Green building in Singapore
Singapore

Singapore

Do you love modern architecture, enjoy eating food, and don’t mind 80˚ heat with 80% humidity? Welcome to Singapore!

Humid, modern, and immaculately clean, Singapore is all this and more. A maze of bike paths extending along the bays and coastlines also make it an amazing city for running. And did I mention the food? Singaporean cuisine is world famous. Eating is a national pastime and food a national obsession, likely because there is little else to do but hide in an air-conditioned mall and stuff your face. The food courts are reason enough to pay a visit. We had Chinese bak chang, Japanese saba, Korean clay pot, and Indian roti prata at food stalls not 20 meters apart and it was all super cheap and super delicious.

That said, food and public transportation are just about the only cheap things in Singapore. The cost of living is very high. For those that count themselves as residents, owning a car can be particularly expensive. One must first obtain a license to own a car, which can run for $60k and lasts only 10 years. On top of that, import duties on vehicles are set at 100%. So a VW Golf that might cost $20k in the States will easily go for more than $100k in Singapore. And yet, Singapore has the highest per-capita Ferrari ownership rate in the world, which shows just how much money there is in this tiny city-state at the southern end of the Malay Peninsula.

A quick history lesson: Singapore was founded in 1819 as a trading post for the British East India Company. It later came under the control of the British Raj, then the Japanese during WWII, and finally gained independence as part of Malaysia in 1963 but split off just two years later. Under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew, the city-state moved from Third World economy to First World affluence in a single generation. Unlike other rags-to-riches stories, Singapore didn’t do it with gold or oil or diamonds. It accomplished this feat using little more than pro-business policies, an exceptional education system, and zero tolerance for corruption and crime. Enacting these laws has required certain trade-offs with respect to freedom of speech. The media is tightly controlled and the current president, Halimah Yacob, won the election when no other candidates were considered eligible. A functioning democracy it is not, but neither can its success be denied especially considering the relative poverty of neighboring states.

Singapore awakens the taste buds, taxes the sweat glands, and challenges the American notion of what a successful country should look like.

YiOu runs under the flying buttresses of the Cloud Forest, part of Gardens by the Bay.
YiOu runs under the flying buttresses of the Cloud Forest, part of Gardens by the Bay.
Sean Pont
A race walker with a sizable lead. We passed four separate athletic events on our morning run.
A race walker with a sizable lead. We passed four separate athletic events on our morning run.
Sean Pont
Downtown Singapore gleams as we run down the boardwalk below the Marina Bay Sands. I had heard that Singapore was clean, but I was still surprised. No one eats, drinks, or chews gum on the street (under penalty of caning).
Downtown Singapore gleams as we run down the boardwalk below the Marina Bay Sands. I had heard that Singapore was clean, but I was still surprised. No one eats, drinks, or chews gum on the street (under penalty of caning).
Sean Pont | Art Direction by YiOu Wang
Food courts! The malls of Singapore are insane. For a few bucks, we got a delicious Korean rice bowl which we could return to a roaming tray-collecting robot. I love the future.
Food courts! The malls of Singapore are insane. For a few bucks, we got a delicious Korean rice bowl which we could return to a roaming tray-collecting robot. I love the future.
Sean Pont
The architecture is stunning. Here, the inside of the Mandarin Oriental hotel resembles the inside of a seashell.
The architecture is stunning. Here, the inside of the Mandarin Oriental hotel resembles the inside of a seashell.
Sean Pont
The JW Marriott Hotel's exterior has windows that angle slightly in and out to give the impression of a woven cloth.
The JW Marriott Hotel's exterior has windows that angle slightly in and out to give the impression of a woven cloth.
Sean Pont
Singapore is a city of laws. There are thousands of security cameras and most police are plain-clothed. It has a low level of press freedom, still has corporal punishment, and is considered to be a "Flawed Democracy" based on how the ruling party controls the media. On the other hand, they have gone from third-world to first-world country in a single generation, have an unemployment rate of 1.8%, provide heavily subsidized healthcare, excellent public transportation, and have one of the best education systems in the world. Fair trade? You decide.
Singapore is a city of laws. There are thousands of security cameras and most police are plain-clothed. It has a low level of press freedom, still has corporal punishment, and is considered to be a "Flawed Democracy" based on how the ruling party controls the media. On the other hand, they have gone from third-world to first-world country in a single generation, have an unemployment rate of 1.8%, provide heavily subsidized healthcare, excellent public transportation, and have one of the best education systems in the world. Fair trade? You decide.
YiOu Wang | Art direction by Sean Pont
In Singapore, you can spend as little or as much money as you want on food. One Singapore Dollar is only worth only $0.75 USD, so if it makes you feel any better that's only a $58.84 USD melon.
In Singapore, you can spend as little or as much money as you want on food. One Singapore Dollar is only worth only $0.75 USD, so if it makes you feel any better that's only a $58.84 USD melon.
YiOu Wang
Often described as a "Garden City", 10% of Singapore has been set aside for parks and nature reserves. There is an adorable family of otters that live in this bay, and we were fortunate enough to see the whole clan as they transported their young from one den to another.
Often described as a "Garden City", 10% of Singapore has been set aside for parks and nature reserves. There is an adorable family of otters that live in this bay, and we were fortunate enough to see the whole clan as they transported their young from one den to another.