Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, I’m sure you’ve seen or at least heard of the film Crazy Rich Asians. While I had never seen it in theaters, I’ve ended up seeing this delightful film four times in the last 3 months—which I promise was completely unintentional, but also led to me being more excited to travel to Singapore myself for the Urban Tropical Ecology class.
While I didn’t have the luxury of taking a direct sleeper suite-style flight to Singapore from the U.S. like the characters, Rachel Chu and Nick Young, I finally made it! Though I have only been in this tropical city-state for a mere 48 hours, I can firmly state there is so much more to discover than what was shown in the movie, as I’m sure you’ll understand from this class blog. Here are a few highlights of what we’ve experienced within Singapore thus far:
- Chinatown – Filled with delicious food stalls and lively street vendors lined along beautifully lit lanterns and lights, Chinatown was the source of life on Sunday as we witnessed the tail end of Chinese New Year Celebrations. While advertised as a parade, the Chingay Parade allowed everyone to walk up to 10 vibrantly decorated floats that related to some form of Singaporean history and culture.
- Gardens by the Bay – Only four years old, this 100-hectare green paradise sits below the iconic Marina Bay Sands. The Supertree Grove is one of the most obvious attractions to the area, though there are many more structures and plant life to witness when walking the grounds. After being told by my mom her memories of Singapore being a ‘concrete jungle’ when she traveled here years ago, Gardens by the Bay serves as an excellent example of how Singapore has brought emphasis back to the ‘jungle’ side.
- Marina Barrage & Sustainable Singapore Gallery – Serving as a barrier between the Marina Bay and the Singapore Strait, this innovative dam has allowed Singapore to maintain its freshwater without being at risk of flooding from its heavy rains. Alongside the Barrage sits a newly implemented Sustainable Singapore Gallery, in which you can learn about all the initiatives Singapore is taking to continue growing despite limited resources. Learning about their programs as a foreigner was fascinating and served as a great chance to compare the ways United States has approached sustainability.
- Public Transportation – Having grown up in a metropolitan area with little reliable public transportation, Singapore’s MRT (metro) and bus system are extremely clean, efficient and useful. With trains running every few minutes, and buses running every 10, it seems I can get across town without much hassle—and breaking a (literal) sweat! I cannot wait to utilize these modes of transportation throughout my time here.
Obviously, these experiences only scratch the surface of the ways in which Singapore is a unique place to witness the cross-section of urban development and tropical ecosystems. Just one full day of the class and I know I will walk out of this 3-week adventure itching for another reason to come back! Stay tuned for more…