After Thailand, Singapore was the no-nonsense efficient country we needed to relax for a week. It was very refreshing to walk safely on the sidewalk (no motorcycles there!) and to actually be able to cross the street at the green light.
Singapore somehow got the reputation of being a “fine country”, that is a place were getting a fine is easier than saying “one bowl of la mian please”. But we quickly realize it was mostly a reputation. Indeed, most rules are just common-sensical: no smoking in public buildings, no littering, no stealing, no spitting etc. Interestingly, the only time we saw the police was when we walked by a police station in Little India. I guess most people behave and are used to the rules—they don’t need to be enforced too much.
Singaporeans seem to have two main activities: shopping and dining. When you are done shopping, you grab a bite and when you are done eating, you go for a walk with your credit card in hand for some exercise. The country is one huge shopping mall and there is food just about anywhere. It is also built for convenience: Singapore has the most escalators I have ever seen! You laugh at it at first (“come on, it’s just one flight of stairs!”) but you quickly get used to them considering the hot and sticky weather.
We strolled down Orchard Road, Singapore’s very own little Champs-Élysées where flagship stores such as Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Ven Cleef etc. try their best to attract the hordes of credit card holders. There is almost too much choice in S’pore. How many times did Feng and I walked into a food court and spend half an hour there, trying to make a choice?
We also visited Sentosa Island, Singapore’s entertainment district, 500 meters away from the mainland. We got lucky: the boardwalk had opened a few days before we arrived, so we simply walked to the island instead of taking the expensive cable cart. We skipped the pricey Universal Studio theme park and hung out around the island instead. It was packed with families celebrating Chinese New Year and at times, we had to queue for… the escalator.
On our last day, we decided to splurge and pay the $20 access fee to Singapore’s most trendy rooftop, Marine Bay Sands. The three skyscrapers—a luxury hotel—topped by a huge boat-like structure have the best swimming-pool ever with a vanishing end, unfortunately for hotel guests only. The view over Marina Bay and Singapore was unbeatable and I highly recommend it.
Singapore was a very enjoyable country. Food and transportation are cheap, and even accommodation isn’t expensive by world standard. We paid around $40 for a double room during the peak time of Chinese New Year. Despite its small size, the country has a lot to offer: a glimpse of China, Malaysia and India thanks to its multicultural population and some interesting sights, both modern and old.
You can see the complete set of pictures taken in Singapore on Flickr.