A tale of two Singapores

We just came back from a family vacation in Singapore. It was a quick trip, ostensibly just to see the zoo and to revisit a few of the places that we had enjoyed on our first trip to Singapore two and a half years ago. Our first vacation there was our first major trip in Asia, and it was a lot of hassles and a whole mess of disappointment. I had my expectations set way too high— I tried to do all the “must-see” things that Singapore is known for, like Hawker stalls, Little India, restaurants, Duck Tour, Chinatown, restaurants, Gardens by the Bay, restaurants… you get the gist.

Suffice it to say, trying to hit someone else’s list of what I need to do in Singapore was a disaster. Our son was only 14 months old and we had never traveled in Asia with him before. We had no idea what to expect, and I wanted it to be amazing. At best it was an ok time. We ended up having an amazing two-hour lunch on the rooftop of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, and Gabe slept through most of Gardens by the Bay. But those two locations stuck with me as worthy of a return trip, so they became a central part of our visit last month.

Surprisingly fun rooftop bar for kids and adults alike

This time I went in with low expectations, a very small list of things we could do, and I threw in a beach hotel on Sentosa for good measure. And guess what? The trip was great. It was solely kid-focused, the boys had a great time, and we even got the same couch seats at the rooftop bar at the MBS hotel.

I guess all I’m trying to say is this: we visit a destination at a certain point in our lives, and that perspective colors whether it’s a great trip or a total disaster. The place is almost irrelevant, it’s all about the headspace you’re in and the point in time you go. For three years people told me how much they loved Singapore, and I thought they were kind of crazy. Turns out it was just my mindset that was out of whack.

Have you ever returned to a city you hated only to find out that it was actually pretty cool?

We are going to tempt fate once again and test this idea next month when we revisit Tokyo…stay tuned!

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