our year-and-a-half-moon part 1

Thursday morning we were up bright and early, luggage packed. Mom and Tito Nilo took us to the airport at 6 a.m. to ensure we wouldn't be late for our 10:05 a.m. flight (in case of Manila traffic and busy airport). However, since it was the smaller and nicer Philippine Airlines terminal, we ended up having lots of time to kill as we waited for the flight and amused ourselves by looking at all the duty-free fragrances.

Countless sniffs later, we heard the boarding call and four hours and a so-so in-flight meal later we were in Changi Airport. The airport was clean and beautiful — orchids dotted the terminal. The MRT ride to our hotel was just as clean. It seems a little unnatural, but there's all the signs that put it in perspective: chewing gum is a S$500 fine, food or drink on the MRT is a S$1000 fine, and so on. Seems to me cleanliness and improved quality of living isn't a bad trade for giving up fast food on public transportation.

Our hotel is in Little India. It's a nice and clean little room with a pretty view, and we heard the nearby mosque's call to prayer shortly after arriving — it's a strange, haunting yet beautiful sound. While I don't agree with their beliefs, I admire their discipline to prayer.

After unwinding from our flight, we meandered down to the Esplanade, seeing lots of amazing places on the way.

pedestrian mall
rambutan for sale
hill building

A big impression was the wide variety of beliefs coexisting in Singapore. In a few blocks, we passed a Buddhist temple, a Hindu temple, and a church.

hindu temple
christian church

We had dinner at Glutton's Bay, an open-air food court with hawker's stations — bananas tempura and kaya jala are amazing.

gluttons bay hawker centre

Since it gets dark around 6 p.m. we were able to enjoy the amazing night views of the city from the Esplanade before heading back to the hotel.

singapore from the esplanade

The next day we did a walking tour of Chinatown with a long detour at the Urban Redevelopment Authority museum, which contains several gigantic models of Singapore including proposed development.

thian hock keng temple
thian hock keng temple
club street
ura - city model
ura - cbd model

After the museum, we headed to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. We arrived in the middle of the daily chanting of the 600 sutras. At first we were taken off guard.

In every temple, I made sure I prayed that God would work to break the strongholds, but as we wandered around the Hundred Dragons Hall the futility of the chanting weighed on my heart. I truly understand how God's heart breaks for people trapped in bondage while He wants to offer them freedom. The building was amazing and beautiful. It's amazing what we are capable of doing — it's just sad this is in worship of something cold and empty instead of Jesus, who died to bring joy, life, and freedom.

tooth relic temple
tooth relic temple
tooth relic temple - roof garden

After leaving the temple, we were emotionally drained, so we headed back to the hotel, stopping at the Singapore Art Museum for a short while to catch their 2 hours of free admission.

singapore museum of art (SAM)
SAM - hanoi

The above was my favorite work of art in the museum — "Hanoi" from the Jugaads of Southeast Asia photo series by Shannon Castelman. After taking a few photos, we saw the notice that photography wasn't allowed so we quickly stashed our cameras. Oops!

A quick stop at Burger King completed our day and we headed back to the hotel to get some much needed rest.

Don't forget, there are more photos on our Flickr site!