Orchard Street, Singapore

“The stamina of a camel, the strength of an elephant and the beauty of a horse are all sustained on a vegetarian diet.” sign posted on wall at the Indian restaurant. Indian food in Singapore is fantastic. Singapore was a central port for the British via India many years ago.

Today I went a free walking tour with local university students studying tourism. They answered my question about praying. In a Buddhist temple, one goes to pray for anything they wish for. For example, you are in a lottery to buy a flat, pray – please let me get it. If they do get the flat after praying, they return again to thank the Gods for bringing them luck. Also, interesting, another type or prayer, there are sticks that you sort of pray with and shake. The one that falls out of the stack is brought to a fortune teller to have their future told with that stick.

On our tour we walked by a Hindu temple and Buddhist temple next door to each other and our tour guide said, after praying in the Buddhist temple, Buddhists will go to the Hindu temple to pray some more. Sort of covering all your bases. Enough Buddhists have entered the Hindu temple that there is a Buddhist statue, the Goddess of Mercy sitting next to the Hindu statues.

On the tour, I learned about subsidized Singapore housing. Apparently middle class people live in subsidized housing, typically 4 rooms in an apartment and you may only request to buy one if you are married or will be soon. If you are single you are ineligible to enter the lottery to purchase because of the low birth rate. The government encourages only families to buy – another interesting government policy. Most people do not rent in Singapore.

For lunch, I had tea with friends I met in Vietnam. It was proper tea. If you’ve never had tea served by means of a glass kettle, porcelain pot, multiple porcelain cups, tea leaves, wooden measuring spoon, and wooden tongs – you are missing out. It was very educational to be shown the etiquette behind tea drinking, in Mandarin, I might add. If you find yourself in Singapore, go to the Tea Chapter. I highly recommend it. They can give you the lesson in English too.

Pictures – iconic Merlin park, Orchard Street (main shopping street – similar to 5th Ave in NYC) the picture is a street lined with glass ornaments sponsored by Visa. I thought it was a very appropriate display for the neighborhood. Next, an escalator going up 4 levels. I shopped on those 4 levels at my favorite stores – Muji, Daiso (Japanese brands). When you go above the 4th level, I went out of my price range – Harry Winston was on the next floor.

I have actually very much enjoyed walking the malls. There is typically a very good food court in each mall – not like the food courts in the U.S. but this is actually a place you want to eat with good food and great selection. Besides shopping, the mall is a great place to beat the heat. I don’t know how anyone lived in this country before air conditioning.

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