This blog chronicles my travels as a 2016-2017 Thomas J. Watson Fellow exploring cultural attitudes towards health technology around the world. Starting from and returning to New York City, USA, I am traveling to Sweden, Qatar, India, Singapore, Japan, and Botswana over the course of one year.
First Day in Singapore
I am so thrilled to be in a pedestrian-friendly place again that I’ve walked about 8 miles every day since arriving here a few days ago. On my first full day here, I put on my sneakers and headed out the door with my camera to see what I would find. Though central Singapore is fairly small, it’s vibrant and modern and clearly a cultural melting pot.
Images of Singapore always show crazy inventive architecture – tall buildings that blend the hyper modern with naturalistic and almost floral curves, often lit up like neon rainbows in the night. Well, those buildings are there, but I haven’t seen them at night yet, and while Singapore is certainly modern throughout, it’s not all a towering steel jungle. In a way that’s nice because it makes the city feel more real and accessible, and I feel like there’s more to explore beyond what you see in the magazines.
Singapore is still celebrating the Chinese New Year, and there are plenty of decorations to commemorate the Year of the Rooster. In some places here (mostly mall lobbies), there are panels with 2017 horoscopes for the different signs. Since I was born in the Year of the Dog, apparently my horoscope tells me that I should “have fun now, but prepare for the future” – hah!
Little architectural details that can’t be captured in photos make the whole area truly remarkable. Some sections of the resort walls are blanketed with small interlocked discs, reminiscent of chain mail, that flutter and clink in the wind like a soft wind chime. They give the impression that the building itself is rippling as these metal sheets move with the breeze, causing the light to reflect off in different directions.
Leaving behind the futuristic Marina Bay Sands area, which is all on reclaimed land, I came to the central business district of Singapore. Here I was reminded of New York’s financial district at the southern tip of Manhattan, close to my favorite area of Battery Park City, where there’s a similarly beautiful walkway along the water.
After passing through the Central Business District, where I saw crowds of businesspeople going on lunch breaks, I stumbled upon Chinatown.
It was a great first day, and I saw a lot. I’m very impressed by Singapore, and the amount of times it reminded me of Manhattan surprised me (certainly it’s more similar to NYC than anywhere else I’ve been so far on the Watson). It’s easy to see why it ranks so highly on every list, including health. Okay, that was a lot of photos – that’s all for now!