland through the MRT (Singaporean subway system).

An interesting story about Pulau Ubin is apparently there is a legend about the island that three animals from Singapore — a pig, an elephant and a frog — had a challenge to see who would reach the shore of Johor first. Whichever animal failed to reach the shore would be turned into a rock. All three creatures had difficulties swimming the Straits and while the frog turned into Pulau Sekudu, both the pig and the elephant changed into one big rocky island. The island of Ubin. (Source: