Singapore - what can you say?

Singapore Travel Blog

 › entry 18 of 20 › view all entries

Air Asia took us efficiently from Penang to Singapore's Changi Airport. Formalities took about 20 minutes. The taxi queue was short and the taxi metered. We drove sedately along the beautifully maintained expressways to reach the Nesbitt's home in the north of the island. They have a big house with a pool large enough to swim in properly, which is very attractive in the Singapore humidity. And they were as welcoming and warm as on all our Delhi visits to them. The children were charming and we had our usual good chats with Peter and Sue about all sorts of things - the world, Canada, UK, Singapore, life.

What can be said about Singapore? It's certainly like nowhere else we've visited in Asia. Wonderful roads, well-ordered traffic, very efficient and cheap metro, not a dilapidated or mould stained building in sight - you wonder how they keep them looking so pristine in the tropical climate. No great sights of course, but the National Orchid Garden was stunning, and the Museum of Asian Civilization, although short on good artefacts, had fascinating interactive displays and what there was was beautifully displayed. Several colonial buildings have been carefully restored. There's a fine Arts Centre in a strikingly designed modern complex. There are wonderful shopping malls. In the local supermarket they sell Marmite and Waitrose Lemon Couscous (along with lots of other things). There are delightful restaurants by the Singapore River. There are some striking high-rise buildings. There is no litter. People obey the red man at the lights. There is no eating or drinking - or free papers - on the metro. There are no beggars, buskers or street hawkers (maybe we saw a couple). It's sort of almost "too good to be true." It's also a lot more expensive than Malaysia - about London prices for food and even more for drink in the city centre.

We met up with Peter Khoo, the former Singapore airforce pilot we'd met in January in Halong Bay. He took us to dinner at his club, the Raffles Town Club. It was a generous buffet in a grand "Singapore Classical" building, and on a Saturday night was busy with families. He later showed us round including the private dining rooms and the beautiful pool. He spoke proudly of Singapore's achievements over 45 years of independence. Its strong defence force (they still have 2 and a half years National Service for young men), its plans for expansion, its determination to get citizens to stand on their own feet financially. It was a most interesting evening.

We don't think we'd come to Singapore again, except to call on friends. Unless you're a shopoholic, there's not a lot to do. But it has been a fascinating place to observe. What to make of it? Conclusion - still undecided.

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