The Saratoga Sun -

Thoughts of a Warm Destination

 

November 13, 2019



Anyone who knows me is aware that I love warm weather. I think it goes back to the fact that I lived in Houston from ages three to 10. Before that, it was Florida for a year. Plus, even after my family left Cocoa Beach, my father was a big believer in his kids going to Cape Kennedy (as it was known back then) for space launches.

So warm was in my DNA in my early years.

Because I was born in Virginia and lived there in my wee tyke years, I was exposed to snow and cold. There are pictures of me bundled up with my pet collie in snow that was up to my two year old waist.

Guess that means cold is in my DNA too.

I didn’t see snow again until I was approaching my teens. I didn’t like it much then, but mostly because I was the only son. This meant it was my duty to shovel the driveway.

In fact, it wasn’t until I discovered skiing that I ever enjoyed the cold weather. Learning to ski probably was the biggest factor in me accepting cold weather, that allowed snow, has its merits.

When I left the U.S. mainland, I gravitated towards warm climes. I never minded the heat or humidity of the tropical places I either lived or visited. I simply wore light clothes. My tank top collection was huge.

Moving to Wyoming is a challenge for me in the winter. It isn’t just the driving on scary slick roads or the utility bills that are higher than my mortgage, but the dread of keeping my driveway clear.

I never liked doing it much when I was a kid and teenager. Now when I see more than a few inches, I know it is time for me to get my shovel or snow blower.

Ugh.

I have learned as I am shoveling to remind myself how lucky I was to have visited some really warm places and remember where my favorite place was.

This brings me to the subject of my column.

My favorite hot place.

First, I hope I fooled you into believing this was going to be a rant on cold Wyoming weather.

I don’t know why but when I am shoveling, I go back to evaluating which was the best hot place. Somehow it works and I get through with the chore in decent enough spirits.

I know in my columns I have mentioned Australia, Hawaii and Taiwan. All were fantastically warm places, but not equator hot.

That is what I need to think about as I face the wind, cold and snow in doing my shoveling chore. A hot, hot, hot place.

There are a few candidates. Thailand; Indonesia-Bali, in particular; Malaysia. All are contenders for their beauty and tropical climate on a yearly basis.

However, it is Singapore that wins over my thoughts as I clear my driveway.

The island city/country is one degree north of the equator and the temp runs 80 degrees on a cooler day and well over 100 degrees on a warm day.

It isn’t only the heat that attracts me to Singapore.

It is the city and island itself.

The transportation system with its MRT (subway) and busses make it unlikely you need ever take a taxi. I have been in a lot of airports in the world and Singapore is by far the best. It blows away anything I have seen in the U.S., and I am a huge fan of the Denver airport.

Singapore is a rich country and its infrastructure shows it.

For the tourist, the zoo is amazing and worth a gander. There is a park for a river safari and night safari. Sentosa Island is a beach that rivals Waikiki. Orchard Road is a street that is historical and modern that has world class shopping. I love the historic Raffles Hotel, which is the home of the Singapore Sling. It is a spectacular venue on Orchard Street and it seems to be constantly improving every time I visit.

Crime is extremely low. Caning is still used and can be controversial, but no one can deny how safe this place of almost 6 million is. Nobody spits on the street or does graffiti, that is for sure, or your butt will literally pay the price.

The World Health Center ranks Singapore as the 6th best country for getting medical treatment. By contrast, the US is 37th. We have a lot more people, so maybe Canada would be a better comparison but, even then, that country is ranked 30th. I never worried about getting sick in Singapore.

One thing I find interesting about Singapore is the number of private cars on the road is restricted due to curb pollution and congestion. Car buyers must pay for duties one-and-a-half times the vehicle’s market value and bid for a Singapore Certificate of Entitlement, which allows the car to run on the road for a decade. Car prices are generally significantly higher in Singapore than in other countries.

The air may be hot and sticky, but it is clean.

I have been fortunate to travel there about a dozen times. In the beginning it was just to see the place, but later a buddy of mine was headquartered there. It was never an expensive ticket, so I would visit him and his family. Ironically, we met at the University of Maryland, many miles from this tropical city.

Over the years that I visited Chris, he lived in a fairly typical apartment community. Few people have single family dwellings, but these complexes make up for it. Huge pools with parks and picnic areas are typical. His last place had a waterfall feeding into the pool. It was like going to a resort. I would spend hours basking in the sun and swimming at his place.

Almost 40 percent of the residents are foreign, so there is a real mix of people walking the streets. This explains why the food is so diverse and incredible. Sure, you can go to nice restaurants, but I found myself going to the food markets that might only have a dozen stalls or a huge one that has hundreds. You pick out your food at various stalls and then sit at one of the community tables to eat. It is all inexpensive street food, but safe, unlike some Asian countries’ fare.

Chris also had a sailboat moored at the Singapore Yacht Club. When I visited, we would go sailing around the islands of Singapore and Malaysia. It is really beautiful and the swimming is superb.

Needless to say, I was pretty tanned after a few days in this country.

My last bit to expound on is a covered street of outstanding cafes and bars with misters hundreds of feet above. The fine spray coming down lightly kept everyone cool as they drank and ate. You have to see it to believe it.

It is now time for me to close and shovel a little snow that came down last night.

If you should see me out there today, or another time this winter, there is a pretty strong chance you are going to know where my mind is wandering.

 

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