It was sad to leave Ecuador but it was even worse to know that I had a whopping five flights until I touched down in Singapore for a short weekend with a few friends who were doing summer research in the small southeast Asian nation. First, I flew from Quito, Ecuador to Guayaquil, Ecuador and from there it was off to San Jose, Costa Rica. To end the first day of travel, I then had a 6 hour flight to Los Angeles. In LA, I had a twenty four hour layover, giving me the chance to catch up on sleep and run a few errands in the states. The next night, I boarded a 14 hour flight to Manila, Philippines and then boarded the last flight to Singapore. All in all, it took 25 hours in the air, 2 full days of travel and way too many airline meals.
Finally, I was in Singapore with my two friends and staying in a nice, green friendly lodge. First thing I did in Singapore – slept 16 hours. It was just the recharge I needed. Saturday was spent getting to know the city and spending the day with my friends. One friend went to high school in Singapore and showed us around the city with some of his high school friends. I got the chance to watch polo, a sport that has always mystified me. People riding horses at full speed and hitting a ball no bigger than a baseball with a long wooden rod never appealed to me in theory but it sure is impressive. The rider’s coordination and athleticism was matched only by the agility and stamina of the horses.
Sunday, I got the chance to visit some of the major tourist sights in the city. First it was off to the Merlion, a half mermaid, half lion statue and a symbol of the nation. After that we explored the Marina Bay Sands area. The Sands is a huge three tier building with a giant boat-like observation deck on top connecting the three towers. Following the Sands we walked around the city and saw the amazing development taking place all over the city.
The best part of trip to Singapore was undoubtedly the diversity of food. The weekend was filled with food courts of various Asian cuisine, my favorite of which were the dumplings. The most exotic food I tried all weekend was stingray, which was some of the most tender fish I have ever eaten.
I am now off to Malaysia to continue my research with the Center for Technology, Development and Environment, an organization that is working in a variety of ways to promote sustainable development within this developing nation.