By Maria Mahesar

It came as a shock to my friends and family when I decided to spend my holidays in Singapore. Their (family and friends) suggestion was the usual i.e. Thailand, London or Dubai especially the latter since it was closer to home.  Contrary to the popular recommendations, I opted for Singapore mainly to attend the Singapore Grand Prix.

On September 13th I boarded the flight to embark on the rather unusual route to Singapore from Karachi i.e. via Dubai. But once I landed in Singapore, the pollution-free breeze, greenery and infrastructure immediately made me forget about the long flight, boredom and loud baby cries I had encountered on the flight. This time on strong insistence of my friend I opted for Airbnb and booked a studio apartment in China Town that was 10-15 minutes away from all the central tourist points of Singapore.

My first three days revolved around Formula 1 activities, attending the training, qualify round and of course the main race. Watching the cars in real life was like a teenage dream come true, the passion, excitement experience on the race day was phenomenal! A large number of people sporting their favorite team jerseys, caps and merchandise showed up at the venue chanting in support of their team, and even though it rained the race went on as planned.

Once the Singapore Grand Prix fever was over it was time to embark on some typical touristy adventures i.e. wandering around the streets, tasting new cuisines, shopping and of course asking your friend to take your photograph at every step of your adventure.

First stop, the much talked about Haji Lane. If you’ve ever visited Singapore I doubt if you had missed out on this beautiful fashion paradise. There’s something so special about the beautiful yet quirky graffiti displayed on the walls of the narrow lanes of Haji Lane that cannot be described in words.  The cozy roadside cafes, pop art shops, compact book shops, antique shops make you instantly fall in love with this tourist hotspot. Instead of two hours, I ended staying there for 8 hours and got most of my shopping done from there. Also getting my first ever tattoo from the much talked about tattoo parlor called Visual Orgasm located in Haji Lane makes this place even more memorable. While I continued to be mesmerized and fascinated by Haji Lane, I did take some time out to visit the famous Marina Bay Gardens, China Town shopping street and Universal Studios.

Home to a diverse ethnic group means you get to meet people from all corners of the world including Pakistanis and of course get to taste some amazing mouthwatering dishes such as Hainanese Chicken Rice, Laksa, Char Kuay Teow, Char Siew Rice/Noodles.

There were some great things to learn from this country such as people patiently waiting in queues for their turn, cleanliness maintained on the roads/streets, how Singaporeans respected and obeyed the law, most importantly their openness and hospitality towards tourists. All these reasons and more have convinced me to visit Singapore at least once a year.

As I left for Changi Airport on September 20th for Dubai I couldn’t hold back my tears, without any exaggeration I had the best time in the longest time. Singapore you continue to amaze me, I’ll be back soon!

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