Now, usually when I travel internationally I focus on public policy, and community challenges whether it be development, economics, planning, training, housing, and poverty. This time I am flowing extemporaneously – good word eh? 🙂 Well, thing out Singapore that is immediately obvious is that it is probably one of the most modern and up-to-date cities in the world. If you read my earlier posts then you are familiar with a lot of other places I have worked. Well, Singapore is what Panama would look like it if addressed all of its problems – expansion of the Panama Canal, encroachment on the watershed, rising immigration due to problems in neighboring countries, informal settlements, lack of a civil service system, major transportation issues, developing area reverted from the U.S., and managing development. Well, when Singapore needed to expand its financial district it bought sand from Indonesia and Malaysia and expanded land base; when it needed fresh water, it closed of the ocean entrance into its historic harbor and built a dam to create a fresh water basin; it also used its multi-ethnic ties to build economic relationships throughout the region; it developed a trifecta transportation system, metro train, transit, and road systems to manage traffic…more on these things later…with Singapore being what some would call the “City of Light”…this ideal modernized state…well, I decided to go a different route in absorbing the culture….

Well, one of my first introductions to Singapore culture, outside of history, policy and economics was through the show “No Reservations” – Anthony Bourdain. To see some of what I am seeing, you have to check him out…he has to have one of the best jobs in the world!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHdsLQ5qYnU

Aside from the food, how do you go to Asia without trying to calm your mind.  And, trust me, I am of those who needs a mind calming experience…So my first stop is the Singapore Botanical Garden.  In the middle of this oasis of modernization, sits an area similar to Central Park in New York with the exception…this is a Botanical Garden:

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After walking through so much urbanization, it was a welcome compliment to walk into the Botanical Garden. It was like walking through an organized rain forest, a rain forest with order. It really touches all the senses…to see so much greenery and the animals blending in that it facilitates an awareness that allows you to smell life, to feel something unseen that is sustaining it all, to sit silently and hear things that our pre-occupied minds would normally filter out…and if you quiet yourself long enough, you can even taste something that if you added it to your life, you can find a way towards more inner peace. While the built environment is amazing, this is such an excellent contrast that modernized building and developed neighborhoods do not serve as the complete puzzle.

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The Botanical Garden provides amazing walks, views, and a sense of peace that really represents the peak to which Singapore has arrived.  And, it stretches for miles…if you come to Singapore it is definitely worth the time!!

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Wonderful trails and wildlife; coy ponds abound…

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In this Garden, even the pigeons chill out…this little fellow…when I walked up on him…he looked up at me, gave me a “I’m so full” look, turned his head, and went right back to sleep…I’m feeling him…indeed, I could learn something from this pigeon…

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Off to China Town….

Usually when I Travel and Blog, I rush to make my posts of thoughts and pictures to share the experience. This time I am posting more from the back end of the experience. Functioning from the mantra that we can learn quite a bit about ourselves and the universe through the experiences of others, I decided to listen a bit more. Because so much of what I am observing I have observed in other parts of the world, I don’t want to simply duplicate self-evident commonalities. Rather, I want to add to the accumulation of previous experiences. Within the context of the political stalemate, social and political fragmentation across the United States it appears obvious that not only is minimal listening taking place, but also a pervasive inability to feel compassion for the plight of others. This could be because of an absence of compassion or an overinflated sense of self-exceptionalism. Certainly this trip provides an opportunity to absorb other cultures in a manner that heightens the ability to listen and to develop humility by recognizing that exceptionalism exists all over the world. Travel with me through South East Asia:

Time:
Leaving Savannah for a two (2) hour flight to Chicago; absorbing a two (2) hour layover in Chicago; then boarding a flight that goes over the north-western minimally populated areas of Canada; flying into Alaska, across the Bering Straits into Siberia; down through Russian Airspace; over Mongolia; into China, brushing by Beijing to land 15 hours later in Hong Kong; after a two (2) hour layover; then flying over Vietnam and mainland Malaysia and five (5) hours later arriving in Singapore. Twenty Six (26) hours, talk about wanting to punch yourself in the face 🙂

Now I am not an airline critic, but just a side note. If you want an authentic Asiatic experience from the time you board your flight until you land in Asia, then go with Singapore Airlines (#1), Korean Airlines (#1.5), or China Airlines (#3). This particular flight was on United Airlines. I would call it the low cost carrier currently to Asia. The best thing is that the arrival was safe. But, if you also want high levels of customer service, an Asian flight experience and safety, well…now you have it!!

This time around, Air B &B was the experience of accommodations to look for…while many cities are grappling with what to do with Air B&B particularly as they challenge the hotel industry, many other areas see it as a viable way to boost competition through allowing homeowners to engage in the free-enterprise system. This place was absolutely awesome. Located in the central city by Gaylon/Guillemard and by Metro Station Paya Lepar…it was ideal:

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And, check out this view from the back porch:

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When down time is available, or when the day is over and the evening is the context of the moment…they had this wonderful roof top pool where you can see much of Singapore from all angles and feel the flow of the city…not to mention chilling at a very high level 🙂

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Time to try to deal with a 12 hour time change…ugh…but, it is worth it…time for a walk and a swim.  More to come…