Bucket List Check: Singapore, Exotic Jewel of the Far East

I caught my first glimpse of the renowned Jewel at the Changi Airport early in the morning. Despite being visibly tired, having come from a 3.5-hour direct flight from Cebu, my whole demeanor flight changed upon catching sight of this jewel.

Formerly just a car park, Singapore has done it again—with the exquisite Jewel erected in its city skyline. The Jewel Chang is as an urban park and shopping mall with a futuristic glass-and-steel facade. The same architect who led it was the mastermind behind Marina Bay Sands. At the very heart of the Jewel is the Rain Vortex (also known as the HSBC Rain Vortex), a magnificent tall indoor waterfall, that transforms into a lights and sounds show in the evening.

The Crowned Jewel at Changi Airport

Jewel wasn’t just a regular shopping mall, at that. Every brand in Jewel has also upped their ante, promising a one-of-a-kind experience: Jewel-exclusive items served at Starbucks, Nike’s biggest store in Southeast Asia, the only Pokemon Center outside of Japan, the return of A&W Restaurant, and well, the newly opened Shake Shack.

For nostalgia’s sake, I decided to take my early lunch at Shake Shack. Even at 10AM, the queues were already getting heavy but my taste buds were already salivating at the thought of the vegetarian ‘Shroom Burger.

Ah, well. I’m in Singapore. And what else can you do in Singapore but eat? I had a full few days ahead of me and I better get prepared.

Singapore: Business Gateway to Southeast Asia

Singapore isn’t my first trip, and it certainly won’t be my last. This year alone, I have been to Singapore thrice, all for business trips. In my case, as an entrepreneur, Singapore seems like business heaven—with a wealthy list of exhibitions, valuable contacts, and clients needing services.

Singapore is a small and young nation, only about 50 years old and comprising only five million people. A stark contrast to Philippines’ 100 million population, who’s annual population increase probably births a new Singapore every year. The size of Singapore is only approximately half the land area of Palawan. My Grab driver pointed out that you can drive Singapore from end to end in an hour.

And yet, despite Singapore’s minuteness, the country has achieved a David-versus-Goliath economic success considered one of the most robust and richest economies in the world. Singapore is the ASEAN chair and financial hotbed in Southeast Asia, and I can see the allure of Singapore as heaven for businessmen and investors. Trust, after all, is a powerful currency—and foreign investors would prefer to deal business in Singapore than its ASEAN neighbors, understandably, with its transparency, lack of corruption and pro-business policies.

Singaporean Culture, Language and Food

The allure of Singapore is beyond business, it’s the variety of cultures in the melting hotpot, as well. The rich culture is easily translated into their food and language. Singaporean cuisine is a diverse derivatives of different ethnic Malay, Chinese, Indian influences. And while I still dream of laksa everyday, let’s save Singaporean food for next week’s essay, because I would probably not do it justice with this space of 800-word limit.

And their language—how can we talk about Singapore without mentioning Singlish?

Singaporeans talk fast and with such fervor, almost like they’re angry (don’t worry, they’re not, but they do tend to get too caught up in the moment). Singlish isn’t just adding ‘lah’s to every sentence, and you will slowly begin to understand the differences between the lahs, lehs, lors and liaos.

If I can think of one adjective to describe Singapore, I would pick efficient. Even their efficiency translates to their language, also known as Singlish, the English’-based creole spoken colloquially in the country. Syntax and grammar is sometimes thrown out the window to maximize efficiency—because if you can relay the message in fewer words, why not, right? Can, can!

Moreover, if you can relay words in acronyms rather than full words, why the heck not? The locals’ love for acronyms make a dizzying list of acronyms such as MBS, EPS, CCA, HDB, PAP are something you will pick up along the way.

Singapore is indeed a small yet powerful island nation—but there’s so many things to see and do even in a short amount of time. Whether you come for holiday, business, pleasure, or a bit of everything, there’s always something in the corner that is sure to surprise you.

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