Monday, August 08, 2005


Steaming Singapore

Ever wondered how hot it is near the equator? Let us tell you, it's frickin hot! In fact, Singapore is just one degree north of the equator! Talk about sizzlin!!!!!!!!!!

So once again, Troy's work took him traveling. This time it took him to Singapore this past weekend. I, of course, just had to tag along. Even though Singapore was hot, the weather was not any different from Hong Kong right now. The good thing about Hong Kong is that the weather will change for the better in a month or so. Where as Singapore will just stay hot, hot, hot!

Some info on Singapore:
Singapore is an island at the tip of Malaysia. They are their own city and country of Singapore with a population of about 3.5 million. They were under British rule until 40 years ago (who has Britain not ruled??? Good grief!) The US has a fairly large military presence there right now because Singapore is where the our US fighter jets get refitted for the Iraq War. We have one or two battle ships in the harbor as well as an aircraft carrier for support (not sure which one, so don't ask).

Call us jaded.
Call us spoiled.
But we were not overly impressed by Singapore. We both agreed that it could have been any coastal city in the US. It was nice, but it didn't have much of an Asian feel to it at all. It is very westernized and everyone speaks English and all the signs are in English. It would be an incredibly easy city to live in. We figured out a lot of people travel to Singapore because of it's reputation of being so safe and clean. I think we found it uninteresting because there were not wacky street vendors selling fried squid or dirty little kids following us around, or 3000 bicycles riding down the road. You couldn't even get a rickshaw ride unless it was part of a tour. Even the skyline was nothing to brag about. There was just very little exciting and interesting (maybe "nothing new to us" is a better description) about the city.

Now don't get me wrong, it was a beautiful city. It was very clean - to the point of being sterile. People are very friendly, it was an easy city to get around and you could find any type of food you wanted anytime day or night. The city did offer some nice boat tours and of course there is the shopping. Troy and I did not partake in the shopping but people we met who have been to Singapore rave about it.

I think the most intersting place we saw was Little India. The place is exactly what the name implies. It's about 7 or 8 blocks that consists of Indian shops, restaurants, grocery stores, people, etc. The only drawback was that it was in Singapore, not in India.

The most insane thing about Singapore is their laws. They have a slogan:
"Singapore is a fine city!! You get fined for everything!"

I don't know if anyone remembers around 8-10 years ago, but an American kid got busted for graffitti and his punishment was to get caned.

That was Singapore!!!!!!!!!!!

That punishment is very much still in effect today. In fact, all crimes of vandalism is punishable by caning as well as rape and drug trafficking. Caning is performed by an martial arts expert using a 6' piece of rattan (stem of a palm tree) soaked in brine (water with large amounts of salt).

It is also illegeal to:
  • Use and not flush the toilet (who is going to check to enforce that?)
  • Sell, import and possess chewing gum (I shit you not)
  • Bring into the country chewing tobacco, toy currency and obscene materials (ladies, leave the vibrators at home)
  • Urinating in the elevator (ya think???)

We definitely had some of the best food we have ever had since moving to Hong Kong. We went to an outdoor food market with stalls surround us selling everything from gigantic prawns, crab and lobster to noodles, roasted duck, sugar cane milk and beer. It never once crossed our minds to question how clean it was or how safe the food would be. We were in Singapore after all. I think the second someone got food poisoning, people would be put out of business (or at least caned).

It was a nice city but I think you would be hard pressed to occupy yourself for an entire week. It's best to leave it to a 1 or 2 day stopover on your way to Bali!


If you've never been to Asia and you want to ease your transition into the region then Singapore is a good place to start. You certainly won't get culture shock because it is so westernized.

When I worked in Asia, our headquarters were in Singapore. The population of Singapore is almost 4 million and about 1 million of the people there are probably ex-pats. That's one of the reasons why it's so westernized. It is pretty bland when compared to the flair of other Asian cities but Singapore does have some uniqueness to it when you visit more frequently and get to know some of the locals. Just ask any local about the cost of a car in Singapore! Jeeesh!

My favorite things about Singapore:

- Incredibly efficient airport
- Amazing food
- Very nice people
- Outstanding public transportation
- Cleanliness
- The Hawker centres
- Raffles Hotel
- Takashimaya Shopping Centre
- The computer malls
- Boat & Clarke Quay
- Orchard Road

I must admit that I like Hong Kong much better than Singapore. Visiting Hong Kong gave me a rare case of culture shock when I was there. I was just looking at my HK photos yesterday. I'm still amazed by the outdoor meat markets where you see dead chickens hanging on hooks in 95-degree heat while live chickens are cooped up underneath the tables! That actually seemed kinda gross to me. You're very unlikely to be shocked by much of anything in Singapore except the heat and humidity!

- Paul

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:05 PM  

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