Finally, Singapore! I went into the trip looking forward to Singapore the most, and it didn’t disappoint. Some people dismissed it as clean and boring, but I felt at home in its Westernized, good-infrastructured arms. Here are the fond memories:
- Contrary to expectation and law, people do jaywalk. Even I was jaywalking by day 2, although I tried to do it in crowds of people.
- The city is super clean – the streets are washed, the windows are shined, and you can’t even bring a drink into the metro (much less sip it).
- The population is over 70 percent Chinese, and I’ve heard they’ve been welcoming immigrants from mainland China lately. But only 63 percent are citizens.
- Singapore is the most expensive country we visited – a mediocre hostel was US$16/night, and I was reduced to grocery-store sushi to curb my cravings.
- Smoking is prohibited in many public areas.
- Arguably the best food (not in my opinion, but alas) can be found in hawker centres, with rows and rows of tiny shops selling cheap dishes – say, $3/plate.
- Around Chinese New Year, downtown comes to life with the Chingay parade – featuring bright, rainbow floats and dancers representing the Chinese, as well as Indians, Malay, and others.
You’re not doing bad at $16 a night. That’s less expensive than the least expensive place I’ve ever stayed, including in poor countries Costa Rica and Honduras. I may be fussier than most, but I feel perfectly at home at Motel 6’s and other $40/night equivalents in the US.