Hot or Not? Day 2 in Singapore…

Hot or Not!? Sounds like middle school right? Maybe it is, but the seventh-grader in all of us knows the fun behind it. So let’s try putting an academic spin on the game…one that lets us reflect on the events of Day 2 of our urban tropical travels in Singapore. But first, some photos.

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First Round: The Urban Redevelopment Authority

What’s Hot…a 3D scaled model of the city center (think Marina Bay Sands and the skyline we explored day one), which only makes up 25% of the island! Although most of the museum was under construction, we were able to see some future development sections of the city center, and boy is there a lot, each equip with either a green design or with interconnected green spaces.

What’s Not …one point of critique for 3D city models is that they can, as I say, “glam up the ugly” by essentially beautifying or “greening” the less developed or less wealth invested areas. For example, is the water running through a certain area of the city as blue as the map displays it? Is white colored infrastructure really that white in areas plagued with more air pollution? Are future development plans located in areas that might displace the natural landscape

Second Round: National Museum of Singapore

What’s Hot …truly an amazing place all around from the Avatar-like animated forest walk to the photo essay on transplanted trees in the wake of urban development to the WWII exhibit! Everyone seemed especially impressed by the later in learning about the Japanese invasion of the island because our history books throughout primary and secondary school hardly touched on anything occurring in the war south of Japan. At the end of the museum, you can place your entrance sticker on a wall where you rate how much you think the museum needs to change. We placed ours on the “don’t change a thing” end.

What’s Not…something I am always cognizant of in museums is the choice and use of language. All of the plaque descriptions were in English, and although you could pick up a guide or download an app for another language, I can’t help but wonder what is says about the exhibits themselves to be in one language as the museum is not only meant for tourists like us, but the everyday Singaporean.

Sisters’ Islands

What’s Hot …after snoozing in the shade on the sea wall at Marina South, we put on our sea legs and boarded our water taxi with Ivan, our local marine bio guru. Upon hopping onto the island from the boat, we played follow the leader to the first lagoon. As we got our feet wet, we began splitting up to engage in a friendly competition…each one of us eager to peak under the rocks and coral to find something worthy of being put in Ivan’s container. Nudibranchs, sea worms, sea hares, sea cucumbers, hermit crabs were just some of the many tide pool critters in our competition. But the prize goes to Sarah, our resident octopus and star fish whisperer. After all, not many tide pool creatures can rival a baby octopus who can show us their mood by changing their chromatophores.

What’s Not …although everyone was stoked to see star fish after taking a gander at the tide ripple in the second lagoon on the island, we learned that the population has been retreating. Dr. Dan, who has been coming these islands since the 80s, said that you probably wouldn’t think twice about the star fish population unless you’ve been coming to the island every year and monitoring them like he has. But why are they retreating? One answer might lie in polluted waters…looking into the distance we saw the tall stacks from Singapore’s oil refineries spitting out black smoke. Redirecting your attention to our feet, we found there’s also a noticeable amount of plastic scattered around the sand, especially for a marine park that doesn’t experience significant human traffic.