Be Careful When You Say “Exotic”

I know how easy it is to be seduced. I’ve been in Singapore for three weeks now, and it still conjures all sorts of exotic imagery: heat, jungle, monkeys, pith helmets, temples. There are also the more modern extremes of skyscrapers and food courts—the delights of chili crab and air-conditioned shopping malls in vast underground warrens.

But what I find most exotic here is the altered point of view, one that’s not obvious at first glance, because so much of the urban area of Singapore seems like an upscale version of Los Angeles

"Monkey at MacRitchie" © N.H. Howe

Last weekend, my husband, son, and I visited MacRitchie Reservoir, which turns out to be a manicured public park that abuts a nature reserve. I expected something wilder—more exotically jungle-like—and at first was disappointed to see picnickers and pots of bougainvillea.

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