First, our apologies for not keeping everyone up to the minute on our Honeymoon Adventure. We were just too busy having the time of our lives!
Second, you'll have to forgive us again for not including photographs with this post. It is entirely due to technical difficulties that Dan will solve as soon as possible.
Third, Singapore was an incredible place. By the end of our third day (Saturday) we felt as though we had gotten our bearings in the city, but we had to admit that there must be much more to explore. From our luxurious accomodations, politically minded taxi drivers, cheesy resort islands, to zoos, bird parks, and aquariums we certainly had a fantastic time, but there is much, much more to discover about this complex little country. Perhaps our travels will bring us here again one day.
For our last day in Singapore we decided to visit the world renowned Singapore Zoo. We cannot wait for you to see the pictures. The morning at the Zoo began with hand-feeding two very playful Asian elephants, and then we enjoyed our own buffet breakfast alongside a python and a family of orangutans ... yes, orangutans! They were literally only feet away as we enjoyed our meal and their ridiculous antics. We spent the rest of our morning exploring this marvelous zoo ... we have never seen a zoo with such large, natural enclosures, nor a zoo that let you get so close to so many animals! After the zoo we went back to the Ritz to get cleaned up and relax before heading to the airport to catch our flight to the Maldives!
Fourth, a quick comparison between Singapore and the Maldives. Singapore is an incredibly urban and cosmopolitan affair. Expensive, clean, accomodating. Everything is in English, but the only hints at the British colonial rule of the first part of last century is in the few architectural remnants mixed into the completely modernized city. There was construction everywhere. They seem to want to attract all of the world's big players ... within eyesight of our hotel there were both a Las Vegas style casino and a Disney World Resort being built. It lies at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, the farthest point south on the Asian continent, and just barely above the equator. It is a steamy place, but you never find yourself too far from the comfort (or discomfort) of a shopping mall and air conditioning. Now the Maldives are also a steamy place, and lie just north of the equator in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The architecture here however, is palm frond roofs and open-air. It is a small country made of up probably thousands of little islands, or atolls. It is absolutely breathtaking! Many of the islands hold just one resort (like ours) and are all surrounded by crystal clear water and coral reefs teeming with life. It is, however, a very conservative place. A muslim country where the only drinking or partying to be done is in the privacy of your resort island. It is as though two very different worlds exist at once: one for the tourist and one for the Maldivian.
Both Singapore and the Maldives are odd places. The native people hold their own values and belief systems, but believe that economic prosperity will only come if they allow their visitors to hold their own separate values and beliefs. We were warned before getting off the plane in Singapore that carrying any kind of illicit drug would be grounds for the death penalty and littering or disobeying any of Singapore's thousands of laws could result in very harsh punishment (read: caning). In the Maldives the customs form informed us that carrying any materials contrary to Islam was strictly forbidden: we had to ask each other if we should be concerned about the Bible in our bag. That being said, upon arrival in both places we were only received with open arms and huge smiles. The kindness, and genuine good nature of the people who we have come to call friends is a breath of fresh air, and as usual, we come to wish that people back home in the States would treat others in this way. Anyway, a good reminder of the power of a smile and a few kind words.
Fifth, and finally ... the Maldives. What a magnificent place! The pictures will not do this place justice but they will do a far better job than anything we can say. Our royal treatment in Singapore does not even compare, and our house built over the crystal clear lagoon might have the best view in the world. From the moment the boat picks you up at the airport (Dan was stoked right away) to the absolutely endless array of activities and adventures that we have already enjoyed, this place only gets better each day. Dan has already surfed the best waves of his life in 80 degree water, Erin went scuba diving for the first time, and we've only been here three days. We can't wait to send pictures, and promise to do so ASAP. In the meantime, close your eyes, feel the cool Indian Ocean breeze; see the various shades of blue and green that seem to float through the clear, warm water; and listen to the sounds of the perfect waves crashing on the distant reef ... you're almost here ... almost :)