This picture includes Aaron wearing his Canada hat. We were getting ready to board our flight from Singapore to Bangkok. Can you see him?
While in Singapore, we visited and toured a school which I had heard a lot about. The Canadian International School in an impressive institution for a variety of reasons. Take a look at the CIS campus virtual tour to get a sense of the facility, the programming, and the educational philosophy which drives it all. The website also contains pictures of the various components of the CIS campus. The school is host to nearly 2500 students, ages 3 to 18. The International Baccalaureate program is implemented at all levels. Our kids were blown away by the physical amenities at the school such as the pool, the amazing play structures, a massive gym (my photo below shows about a quarter of it), the tennis courts and soccer pitches, the theatre (named after and personally opened by Grammy winner David Foster), lots of technology, and the innovative learning pods.
While a facility and stated philosophy can be impressive, it’s the staff which creates the dynamic necessary to make a good school great. As it turns out, I know at least 4 people on this staff, all through friends in Canada. We took the opportunity to sit down with them to ask about their experience at CIS.
With schooling and the educational process being near and dear to me, it was great to be in a school again and to see how this exemplary place works. We’re thankful to the generous staff, especially Celeste, Andrea, Marcia, and John, who took the time to chat with us and show us around.
Our stop and stay in Singapore was brief, only 3 days. We made the most of our time.
Singapore, is known as a highly modernized country, technologically and politically advanced compared to many cities in southern Asia. Singapore is the world’s fourth leading financial centre, and its port is one of the five busiest ports in the world. It has tough laws (e.g. no gum) and stiff consequences for breaking those laws (e.g. death sentence for drug-related offenses). Located just 137 kilometres north of the equator, Singapore’s daytime temperatures are usually in the low 30s. Nights rarely cool off to less than 25 degrees.
Singapore is a highly diverse city. Of its 5 million people only about 3 million of them were born in Singapore. Singapore has 4 official languages: English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim holidays are observed. Known as the Lion City, its symbol is the merlion which is half lion and half mermaid. A large statue of a merlion graces the waterfront in the central harbour.
Singapore is also a popular shopping destination. All high-end designer labels have large, opulent stores here. Orchard Road is one of the famous shopping destinations featuring a veritable feast for those with a shop-til-you-drop appetite. Since we were there during the Christmas shopping season, places like Orchard Road were virtually dripping with lights and decorations. Brightly lit Christmas trees of mammoth proportions are seen on major shopping corners and in malls. Christmas at the equator is certainly different than our snowy, Manitoba Christmas.
Southeast Asian, Chinese, Indonesian, and Indian cuisines come together for what adds up to culinary perfection. A lot of the dishes include seafood from the rich waters surrounding Singapore. Some meals can be an adventure such as frog porridge and pancakes made with fish.
Singapore’s harbour front is gorgeous, especially at night time. The skyline includes a massive ‘boat’ perched atop three tall skyscrapers. A concert hall in the shape of a lotus flower is set next to the water. Countless restaurants, bistros, and cafes line the esplanade. The sparkling cable cars which link Singapore’s mainland to Sentosa Island look like spaceships floating by in the dark night sky. One of the kids said that it felt like walking through a city in the future. The whole place is mesmerizing.
Before we took the highly efficient and modern metro system back to our hostel, we watched the dancing cranes display on Sentosa Island. These are actual mechanical cranes which are made to look like birdlike cranes. Here’s a YouTube version of it.
Singapore, the ‘lion city’, seems like the perfect combination of Asian and Canadian life. It’s progressive, ultra modern, and known to be a very safe place to live. And, as a bonus, it doesn’t have the frigid temperatures of the Canadian prairies. Sounds almost perfect.