My tour guide/daugher Ari, in front of Singapore's own Merlion.

Just shy of 20 years ago we moved our family from Kitchener Ontario Canada to Bangkok Thailand. It was 1991 and although I had lived overseas before (Caribbean, more specifically Haiti) it was my first time travelling to Asia and was doing  so with husband and 3 children aged 4,2 and1.

Fast forward 19 years….5 years Bangkok, Thailand, 3 years Taichung Taiwan, 10 years New Gloucester, Maine…

Our then 2 year old is  now 20 and is a sophomore at the University of Western Ontario in London Ontario Canada. Through her school she is participating in an exchange program and as such is currently  living in Singapore, studying at the National Univeristy of Singapore. I have had the great pleasure of visiting her and have just returned from a 10 day trip. As much as I have pressing business related topics to blog about I simply can’t entertain such until putting out there a handful of reflections on my trip.

Although I had never previously been to Singapore I wasn’t really surprised for what I found in the city. With Ari as my tour guide we traversed the city using the very efficient (that which Singapore is very proud of) public transport system of buses/subways….combined with a vast amount of walking.  We visited the “cutural” meccas of Little India, Arab Street and of course China Town. We rode the impressive  Big Wheel (like a giant very slow moving ferris wheel)where we enjoyed a panoramic view of the city. We meandered through the public Botanic Gardens. We took in the opera La Boheme. We let fish nibble at our feet for a cleaning. We ducked into the famous Raffles Hotel. We had our fortune told…albeit unsolicted and we did a little bit of shopping.

Eating an "ice cream sandwich" from WALL'S ice-cream. (Wall, my maiden name/Ari's middle name.)

It was a given that we would join the Singaporians in their favorite pastime of eating and as such did our best to  sample a wide variety of food…from chile crab, to kaya fondue (bread dipped in banana custard) to assorted noodle/rice dishes, to ice cream sandwiches (yes, that would be ice cream between a slab of folded bread…similar to what we gave our kids as youngsters in Bangkok…did we know it a staple in Singapore? No.), to bubble tea, frequenting open air food courts commonly known as Hawkers Centers.  And then to satisfy Ari’s palette with some Western food we hit some familiar haunts like Swensons, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and of course Hard Rock Cafe.

The Hard Rock Cafe in Singapore would make it the 14th such establishment we had visited over the years, from 9 different countries. Has become abit of a “must do” in whatever place we are visiting and as such we’ve chalked up the following list (in no particular order) with our kids in the last 20 years….

Bangkok Thailand, Bali, New York, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Niagara Falls Canada, London, UK, Taipei Taiwan, Toronto Ontario Canada, Bahamas, Florida, Beijing China and now Singapore.

Enjoying nachos at HRC #14!

Discovering Singapore trailing behind (not quite sure if Ari had picked up the pace or I had slowed down?) Ari was a pure delight on so many levels. Seeing my daughter move so comfortably around her large campus and the much larger city was a joy to see. Seeing many  stores ( Carrefour, Isetan, Central) that were familiar to me from our past life and hustling around the never ending maze of packed malls, brought back a flood of memories from our 8 years in urban Asia. Just seemed at every corner I was reminded of something or other that was part of what seems a lifetime ago…but apparantly never quite leaves one. And in part why my 20 year doesn’t feel like a fish out of water as she slips into this Asian urban mecca.

From my 7:30 am landing on Saturday to the following Wednesday we toured, talked, walked and ate…and then we took a break and boarded a plane to Langkowi Malaysia….

For photos on the Singapore part of my trip click here.

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