Singapore is a city and a country. A collection of islands (one larger, and lots of smaller ones) at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia, local empires settled the islands from the 2nd century AD. Fast forward to 1819, when Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore as a trading post of the East India Company.
Singapore was ceded to Britain after the East India Company collapsed, then became an independent city-state in 1965 when it separated from Malaysia, and since then has been busy moulding itself into a sleek, modern, efficient, multicultural financial hub. But as a city-state there is no hinterland, which means that many of the people who come to the city to work are immigrants, and Singaporeans who want to leave the city have no choice but to emigrate.
Along with shopping, food is a national pastime. Singaporean cuisine is a wonderful mongrel of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and Western flavors: fusion was the norm here long before it fell in and out of fashion in the West. The same dish can also be interpreted and prepared a little differently: for example, Indian, Chinese and Baba-Nyonya (Straits Chinese: a mix of Malay and Chinese) food stalls all have their own versions of Singapore’s celebrity dishes: fish head curry, Singapore crab. The sumptuous laksa—a noodle and curry feast with a spicy coconut broth—can be found in both Chinese and Malay establishments. Laksa comes in many guises in Singapore, but the Katong laksa, made with thick vermicelli noodles cut into pieces and sprinkled with prawns and fishcake, is a favorite.
It’s easy to get around to most major places via either the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains or by bus. You can buy an ezLink card—it’s easy to find them at the MRT stations—to use for your whole stay, or buy passes per trip as needed. If you’re in a rush or want to travel in comfort you can always travel by taxi, but apps like GrabTaxi or Uber are alternatives to taxi drivers who are “changing shifts” and don’t necessarily want to go to your destination.
Air India Express flies from Kochi to Singapore via Madurai thrice in a week.