A Year in Southeast Asia
Tamara is studying BA Business and Management with International Study and studied abroad at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore
I travelled to Singapore for my year abroad, overall, I had an amazing time. Looking back, the places I got to see and the food I ate immediately come to mind.
Singapore is the perfect gateway for travelling around Southeast Asia, a fact most exchange students take advantage of, myself included. Thailand and Bali were particularly popular choices, but my favourite, which I believe deserves a mention is Vietnam. A three-and-a-half-hour flight took me directly to Hanoi where I got to see an entirely different and fascinating culture. The city is packed with tiny shops and at night the streets turn into outdoor restaurants, selling fried chicken feet and beer. Just a short drive away is Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which should not be missed. The best way to experience the bay is on one of the many cruise ships. If culture and nature do not appeal to you, it’s worth going just for the cheap and delicious local food.
As Singapore is a large and vibrant city there is always something going on and many different places to visit, without having to leave the country’s borders. My top 3 list of things to see in Singapore are as follows:
Gardens by the Bay is a large indoor and outdoor garden in the middle of the city. There is a flower dome which has a changing display every few months with themes such as Orchid Extravaganza and Sunflower Surprise. At night there is a free light show where oversized artificial trees in the Supertree Grove come to life in a display of changing lights with accompanying music.
- Pulau Ubin
Although a short drive and boat trip are required, the island of Pulau Ubin is worth the trek. This one of the last rural villages in Singapore which gives you an insight into how the country used to look like. You can also spot wild animals such as boars and monkeys, although keeping a safe distance is certainly recommended.
This is a rooftop bar with spectacular views of the city and in the world-famous hotel ‘Marina Bay Sands’. The best time to go is around 6 pm as you get to watch the sun go down over the city whilst listening to live music.
Apart from travel, another perk of living in Singapore is the diverse and delicious selection of food. Despite not producing their own produce, food is a very important part of Singaporean culture. Hawker centres, which are similar to food courts, are great places to try out the local cuisine such as laksa, chicken rice and Singaporean chilli crab. There are even a few hawker stalls that have received Michelin stars. When talking about Singaporean food, the King of Fruits, Durian, must be mentioned. The stench puts many people off, but others love the sweet and prickly fruit. It can be eaten in its pure form, but if that sounds too intimidating, Durian ice creams and pastries can also be found. A word of caution, due to its extreme smell the fruit may not be carried on public transportation, flights or bought to hotels although that does not stop people from trying.
Going to Singapore enabled me to immerse myself in varying cultures and their cuisine, expanded my worldview and increased my curiosity for travel. I would repeat the whole year again in a heartbeat if I could.