Singapore is a melting pot. Once dubbed by a friend as “culturally confused,” it’s an island with a population of over 5 million people, almost half of which are foreign nationals, thus allowing numerous cultures to thrive together in one city-state. Despite having very little land area in comparison to other countries (I was told by a local that Malaysia to the north is sometimes referred to as “elder brother” because of its size), Singapore has four official languages—Mandarin Chinese, English, Malay, and Tamil. While the majority of the population is Chinese Singaporean, there are significant Malay and Indian communities. Walking into different areas of the city, a person is immersed in one culture after another, with places like Little India being a significant tourist attraction.
Little India has its origins in the 1800’s; it started out as an area to raise cattle and was thusly the place where Europeans (mostly) would gather. Soon, after an Indian population emerged, various religious landmarks (such as Hindu temples and mosques), as well as businesses, started to appear. Today, Little India is a vibrant area with various influences that excite the senses. Visitors have several options for lodging, including hostels and hotels. Most choices are very cheap, but there’s a “you get what you pay for” mentality, meaning that the hotels in the area aren’t of the highest quality. Even if travelers stay somewhere else, this neighborhood is still worth visiting.
Having just moved to Los Angeles from Toronto, I was looking forward to all the American-style road trips I would have during my summer vacation. Of the ones I went on, the most memorable trip was my get-away to the Electric Daisy Carnival (aka EDC), an epic three day music and performance-driven extravaganza located at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The annual EDC features all sorts of entertainment, from Electronica music to carnival rides to circus-like performances to interactive art installations. On top of witnessing a visually spectacular scene, from the moment you walk in, you are surrounded by and fully immersed in the Electronica music culture from which EDC originally emerged – the principle of P.L.U.R (Peace, Love, Unity and Respect). With that said, EDC was beyond my expectations. 35,000 people attended this music celebration, taking over the Las Vegas Strip during the day and the Motor Speedway at night.
The last time I went to the Grand Canyon, I was six years old. The visit came about because my family was moving from Nevada to Texas and we wanted to check out this wonder on the way. I remember walking to the edge of the canyon after sitting in the car for hours, staring down into the infinite abyss, and then looking back at my dad and thinking, “This is it?”
Fast forward 17 years later and I am standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon for a second time. It is breathtaking. There is snow on the ground, couples walking their dogs, and very few kids running around (must be something about the edge of a canyon that scares parents). The canyon is quiet in sound but loud with color and depth. It is a bright rustic red and orange but, in the crevasses, it is a dark purple. The South Rim shows melted snow running down the side of the canyon and patches of solid ice where the sun has not yet touched. I found a flat rock where not many people were. My boyfriend and I had just begun to meditate when a woman interrupted us to ask if we could take a picture of her. She was from South Africa; so is my boyfriend. They began to speak in Afrikaans and he learned that she has a safari in South Africa and teaches at the same elementary school at which his mom teaches. He misses his home in South Africa, so to meet someone who tells him how beautiful it still is makes him happy, which in turn, makes me happy.