Standing on a bridge across from Singapore's famed skyline, I thought to myself, "Wow, this is the most impressive skyline we've seen on this trip."
This assessment would be promptly thrown out the window two days later upon our arrival in Shanghai, but at the time, man, I really believed it.
Singapore is a lot of things: modern, extremely diverse, exciting and home to some of the best food in the world. It's also, as an aside, known for it's especially harsh penal codes.
The government has been denounced by human rights groups across the globe for its high execution rates (mostly of people convicted of drug offenses or murder) and its use of corporal punishment (e.g. caning) for offenses including overstaying a visitor visa (to deter illegal immigration), robbery, vandalism and rioting.
As a visitor in Singapore for only a few days, this side of the country is barely apparent— except that the streets are strangely immaculate for an urban area and everyone seems to automatically follow the rules.
We spent our time here not weighing the pros and cons of authoritarian judicial systems, but simply enjoying the various neighborhoods of Singapore— and doing our best not to inadvertently litter.
With the taste of Malaysian curry chicken still looming in the back of our minds, our first stop in Singapore was Little India.
We went through the markets, picking up some souvenirs for family. The vibrancy of the colors and atmosphere of the community stood in stark contrast to the dreary gray sky.
December/January in Singapore is part of the monsoon season, so we met with rain pretty much everywhere we went. Yet, this wasn't exactly a problem. When it's 90 degrees with 70% humidity, a little rain is a beautiful thing.
After the morning in Little India, we walked over to Little Arabia, a neighborhood filled with mosques, hookah shops and spice markets that are not to be believed.
This mosque, Masjid Sultan, is considered to be one of the most important mosques in Singapore— it also serves as an important focal point of Little Arabia, easily viewable over the treetops and storefronts from every direction.
The palm-tree lined streets, dotted with shops and restaurants, were as quiet as could be.
As tourists, we stood out in this neighborhood, mostly filled with Singaporeans just getting on with another day in life in this muggy, muggy town.