Singapore: A Model of Social Integration

Singapore is a model of social integration. The residents are people from all over the world, the majority from Malaysia, China and India. The country is proud of its diversity and people respect their differences. Hawker Centers are a great example of cultural integration. They are open areas where you can find stalls with food from different countries. These centers are equipped with tables, bathrooms, and sinks to wash your hands. Sanitary control is strict to ensure food safety and the stalls are a cheap alternative to restaurants. A meal is around $2, perfect for backpackers wallet.

My favorite neighborhood is the Arab quarter. Haji Lane is picturesque and the walls are decorated with unique graffiti. At sunset, the sun's rays hit the mosque and paint everything with a golden light. Another cute neighborhood is Tiong Bahru. The Tiong Bahru bakery is the perfect spot for breakfast, then you can take a stroll in the "wet" market, so called because they sell fresh fruit, meat, and fish.

Collyer Quay is the touristy part of the city where you can admire the view of the Bay. It's nice to take a stroll but food and drinks are expensive. On the other side of the Bay, you can spot the Sky Park. On the top of the three towers hotel, they built a fancy private area with the shape of a surfboard. The public can access it to enjoy the view, but it's expensive. If you are looking for a panoramic point to watch the sunset with fewer tourists I recommend Marina Barrage.

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The highlight of our quick visit to Singapore was, with no doubt, Gardens by the Bay. The attraction consists of two domes: one is called "flowers dome" the other is the "cloud forest." You will see flowers and plants from all over the world surrounded by beautiful architecture. I recommend to see them both (around $20 per person), it's worth it. They did an incredible job and the experience is a reminder of the natural beauty of the planet, to defend and preserve. After the visit, you can stroll in the park and admire the "Big Trees" another peculiar structure of the gardens. You can go on top of the platform they built to connect the trees but you have to add $8 per person to your budget. We didn't do it. The photos that you can take from the bottom should be enough to satisfy your photo hunger.

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It's easy to get around with public transportation and everything is in English.